Fall 2016

Note regarding slideshows: SL = slide show; FS = Full Screen. See lower right hand corner of slide shows. Be sure to scroll down to see pictures and videos of the entire restoration process.

November 3, 2016 – A comparison view of the tower restoration progress from August 2015 to October 2016

Here are excerpts  of both drone videos from below, put together by FOSRMFT:

 

October 15, 2016 -A bird’s eye view of the tower restoration progress

Brendan Carberry, an engineer for Go Aviation who is a licensed drone operator and aircraft pilot took this amazing video which really shows off the restoration  progress on the tower. This latest video can be compared to Sandy Trevors video from August 10, 2015 below to see how much work has been accomplished.

 

October 14, 2016 – Mountain Lake Journal

Jack Laduke of Mountain Lake PBS reports on efforts to preserve and restore fire towers that dotted the Adirondack landscape a century ago. Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower executive board member Scottie Adams is interviewed in the piece starting at 1:50.

 

October 6, 2016 – Beginning work on Interpretive Panels

Dr. Ed Hixson (Corona and Porter, his dogs) transported by boat, photographer Mark Kurtz and other FOSRMFT members Scottie Adams and Rich LaBombard to the lakeside trail head on Upper St. Regis Lake, also known as the Teddy Roosevelt Trail. Needless to say – the ride was fabulous!

shining-tower
Look closely for the shining fire tower!

 

The mission of this trip was for Mark (http://www.markkurtzphotography.com/) to photograph the views from the summit and the cab. The ultimate goal is to have interpretive panels mounted in the cab. These panels will be labeled with the names of the lakes and mountains seen from each view.   Mark took photos

 from the summitmk-covering-the-summit-view-1
from the cabmk-shooting-view-from-cab-2
and of the towermk-shooting-the-tower-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and, of course, it was another great day to be on St. Regis Mountain – enjoying this wonderful fire tower!!!

mark-kurtz-10-6-16-3

 

 

Other pictures of the day:

 

September 29, 2016 – work continues – done for the year? Report from Doug Fitzgerald

  • All the debris except the heavy steel roof panels is off the summit. Two hikers helped by taking stuff with them when they hiked down.
  • Missing nuts and bolts for the wall panels were installed and other hardware used for the window frames and hatch rail that was not correct was replaced.
  • The base mounting brackets were painted and remaining paint (over a quart) was brought down for warm storage.
  • Measurements were taken for possible placement of interpretive panels.

Volunteers:

  • Doug Fitzgerald
  • Ed Hixson
  • Dale Pondysh
  • Tom Hirshblond (PSC ’76 alum, recruited on the trail)
  • Jack Burke – was not on the summit, but picked up debris at the Keese Mill trailhead that was carried down by other hikers

 

September 17, 2016  – Forest Fire Lookout Association (FFLA) meeting

All four members of the Friends Executive Committee, Doug Fitzgerald, David Petrelli Scottie Adams and Bob Marrone attended the Forest Fire Lookout Association’s (FFLA) North Eastern Conference in Keene, NY on September 17, 2016. St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower was featured on the cover of the FFLA quarterly newsletter with a report inside on the progress made on the restoration in 2016. (See News for the cover and article).
The Friends made a Powerpoint presentation summarizing the activity over the past 13 years  to save and restore the tower. Former Ranger, Bob Marrone brought along memorabilia (radio, map table, alidade and maps) which he was able to save from the tower when it was closed.

 

September 15, 2016 – Painting continues – and there’s more to do!

FRIENDS Bob Norton and Barbara Buckhout painted the lower section of the frame. There is some paint left and much more to do. We hope to use up the existing paint this season and resume with more painting next Spring.

bob-norton-and-barbara-buckhout-9-15-16

 

September 1, 2016 – The windows and railing in the cab are installed. The tower is OPEN!!!

FOSRMFT members Doug Fitzgerald, Jack Burke, Bob Brand and Rich LaBombard spent the day installing window frames, the safety railing in the cab, and putting up the occupancy sign. All this allowed us to officially open the tower!!!

There is still more work to do and you can help. Go to http://www.friendsofstregis.org/volunteer-form/ to volunteer or to http://www.friendsofstregis.org/donate/ to help out financially.

 

Summer 2016

August 27, 2016 – The cab is painted

New paint job for the cab, inside and out, thanks to Friends David and Eryn Petrelli and Dr. Ed Hixson. What an improvement!

It needs to be mentioned that the new roof, the paint and the hardware to be used later this week have all been paid for through donations. Thank you to all who have donated. If you would like to make a contribution please go to http://www.friendsofstregis.org/donate/. Donate $5 or more and you will received a patch as a thank you.

Painted cab 8.27 (2) Painted cab 8.27 (1) Painted cab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at the difference from last year:

7-12-15
7-12-15
8-27-16
8-27-16 Eryn Petrelli , David Petrelli, Ed Hixon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 29, 2016 – The new roof is on!!!

Dave Vana and his crew of Sean Connin and Jeff Couture, along with FOSRMFT members Jack Burke and Rich LaBombard, worked in beautiful weather today. Jack and Rich prepared the panels on the ground. Together with Dave and crew, the panels were hoisted to the cab, and CAREFULLY lifted into place. Then the process of securing the panels to the cab frame and to the other panels was then executed. The roof was capped (again carefully with Dave standing outside the cab!!!) and VOILA – we have a new roof! Adirondack Watershed member Elisa McIntosh was also there Friday working as a steward and assisting with the fire tower project. She will be on the summit each Friday to inform and educate the public on the flora and fauna of St. Regis Mtn., as well as about the fire tower.

 

July 26,2016 – Old roof removed

David Vana, his assistant Sean Connin, and FOSRMFT member Rich LaBombard removed the old roof.  First we unwrapped the new roof panels and bundles of tools which were airlifted. Then Dave and Sean proceeded to loosen bolts and use a power grinder – often while hanging out the cab window – to remove the old roof panels. These were then carefully lowered to the ground. The old wooden window frames and other miscellaneous parts were removed in preparation for installing the new roof panels. Final job for this day – prepare the new roof panels for installation on another day!

 

July 21, 2016 – New roof flown to summit; debris removed

A NYS Police helicopter flew up from Albany with pilots Pat Hogan and Scott Oseback and Crew Chiefs Steve Jacobs and Rob Jahn.  Ground crew consisted of  DEC personnel Steve Guglielmi, Jeff Balerno and Kevin Burns and “Friends” Bob Marrone and Scottie Adams. Roof parts, hatch railings and window frame parts were loaded into a sling. The load was airlifted from Saranac Inn Maintenance Center  to the summit of St. Regis Mountain approximately 4 miles away. Ranger Kevin Burns, in the chopper and Ranger Tom Edmunds on the summit, unloaded the parts with help from other DEC personnel and volunteers (Greg Bowler, Sebastian Seubert, Hunter Hintenlang) and Friends of St. Regis Fire Tower (David Petrelli and Rich LaBombard). Check out the YOUTUBE video.

 

Debris from the previous construction effort in the summer of 2015 was then airlifted off the top of the mountain. Check out the YOUTUBE video.

 

June 21, 2016

Summer is here and plans are under way for the summer/fall building season.
Major accomplishments over the past year include:
  • Determination that Bicknell’s thrush does not breed on the summit of St. Regis, study performed by ornithologist Brian McAllister.
  • Delivery of building materials to the summit by State Police helicopter  with DEC personnel.
  • Railings, stairs, safety fencing and the floor of the cab were replaced by the  Friends and the Student Conservation Association (SCA).
More details and lots of pictures can be found below under Summer 2015.
Projects to be completed in 2016 building season:
  • A series of anonymous donations have allowed the Friends to contract  with David Vana of Davana, LLC  in Bloomingdale, NY to remove the old roof, fabricate new parts and assemble them on the tower.  The parts have been manufactured and plans to airlift the parts to the summit for assembly are in progress.
  • X braces –  plans are in progress by the DEC to have these manufactured and replaced.
  • Window frames – Ready to be installed
  • Hatch fencing and railing – Ready to be installed
  • The Aquatic Watershed Institute (AWI) of Paul Smith’s College is providing  a summit steward who is scheduled to be on the St. Regis summit every Friday during the summer season.
Future projects:
  • Cosmetic repair of base footings
  • Painting
  • Cab ceiling
  • Stair Base
  • Signage

Winter 2016:  Gearing up for the spring/summer construction season.

February 25, 2016

The Roof:

St. Regis 7-12-15 South Roof Panel 4A series of anonymous donations has allowed the Friends to contract  with David Vana of Davana, LLC  in Bloomingdale, NY to remove the old roof, fabricate new parts and assemble them on the tower. This is a huge project which involves working 40 feet up on top of the tower.  The project is scheduled to take place early to mid June, weather dependent, of course. David Vana runs a small company that specializes in finding and saving historical Fire Observer Towers. He disassembles, repairs, manufactures new structural steel parts as needed, re-galvanizes and restores the tower to it’s original structural integrity, safe for public use. David’s assistance with the roof will move the restoration project closer to completion.

Railings: The railing to be placed around the hatch opening is currently being fabricated at the DEC’s Saranac Inn Maintenance Center (SIMC). It is being made from 1 ¼” pipe and fitting instead of angle steel. It is being modeled after similar railings produced by Vana. It will be easy to disassemble for transport and reassemble on site.

Window Frames: The SIMC will also pre-drill window framing steel using templates made on the November 24 trip (see below).

Fall 2015:  Not quite done, but almost.

Our fire tower is not finished, and is NOT open to the public. The cab still needs safety railings, a new roof, and windows installed. PLEASE do not climb up the tower. It will be open next year.

November 24, 2015

Window prep.

After a nice hike up, Doug, John and Rich of the Friends group battled the cold, blustery wind to install one window panel divider. The metal was pre-cut, but needed to be drilled and bolted onto the frame. To do this first required some removal of the old wooden frame. The pieces fit perfect, holes were drilled, and a template was made so that the other pieces can be pre-drilled in a shop.

 

October 8, 2015

Fire Tower Recognition Event

A DEC sponsored event highlighting the opening of the Spruce Mountain Trail and 65 ft fire tower in Corinth NY  also included recognition of the work done on  the St Regis Mt fire tower.

A complete press release may be seen here. Below are some excerpts from the press release and some pictures from the occasion.

 

“Three additional fire towers in the Adirondacks have undergone recent rehabilitation. Restoration work is complete and the Lyon Mountain fire tower is open to the public in the Chazy Highlands Wild Forest. Work began and will continue next season on the fire towers on St. Regis Mountain in the St. Regis Canoe Area and Hurricane Mountain in the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness.

“The 35-foot Hurricane Mountain fire tower was discontinued for use as a fire observation station in 1979, and the35-foot Saint Regis Mountain fire tower was shut down in 1990. Both structures have been closed to the public ever since.”DEC has worked closely with its partners; including the APA, volunteer friends organizations, local governments, and the State Police Aviation Unit, to ensure these historical resources are maintained and opened to the public for education and enjoyment,” said DEC Region 5 Director Bob Stegemann.

Friends of St. Regis co-chair Doug Fitzgerald said, “After 25 years of inactivity, the St. Regis Mountain fire tower is springing back to life. Two weeks ago DEC Region 5 Forester Steve Guglielmi coordinated restoration work on the tower. The Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower and the Student Conservation Association’s Adirondack Program joined forces to replace and repair stairs, landings, the cab floor, railings and safety fencing. This work represents a wonderful start to the eventual total restoration of the tower. The Friends are pleased to be partnering with the DEC through a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement to help facilitate the restoration process and to provide educational and interpretive activities on the mountain.”

 

Summer 2015:  The work is underway!

September 24, 2015

WORKDAY 4

The SCA crew and Friends installed more railings, stairs, safety fencing and the floor of the cab. The SCA worked overtime to wrap things up with plans to leave Friday. They are an energetic, skilled and very tough crew. The Friends of St. Regis Fire Tower – and all those who will enjoy the tower – cannot thank you folks enough.

 

September 23, 2015

WORKDAY 3

The wonderful SCA crew, a handful of Friends and (a “packmule” of) a DEC staff brought more supplies up the mountain and installed more railings and stairs.

 

September 22, 2015

WORKDAY 2


September 21,2015

WORKDAY 1

Report from Doug Fitzgerald:
“We had a good start on Monday. The Student Conservation Crew is camping near the summit. We installed the first flight of stairs today and are working our way up the tower. We had 7 SCA members, 6 Friends of St. Regis volunteers, a DEC employee and a DEC/SCA intern. A very historic day. We should have people up there all week. ”
For any potential helpers: If you see anything at the base labeled to go to the summit, feel free to carry it up.
FYI: Shaun Kittle, Outdoor and Sports Writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise is planning to be on the summit today – Tuesday – to interview workers and write a feature story for the ADE Saturday edition.

Cari Lee, one of the many SCA workers at the fire tower, submitted some of the following photos and reports: “The restoration project on the fire towers at St. Regis has started. I’m so grateful to be a part of something that has so much meaning. The members of the DEC and Student Conservation Association are truly amazing!”

Carol Hillman Van Dyke  snapped this picture at lunchtime:

Carol Hillman Van Dyke Day 1 lunchtime

 

September 16, 2015

The restoration has begun. Materials are already on the summit and now is the time to act. We can use your help.

The SCA crew will be arriving at the trailhead on Monday, 9/21 around 10 AM. They are planning to camp near the summit through Thursday night and will leave around noon on Friday, 9/25.
– The crew will be 6 or 7 SCA members plus 1 leader.
– On Monday they will have a lot of stuff to carry up the mountain. Camping gear, food, tools, materials, etc…
If anyone can help carry some of this it will assist them to get organized and started quicker.
– Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be full work days for them, with Friday being a time for them to wrap up and break camp.

Work will consist of:
1. Stair, landing and cab floor replacement,
a. Includes demolition of the old wood and fasteners with removal of debris from the summit.
b. We may prime the steel surfaces where the lumber makes contact with it. Forester Tate Connor is researching products to use.
2. Re-installation of the bottom two flights of stair stringers.
a. Includes installation of new or salvaged hand rails and stanchions (not currently on the summit)
b. We will need to determine how best to attach the bottom stringers to the base pad. We need ideas of how to do this.base pad
3. Installation of fencing around the stairs and landings.
a. Wire ties to be carried up.

When this work is done the fencing will be used to block the entrance to the bottom flight of stairs and a “tower closed” sign will be posted. Obviously, this will not prevent people from climbing over the fence and going up the tower, but it will serve to let people know that it is not officially opened yet.

Our efforts will consist of working with the SCA crew to help make their time on the mountain as productive as possible.
Volunteers will need a hard hat, eye protection and work gloves.
We have a few extra hard hats and safety glasses.
Disposable ear plug will be provided for hearing protection.
Bring a pack with work gloves, personal gear, water and food. Bring a pack with extra room to help take other items to the summit.

Let me know if you can help.

Thanks.
Doug Fitzgerald
518-891-4528

 

August 25, 2015

Three sling loads of materials were airlifted via NYS helicopter to the summit today! Some photos are of the NYSDEC Rangers assisting on the helicopter.  All of the needed lumber, hardware, and the bottom 2 sets of stair stringers are now on the summit.  The steel materials needed, including the roof panels and cross braces, are not yet fabricated and likely will not be ready until next summer. David Petrelli was there and shares the experience with all of us through these photos.


August 21, 2015

Ranger Tom Edmonds, Ranger Kevin Burns, Forester Steve Guglielmi, Forester Dan Levy and Doug Fitzgerald prepared materials to be air lifted to St. Regis, Hurricane and Lyon Mountain fire towers. Everyone was well organized and excited to move these restoration projects forward. After getting materials loaded we split into two teams and delivered the materials to the staging areas.

8.21.15 1 8.21.15 2

 

Specific to the St. Regis tower – The lumber for the steps, cab flooring and landings were stacked at the staging area along with the fencing, hardware and stair stringers. The metal for the braces, windows, stair rails and hatch rails will not be in until 9/1 and will probably not be flown this year. The helicopters will be used for fish stocking after this and with the floats on they will not be available for the tower projects again this fall. Anything that doesn’t get flown now will have to be hand carried or wait until next year.

 

August 20, 2015 

We have just received word that lumber for the stairs, the stringers and some other materials are going to be choppered to the summit of St Regis in the next week.  The material will be staged tomorrow. The exact day  the chopper will fly will be dependent upon the weather. Additionally, the Student Conservation Association (SCA) is scheduled to work on the tower during the week of September 21.   Great progress!!! Many thanks to the DEC personnel for all their efforts.

 

August 10, 2015 

Sandy Trevor of Upper St. Regis brought a drone cam up St. Regis and shot this great video of the tower and its views: https://youtu.be/gmxLfcSVr5s

It is easy to see the work that needs to be done,  replacing the stairs and roof panels are the most obvious.

 

August 1,  2015 

A materials list was delivered to the DEC forester in charge of the restoration project.

 

July 11, 2015 

David Petrelli, assisted by Scott Dragoon climbed the tower and took numerous pictures  and measurements of various structural parts to facilitate the production of a materials list.

 

July 8, 2015 

The construction work group met to discuss what material and measurements are needed to complete a materials list for the tower reconstruction. Additionally, arrangements are in progress to get the window frames and hatch railings fabricated.

 

June 6, 2015

On Trail Day, , a  crew of 16 hearty volunteers worked on the St Regis Mountain trail. The crew, headed by DEC Asst. Ranger Keith Hollenbeck, Ranger Tom Edmunds (on his day off), back country steward Cari Brazie and FOSRMFT steering committee members Doug Fitzgerald and Scottie Adams, constructed 2 bridges over a wet, boggy area of the trail. Assemblyman Dan Stec Traveled from Queensbury to join the effort.

Volunteers for Trail Day:

Scottie Adams, Rick Betty, Heather Daly, Debbie and Scott Dragoon, Doug Fitzgerald, Dr. Ed Hixson, Janelle Hoh, Jen Johnson, Sharon Kemp, Rich LaBombard, Carla Morse, Marcia Pickering, Judy Rush, Assemblyman Dan Stec and Marc Wanner.

 

June 4, 2015

BT survey
Paul Smith’s College ornithology students relax after conducting a survey for Bicknell’s thrush.

A survey for Bicknell’s thrush was conducted by Brian McAllister and  6 students from his  Paul Smith’s College field ornithology course.   They surveyed the habitat above and below the tree line, playing a recording of the Bicknell’s thrush to elicit a response from any birds present in the vicinity. No indication of the presence of Bicknell’s thrush was detected by this survey.

 

June 3rd, 2015

The nitty-gritty/get your hands dirty work started  with the uncovering of parts from St Regis tower and others. Inmates from Moriah Shock Camp helped sort out a pile of tower parts that were mostly from Debar and Pharaoh Mountains. Many of the pieces are in bad shape, but the missing St. Regis stair stringers and some cross braces were found.

 

tower parts (3) tower parts (2) tower parts (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 30th, 2015

From the minutes of the Educational/interpretive working group “Last night the interpretive group met at the PSC library to start the process of developing a program. One of the questions that came up is how to handle the volunteer stewards on the mountain. The options are; a paid DEC staff on weekends,  Volunteers on weekends, or a combination of paid on weekends and volunteers midweek.  We liked the combo option but will do more research to get details from DEC on how we can use their resources and training program.

We will also develop a training program for volunteers on the mountain and at the VIC.
We would like to create a handbook and handouts to be used by all stewards.
We intend to develop some static displays for both locations for when no stewards are present.”

Spring 2015:

On November 7, 2014 DEC Commissioner, Joe Martens issued the final Saint Regis Fire Tower Historic Area (SRMFTHA) Unit Management Plan which would allow restoration of the tower to proceed. The Friends of the St Regis Fire Tower applied for a Volunteer Service Agreement (VSA) which was approved on January 16, 2015. The Friends are now working closely with DEC personnel to restore the tower and to develop educational and stewardship programs.

 

We have some exciting updates to share with you. A very successful public meeting was held March 3, 2015 at the Paul Smith’s VIC to update interested parties on restoration  progress and to recruit team leaders and volunteers. Areas for volunteer effort have been divided into 3 main work groups: Construction, Fundraising,  (which includes the Web site and Social media), and Education / Interpretive. Progress with the Work Goups is summarized below:

Fundraising:

  • We have a new web site that is smart phone friendly.  Please check it out.
  • We have a Facebook page. Please “Like Us” and send us your favorite photos of St. Regis- the mountain, the tower, and the view.
  • The friends have partnered with AARCH, a 501(3)c non-profit charitable organization, allowing us to collect tax deductible donations.  Make a donation on line or download a donation form and mail to us.
  • A blog will soon be available.

Construction:

  • Our construction leaders have met with DEC officials twice in the last two months and preparations are underway.
  • The tower has been inspected by a state engineer and the reports are in hand. The original Aermotor plans for the tower are available.
  • Several possible stockpiles of spare parts have been located and are being investigated.
  • Quotes for new parts have been received.
  • A letter has been received from the DEC verifying that the DEC has funds for fire tower stewardship, including maintenance, rehabilitation and educational activities. Provisions include purchase of materials and supplies by the DEC  and labor provided by our Friends organizations.
  • A survey for Bicknell’s Thrush is being arranged as this will effect when restorations can occur.

Education/Interpretive Group

  • Plans for static educational displays on the mountain  and at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) are being developed. One such display would include a mock-up of the tower cab.
  • Training  programs for Volunteer stewards on the mountain and at the VIC  are being developed.
  • Handouts to be used by stewards are being planned.
  • We are still looking for help in  our work groups: Construction, Fundraising,  (which includes the Web site and Social media), and Education / Interpretive. Submit a volunteer form on line or print and mail to us.

Saving The Tower (Pre-2015):

There are many reasons why the St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower was saved. Listed below are a few to consider:

The History:

st regis-tower-1974
St. Regis observer’s cabin – 1974
Photo courtesy of Bob Eckler
  • The environmental education value of a staffed tower is immense.
  • Fire towers serve to remind us of the value of our forest.
  • Paddlers use the tower to get their bearings in the St. Regis Canoe Area. It’s a welcome landmark.
  • The preservation of the St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower is overwhelmingly supported by local residents and townships, (over 2500 petition signatures) as well as our state representatives.
  • Only a few fire towers in the whole state remain. At one time there were over 100.
  • The St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower has been on the summit since 1918 and it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower was in operation for 81 years making it the longest operating fire tower in the State of New York.

The People, The Places:

  • Volunteers are numerous and willing to do the work and monetary donations would cover the costs of a full restoration.
  • Other towers have been successfully restored and staffed.
  • Its close proximity to the Visitor Interpretive Center makes it a natural for interpretive hikes.
  • The view from the summit is good. The view from the tower is Great.
  • Towers have always been annual destination points for individuals, couples and families (We’re sure there are lots of personal stories that would be lost).
  • Many see fire towers as a symbol of wilderness. This tower can be seen as a visible representation of the unspoiled forest.