Almanack Contributor Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

State Land Master Plan Meeting Rescheduled

comments board for webBecause of snow in the forecast, the Adirondack Park Agency has canceled tonight’s meeting in Old Forge on proposed amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

The meeting has been rescheduled for 4-6 p.m. Monday at the gymnasium in the Town of Webb School on Route 28 in Old Forge.

The APA is considering two changes to the master plan. One would permit mountain biking in the Essex Chain Primitive Area, and the other would allow the state to build a snowmobile bridge over the Cedar River using some non-natural materials.

In addition, the agency is soliciting ideas for other amendments to the plan. The Adirondack Park » Continue Reading.



Monday, November 17, 2014

DEC Misinformed Public In Rail-Trail Slide Show

Bog RiverAt recent meetings on the Remsen-Lake Placid rail corridor, the state misinformed the public about the legal implications of removing tracks that cross rivers between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

The public was told that the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act would prohibit the state from restoring the railroad tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake if they were removed.

In a slide show, the state Department of Environmental Conservation noted that railroad bridges generally are not permitted over rivers classified as Wild or Scenic. It said the railroad crosses three such rivers south of Tupper Lake: the Moose, Bog, and Raquette.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Rails With Trails: Win-Win Or Apples and Oranges?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJack Drury says the Trails with Rails Action Committee (TRAC) has a win-win solution to the controversy over the future of the rail corridor between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid: keep the tracks and build a network of bike trails that run alongside or in the vicinity of the tracks.

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) also envisions a bike trail between Tupper and Placid, but its plan calls for removing the tracks.

The bike trails proposed by TRAC and ARTA are fundamentally different. To many observers, it’s an apples-and-oranges comparison.



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Train Supporters Stand By Rails-With-Trails Option

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)Supporters of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad continue to insist, contrary to assertions by state officials, that it’s possible to keep the tracks and build trails in and out of the 34-mile rail corridor between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

The Trails with Rails Action Committee (TRAC) has prepared maps and engineer’s drawings showing where trails could be located within the corridor and, where that’s not feasible, where spur trails could be built that leave and re-enter the corridor. The map of TRAC’s proposed trails and sample engineer’s drawings can be found on the group’s website.

TRAC members will be attending public meetings in » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PROTECT Faults DEC For Rebuilding Road in Preserve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few years ago I wrote a story for the Adirondack Explorer about a trail run to Gull Lake in the Black River Wild Forest near Woodgate. My outing began on a muddy mess of a road passable only by jeeps and pickup trucks.

This year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation repaired two miles of the road, smoothing it out, laying down gravel, and installing new culverts. I was able to drive my Honda Fit (not a high-clearance vehicle) the full two miles with no problem.



Friday, October 31, 2014

Would Rail Trail Cost Taxpayers $20M Or Nothing?

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)The state Department of Transportation estimates that it would cost about $20 million to convert 70 miles of rail corridor between Big Moose and Lake Placid to a recreational trail.

Joe Hattrup says he can do it for free.

Hattrup asserts that the sale of the rails and other steel hardware would cover the costs of removing the tracks and creating a trail that could be used by snowmobilers in winter and cyclists in other seasons. The trail would have a stone-dust surface suitable for road bikes.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

APA Gets Ideas For Amending State Land Master Plan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency is considering two amendments to the State Land Master Plan, both concerning the Essex Chain Lakes region, but the agency likely will be asked to weigh broader changes to the document.

The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board already has set forth nine proposals for amending the master plan, which governs the state’s management of the Forest Preserve.

“There’s going to be more, but that’s a start,” Fred Monroe, the board’s executive director, told Adirondack Almanack at an APA “listening session” Wednesday evening, the first of four such meetings that the agency plans to hold to gather ideas on amending the master plan.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

State Rules Out Rails-With-Trails Compromise

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the first of four public meetings on the future of the Adirondack rail corridor, state officials made it clear Tuesday night that a rails-with-trails compromise is not an option–which likely did not sit well with the many supporters of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in the crowd.

About 100 people packed a room at the State Office Building in Utica to hear representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation outline their plans for amending the 90-mile corridor’s management plan.

The departments have proposed removing the tracks in the 34-mile section between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid and building a multi-use trail for road biking, hiking, skiing, and snowmobiling. The state » Continue Reading.



Friday, September 19, 2014

The New Trails To OK Slip Falls, Hudson River

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a gloomy Saturday morning with rain in the forecast, but we’re determined to see OK Slip Falls. When we sign the register, we learn we are not alone: four other parties have preceded us on the trail to the tallest waterfall in the Adirondacks.

Added to the Forest Preserve last year, OK Slip Falls has become a popular destination since the state Department of Environmental Conservation opened a trail this year. Long owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company, the waterfall had been closed to the public for a century before the state bought it from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy. As a result of the acquisition, the » Continue Reading.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Foes Of Tupper Lake Project Denied Leave To Appeal

ACR-aerial3Opponents of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake have suffered another legal setback in their quest to stop the project.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has refused to grant the opponents leave to take their case to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said the opponents will file a similar motion with the Court of Appeals itself within thirty days. The high court is expected to issue its decision by the end of the year.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Is The APA’s Land-Use Plan Mandatory Or Not?

ACR-aerial3Backers of the Adirondack Club and Resort complain that their opponents are stalling the project by appealing the Appellate Division’s 5-0 decision in favor of the resort.

That’s an understandable reaction, but the opponents have raised an interesting legal question with broad ramifications for the whole Adirondack Park. At least, that’s how it appears to a layman.

The question is: Are the development guidelines set forth in the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan mandatory or not?

In a decision in July, the Appellate Division suggested that they are not mandatory.

The question came up because the project’s opponents contend, among other things, that dividing up timberlands for “Great Camp” estates violates the land-use plan.



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: New Edition Of ‘Adirondack Rock’ Superb

slipcase with booksThe second edition of Adirondack Rock is out. If that doesn’t seem like a big deal, you must not be a climber.

Local climbers have been eagerly awaiting the second edition, and it’s now evident that their eagerness was justified: although the first edition, published in 2008, is an excellent guidebook, the new one is a major improvement.

Most important, it contains 1,240 new climbing routes and adds a number of cliffs not found in the first edition, including Sugarloaf Mountain (acquired by the state this year), Shelving Rock on the east side of Lake George (72 routes), and Silver Lake and Potter mountains (a combined 150 routes). In addition, the new guidebook documents » Continue Reading.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

State Acquires Former Finch, Pruyn Lands Near High Peaks

D08A9330The state has purchased a 5,770-acre tract abutting the High Peaks Wilderness from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, the latest acquisition of former Finch, Pruyn lands for the Forest Preserve.

Known as Macintyre West, the tract includes 3,081-foot Mount Andrew and sixteen-acre Lake Andrew as well as Santanoni Brook, which flows into Henderson Lake, and Sucker Brook, which flows into Newcomb Lake.

“It’s an important part of the upper Hudson watershed,” said John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council. “We think it’d be a fine addition to the High Peaks Wilderness.”

He expects the tract will be used by hikers, hunters, and anglers.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

State Argues NYCO Foes Thwarting Will Of Voters

plumley lot 8Environmental activists seeking to prevent NYCO Minerals from drilling in the Jay Mountain Wilderness are trying to thwart the will of the electorate, according to court papers filed by the state attorney general’s office.

Assistant Attorney General Susan Taylor argues that NYCO should be allowed to drill for wollastonite in the state-owned Forest Preserve despite a lawsuit filed by Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks, Sierra Club, and Atlantic States Legal Foundation.

In November 2013, voters approved an amendment to Article 14 of the state constitution to permit NYCO to acquire a 200-acre parcel known as Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness in exchange for land of equal or greater value. Known as Proposition » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Goodman Mt. Trail Dedicated To Slain Civil-Rights Activist

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAState officials, Tupper Lake residents, and others turned out in force on Tuesday afternoon to dedicate a new hiking trail to Andrew Goodman, a twenty-year-old civil-rights activist murdered in Mississippi fifty years ago.

Goodman and two fellow activists—James Chaney and Michael Schwerner—were kidnapped and killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964. That summer, activists traveled through the Deep South in a campaign to register African-Americans to vote.

The murders and their aftermath was dramatized in the 1988 movie Mississippi Burning starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Adirondacks May Become A Conduit For Tar-Sands Oil

Rail accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013 (Wikimedia photo)Four environmental organizations are sponsoring a forum in Plattsburgh this week on the dangers of transporting Bakken crude oil on trains through the Champlain Valley, but trains may someday be moving another hazardous fuel through the region: oil from the Canadian tar sands.

Global Companies receives Bakken crude at the Port of Albany, much of which is transported on a rail line that runs along the shore of Lake Champlain. Bakken crude is a volatile fuel that caused massive explosions when a train derailed in Quebec last year, killing forty-seven people.



Monday, August 18, 2014

DEC To Remove Grace Peak Summit Sign

Grace.Lisa_GodfreyLess than two months after hikers placed a commemorative sign on top of Grace Peak, state officials have decided it must come down.

On June 21, a large group of hikers gathered on the summit to celebrate—with champagne and cake—the renaming of the 4,012-foot mountain from East Dix to Grace Peak in honor of the late Grace Hudowalski, the longtime historian of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Roaring Brook Falls: Climbing A Classic

Great_rangeIn some respects, Roaring Brook Falls isn’t such a great climb. The rock can be loose, mossy, or wet. And there are places where you can’t find cracks to insert protective gear—cams or chocks that are clipped to the rope to catch a fall. In short, it can be slippery and dangerous.

Nevertheless, R.L. Stolz regards it as an Adirondack classic. Since the 1980s, he has climbed the lower part of the route maybe a hundred times and done the whole 520-foot route about twenty times. “This is a very pretty climb,” says Stolz, co-owner of Alpine Adventures in Keene. “It’s unique in that you’re climbing next to a waterfall. The downside is that it’s a » Continue Reading.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

NYCO Arguments Postponed Till Late October

plumley lot 8Arguments in State Supreme Court over NYCO Minerals’ plan to drill for wollastonite on Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness have been postponed until October 24.

In July, Earthjustice obtained a temporary restraining order to block the test drilling. At the time, Justice Thomas Buchanan scheduled arguments for August 22 on whether the ban should remain in effect for the duration of a lawsuit filed against NYCO, the Adirondack Park Agency, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Fight Against APA Over Tupper Resort Continues

Adirondack Club and Resort MapProtect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club are asking the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, to review a recent decision in favor of the developers of the Adirondack Club and Resort, a massive development proposed for Tupper Lake.

In July, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court upheld the Adirondack Park Agency’s decision to grant a permit to the developers.

In a statement today, Protect and the Sierra Club said the midlevel appeals court, which is based in Albany, made several errors in its analysis of the case. Because the Appellate Division’s decision was unanimous, the groups must seek permission to take the case » Continue Reading.



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