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.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Snowmobile Trail Tree Cutting And Forest Preserve Law

peter-bauer-examines-a-stump-along-a-newly-constructed-community-connector-trailA rose is a rose is a rose, Gertrude Stein said. Defining a tree is not so simple.

That question — what is a tree? — has emerged as a central issue in a long-running dispute over the construction of “community-connector” snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve. These trails, which link hamlets, are nine feet wide (twelve feet on curves) and graded to make them smooth.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

John Turner’s Classic Climbs At Poke-o-Moonshine

climber climbing gamesmanshipElection Day started out beautiful. Mild temperatures. Not a cloud in the sky. After voting, Will Roth and I drove from Saranac Lake to Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain to climb one of the cliff’s mega-classic routes, Gamesmanship.

There was just one other party at the cliff: two guys were roping up for Gamesmanship as we arrived at the base. Two parties, with more than 300 routes to choose from, and both opted for Gamesmanship.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

BETA Builds New Bike Trails In Wilmington

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo this is the shoulder season. The leaves are gone. It’s chilly outside, wet and gray. You don’t feel like hiking. You’re looking forward to skiing, but you don’t want to sit inside until the snow comes.

It’s a great time for mountain biking. You don’t need views, fall colors, or sunshine to enjoy riding on a well-designed trail through the woods. As for that chill in the air, you’ll warm up soon enough.

That was my thinking when I drove to Wilmington last weekend to check out some new trails off Hardy Road.

The nonprofit » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wiessner Left His Mark On Cliffs All Over Northeast

The legendary Fritz Wiessner put up a dozen or so rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks in the 1930s and 1940s. That doesn’t make him the most prolific climber in the Adirondack Park, but he was one of the earliest.

In truth, Wiessner is better known for his exploits elsewhere. Perhaps his greatest contribution to rock climbing was his “discovery” in 1935 of the Gunks outside New Paltz, now one of the most popular climbing destinations in the country. In 1937, he famously led Bill House and Lawrence Coveney on the first technical » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Adirondack Wild Leaves BeWildNY Coalition Over Boreas Ponds Plan

boreas pondsAdirondack Wild has left the BeWildNY coalition, saying it disagrees with the coalition’s proposal to allow the public to drive to within a mile or so of Boreas Ponds.

Adirondack Wild announced its decision as the Adirondack Park Agency prepares for public hearings on the classification of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which the state bought from the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy in April.

The classification decision could influence how much motorized access is allowed on the tract.

Much of the debate over Boreas Ponds has focused on the future of Gulf Brook Road, a dirt » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

NYS Doesn’t Own 4 Parcels In Adirondack Rail-Trail Corridor

Adirondack Scenic RailroadThe state has identified four parcels along the Adirondack Rail Corridor that it doesn’t own, but officials say that shouldn’t hold up plans to build a controversial 34-mile rail trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.

“As is often the case in projects like this, title questions arise that must be resolved. That is the case here,” Benning DeLaMater, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said in an email to the Almanack.

Three of the parcels are in Saranac Lake and together comprise a 3,000-foot stretch of the corridor. One is owned by North Country Community College, and the other two are jointly » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mike Carr Discusses Leaving Nature Conservancy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter 16 years on the job, Mike Carr says the time is right for him to step down as the executive director of the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy and to work full time for its affiliate, the Adirondack Land Trust.

Carr was instrumental in negotiating the deal to acquire 161,000 acres of Finch, Pruyn timberland for $110 million in 2007. Over the ensuing years, it sold 65,000 acres to the state. Most of the rest were protected with conservation easements.

The state purchased the last Finch, Pruyn parcel – the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

APA Fails To End Criticism Over Boreas Ponds Options

boreasalternative4In response to public criticism, the Adirondack Park Agency staff came up with a fourth option for classifying the Boreas Ponds Tract, but it hasn’t ended the controversy.

The APA board is expected to vote Friday to hold public hearings on the four options, despite complaints that the staff failed to present a full range of alternatives for the tract and failed to properly analyze the alternatives it did present.

On Thursday, the State Land Committee voted to approve the hearing schedule and the four options, setting the stage for a vote by the full board, which is expected to follow suit.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Perfect Day For Climbing Thanksgiving

Monday was beautiful and sunny, with leaves at peak color. It also was Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, dozens of cars lined the shoulders of Route 73 near the trailheads for Giant Mountain.

Cars also were parked along the highway near Chapel Pond Slab, one of the region’s most popular rock-climbing venues. When Philip Brittan and I arrived at the base of the slab, we saw a party halfway up Regular Route, the most climbed route on the slab. As we put on our climbing shoes and harnesses and tied into the rope, three other parties showed up, all intent on climbing » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Green Groups Call On APA To Reject Boreas Proposals

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdirondack Forest Preserve advocacy groups are calling on the Adirondack Park Agency’s board to reject at this week’s meeting all three staff proposals for classifying the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract.

The major objection is that under all three proposals, a 6.8-mile logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds would be designated Wild Forest, which could allow people to drive all the way to the ponds.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), said it’s even possible that motorboats could be allowed on the water. Under the APA’s first alternative, the ponds would be classified Wild » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 10, 2016

APA Prepares To Classify 90 Parcels Of State Land

Lake Andrew, near the Santanoni Range, by Carl Heilman IIAt its meeting this Thursday, the Adirondack Park Agency board may discuss, in addition to the Boreas Ponds Tract, the classification of two other large parcels abutting the High Peaks Wilderness, known as MacIntyre West and MacIntyre East.

Like the Boreas tract, both MacIntyre tracts were acquired by the state from the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy. They formerly had been owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.

All told, the APA board will consider classifications for 90 parcels of state land scattered throughout the Park. At 20,758 acres, the Boreas tract is by far the largest. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 7, 2016

APA Sets Forth Three Options For Boreas Ponds

map-4The staff of the Adirondack Park Agency has set forth three alternatives for classifying the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, none of which mirrors proposals backed by the Nature Conservancy, which sold the land to the state, and other environmental groups.

The APA board is expected to discuss the alternatives at its meeting next week and hold public hearings around the state in November and December.

All the proposals of the APA and the various stakeholder groups would divide the tract into Wilderness, where no motorized use is allowed, and Wild Forest, where some motorized use can be permitted.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

County Line Flow: A New Place to Paddle

fishing brookThe Adirondack Park has its share of uninspired names for lakes and ponds. Think of all the Mud Ponds, Grass Ponds, Deer Ponds, and Moose Ponds scattered over our topo maps.

Perhaps no toponym is more prosaic than County Line Flow. Yes, it’s accurate, more or less. County Line Flow lies in Hamilton County less than a mile from the Essex County border [map]. But the name hardly does justice to the charm of this small water body and its marshy inlet.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Nature Conservancy Favors Wilderness For Boreas Ponds

tnc-mapThe Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy has taken the unusual step of entering into the debate over the classification of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which it sold to the state this year.

In a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the conservancy recommends that 11,500 acres be classified Wilderness, the most restrictive designation, and 9,030 acres be classified Wild Forest, which allows some motorized use. The adjacent 1,587-acre Casey Brook Tract also would be classified Wilderness.

Among other things, the tract’s classification will determine how close visitors will be allowed to drive » Continue Reading.


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.


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