Hamilton County Outdoors 08/14/2013
By Ron Kolodziej

A big conference is headed for the North Country.

I told you about this gathering back in one of my January columns, but seeing as it's drawing near it probably bears repeating. This is a reminder that less than a month from now, from Sept. 13-16 to be exact, the Outdoor Writers Association of America will hold its annual conference in Lake Placid.

In reality it'll be sort of a double-header, since the New York State Outdoor Writers Association will also hold its annual conference there, concurrent with the OWAA gathering. Since I belong to both organizations, and am a past president of NYSOWA, I'll be attending both at the same time.

OWAA is arguably the oldest and largest national organization of outdoors communicators. It held its first annual conference in 1927 in Chicago. I became an active member in 1980 and have since attended some 13 of these annual gatherings, my first being in Traverse City, Mich. in 1984. Since then I've also attended conclaves in Marco Island, Fla.; Salt Lake City, Utah (twice); Niagara Falls; Bismarck, N.D. (twice); Portland, Ore.; Orono, Maine; Duluth, Minn.; St. George, Utah; and Charleston, W.Va.

I have no idea how many annual NYSOWA conferences I've attended after becoming a member in 1979, but there have certainly been a lot of them. For many years I had a perfect attendance record but have since missed several for one reason or another, normally due to conflicts with vacation trips or other meetings or gatherings. For many years, NYSOWA met twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall for the annual meeting when elections of officers and other major organizational business was conducted, but that eventually became just the annual conference in the fall with an informal "safari" type gathering in the spring.

I enjoy attending both the national and state gatherings since it's nice to renew acquaintances with old friends in both organizations, especially at the same time as on this occasion. NYSOWA generally restricts itself to venues within New York state for its conferences, with a few exceptions over the years. However, OWAA conferences are held in a variety of locales to give their national membership a taste of what other areas offer. They've visited New York state only twice over the years: Rochester in 1948 and Niagara Falls in 1991. Last year the organization held its annual conference in Alaska.

Unleash a few hundred outdoor communicators on our North Country and there aren't too many major places they'll miss, primarily because the organization also offers a number of pre- and post-conference sightseeing trips, hikes and fishing and hunting trips. I'm certain some of them will visit Hamilton County venues on their way up to or back from Lake Placid, even if it's just to take photos.


The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking participants who would like to help with a survey of wild turkeys and/or ring-necked pheasants. The agency has conducted this summer turkey sighting survey since 1996, to help estimate the number of young turkeys per hen statewide. During August survey participants will record the sex and approximate age composition of all wild turkey flocks they see. The pheasant survey is being conducted in 13 counties in western New York so it's a bit remote from this area, but the turkey survey is equally important and includes this area. You can get more information at DEC's website.


Saturday, Aug. 17, you can attend the free Rock Fest 2013 at the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb. This event will commence at 9 a.m. with a presentation by Jeffrey Chiarenzelli of St. Lawrence University, followed by other presentations and presenters at roughly half-hour intervals throughout the day. A geology field trip will start at 10:30 a.m. and another to the Upper Works and Tahawus at 3 p.m. Sounds like an informative and fun-filled day. However, don't look for any rock music at this event. It's not that kind of rock fest. This is a geological rock fest rather than a musical one.


The black bear population in NYS appears to be increasing exponentially; the critters are now found in places they've never been found before. Their range has definitely expanded, and DEC may respond to that by modifying existing bear hunting regulations, including expanding the areas in which they may be hunted. That's just one way they hope to return bear populations to earlier levels, but don't look for any changes much before the 2014 or 2015 seasons.

Before the agency does anything it will have to study the problem, determine how pervasive it is, determine if it's a temporary or increasing matter and then come up with solutions that are amenable to a variety of different philosophies. That all takes time and effort, but get ready because it's likely there will be changes coming up.