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.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

APA Plans Hearings On Boreas Ponds Classification

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled tentative dates for hearings on the controversial classification of Boreas Ponds.

The APA staff is expected to present a classification proposal for Boreas Ponds and other newly acquired state lands at the APA’s next board meeting, on October 13.

After reviewing public input, the agency is expected to vote on the classifications of these lands early next year. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will then write a management plan based on the classifications.

The classification of the 20,578-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which the state acquired in April, has been an issue that has generated » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Towns Campaign For Motorized, Bike Access At Boreas Ponds

North Hudson and four nearby towns have launched a website and petition drive to muster support for classifying Boreas Ponds as Wild Forest instead of Wilderness, the designation supported by Forest Preserve advocates.

Called Access the Adirondacks, the website says the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract has a network of former logging roads and is suitable for a variety of recreational uses, including mountain biking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.

“While some would have you believe the Boreas Ponds Tract is a unique ecological jewel untouched my man, nothing could be further from the truth,” the site » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

On Sighting My First Black-Crowned Night-Heron

I’ve canoed all over the Adirondacks without ever seeing a black-crowned night-heron. Last weekend, I finally got to see one. On the Bronx River.

We saw other birds as well, including great blue herons, mallards, gulls, and (I think) cormorants. This being the Bronx, we also saw a lot of trash: plastic bags, soda bottles, an electric fan, a sunken tire.

But the river is much cleaner and more loved than in the past, thanks to a nonprofit organization called the Bronx River Alliance.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

American Alpine Club Chronicles Climbing Accidents

2016-accidents-croppedFor those who climb, Accidents in North American Climbing, issued annually by the American Alpine Club, should be required reading—not because climbers are morbid, but because they can learn from others’ mistakes, too many of which are fatal.

The 2016 edition, which was published recently, describes dozens of rock-climbing and mountaineering accidents from the previous year. Most occurred out west or in Alaska. The only incident in the Adirondacks involved a climber who fell on Wallface, a large and remote cliff in the High Peaks Wilderness.

I wrote about the Wallface accident on the » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boreas Ponds Interim Access Plan Criticized

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome Forest Preserve advocates are concerned that the state’s decision to allow people to ride mountain bikes to Boreas Ponds under an interim-access plan could become the permanent policy for the newly acquired Boreas Ponds Tract.

Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, and David Gibson, a partner in Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, criticized this and other aspects of the interim plan released by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in late August.

The interim plan allows the public to drive 3.2 miles up the dirt Gulf Brook Road. From there, people can hike » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hiking The Logging Roads Near Boreas Ponds

Not everyone who visits Boreas Ponds goes there to paddle. Some people just want to see the ponds and walk in the woods. But since the state has yet to create or mark any trails, what are hikers to do once they get there?

Last Sunday, my girlfriend Carol and I scouted out the old logging roads in the vicinity in the ponds. The next day I went back alone and hiked a loop around the ponds with side trips to White Lily Pond and the headwater pond of the Boreas River.

I rode my mountain bike to the dam on Boreas Ponds, » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

DEC Chief Refuses To Renew Cunningham’s Guide License

cunningham-300x246State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos has refused to renew the guide’s license of Patrick Cunningham, the owner of Hudson River Rafting Company in North Creek.

Cunningham has run afoul of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s regulations on several occasions. In June 2015, DEC staff refused Cunningham’s request to renew his license.

Cunningham appealed that decision, but it was upheld by Administrative Law Judge Michael S. Caruso the following November after a hearing. Caruso said the department had ample reasons for denying Cunningham a guide’s license.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Rock Climbers Discover Boreas Ponds Tract

Kittens and RainbowsThe newly acquired Boreas Ponds Tract has been touted as a destination for backpackers, paddlers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and snowmobilers. As it turns out, some of the earliest users of the land have been rock climbers.

Within a few months of the state’s purchase of the tract in April, rock climbers established nine technical climbing routes on the southwest face of Ragged Mountain, a small peak that lies less than a mile from County Route 84.

The Adirondack Rock website awards Ragged four out of five stars for the overall quality of the » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

With Road Open To Vehicles, Boreas Ponds Sees More Visitors

When I lugged my boat more than six miles to paddle Boreas Ponds in early June, I saw exactly no one. That wasn’t the case this past Labor Day weekend.

Evidently, more people are willing to visit the ponds now that the state has opened up the first 3.2 miles of Gulf Brook Road to motor vehicles.

When my girlfriend Carol and I arrived at the new parking lot on Sunday morning, there were already seven other cars. We biked to Boreas Ponds, as allowed under an interim-access plan released last week, and then hiked for several miles on old logging roads in » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Parts Of Boreas Ponds Tract Opened To Motor Vehicles, Bicycles

Boreas interimIn a long-awaited interim-access plan for the Boreas Ponds Tract, the state has opened to motor vehicles part of a former logging road leading to Boreas Ponds and opened all of the road to bicycles.

The future of the dirt thoroughfare, known as Gulf Brook Road, has been the subject of several articles and much debate on Adirondack Almanack and in the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.

Gulf Brook Road starts at County Route 2 (also known as the Boreas Road or Blue Ridge Road) and leads in 6.7 miles to the dam at Boreas Ponds. On Wednesday afternoon, state Department of Environmental » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Group Seeks More Wilderness Around Boreas Ponds

AWA-Draft-Map-20160803Three wilderness advocates have banded together to garner public support for adding nearly all of the Boreas Pond Tract to the High Peaks Wilderness and keeping out motor vehicles.

Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, as they call themselves, has created a website where people can sign a letter to the Adirondack Park Agency calling for statewide hearings on the classification of the Boreas tract. People can also sign up for the group’s emails.

The founders of the Adirondack Wilderness Advocates are Bill Ingersoll, publisher of the Discover the Adirondacks guidebooks; Brendan Wiltse, a photographer and scientist employed » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Judge Refuses To Halt Work On Snowmobile Thoroughfare

Peter Bauer measures a snowmobile trail near Newcomb.A judge has denied a request by Protect the Adirondacks to prohibit the state Department of Environmental Conservation from cutting Forest Preserve trees for a snowmobile trail while the trail’s legality is being contested in court.

State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly ruled that Protect failed to demonstrate that it is likely to prevail in its lawsuit against DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Former Finch, Pruyn Lodge At Boreas Ponds Demolished

Boreas lodge webA large lodge at Boreas Ponds built by Finch, Pruyn & Company has been demolished, removing one thorny issue facing state officials responsible for drafting a management plan for a recently acquired tract of Forest Preserve.

The Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which sold the ponds to the state this year, hired a contractor to dismantle the lodge. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) agreed that the lodge should be removed — even though local officials wanted it to stay.

Rob Davies, director of DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests, told Adirondack Almanack that it was not feasible to keep the lodge, partly because » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Forest Preserve Advocates Modify Boreas Ponds Proposal

Proposed_Expanded_High_Peaks_Wild_July2016-2-1024x659A coalition of environmental groups that includes the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and Adirondack Wild has significantly altered its proposal for the recently acquired Boreas Ponds Tract, calling for less of the region to be classified Wilderness.

Under the original proposal, about 15,000 of the tract’s 20,758 acres would have been added to the High Peaks Wilderness. This included land north and south of Gulf Brook Road, a durable logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds. The road itself would have been designated a Primitive Corridor, allowing visitors to drive as far as LaBier Flow, some six miles from County Route » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Phil Brown: A Journey To Boreas Ponds

boreas pond journeyIn early June, I enjoyed one of my most memorable canoe trips in the Adirondacks: I spent the morning paddling around lovely Boreas Ponds, taking in breathtaking views of the High Peaks.

I had the place all to myself. This might seem surprising, given that the state had only recently purchased Boreas Ponds from the Nature Conservancy. Usually, such a magnificent acquisition to the Forest Preserve will attract curiosity seekers. Yes, it was a weekday, but my guess is that the explanation lies in the difficulty of getting there — especially with a canoe.


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