Almanack Contributor David Gibson

David Gibson

Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for nearly 25 years, much of that time as Executive Director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and then as first Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

During Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history.

Currently, Dave is a partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Appreciation for Outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens

Commissioner Martens announcing the Cat and Thomas Mountain addition to the Adirondack Forest PreserveJoe Martens’ announced departure this month as State Environmental Conservation Commissioner prompts a post of appreciation and a note of apprehension about his future successor.

I have no right, and certainly possess inadequate, incomplete knowledge and understanding to write anything comprehensive about the Commissioner. But throughout four challenging years as head of the DEC, working for a very controlling boss, the Commissioner seemed to remain true to himself. From my point of view, he listened, welcomed input, kept his good sense of humor, could disagree without being disagreeable, and at times privately welcomed criticism of DEC’s performance, capacity and budget. While others in his position might get prickly under similar circumstances, Joe remained approachable. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DEC’s 11th Hour Forest Preserve Plans Criticized

Polaris Bridge and the Upper Hudson (courtesy Protect the Adirodnacks)Another thick set of Forest Preserve recreational plans and maps was sent by the Department of Environmental Conservation to the Adirondack Park Agency at the 11th hour,  just before the APA’s June meeting. It’s the second time in as many months that APA members felt unprepared.

In May, APA Member Richard Booth spoke of having to review 80 pages and 45 maps of alternative snowmobile trails through the Forest Preserve just a few days before his State Land Committee was expected to consider them in public. This month, APA Member Art Lussi  said he had less than 24 hours to review the 141-page Essex Chain of Lakes Complex Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP), which includes more than 20 maps before the Committee’s most recent meeting. “I have to comment that these plans are thrown at us in a way that doesn’t allow for us to give you input,” Mr. Lussi said to Rob Davies of the DEC. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dave Gibson: Consider Big Policy Issues Early, Openly

MRP-Snowmobile-Trail-3Not quite twenty years ago, Governor George Pataki’s administration made some decisions about snowmobiling on the Adirondack Forest Preserve which are still playing themselves out today. Governor Pataki’s first DEC Commissioner, Michael Zagata, signaled in 1995-96 that he would support a minimum of 15-foot wide routes (roads) for snowmobiling, cleared in order to accommodate 52 inch sleds and two-way travel. A hue and cry erupted and Commissioner Zagata did not survive in the job past 1996. The cleared width standard remained 8 foot, 12 foot for sharp curves. However, two years later in 1998 the Governor recommitted to new snowmobiling initiatives in the Adirondack Park as a way to balance, in the Governor’s view, the State’s acquisition of Whitney Park in Long Lake for the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dave Gibson: Opening Camp

Slides038I was traveling with a friend recently and she spoke about opening her seasonal Adirondack camp this month.

Having a workable, effective routine over the 50 or so years she’s owned it makes a very big difference, she said.  Actually, if you close camp properly, she opined, opening it becomes a lot easier.  I worked summers at a boys’ camp. I can relate to the importance of a comprehensive “closing camp” routine that saves much effort come the following May or June.

That led me to think more about opening an Adirondack camp. There is a lot to be done, especially if there is running water, waterfront, and a dock or two to be concerned about. But one must not forget the most important step on the list – to breathe deeply and to proclaim out loud “great to be here”! » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Updated Guide To Good Development Design

Rural by DesignThis past week I received my copy of the updated guide for building and designing greener, everywhere from rural farms, to small villages, to the suburban fringe, to metro areas.  The second edition of Rural by Design (2015, published by American Planning Association) is out. Its author, Randall Arendt, is a landscape planner, site designer, author, lecturer, and advocate of conservation planning.

The first edition of Rural by Design came out in 1994 and changed many mindsets. Development after World War II had been left to “professionals” working in an orbit very distant from the rest of us. They mysteriously zoned our cities and towns, built our highways and streets and subdivided farms, fields and woods according to the dictates of the automobile.  Arendt and others helped others to understand what people intrinsically knew, that after 40 years “traditional” development was leaving community, neighborhood and nature, including our own, out in the cold. He and others have helped make planning ideas and tools accessible and understandable to anybody wishing to alter their hometown’s development practices. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Santanoni: Historic Preservation And Nature

Entering the Santanoni main compoundAs I skied south and uphill, away from Santanoni Great Camp, I was asked – “on the record” – for my reactions. It was family weekend recently at Santanoni, with plenty of skiers in family groups including dogs.  I said something like “this ski has become an annual ritual.” After all everyone knows that Newcomb has the best Adirondack snow come late winter. I looked forward to seeing and listening again to the camp’s master carpenter, Michael Frenette, over a hot drink.

The chance to see Santanoni and Moose Mountains rising into the blue sky above the winter glare of Newcomb Lake is also very attractive. The Japanese influence on the camp’s layout, the impact the architecture makes, the history there – it does set your mind going. After talking into the reporter’s microphone, I had to admit that my attitude towards the restoration of the Santanoni had changed over the years. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Jay Mtn Wilderness Mining: Appraising Lot 8’s Value

NYCO's open pit mine as seen from Bald Peak in 2013Now that the issue of mineral exploration on “Lot 8” in the Jay Mountain Wilderness by NYCO Minerals has left the courts, it remains for the mining company to complete its exploratory drilling, ongoing since the turn of the year. Changes in the DEC’s temporary revocable permit for the exploratory test drilling, announced on February 18, are as follows:

“The TRP will be amended to reduce the total pad locations from 21 to 10 and eliminate the third phase. The maximum number of holes drilled will decrease from 21 to 18. Elimination of the third phase will result in a substantial reduction in the number of trees cut for access corridors and pad sites. Other amendments to the TRP include relocation of two pad sites and changes in the water system to allow winter operation.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Adirondack-Abruzzo Park Exchange

Abruzzo-National-Park-ItalyThere is a fruitful global partnership for parks and protected areas among people all over the globe. I see this reflected, for example, in each issue of the international Journal of Wilderness (Chad P. Dawson, Editor).  For Americans who have given the world the gift of wilderness in law it sh

ould be inspiring to read about or witness. There is no reason to be cynical or hopeless. Look around the world to witness what our example (Yellowstone, 1872, Forever Wild, 1894, National Parks, 1916, National Wilderness Preservation, 1964, etc.) has wrought.  That is, in part, why we were motivated to  launch Adirondack Wild in 2010 – to take hope and inspiration from people who care deeply about their remaining wilderness, here or anywhere, and who are busy restoring it through every possible means. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

State Agency Logos: Endangered or Extinct?

nys-dec-logoThe recognizable logos of our individual New York state agencies, symbolic of each agency mission and purpose, suddenly appear to be endangered, or extinct. They have lasted in many cases for 40 years or longer.

For instance, there was the familiar round NYS Department of Environmental Conservation logo, quite attractive really, with symbols indicative of its mission to protect our waters, our air, our land, and our mountains. As far as I know, the DEC logo dates to the agency’s very creation in law back in 1972. It must have an interesting origin story. And it was ubiquitous until late last year, appearing on DEC headquarters and many regional buildings. On searches in vain for it now on the DEC website. I had to eventually Google it.

Where has it gone? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bakers Mills: Remembering Earl And Daisy Allen

668-47 Earl AllenIt was during the late 1980’s that Paul Schaefer introduced me to Daisy and Earl Allen in Bakers Mills. Earl has passed away this past month, and his wife Daisy died some 14 years before. But the memories of Daisy’s warmth and kitchen, and Earl’s legend as a teamster, maple sugar maker, artisan, maker of hay rakes, and master of old engines remain strong. Both would do anything they could for people.

Paul and his fellow hunters relied on Earl for some twenty years or more to hitch up his team of work horses to a wagon and bring there gear into hunting camp and out again. Rev. Daisy Dalaba Allen was pastor of the Sodom Community Church and president of the Pentecostal Holiness Association. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Commentary: More Badly Designed Development

Woodworth, north shoreSeptember, 2013 was the high point in the Adirondack Park Agency’s history of engagement on conservation development for new subdivisions.

By January, 2015, as evidenced by their actions in support of New York Land and Lakes corporation’s project for 24 residential lots that parcel out two water bodies (along with streams and wetlands, all on Resource Management lands), APA had lost interest. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gov. Mario Cuomo: His Final Adirondack Speech

Mario Cuomo at Silver Bay, 1994 1There will be many eulogies this week for Mario M. Cuomo. For me, the former Governor, like a certain white pine in our woods whose annual whorl of branches totes up the years I have lived here, is a measure of my time on this earth.

Thirty years ago last summer, Mario M. Cuomo gave that great address in San Francisco to the Democratic National Convention. I had just moved to upstate New York that year to be with Susan. As Governor, Mario Cuomo helped define the first eight years I worked for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dave Gibson: Christmas Bird Counting

Phyllis Burchett - Audubon Photo AwardsPreparing for the annual Christmas Bird Count is, like the entire holiday season, on the hectic side. The binoculars and spotting scopes have been set aside and need to be found. Packing a good lunch a few hours in advance is a good idea, but rarely accomplished.

My highest hurdle is getting up and out early in the morning to meet my team of counters, whose punctuality and other habits, after nearly thirty years of counting in the dead of winter, are rather well known. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Will An ‘ACR Interpretation’ Be APA’s New Default?

Woodworth and Hines LakesPeter Bauer has well summarized the current Adirondack Park Agency application by New York Land and Lakes Development LLC for 24 housing lots (plus five common lots, including the lakes themselves) on 1,120 acres around Woodworth and Hines Lakes in the southern Adirondack Park, Towns of Bleecker and Johnstown.

The land is zoned Resource Management: “where the need to protect, manage and enhance forest, agricultural, recreational, and open space resources is of paramount importance.”  The basic purposes of RM lands is “to protect the delicate physical and biological resources, encourage proper and economic management of forest, agricultural and recreational resources and preserve the open spaces that are essential and basic to the unique character of the park.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

State Land Plan: A Conversation with Peter Paine

Peter Paine with hunting companionThe APA’s “Listening Sessions” about the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) conclude this month. I’ve been to several on behalf of Adirondack Wild and appreciate the low-key, helpful competency displayed by the APA staff that receive inputs, write down comments, and field questions from the public in a one-on-one style. While absent of confident, inspired opening statements by the APA about the origins, importance and relevance of the Master Plan which they are by law obliged to uphold, these sessions do foster thoughtful, private questions, comments and enhanced listening, all of which are a good thing.

At Adirondack Wild, however, we see opportunities for strengthening the SLMP and its paramount purposes – the protection of natural resources and wild character of the Forest Preserve – and that’s been the theme behind our inputs to APA. To prepare ourselves, one of the first people we wanted to sit down with was the principal author of the SLMP, Peter S. Paine, Jr. » Continue Reading.


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