Session Descriptions


The following are our three conference strands:

Word Art Blue Line for Print editedImpact of Current Climate Fluctuations: How have many heretofore unknown diseases and invasive species spread into our region, and what can be done to reduce such threats? How will year-round tourist attractions such as winter sports, Autumnal “leaf-peepers”, and summer activities be impacted by increasing periods of adverse weather, reduced snowpack, and harmful algal blooms? How can communities create “sustainable” economic growth while preparing for the influx of inevitable human population shifts due to forced migration and globally shifting food production areas? How are “native” flora and fauna changing as a result of severe weather, flooding from altered precipitation patterns, and wildfires that destroy our collective livable habitats?

Building a Future We Want in the Adirondacks: What are the key economic, cultural, and geopolitical trends we are seeing in the Adirondacks, and how will we react to these trends? What can be done now to move towards a vision of the Adirondacks that sustains what we love about the region while adapting to current realities? The audience will be challenged to join together to promote actions today that build toward a shared vision for our region.

Disaster Preparedness: How will our local communities provide shelter, food, water, available energies, and multiple-format communications in the event of a natural disaster such flood, wildfire, severe weather, drought, earthquake or other catastrophic event? How must our infrastructure change given our warming climate?


Panel discussion:

The panel will consist of two experts in their fields and several of our local government leaders. Panelists will answer prepared questions as well as those from the audience, and will speak specifically on how their towns are planning for and responding to climate change in the Adirondacks. Are we ready for a major flooding scenario? Are our wetlands protected? What steps have been taken to accommodate people moving north to escape environmental crises? This is an opportunity to have your local concerns addressed by experts and those with leadership roles in our communities.

ADK Futures Update

Dave Mason

Dave Mason ran a scenario planning project called ADK Futures in 2011-12 for the ADK Common Ground Alliance. It involved over 500 people and uncovered a sustainable direction for the region that nearly everyone felt was both desirable and achievable. The work also produced a map of events that need to happen over the next 25 years if the region is to reach its desired future. Since 2012, Dave has tracked what has actually happened versus what people said they wanted. Now, some 6 years later, we are beginning to see how our actual actions add up versus the scenarios. This work, tracking reality versus the scenarios, is the topic of his session.

Climate Change in the Adirondacks: Causes, Impacts, Projections

Eric M. Leibensperger

The climate of the Adirondacks is changing. Anthropogenic activities have warmed the planet and our protected lands are not immune. Dr. Leibensperger will present evidence linking fossil fuel combustion to observed changes in climate and review trends recorded in the Adirondack/North Country region. He will further show projections of future changes in Adirondack climate. Discussion will also include the complications of detecting climate trends and the principal sources of uncertainty as we attempt to project future warming.

Climate Change and Our Changing Menu

Mike Hoffmann

Climate change is upon us and the evidence is nearly everywhere, including rising sea levels, melting glaciers, more extreme weather events, and shifting precipitation patterns. These changes are rapidly making the business of growing our food less predictable and riskier right here in New York and across the globe. The seminar will cover the basics of climate change and how the changing climate is affecting our globally interconnected and interdependent food supply including our staple commodities and our favorites like coffee, wine, and chocolate – just about everything on the menu. We face a food security and national security challenge. Addressing this challenge requires innovative research to develop new practices and tools that help the agricultural and the food sectors adapt to the new normal, and mitigate their impact. New outreach approaches, climate smart farming decision tools, and partnerships applicable to the Northeast and elsewhere will be discussed.

Cyanobacteria Control in Lakes

Johann Neering and Nicole Crane

This session will involve remediation and control for toxic cyanobacteria in New York Lakes. The workshop will be given by John Neering and Nicole Crane and include an introductory video clip and then a Q&A portion. After that participants will be involved in a hands on floating island building activity which are used as part of the cyanobacteria control.

Disaster Preparedness

Amy Hirsch

Tips for individuals to be prepared for hazards that are prevalent in the area.

Drawdown: Proven Climate Change Solutions for the Adirondacks and Beyond

Stephen Danna

Let’s be honest. Climate change is scary, and for the individual, overwhelming to digest. Mix in the guilt of a Western lifestyle, and reversing the decades of damage done to Mother Nature can seem hopeless. Yet hope does live on in climate solutions that are both economically and technologically viable right here and now. In this interactive session, participants will explore the top 25 solutions identified in Paul Hawkin’s landmark project; Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. Participants will leave energized knowing proven actions they and others can incorporate/practice daily to address climate change. Actions that will lead to the day when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels finally begin to decline year over year. A day of celebration for the Adirondack community and beyond. A day called Drawdown.

Emergency Preparedness Mass Gathering

Laura Stebbins

Roundtable discussion regarding the impact of an emergency situation during tourist season including: planning, response, recovery, mitigation, protection and prevention strategies. Session will include the importance of Continuity Plans and Psychological First Aid.

Hazard Mitigation: Assisting and Planning for Community Resiliency

Jim Lieberum

Hazard mitigation attempts to address reducing the effects from naturally occurring events through proper planning and implementation. Mitigation actions can and should occur at the federal, state, community, and homeowner levels and this presentation will provide attendees an introduction to the program and provide examples of what can be done to effectively reduce impacts.

Reducing Flood Risk through the Community Risk and Resiliency Act

Mark Lowery

The Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) requires consideration of sea-level rise, flooding, and storm surge in certain state facility-siting regulations, funding and permit programs, and state infrastructure projects. Pursuant to CRRA, DEC has developed State Flood Risk Management Guidance, which includes flood-risk management guidelines recommended for incorporation into program-specific guidance and regulations. This presentation will describe DEC’s approach to implementing CRRA and its applicability to local decision making.

Tick-borne Diseases in the Adirondack Region

Holly Ahern

Your risk of encountering a tick is increasing and so is the risk of acquiring a tick-borne infection such as Lyme disease, Babesia, Anaplasma, or Bartonella. This talk covers what you need to know about the diseases caused by tick-borne microbes in the Adirondack region.


The Aquatic  Messenger:

Resonating with the spirit of Galileo’s Starry MessengerThe Aquatic Messenger is an immersive, interactive VR experience where one can explore the world of microfossils and planktonic life indicators of freshwater ecology!

Created in conjunction with the micropaleontology and freshwater plankton research of the Jefferson Project and the Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) at Lake George by a transdisciplinary team of Rensselaer faculty and student and artists, scientists, music composers, programmers, and game designers, The Aquatic Messenger integrates art and advanced game and simulation technology with scientific discovery.

Travel through deep time and the corresponding aquatic life in the lake region of:

  • The Paleozoic Era

o   Cambrian epoch: 500 million years ago, the age of arthropods when a shallow sea covered the lake (as reveled in regional stromatolites)

o   Devonian epoch: 375 million years ago “the age of fishes” Lake George was covered with a shallow sea (as revealed geologically in the Helderbergs)

  • The Cenozoic Era

o   Pleistocene epoch: 11,000 years ago the Wisconsin ice sheet retreats revealing the current micro paleontological research and other treasures including the Cohoes Mastodon

  • The Modern Era

o   Modern A: Native inhabitants, Impacts of Settlement and deforestation 1700’s- 1850’s, Salt in the 1970’s

o   Modern B: current times and beyond 2030 with the instruments and data of the Jefferson Project sensor web, the Fund for Lake George and others helping to keep the lake clean

For more information please see or contact Associate Professor Kathleen Ruiz