Friday, July 13, 2012

Of Interest

There is an article about the Furgary Boat Club by Debora Gilbert in this week's Columbia Paper: "City poised to evict Furgary."


  1. First we learn from the Mayor that the land "can't be leased," but next that the city is checking with the state "on the question of leasing property."

    But here's the money line:

    “We used to catch shad but it's protected now. We'd sell the roe to Kozels ..."

    The following is from our LWRP, at POLICY 10:

    "[C]ommercial fishing for ... striped bass and American shad, could again become economically viable and the potential for commercial fishing should be considered in planning for the City’s riverfront."

    So did the last council even read this law, their own law!

    Inasmuch as it can help, how would the present Common Council account for Policy 10 (and the other policies below) that support the perpetuation of unique river access at North Dock?

    Following are other items in Hudson's LWRP policy section (all made possible with your money):

    "POLICY 1a. Priority should be given to uses which are dependent on a location adjacent to the water; ...

    "POLICY 2: Facilitate the siting of water dependent uses and facilities on or adjacent to coastal waters.

    "The following uses and facilities are considered as water-dependent:

    "(1). Uses which depend on the utilization of resources found in coastal waters (e.g. fishing) ...

    "(3). Uses involved in the sea/land transfer of goods (e.g. docks, loading areas, short-term storage facilities);

    "(6). Facilities needed to store and service boats and ships (e.g. marinas, boat repair, boat construction yards);

    "(11). Support facilities that are necessary for the successful functioning of permitted water-dependent uses ...

    "POLICY 4: Strengthen the economic base of smaller harbor areas by encouraging the development and enhancement of those traditional uses and activities which have provided such areas with their unique maritime identity.

    "This policy recognizes that the traditional activities occurring in and around numerous smaller harbors such as Hudson’s, contribute to a community’s economic strength and attractiveness. Thus, efforts shall center on promoting such desirable activities as recreational fishing, marinas, historic preservation, cultural pursuits, and other compatible activities that have made smaller harbor areas appealing as tourist destinations and as commercial and residential areas.

    "The City of Hudson has a long maritime history ..."

    "The following guidelines shall be used in determining consistency:

    (1.) The action shall give priority to those traditional and/or desired uses that are dependent on or enhanced by a location adjacent to the water.

    (2.) The action will enhance or not detract from or adversely affect existing traditional and/or desired anticipated uses. ...

    (5.) The action will not adversely affect the economic base of a community.

    "POLICY 10 [again]: "Further develop commercial finfish, shellfish, and crustacean resources in the coastal area by:

    (1) Encouraging the construction of new, or improvements of existing on-shore commercial fishing facilities.

    (2) Increasing marketing of the state's seafood products ..."

    Sad isn't it, when you compare the above with what's about to go down at Furgary.

    And to think that all of the beautiful nonsense in the preceding words was written in the name of the citizens of the City of Hudson. We pass our lives in Hudson nearly asleep at the wheel, or so it would seem.

    And when the moratorium is lifted and the shad fishery returns, do people suppose that the culture, the connections and the infrastructure for harvesting them will simply be magically reconstituted? (Paralleling SEQRA, this is a question the state coastal policies were designed to avoid ever having to ask.)

    And the mournful refrain at Furgary: "if only Everett Nack were still alive this would never have happened." (Please find out about that amazing man to gain some appreciation for what's being lost.)

  2. I'm not a Hudsonian and don't have a dog in this fight.

    Still, I don't see how this private club -- and I belong to a few -- that for decades has paid no rent, paid no raxes, and had no commercial activity qualifies for special treatment under the Hudson waterfront plan or any plan.

    These aren't commercial fishermen or boatyard operators or anything except a very private group with Keep Out signs at their place, generation after generation as I understand it. They seem to have a long history as squatters. They may have had good times by the river but I just don't get why anyone else feels that they deserve special treatment or dispensation.

    -- Jock Spivy

  3. Jock (Sam), your post is profoundly disappointing to me.

    Your notions of Furgary are clearly shaped by someone else's pernicious narrative. They are inconsistent with what I've come to respect about your sensitivity to traditional continuities.

    Your ideas about commercial fishing activities at Furgary are simply wrong.

    I was depending on people to look up "Everett Nack," whose legacy would explain everything one needs to know about Furgary as a longtime recreational and commercial fishery. The man's name will open the story for anyone who inquires.

    Because there is now a statewide moratorium on the harvest of the largest species of herring (called "shad"), the people and lifestyles you so easily dismiss are vulnerable to the charge that they are no longer working commercial fisherman.

    This is entirely unfair, and the false charge even elicits several lines of defense from the State of New York.

    The preservation of the fishery is not limited to the resource itself, but includes the transmission of the shad fishing heritage. There is a world of arcane fishing skills available at Furgary for anyone with the interest.

    Duck hunting is another aspect of life at Furgary. Hunting requires a large investment in the federal duck stamp program which pays for our National Wildlife Refuges. Perhaps you'd like to thank them for the purchase of the nation's refuges and then send them on their way. But consider that Vermont is the first state where the hunting tradition was not passed along to the next generation. Ever since, Vermont taxpayers have been saddled with the cost of upkeep to that state's National Wildlife Refuges.

    And wouldn't barter figure into a local economy for you? I should have hoped it would, and I think that many who visit this blog will recognize the value of it. At Furgary I have known the trade of services for fresh fish or duck. One barter entailed the repair of a boat engine. How do you measure that?

    Keep in mind that private investments are not limited to duck hunting, but were formerly taken up with expensive gill nets and other infrastructure for river and shore use.

    Alewife and Blueback Herring need a great deal of oxygen. In captivity they begin suffocating almost immediately. Cleverly designed boxes keep them alive for their intended use as bait for Striped Bass. The bass fishery is wholly recreational, but continues to provide an annual economic boon to the region.

    I have personally used the last "scap net" made by Everett Nack. When it's not being used, it is stored with reverence in a Furgary shack.

    I've also constructed my own herring scap net from materials purchased at Lowe's. (Because compliance with regulations seems to be the latest test of a Furgarian's validity, my personal DEC herring registration number is: 281480001639.)

    The state coastal policies quoted above should make short work of your wrong assumptions, I mean once you accept that there is a local culture that precedes you and about which you may know very little.

    May I recommend two books which will give some idea about what is being lost.

    "The Founding Fish " by John McPhee provides most of what you'll need to know about shad biology, the shad fishery and shad in American history. (American Shad were crucial for the troops at Valley Forge and during WWII.)

    The second book is Peter Matthiessen's "Men's Lives," about the dwindling culture of haul-seining on Long Island.

    This is a serous fight, and people's traditions and livelihoods will be changed forever.

    Your attitude, if you'll excuse my frank use of the word, would replace their long-developed arrangements with exactly which values?

    I wish that you had thought more deeply on the subject before accepting the false narrative that most of Hudson's city government seems bent on driving home.

    I know that my fealty is with the people I can trust with my life on that river.

  4. After reading the above, some Furgarians gently reminded me of an economic activity I'd left out.

    When so-and-so's cousin's kid falls on hard times, fresh game is quietly delivered to the house.

    The Furgarians are a modest lot, and the custom of delivering food to community members isn't something that gets advertised. But it is an old and solid tradition throughout rural America.

    It might take the convolutions of the US Supreme Court to believe that such charity constitutes a "commercial" activity, but anyone with any practical reason knows it for economy.

    But let's return to the straightforward commercial aspect of Furgary to continue our debunking of a previous comment. In all of these newspaper, TV and radio spots on Furgary's situation, where is any mention of the history of commercial fishing there?

    Historically, the Hudson shad fishery was the most productive one on our river, with a reported annual 1.25 million pounds harvested during WWII which, along with herring, went to feed American troops.

    Even before the Proprietor's arrived here, when Hudson was known as Claverack Landing, the locals "were engaged in fishing, principally for herring, which found a ready market in New York" (from "Sketches of Hudson," by C. B. Miller, 1862).

    The June 2012 issue of Chronogram Magazine carried a very good article on the state of shad, and on the previously valued Hudson River shad fishery. It's a good primer on the subject, and introduces readers to individuals who were pivotal in the commercial activity generated by Furgary's gill nets.