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.


Friday, February 5, 2016

APA Staff Finds Rail-Trail Proposal Conforms To Law

Train-300x241 Nancie BattagliaThe Adirondack Park Agency staff has concluded that a controversial proposal to replace the railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake with a recreational trail conforms to the Park’s State Land Master Plan.

The APA board is scheduled to vote next week on a resolution approving a plan to bifurcate the state-owned rail corridor into a rail segment and a trail segment.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation adopted the plan last year over the objections of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and its supporters.

The departments intend to remove 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, in favor of a trail for bicycling, » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

DEC Seeks Enhanced Snowmobiling in Black River Wild Forest

BRWF mapThe state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comments on a proposal to create new snowmobile, hiking, and ski trails in the Black River Wild Forest.

The main goal is to improve snowmobile connections between communities in the southwestern Adirondacks by building new trails and reclassifying existing trails. At the same time, DEC plans to close to snowmobiling some trails in the interior of the Forest Preserve.

Overall, the mileage of snowmobile trails in the Black River Wild Forest would decrease to 60.1 from 67.5 miles—a net loss of 7.4 miles. Yet DEC says the plan will make it easier and safer » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ice Climber Breaks Leg In 100-Foot Fall: An In-Depth Report

S&C for AlmanackAn ice climber fell about a hundred feet and broke his leg while scaling a well-known route on the north side of Pitchoff Mountain over the weekend.

The climber, a 40-year-old man from Stamford, CT, was on the second pitch of Screw and Climaxe when he slipped on thin ice, plummeting below his belayer and coming to rest only 15 feet or so above the ground.

Eight forest rangers, three volunteer rescuers, and a medic carried out a complicated rescue operation in the dark that took roughly four hours, from the time of the initial call to the time the » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

State Seeks Dismissal Of Old Mountain Road Lawsuit

mcculley-with-dogThe state attorney general is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a long-running feud over the status of Old Mountain Road in the towns of North Elba and Keene.

The state is also seeking to transfer the case from State Supreme Court in Essex County to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Albany.

The Old Mountain Road is a dirt thoroughfare, often flooded by beavers, that runs through the Sentinel Range Wilderness. It is part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, which stretches from Keene to Saranac Lake.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Boreas Ponds And A Bigger Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness

Boreas_PondIn 1936, the conservationist Bob Marshall made a list of forty-eight forested areas in the United States that exceeded three hundred thousand acres and that remained roadless — that is, relatively pristine. Evidently, he considered three hundred thousand acres to be the minimal size of a true wilderness.

“We would like to point out that the 300,000 acres is not a roadless area in any pioneering sense,” Marshall wrote in the magazine Living Wilderness (with co-author Althea Dobbins). “Actually, a 300,000-acre tract is only about 21½ by 21½ miles, something which a reasonably good walker could traverse readily in a day if » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

APA Flooded With Comments On Rail-Trail Debate

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)The Adirondack Park Agency has received a flood of letters and emails seeking to influence its forthcoming decision on the future of a state-owned rail corridor that extends 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid.

At its November meeting, the APA board voted to solicit public comments on whether a plan to split the corridor into a trail segment and a rail segment complies with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The agency may vote on the matter as early as next month.

Comments were accepted through December 18. Pursuant to a freedom-of-information request, the Adirondack Almanack recently obtained » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Legal Questions Swirl Around State’s Plan For Essex Chain

Polaris Bridge and the Upper Hudson (courtesy Protect the Adirodnacks)Two of the Adirondack Park’s four major environmental organizations filed a legal challenge to the Essex Chain management plan, but the two others have legal questions as well.

Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild filed a lawsuit today in State Supreme Court in Albany, claiming the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy.

Named as defendants are the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which drafted the management plan, and the Adirondack Park Agency, which approved it. Both agencies refused to comment on » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Bare-Booters, Please Stay Off The Jackrabbit Trail

Jackrabbit TrailOn New Year’s Day we didn’t have enough snow to ski most backcountry trails, but we decided to give the Jackrabbit Trail a shot, starting at Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid and ascending to the pass between Haystack and McKenzie mountains.

I have skied this section of the Jackrabbit often and had an idea of what we’d find: bare patches on the half-mile hill at the start but decent snow above. With a few inches of fresh powder over a thin but solid base, the trail should be skiable, I thought. We would just need to steer clear of the bare spots.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Counting The Miles While Skiing The Toll Road

Lake Placid Turn signThere aren’t many Nordic ski routes where you can gauge your progress by mileage markers. The exception, I learned last weekend, is the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway.

When the state repaved the highway recently, it installed highway reference markers along the shoulder. These are the small rectangular signs on metal posts that you see along state-maintained roads every tenth or two-tenths of a mile. Usually they’re green, but those on the Whiteface highway are brown.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Does Boreas Ponds Dam Belong In A Wilderness Area?

Boreas Ponds aerial - Carl HeilmanWhy do they call it Boreas Ponds? After all, if you look at an aerial photograph, such as the one at left, taken by Carl Heilman II, it’s just one water body. This fact is also evident from the 1999 USGS map below.

The reason is not mysterious. Like many Adirondack lakes, the water level of Boreas Ponds has been raised by a dam. As an 1895 map indicates (it’s shown farther below), Boreas Ponds used to be three ponds connected by narrow channels.

When the state acquires Boreas Ponds from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, it must » Continue Reading.


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