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From the December 2007 Conservationist

Letters and Reviews


Bob Marshall

Marshall family photo 1Bob Marshall (August 2007 Conservationist) was a national treasure. In 1929-30 he bestowed the name at the mountain portal leading to the inner recesses of the Brooks Range for what would later become Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska. In 1940, a million-acre roadless area in the Rocky Mountain Front Range was designated in his honor as the much beloved Bob Marshall Wilderness: "The Bob." Despite his fame and achievements, there had never been a memorial to him in his home state of New York until January 19, 2001, the 100th anniversary of his birth. On this day of celebration, two plaques were unveiled at a rededication of Marshall Hall at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse: one in honor of Robert Marshall and the second in honor of his father, Louis Marshall, for whom the building was named in 1933. It is with fervent hope that New York State will have the wisdom to create out of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, a 409,000 acre Bob Marshall Great Wilderness near Cranberry Lake.

Stanley Scharf
Ithaca, Tompkins County

Marshall family photo 2Thanks for the wonderful layout of my Bob Marshall article. I regret that I failed to credit the sources for the photographs. They came from the Saranac Lake Free Library's Adirondack Room, the Adirondack Museum, the Adirondack Council, Stephen Scholle, Roger Marshall and Simone Kincaid. Keep up the good work!

Phil Brown
Saranac Lake, Franklin County

Thanks for the update, a good reminder that there are great places to go to see those original photos and others like them. -David Nelson, Editor

Kiss a Fish

girl kissing fishOne of my friends is a longtime Conservationist reader and she suggested I send you this photo. My daughter is an avid fisherwoman, and for her AP Statistics project she decided to compare the size of sunfish in Buck Pond (near Lake Ontario) and Conesus Lake. This picture was taken on the west side of Conesus Lake.

Laura Khederian
via email

By the looks of the photo, she really enjoyed her work. The pumpkinseed she is holding is a perfect example of the colorful sunfish that inhabit our lakes. As I'm sure your daughter knows, pumpkinseeds are fun to fish for. They are one of the most widespread and easily caught freshwater fish species, occurring in large numbers in shallow water close to shore. They readily bite small pieces of bait, fight hard when hooked, and taste delicious. If your daughter visited the lakes between May and August, she may have been able to see these fish spawning. Pumpkinseeds construct shallow nests close to shore in colonies, usually in 6-12 inches of water in areas of submerged vegetation. -Eileen Stegemann, Contributing Editor

Funky Formation

stalactite formation in treeMother Nature endlessly does fascinating, creative, bizarre things; this one I must share with you. I understand how these "stalagmites" got their beeswax color from the water dripping through the large, hollow cherry tree. If I had not reached in and touched them I would have thought they had been manufactured and set in the tree and would not have believed they were ice.

Betty Densmore
Machias, Cattaraugus County

Nice pictures! However, "stalagmites" are formed from the ground up, while "stalactites" are formed hanging downward like the formations shown in your photos. The terms usually refer to deposits in caves, but in this case the hollowed-out tree is providing the stalactites a home. Conservationist readers, what do YOU think about these formations? -Alex Hyatt, Assistant Editor


The Life and Times of Asher B. Durand

by John Durand
$17.95 soft cover
Black Dome Press
1011 Route 296
Hensonville, NY 12439
(518) 734-6357

Review by Brian Swinn

The Life and Times of Asher B Durand coverOriginally published by Asher's son John in 1894, this book is considered to be the standard reference work on the artist, and is again available in reprint.

The book, however, is considerably more than a reference, as it bears witness to the interrelationship among events of the times, the realities of making one's way as an artist, the difficulties of starting an entirely new way of using art to focus environmental beauty, and yes, a son keeping the flame for his father's work. Although not its most famous member, Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) was a founder of the Hudson River School of painting. A commercially successful portrait painter and engraver, Durand in his later years turned to the beauty and freedom of landscape painting and was drawn to the Catskills, and later, Lake George. He painted Kindred Spirits, (1849) perhaps the quintessential Hudson River School painting. Oddly enough, reproduction limitations of the 1890s apparently kept this haunting work out of the book.

Of note is the inclusion of several letters between Durand and Thomas Cole, who is considered to be the most prominent member of the school. In them, Cole opines that the best way to appreciate and paint his subjects is to live in the countryside. Durand, perhaps reflecting his familiarity with the commercial art world, prefers to homestead near population centers.

Ostensibly written for students of art history, and made charming by the curlicues and flourishes of Victorian-era passive sentence structure, there is much to recommend this book. It tells of the times when men of art were using their craft to help forge a national cultural and environmental identity through the establishment of the Hudson River School.

Brian Swinn, who passed away in August 2007, was a senior editor in DEC's Bureau of Internet and Publications.