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Next meeting -- March 11, 2015

7:30 Program: Geology of the Finger Lakes – Presented By Timothy McDonnell
The Finger Lakes of New York are a gift from the Ice Age. They are unique in many ways. The conditions that made them are not found anywhere else. Before the glaciers invaded New York from Canada, the landscape was very different from what we find today. Where we find lakes today, there were only river valleys. This includes the Great Lakes as well as the Finger Lakes.

Geologists can only make intelligent guesses about what the pre-glacial landscape looked like. In Central New York there were a series of north-south trending streams, tributaries to a large river located somewhere in the middle of what is now Lake Ontario.

As the glaciers moved slowly southward, they gouged out deep basins that later flooded to form the five Great Lakes. Pushing toward Pennsylvania, the elevation of the land increases, so the ice had to move uphill. They deepened those north-south river valleys, in some cases below what is now sea level. Then around 20,000 years ago, the climate slowly warmed, and the glaciers receded. At one point in the Southern Tier, they paused long enough to dump hills of debris, a glacial moraine. This wall of dirt and rock blocked any escape of water to the south. Instead water collected in these deep valleys, creating the Finger Lakes. Their outlets today are to the north, especially the Seneca River and then the Oswego River.

As their name suggests, they really do resemble fingers, long and skinny. The farther south you go, the steeper the sides of the valleys. The slopes are ideal for growing grapes for the Finger Lakes famed wineries. Streams flowing into the Finger Lakes from the east or west are left "hanging" over the valleys. These are the glens and gorges of the region: Watkins Glen, Grimes Gulf, Enfield Glen, and Taughannock Falls.

Although the Finger Lakes are young from a geologic perspective, the rocks found there are not. They were laid down around 350 to 400 million years ago in a warm inland sea. These deposits came from eroding mountains in New England. Buried in the layers of rock are fossils from the Devonian world - brachiopods, trilobites, corals, eurypterids, and even primitive fish. (Sorry, no dinosaurs - they came later!). The Finger Lakes Region is one of the best places to find fossils from this distant period of the past.

We should also be proud of the people who have called the Finger Lakes their home. It was the territory of the Haundenosaunee (Iroquois) people for centuries, especially the Seneca and the Cayuga. They devised a system of governing themselves that inspired our Founding Fathers. Later, after we won our independence settlers came from New England and from countries in Europe to farm the fertile valleys. The Erie Canal was built just north of the lakes and this brought prosperity to the region. This was a hotbed of new ideas in the 19th century: temperance, abolition, women's rights. The first convention advocating suffrage for women was held in Seneca Falls in 1848. The people valued education and they founded institutions of higher learning like Hobart and William Smith, Wells College, and Cornell University.

Today the Finger Lakes is a popular place for tourists, hikers, and paddlers. To appreciate them better, you need to know about their history and geography. Tim McDonnell hopes to share his love for this special region with the members of the Adirondack Mountain Club of the Genesee Valley on March 11th.

Timothy McDonnell is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Geosciences at Monroe Community College. He is also the Coordinator of the New York Geographic Alliance, a group of educators aligned with the National Geographic Society that promotes better geography in our schools.

A special request from main club

ADK Supervised Volunteer Trail Projects

Since 1986 the ADK has been hosting volunteers to participate in trail projects. In that time over 10,000 volunteers took part in maintaining the trails in the Adirondack Park. Our volunteer program is not just about the trails though. I can say for certain is that all 10,000+ volunteers who participated in the ADK volunteer program left with a sense of stewardship for the Adirondacks. They know firsthand how much hard work, and how rewarding it is to keep our park in tip-top shape.

The Adirondack Mountain Club will always remain dedicated, not only to continue with our volunteer program, but also to look for ways to expand and improve upon it. It is with that attitude that we decided to double the amount of volunteer opportunities next summer. The additional projects will focus on the trails in the Eastern High Peaks. The trails in the High Peaks are in definite need of our hardworking volunteers, and in turn will give them a great opportunity to experience the High Peaks Wilderness.

It is going to be a tall order to fill all of these projects, for this expansion to be possible in the future we need good participation. I am asking for your help in spreading the word about our Supervised Volunteer Trails Program. Your help would mean 10,000 more great experiences, a more pleasant hiking experience, and the protection of wilderness areas and Wild Forests along trail corridors. We have several scholarship opportunities available for our High School Volunteer Program. These scholarships would cover the cost of our participation fee. Our newest addition is the ADK Woods Woman Scholarship. This scholarship is available to high school aged women who want to participate in a volunteer trail project. To register for any of our volunteer opportunities please visit . If you have any questions at all don’t hesitate to contact Andrew:

Thank you all for your continued support.


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