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Capstone Projects

Presence and Abundance of Microplastics within Flowing Waters of Private, Wilderness, and Other Forest Preserve Lands of the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 16:26
Abstract: Microplastic sampling was conducted at thirteen locations throughout the water bodies of the Northern Adirondack Region. Plastics were found at all thirteen sites, which were categorized by the impact level of human development. Any particle less than 5mm can be defined as a microplastic particle. Microscopic plastics can be found in a variety of chemical cleaners, clothing fabrics, and concrete solutions. Storm water drainage systems and wastewater treatment plants are confirmed sources of microplastic pollution, which carry pollutants into our rivers, lakes, and streams. Ingestion of microplastic particles can lead to many distinctive threats, including biological and physical abnormalities, while possibly leading to bioaccumulation and biomagnification throughout the food web. Future practices for management and prevention of microplastic pollutants in the Adirondacks is critical for environmental protection, while also portraying a worldly view of an overlooked human induced issue.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Patrick Colern, Sinjin Larson

Impacts of Maple Syrup Production Programming at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:37
Abstract: Education and interpretation provides strategies and techniques to successfully communicate natural resource and environmental concerns. This research addresses the effectiveness of a community education project at the Paul Smith’s College (PSC) Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in the Adirondacks of New York State. Educational programs regarding maple syrup production were designed and evaluated to determine their impact on the local community. The objectives were to offer skills education, raise awareness on a local resource, foster a connection to the land, and offer involvement in the VIC’s community maple project. The goal of maple education at the VIC is to educate the community in an attempt to encourage the growth of an underutilized sustainable local resource that community members can become involved in without degradation of Adirondack forests. Determinations were made using a survey questionnaire provided before and after the programs were performed. Based on the data collected the determination made is that the majority of participants that attended ultimately were interested in becoming involved in maple sugaring using to VIC as a gateway for maple sugaring, primarily as a hobby and outdoor activity. This research has aided in the determination that effective programming at the VIC results in encouraging the community to be involved in maple syrup production. With this determination the VIC will continue to perform the designed educational programs as a service to the community.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2014
Authors: Thomas Manitta

A Paleolimnological study of precipitation variability in the Adirondacks over the last thousand years

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 20:40
Abstract: At present, most regional climate models anticipate wetter conditions by the end of this century, but a few models anticipate drier conditions. This study uses foresight to test these models, as well as describe the relationship between the dominant climate system in the region and past precipitation in the Adirondacks. Precipitation was inferred from diatom assemblages observed along a lake sediment core extending into the 1000 years. This study shows that abrupt, extreme wet events were common during the last 1000 years, and a relationship between the dominant climate system (North Atlantic Oscillation) and precipitation was irregular during the cool Little Ice Age but negatively associated during the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly. With temperatures in the Northeast projected to increase by 2-5 degrees C by 2100 AD, our study suggests the region may become more arid rather than wetter, opposite of what models currently suggest.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: regalado.serwatka.docx
Authors: Sean A. Regalado, W. Martin Serwatka

Evaluating the Recovery of Lakes from Acid Deposition in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/02/2013 - 22:49
Abstract: Acid rain has been an environmental problem since the 1980’s and has been a core issue in the Adirondack Park located in the northern part of New York State. Acid rain is created by acidic gases from anthropogenic uses that mix in the atmosphere with precipitation and forms acid deposition. Acid Rain lowers the pH of water which has detrimental effects on the biota living within lakes. There is a general consensus that the chemistry of lake water is recovering from acid deposition, however, there have not been sufficient studies on the state of recovery from acid rain in the Adirondack Park or much of the United States. This study will investigate if lake recovery is indeed happening in the Adirondack Park. This study analyzed the water chemistry of lakes using data collected from the Adirondack Lake Survey Corporation (ALSC) and New York State Department of Conservation (DEC). The object of this study is to find a trend in the water chemistry and combine it with DEC data to evaluate the present condition of lakes within the park. The results showed that there are not significant correlations of the data besides SO42- concentrations, which have been approving in the park in the last 20 years.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Timothy Grossman, Ryan Kish

Alternative Management Methods for Acid Deposition in Lakes

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 18:09
Abstract: Acid deposition has been causing the acidification of lakes in the Northeast United States for decades. The result is lake ecosystems with abnormally low pH that stresses the organisms that live there. Management plans in place in the Adirondack Park have been working to remediate acidified lakes for the past few decades. Limestone (CaCO3) has been the generally accepted method for managing these lakes, in an attempt restore the lakes pre-impacted conditions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of liming in reversing the effects of acidification, and to identify effective alternatives. Five alternatives were tested against limestone: Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), Sodium acetate (CH3COONa), Magnesium carbonate (MgCO3), and Potassium carbonate (K2CO3). Double End-Point Titration tests were performed on all of the compounds, using both distilled water and lake water, to determine the relative alkalinity of each compound. Alkalinity is the measure of the ability of a solution to neutralize acid, also known as its "buffering capacity." Lake water was used in the titration tests in an attempt to mimic in-situ testing. The results of the titrations showed limestone proving to be the most effective in the lake water tests, with Magnesium carbonate and Potassium carbonate ranked closely behind. While limestone has proven to be an effective management method, its reliability is dependent upon the characteristics of the lake catchment, making it important to continue to look for alternative solutions.
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Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences
Year: 2013
Authors: Derek Scott

Draft Horse Sustainability Presentations: The effectiveness of presentations on draft animal power at the Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:53
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College has been putting on draft horse presentations for the public for many years but until now it was unknown how effective these were in education of the audience in topics of the interest. During the 2013 Adirondack Rural Skills and Homesteading Festival, a series of demonstrations and presentations were conducted for the public. Surveys of those in attendance have now given us information on how far people are traveling, what their prior experience is, what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it. From this information we wish to gauge attendees’ response to draft animals and their uses.
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Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alexandria Barner, Jacob Shultz

The Redevelopment of the Hiking Treks of BSA Camp Russell of the Revolutionary Trails Council

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 09:48
Abstract: High Adventure Programs are extremely important for Boy Scouts of America Councils. These programs do everything from hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and rock climbing. Each council has their own unique programs specifically made for their area. For Camp Russell of White Lake, NY, redevelopment for part of their High Adventure Program is needed due to the being out of date: The Hiking Treks. New treks will be created with the help of trail mapping with a GPS unit, the ArcMap program, and online research. When all the data is collected, Camp Russell will be supplied with a map that shows many hiking trails within a reasonable driving distance. With this map, a manual will be created that zooms in to each hiking area that has the statistics of each hike. This map can be used by the Camp Russell staff for years to come.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final_Withey.docx
Authors: Richard J. Withey

A Study of Adaptive Skiing and Snowboarding Accomodations

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 20:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to observe, analyze and numerically evaluate a total of six ski resorts based on their degree of facilitation for people with both physical and cognitive disabilities that wish to participate in adaptive skiing and snowboarding. The outcome of this study was to discover themes that are common among different resorts. This study had a focus on ski resorts located in the Northeast, specifically New York and Vermont. The Adaptive Sports Center (ASC) located at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado is a nationally recognized organization, and was held as the standard for this study. The operational techniques and strategies being used at the ASC at Crested Butte were evaluated alongside those in New York and Vermont to further understand the degree of facilitation currently provided for this user group. The resorts located in New York State that were observed are Whiteface Mountain and Gore Mountain. The resort locations in the State of Vermont were the Smuggler’s Notch Adaptive Program at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, Killington Resort at Pico Mountain, and Sugarbush Resort, which both operate under Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. The outcome of this study can be used by program directors at ski resorts that offer adaptive program in order to better accommodate for adaptive skiers and snowboarders.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
File Attachments: final capstone.doc
Authors: Daniel Lewis

Green Roof Technologies in Adirondack Wilderness Areas

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 11:01
Abstract: Wilderness is qualified by two main characteristics: naturalness and solitude. To enhance these characteristics, many things are excluded from wilderness areas including roads, motorized vehicles and human-made structures of any kind. However some argue there needs to be greater consideration to structures that are a regional legacy and hold considerable historical significance. The Adirondack lean-to is a well-known entity associated with the Adirondack Park but much debate exists over whether or not such structures should be allowed in wilderness areas. The addition of green roofs to lean-tos can possibly mediate the humanness of these structures and produce a three-fold benefit. First, green roofs increase the naturalness of the lean-to. Second, they provide a model for naturalness and sustainability. Third, green roofs on lean-tos provide an additional benefit by lowering, however modestly, the impact of these structures on the natural environment. This qualitative study conducted a series of interviews to examine the feasibility and gauge the receptivity of stakeholders to this idea. Identified themes included the maintenance required to keep up the roofs, the cost and labor of installation and their longevity. Additional themes included the perceived lack of benefits, cultural and historical significance as well as the possibility of green-roofed lean-tos to provide an educational benefit. The data suggest that the benefits associated with green roofs on lean-tos may outweigh the cost of their installation. The naturalness of the green roof on the lean-t may thus offset the “unnaturalness” of the structures themselves to the degree that lean-tos may be perceived as more conforming to wilderness areas. This study concludes that further research is needed into the technical aspects of green roof construction including the amount of maintenance required and the use of wilderness compliant materials. The interest in green-roofed lean-tos appears to exist and with additional technical data it may be possible to take the next step.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alison Liedkie

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte