April 14, 2012

Public walk scheduled for Lake Alice

'We have, in a relatively small area, a wide variety of wildlife habitat'


CHAZY — Plattsburgh State professor of ecology Dr. Kenneth Adams will lead a nature walk along the trails of Lake Alice to explore the plants and birds that make their homes there.

Participants will have an opportunity to view some of the spring wildflowers that make the Lake Alice setting special and will look and listen for some of the newly arrived summer songbirds, including the Baltimore oriole, oven bird, white-throated sparrow, red-eyed vireo, yellow warbler and common yellow throat.


"We have, in a relatively small area, a wide variety of wildlife habitat, including the open water on the lake, meadows, shrub swamps, marshes and some upland forest," Adams said of the Lake Alice Management Area.

"The combination of all those different habitat types provides for a high diversity of plants and animals in a relatively short walking distance.


William H. Miner had a dam constructed on Tracy Brook in 1907-08, creating Lake Alice, which he named after his wife. The dam's original purpose was to provide hydropower for Heart's Delight Farm.

The W.H. Miner Foundation sold the Lake Alice property to New York state in two separate transaction: 650 acres in 1953 and an additional 750 acres in 1963.

The area surrounding the lake became the Lake Alice Wildlife Management Area and is managed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

"We selected this area because we wanted to sponsor an event from the (Alice T. Miner) museum," Adams said.

"This site offers a historical connection between the natural environment and the modern museum. It's the best location for an outdoor adventure sponsored by the museum."


The diverse habitats are direct response of the human disturbances that occurred in the area, he added.

Before the dam construction, Tracy Brook and most of the area that was cleared for Heart's Delight Farm was lowland forest. Areas closest to the newly created lake were too wet for agricultural activities and became marshes and swamps.

"In more recent years, there's been an explosion of beaver activity in the area," Adams noted.

"Mr. Miner, in building his own dams, added wetlands to this area. The beavers are now continuing that process."


Lake Alice Wildlife Management area encompasses 1,468 acres and includes a series of level, easily accessible trails. Bird watching is a popular attraction at Lake Alice, but hunting and fishing are also recreational uses in season.

The Department of Environmental Conservation stocks Lake Alice with largemouth bass, and brown bullhead and sunfish are also abundant.

Adams received his Ph.D. in forest ecology from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse and has taught at Plattsburgh State for more than 30 years. He teaches courses in plant, forest and wildlife ecology and has monitored more than 100 student research projects in ecology, most of which have been conducted on lands owned by the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute and at Lake Alice.


The April 25 walk is open to the public.

People should bring clothing appropriate for weather conditions, water, snacks, insect repellent and binoculars, if possible.

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