Almanack Contributor Dave Gibson

Dave 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.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

David Sive: Wild Nature’s Legal Champion

David SiveLegal champion for nature, for our nature and for the wild, David Sive, eulogized in The New York Times recently, was a man who epitomized the truth that you protect only what you love, you love only what you understand and you understand only what you are taught. According to the writers of the Times obituary, David brought Thoreau’s Walden with him to World War II and he and the book survived the Battle of the Bulge.

That is a blessing, for David Sive went on to employ Thoreau’s transcendence, his own legal training, fierce guardianship of all he loved and consummate use of the English language in the courts of » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lake George Zipline Project Will Scar French Mountain

macchio 2.02-10-06The gap between legislative intent to protect the open space resources of the Adirondack Park and the APA’s analysis of project impacts in accordance with the law widened into a chasm in 2012 when the agency approved the Adirondack Club and Resort by a 10-1 vote.

Now, the Agency has also approved by 10-1 vote a Zipline thrill ride down scenic French Mountain above the Village of Lake George at the entrance to the Adirondack Park. That development will not engender statewide publicity nor, I suspect, a lawsuit. Nonetheless it requires the cutting of a 900-foot swath, 35-50 feet wide, down a steep and wild mountainside. According to Agency staff, the steel cables would be » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Surplus State Budget, An Environmental Deficit

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens dedicates a new addition to the Forest Preserve above Lake George in 2013Given Governor Andrew Cuomo’s projected $2 billion surplus, his environmental agencies could have used a bit of a budgetary boost.

One can always hope. But readers already know this is not the case. Cuomo’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens, made it explicit when he testified recently to legislative committees “Basically, this is a flat budget staff-wise,” he told legislators who politely questioned why his DEC budget appeared to be cut $43 million.

“Those dollars were non-reoccurring federal pass-through funds,” the commissioner answered. “Those are not cuts to our operating funds.” When questioned about the apparent loss of staff, the » Continue Reading.



Monday, February 10, 2014

The Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary

WildernessAct1Fifty years ago, the nation as a whole needed a diversion after the shocking assassination of President Kennedy, and all eyes were on the Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. President Johnson was hard at work persuading key congressmen to support the Civil Rights Act. The seedling that was to become the Vietnam War was growing. I knew little about any of this. I joined thousands my age trying to impersonate the Beatles with a mop on my head and a “plugged-in” broomstick.

And in Washington DC the final legislative compromises behind another civil right encompassed within the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 were agreed to. The legislated right to an enduring, living wilderness » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Bernard Smith: NYS Senate Conservation Champion

Bernard SmithBernard C. Smith served in the NYS Senate from 1965-1978, an era when trust in our government’s good will and capability to improve our lives was ebbing fast. But Senator Smith, a Republican, believed strongly in that capability and responsibility.

His belief found expression in numerous laws to protect our environment, laws which had to pass through his Committee on Environmental Conservation.

The Adirondack Park Agency (1971) and its organic act (1973), the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act (1972 and ‘75), the Environmental Quality Review Act, the law creating the Department of Environmental Conservation (1972) and its organic act, the Environmental Bond Act of 1972 and many other bills all found a lead sponsor » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dave Gibson: The State’s Environmental Protection Fund

Forest Preserve - Conservation Easement TableIt’s state budget time, and the members of regional advisory committees on open space conservation from the Adirondacks to Niagara and Long Island will be watching that fraction of one percent of the state budget called the Environmental Protection Fund. Will the EPF continue to recover from the recessionary influenza it caught in 2009?

New York State’s extraordinary three million acre Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and its extensive State Park and Historic area system (330,000 acres) outside of these Parks are two big reasons why the state has been a national leader in conserving forests and open space since the 19th century.

Another is nearly million acres » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Classifications Require Rule Changes

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapFor three days, the Adirondack Park Agency deliberated on a set of classifications for Forest Preserve in Newcomb, Minerva and Indian Lake that were never in doubt. The decisions were the Governor’s. APA took its direction from him, as it did with the Adirondack Club and Resort two years ago.

APA staff labored mightily over the past week to put those State Land decisions, and the maps into a format that their members might understand. The convoluted resolution was adopted unanimously but requires changes in inconvenient regulations and policies before the classifications are finalized. That is the price this Governor exacts from his state agencies in order to » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela: A Caring Partnership with Nature

Nelson Mandela - EnvironmentalistSomeone I know gained some of his inspiration for helping to conserve the backwoods and wildlife in the Adirondack Park from an African who spoke admiringly of the Adirondack Park’s people and wilderness coexisting, and as one of the globe’s most important places. My friend has never forgotten this encounter with a man knowledgeable of the Adirondacks in East Africa. Perhaps it is necessary to travel purposefully in the world to more keenly appreciate how many from all walks of life pay attention to what goes on in our Park.

I don’t know if Nelson Mandela was another one of those on the African continent paying attention to the Adirondack Park, and it » Continue Reading.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Dave Gibson:
Whiteface Memorial Highway and the Forest Preserve

Copy of Whiteface SummitThe late, extraordinary forest educator, Dr. Edwin H. Ketchledge, started an exhibit of native Adirondack trees at the base of the Whiteface Memorial Highway in Wilmington, and wrote to all who would listen how important it would be to properly interpret the natural history of the mountain from the base of the road to the mountain’s summit. Of course, Dr. Ketchledge had interpreted this route in hundreds of ways during his career as a teacher, and was hopeful that his legacy would continue.

Governor Andrew Cuomo just made it a lot safer to accomplish Dr. Ketchledge’s vision as a result of the state’s commitment to expend $12 million to rehabilitate the » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dave Gibson: Vote Yes on Prop 4

Raquette LakePerhaps I first heard of the Township 40 disputed land titles during the Adirondack Park Centennial year, 1992. It was probably that fall during a Raquette Lake cruise on the WW Durant with Capt. Dean Pohl. I recalled the issues when canoeing on the lake later that decade. My friend Dan and I paddled Raquette Lake, took the Marion River Carry en route through the Eckford Chain of Lakes. I was back paddling on Raquette Lake through some high winds and waves when our mentor Paul Schaefer died in July, 1996.

I felt terribly that I was not with Paul when he died, but consoled myself with the knowledge that he would have certainly approved » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dave Gibson:
Land Sought For Mining Company Is Hardly Ordinary

This Sugar Maple on Lot 8 may be 175 years old or moreBill Ingersoll’s recent post about the November 5 vote on the NYCO Minerals-State Land Exchange (Proposition 5 on the upcoming ballot) makes good reading – as do the comments.

His interpretation, that the land exchange stripped-down to its essence represents a straight commercial transaction that lacks any public need or benefit, is one Adirondack Wild shares, but Bill made an especially articulate case.

One of the interesting comments to Bill’s post comes from my colleague Dan Plumley. Dan notes that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s characterization of “Lot 8,” the 200-acre section of Jay Mountain Wilderness the company » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 14, 2013

Gary Randorf: Strong Link in an Historic Chain

Participants at Adirondack Wild's annual meeting at The Grange in Whallonsburg send greetings to Gary Randorf, recipient of the Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award. I don’t recall ever crying before at an annual meeting. I am pleased to catch up with people, I am excited to see members and friends gathered together in one place in support of our Adirondack and wild mission. I am proud of the efforts of my colleagues and our members as we talk about our accomplishments together over the past year, and anticipate the challenges in front of us.

But tears flooded my eyes at The Grange in Whallonsburg this past week when Bonnie MacLeod displayed the best of » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Conservation Development in the Park: The Default Option

Butler Lake project, c. 1991“Let us develop as if human beings were planning to be around and live on this land for a while longer,” said Randall Arendt, the noted landscape planner and designer and author of numerous books about how to develop the land without ruining its natural, ecologically functional, aesthetic and economic values as open space, books such as Rural By Design. Arendt was one of the keynote speakers at the Adirondack Explorer’s one-day conference last week, Strengthening the APA (NYS Adirondack Park Agency).

Stating “there is no constitutional right to sprawl,” Arendt took it right to the APA. “I look forward to returning to the Adirondack Park when conservation development is the » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Founding Moment of the Adirondack Park:
The 1894 Constitutional Convention

Log sluice and stripped mountainside, near Elizabethtown, 1880s1894 had been a hot summer. 119 years ago this week the most important question before the Constitutional Convention of 1894 came to a head. What, if any, amendments to the State Constitution should be adopted for the preservation of the State forests?

The scene was the Assembly chamber in the Capitol at Albany, the date was Saturday, September 8, 1894, and the speaker was a New York City lawyer by the name of David McClure, the chairman of the convention’s five-man special committee on forest preservation. The topic was, according to the man with the gavel, Convention Chairman Joseph Choate, “further consideration of a general order relating to » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Students Consider Adirondack, Wilderness Act History

Research fellows, Toni-Marie with Becky, Dave and Lorie at Zahniser'sThis summer, Union College student research fellows and Union College staff involved with the College’s Kelly Adirondack Center in Schenectady County visited the Adirondack cabin of National Wilderness Act author and chief legislative advocate Howard Zahniser, and that of Paul Schaefer, foremost Adirondack Park campaigner for wilderness and wild rivers in the 20th century.

The two cabins, and the close friendship that developed between Schaefer and Zahniser help tell the story of where wilderness preservation began and how the Adirondack Park has served as a national and global model of wilderness history, preservation and active stewardship so proximate to villages, towns, residents and more than » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gibson: Make Protection, Preservation of New Lands Paramount

Essex ChainWhen the Adirondack Park Agency  was reviewing the Adirondack Club and Resort in 2011, board member Richard Booth encouraged APA staff to put all of the most important legal and other considerations from the hearing record on the table early in the review process. Avoid having Agency members get buried in minutia was his advice because it is easy for a board to get overwhelmed by a lot of presentation data, or to assume they know the most important factors and considerations when, in fact, they may not.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Economic Value of Protected Land

Ashokan Reservoir, Catskill MountainsThe Catskill Park and Forest Preserve may be smaller in size than our Adirondack Park but, like Avis in relation to Hertz, Catskill residents may feel the need to try harder.

One senses some good energy in the Catskill Mountains these days, and interesting initiatives are underway there, including an attempt to quantify visitation to the Catskill’s protected public and private lands and waters, and resulting economic value added to the Catskill economy.

It would make sense if the same evaluation study method were applied to the Adirondack Park.



Monday, July 15, 2013

The Indian River Tract: Lost and Found

DSC_1451New Yorkers have recently come into ownership of nine more miles of the Upper Hudson River and adjoining lakes and tributaries to the west amounting to about 20,000 acres. In addition to the incredible ecological variety and richness, the public has also gained new, strategic points from which canoeists and rafters can exit the river before the truly big rapids begin at Cedar Ledges below the confluence with the Indian River.

In early July I went to see one of those exit points and the new canoe carry at the former outer Gooley Club north of Indian Lake, once leased by Finch, Pruyn. I then walked further down the Chain Lakes Road to see what the » Continue Reading.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dave Gibson: Fighting For A Wild Upper Hudson, 1968-2013

Proposed Gooley Dam Reservoir c 1968This week’s Adirondack Park Agency public hearings in Minerva and Newcomb about the classification of new Forest Preserve land along the Upper Hudson River, Essex Chain of Lakes, Cedar and Indian Rivers were well attended and informative. At Minerva Central School, there was no applause, no heckling. Folks listened to differing viewpoints respectfully, and several speakers noted a fair amount of common interests.

While most speakers favored a Wild Forest classification which would allow motorized access through an area long closed to public use, one former Finch, Pruyn manager noted the damage done to the roads by all-terrain vehicles. There was only one speaker in Minerva who favored unrestricted, unregulated, all-out » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Will Andrew Cuomo’s APA Picks Protect Natural Resources?

Gov Rockefeller signs the APA Private Land Use Plan legislation. Richard W. Lawrence, first APA Chair, looks on at left. Photo by Paul Schaefer.By the end of this month, I believe six of the eight citizen members of the Adirondack Park Agency (those gubernatorial nominees who by law cannot be officers or employees of a state agency) will be serving expired, four-year terms.

This situation is neither new nor surprising. Section 803 of the APA Act allows members to serve until replaced or until they resign. Many governors have allowed members with expired terms to simply continue on without gubernatorial re-nomination and re-confirmation by the State Senate.



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