Thursday, September 30, 2021

Alma Pond: A remote WNY lake to paddle this fall


Back in 1928, Herbert Hoover wanted a “car in every garage”. If he were alive today, with that goal realized, his new slogan might be a “kayak in every garage.” Kayaks are everywhere. It seems like everyone has one.

The watersports craze really seems to have picked up its pace in the Covid pandemic. People who are sick of confinement and boredom, or intent on staying away from others have been looking for adventure outdoors and new places to explore.


Once you’ve tackled all the usual suspects – the Great Lakes, Oak Orchard Creek, the Genesee River – you might want someplace different, a little off the beaten path, a destination.


One of those diamonds in the rough that welcomes kayakers is Alma Pond. Located in southern Allegany County, near the Pennsylvania line, this 86-acre gem offers one of the most beautiful paddling excursions in WNY.

This is especially the case in late-September and early-October when the hills are ablaze with color. During the fall peak, there is something surreal about being on Alma Pond, you might think that you’re on some lake nestled in the Adirondack Mountains the way that the colors are over and around you.

That’s because Alma Pond is situated at the bottom of a deep valley. The elevation of the lake is 1,570 feet above sea level. But the peaks of the hilltops standing over the lake reach 1,900 to 2,100 feet and they do so in a hurry, creating a veritable wall of reds, yellows and oranges. It can give your senses an overload. You will find yourself just floating and staring, mystified by the incredible beauty.


Although Route 38 parallels the lake, it’s not a heavily traveled road and you will be treated to relative solitude. The DEC’s launch site is for car-top boats only, so in most cases you will encounter kayakers and canoeists. You might see the rare, small powerboat that is put in at the Alma Rod and Gun Club but they are few and far between and quite considerate – no one is revving their motors and there are no silence-killing jet skis.

That solitude and the miles of forest around the lake allow for some great sightseeing and some truly awesome bird watching. The lake is frequented by fish-catching ospreys which are always fun to watch as they dive-bomb the water. But, the real avian attention-grabbers are the family of bald eagles that call Alma Pond “home”. This year, the pair lost their nest to a storm but they still frequent the lake.

The mammals that frequent this pond can also make for great viewing. Beavers, mink, deer, and bears frequent the southern shore. Who knows, sometime in the coming years, stragglers from Pennsylvania’s growing elk population might even make it here.


Plan to bring a camera to snap photos of all those critters -- and bring a fishing pole, too. Despite occasional winter kills that can really set back the fish populations a few years, the lake sports excellent panfish numbers, a few pike, lots of carp (there are even carp tournaments here) and a good population of largemouth bass, some of which exceed 20” in length  -- a real trophy in WNY. There is plenty of structure to fish, because lily pads are plentiful and so are the stumps left over from the flooding of the valley. Even now, 80 years after the creation of this manmade lake, they still stand.

Alma Pond is located on County Route 38 in Allegany County in the town of Alma, which is southwest of Wellsville. It is 20 minutes away from the village of Wellsville and just 10 minutes away, by back roads, from Trout Run Campground, which is a popular destination for out-of-town campers.

The DEC owns 3,000 feet of shoreline along the lake, so you could put your boat in most anywhere along the roadside, or you could use the designated hand launch which has parking for 10 cars and a nice built-up and braced dike from which to picnic, sightsee, or fish.

When launching your kayak at the DEC site, you can head west, which goes to the wide open valley and can show a good sunset, or you can head east, with its narrower valley and unsettled wilderness-like setting. Anyway you put it, you won’t be disappointed…Alma Pond offers a real treat for kayakers, anglers, and nature lovers.


Get out on the water this fall. WNY autumns are beautiful, yet too brief…don’t let them pass you by.  


From the 13 September 2021 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News

Monday, September 20, 2021

Long live newspapers

Last week, one of the newspaper I write for, the Lockport Union Sun & Journal, featured a glossy magazine celebrating 200 years of the newspaper.


200 years!


Two centuries for any business is special.


Two centuries for a print newspaper, given the modern economics of the medium, is extra special.


And, it’s special to me: For most of my 46 years that newspaper has been an important part of my life. Since the fourth grade, I’ve immersed myself in its content. And, since 2005, my column has appeared every week in the US&J.


I regularly let people know my love for that newspaper and newspapers in general. Quite often I speak to large groups at the factory or in the classroom – it could be Leadership Niagara, college students at Brockport, or fifth graders. When discussing some of the more important tools for leading an organization, making themselves career-ready, or being good citizens, I always mention that they need to read a newspaper, or a few of them, every day.

Their eyes always perk up with curiosity when I say that.


It could be because the topic of acquired contemporary knowledge is rarely discussed as a trait of leadership or citizenship. Or, it may be that a good many people have a rather disdainful view of news in general because of the boisterous “Fake News” propaganda spread by former President Trump or the similar yet far more subtle undertones from his predecessor. Or, it may be that my audience doesn’t read the paper once a day, let alone once a month, a behavior that has become the norm in this age of the internet and the accessibility of immediate – albeit abbreviated and suspect – information.

To allay their curiosity and warm them up to the daily read, I always lay out just how crucial a newspaper is for good management and good activism.


Every leader, head of household, and engaged citizen must be a Renaissance (Wo)Man, knowing a little bit (or a lot) about a wide variety of subjects. To effectively do your job and make the appropriate decisions in business (finances, capital investment, product development, and marketing) and in your personal life (savings, investment, buying, and the American concept of self-governance) you have to be aware of what’s happening all around our world, from your neighborhood to some far-flung foreign land.

Why? The global economy and modern technology have made the world a smaller place, a faster place, and we’re all interconnected. What happens here and elsewhere will set off a domino effect that affects you personally and professionally in the short-term or long-term. For example, a flood in Australia can drive up wheat prices, doing the same to prices at the grocery store in Niagara Falls; a deep freeze in Texas can ultimately shut down production lines hundreds of miles away here in the New York, harming your job; and the town council’s vote on infrastructure might make your water bill go up. The list is endless.

By being in the know regarding these matters – the major and the minor - you can adjust your operations and your expenditures accordingly, well in advance of your competitors and neighbors. Knowledge is power.

I always tell my audience that they can’t use television news and the internet as shortcuts or as the sole sources of news.


Broadcast news is flawed in that you spend a half–to-one hour in front of the tube and a good portion of that airtime is commercials, while the national news stations (like CNN and Fox News) are agenda driven and over-kill some of the most unimportant stories while putting issues of actual importance on the back-burner. Likewise, the internet does the same, promoting really inane and false garbage. The problem with the web, too, is that its users use it as a filter and scan the headlines, focusing only on cute, horrific or popularized topics.

A newspaper, on the other hand, is created with standards and in its printed form puts the entire world, from a variety of perspectives, in your hand. Local and world news, business, sports and culture are all right there. In the same amount of time you would might have spent watching the TV you can ingest a whole newspaper (or a few) and know so much more than you would have learned elsewhere.

You don’t need a degree to be educated. You just need a newspaper like this one. Newspapers can literally make you healthy, wealthy and wise.


Chances are that you’re reading this column in ink so you know that mantra quite well. But, you should also share that belief with your friends and coworkers and get your kids started on it at a young age as I did.


We’ll all be better off for it, for an educated people are a strong people and a successful people. 


Long live newspapers!



From the 07 September 2021 Greater Niagara Newspapers and Batavia Daily News