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.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Message to APA: Know Your Own Master Plan

APSLMP - LogoThe Adirondack Park Agency has announced that they will hold “public sessions” in the coming weeks to consider changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The State Land Master Plan has been part of the Executive Law since 1972. It is the planning document guiding the management and public use of all state lands in the Park, including the New York State Forest Preserve. It includes landscapes as distinct from each other in character as the Five Ponds Wilderness Area and the Crown Point State Historic Site.

All of these sessions could be positive if they are respectful, well informed, organized, focused and led. The sessions also should be well » Continue Reading.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Adirondack Wild’s 2014 Annual Meeting and Awards

Peter Tobiessen, aquatic biologist, was Adirondack Wild's guest speakerAquatic biologist Peter Tobiessen (shown at left) had found spiny water flea in his morning sample of Sacandaga Lake’s water, and by noon on October 10, 2014 he had several specimens under his microscope for us all to see. The occasion was the 4th annual meeting of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve at Camp Fowler in Lake Pleasant.

This small aquatic “invader” from Europe has concerned lake ecologists since it first showed up among the zooplankton in southern Adirondack lakes around 2010. Spiny water flea, about ½ inch long, is related to native water flea, Daphnia, but it has a very long spine at » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

20 Years Of The Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee

TowerIf my memory services me, I believe 2015 will mark the 20th since the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee was organized in 1995 with the help of a spirited group of local leaders and historians in Hadley and Luzerne and Corinth, as well as the leadership of Jack Freeman of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the NYS DEC Forest Rangers, and a volunteer from the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA), Linda Champagne.

As a leader of AFPA I was glad to join Linda at one of the committee’s early meetings. Now working with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve,  I still hike the mountain every year in recognition of a voluntary » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dave Gibson: ‘Diversity is not Inclusion’

image001(4)It must have taken great courage, the kind needed to overcome the natural fear of rejection and isolation, for the first woman and the first person of color invited to join the board of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

For one hundred years, from 1901 until 2001, those directing  the work of the Association had been entirely white and mostly male.  So had the boards and staffs of most environmental organizations in the Adirondacks, in the entire state and, I imagine, in the country. I hope we were all warm and welcoming of these courageous individuals when they first joined. Their experience and character made a difference.

The recent conference in Newcomb at » Continue Reading.


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Conserving Land: A Personal Story

Large oak on the conservation property Adirondack pilot and conservationist Clarence Petty maintained that the only way to really protect places in the Adirondacks that lend the Park its distinctive character and integrity was to acquire and protect them on behalf of the public. He certainly put his all into that cause for decades and helped the work of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and others, including their acquisition of the former Finch, Pruyn Company lands. Yet, Clarence was also a proponent of protecting much smaller tracts of land that rated highly in terms of the threat of their change in use (development) or their value as recreational open space or their intrinsic, wildlife or » Continue Reading.


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dave Gibson: The Challenges of ‘Wild Forest’ Areas

Paddling downstream of Canada Lake, with Kane Mountain framed in the backgroundThe other day some friends and I enjoyed a day in the Forest Preserve, paddling on the waters leading out of Canada Lake, eating our lunches at a primitive campsite along the shore, and walking down a trail into a vly or large wetland flow. We were in the Forest Preserve unit known as the Ferris Lake Wild Forest, one of several large Wild Forests in the southern Adirondack Park. Ferris Lake WF is 147,500 acres in size, spanning parts of four towns in three different counties.

As we arrived at Stewart’s Landing and dam holding back Sprite Creek, the outlet of Canada Lake, we noticed » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dave Gibson: Zip-Line Will Scar Adirondack Mountain

Zip flyer would be visible from Rt. 9, Queensbury-Lake George borderAn article in the Post Star on July 16 by reporter Amanda May Metzger announced that the Zip-flyer, the thrill ride from the top of French Mountain in Queensbury-Lake George, has received its final Town of Queensbury approvals.

The 900-foot ride on three inch steel cables running down a 35-50 foot wide swath cut on the north face of French Mountain at the very entrance of the Adirondack Park has been controversial from the moment it was proposed. Adirondack Wild asked the NYS Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to convene a public hearing on the project because only through a hearing could all the impacts and viable alternative » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dave Gibson On Essex Chain Plan:
Does It Comply? Does Anyone Care?

Essex Chain APA-map-with-labelsThe draft Unit Management Plan (UMP)  for the Essex Chain of Lakes is out and available for public comment until July 18th. To discerning readers, it will be clear that many of its recommendations and management actions, which the APA must deem to be in compliance with the State Land Master Plan, are just going ahead anyway. For example, primitive tent sites, parking lots and other facilities throughout are being completed this summer “prior to adoption of the Unit Management Plan.” These are not interim steps. These are final decisions as to number, design, and location.

I understand why the State appears to be rushing to complete this parking and camping by permit system » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dave Gibson: Decision Time for Wilderness Mining

Canopy of large, sugar maples growing on Lot 8, Jay Mountain Wilderness. Photo by Dan Plumley, Adirondack WildIn April, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency issued draft permits and unit management plan amendments respectively that would allow NYCO Minerals to conduct mineral exploration this summer on Lot 8 in the  Jay Mountain Wilderness.

The State would authorize such activity with only the most rudimentary information about what’s currently living and growing on Lot 8, no standards by which to judge the impacts of drilling on Wilderness character and resources, and no information about potential direct and indirect impacts of mineral testing beyond Lot 8.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

150th Anniv. of George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature

410px-George_Perkins_MarshThis year, New Yorkers are rightly commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964. Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Rockefeller Institute of Government, NYS DEC, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry recently kicked off that anniversary with events in the Capital Region. More events and activities with students, faculty and college collaborators are planned.

2014 is also the 120th anniversary of our “forever wild” clause of the NYS Constitution protecting the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. It was that late 19th century constitutional protection which so inspired the 20th century’s Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society to undertake his 18-year campaign to both author and lobby for the National Wilderness Act. That’s one » Continue Reading.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Adirondack Club and Resort Update:
Appellate Court Oral Arguments

Adirondack Club and Resort MapIn so far as a judicial ruling expected later this year, nothing can be determined by the questions the judges posed this week regarding the Adirondack Club and Resort, that precedent-setting subdivision near Tupper Lake still being litigated. But the questions raised by several of the judges on the Appellate Court in Albany (and answers given) were interesting because they were unexpected (by me, anyway) and largely unrelated to the big, controversial issues surrounding the spreading out of the Great Camps, the use of the Resource Management lands for exurban sprawl development that is neither “on substantial acreages or in small clusters on carefully selected and well designed sites” (quoting the APA » Continue Reading.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather

View from Bridge of HopeI attended a recent forum in Albany, Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather in Upstate New York, and wanted to pass along some of what I heard, or thought I heard. The event was sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

For a forum concerning the impacts of a changing climate the audience was unusually diverse in terms of backgrounds and professions. As a staff member for Adirondack Wild, I was sitting next to a firefighter from a village in Montgomery County. At the next table were other firefighters and emergency personnel in uniform.  Across from me were several members of the League of Women Voters.  Initially we » Continue Reading.



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.



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