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, 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.



Friday, August 1, 2014

Will Fixing The Tracks Cost $15M or $44M?

Adirondack Scenic Railroad -Nancie BattagliaIf you’ve been following the debate over the Old Forge-to-Lake Placid rail corridor (and who hasn’t?), you probably have seen the widely disparate estimates on how much it would cost to restore rail service over the entire line.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad says reconstructing the unused portion of the tracks—some sixty-eight miles—would cost about $15 million. Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA), which is pushing the state to replace the tracks with a multi-use trail, puts that figure at around $44 million.

Which figure is correct?

They both are.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bicycling Coalition Happy With Rail-Trail Proposal

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)The New York Bicycling Coalition has kept a low profile in the debate over the future of the Adirondack rail corridor, but its proposal for the 119-mile corridor is similar to the one set forth by the state.

Last September, the coalition’s executive director, Josh Wilson, wrote the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to call for removing the tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a trail for biking and other non-motorized activities in spring, summer, and fall.

“NYBC believes that such a trail would be unparalleled in New York State and the Northeast,” Wilson wrote Raymond Hessinger, director of DOT’s Freight and Passenger » Continue Reading.



Monday, July 21, 2014

State Opens Trail To OK Slip Falls

OKSlip-600x719The state has opened a three-mile hiking trail to OK Slip Falls in the recently established Hudson Gorge Wilderness.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the opening of the trail today in news release in which he also touted funding for equestrian trails in the central Adirondacks and for the repair of the Lake Abanakee Dam in Indian Lake.

The state acquired OK Slip Falls—one of the tallest cascades in the Adirondack Park—from the Nature Conservancy in 2013. Since then, people have been hiking to the falls along informal trails or bushwhacking.

The official trail starts on the north side of Route 28, at the same trailhead for a pre-existing trail that leads to Ross, Whortleberry, and Big » Continue Reading.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

2 New Maps From St. Regis Canoe Outfitters

Two mapsSt. Regis Canoe Outfitters has published two new waterproof maps for paddlers, one covering the three Saranac Lakes, the other covering the St. Regis Canoe Area.

The color maps cover some of the same territory as the Adirondack Paddler’s Map, also published by St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, but the new maps are more detailed and, being smaller, easier to handle.

They’re also less expensive: $9.95 versus $19.95 for the Adirondack Paddler’s Map (which is four times as large).

“Many first-time visitors are going to grab a $10 map before they grab a $20 map,” said Dave Cilley, owner of St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, which has stores in Saranac » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DEC Extends Comment Deadline For Essex Chain

Essex ChainThe state Department of Environmental Conservation is giving the public an extra week to submit comments on its draft management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes. The state acquired the Essex Chain last year from the Nature Conservancy, which purchased it in 2007 from Finch, Pruyn & Company.

Following is the entirety of DEC’s news release:

The public will have an additional seven days to comment on the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex Draft Unit Management Plan (Draft Essex Chain UMP) and Draft Community Connector Multiple Use Trail Plan (Draft Trail Plan UMP) the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. DEC extended the comment period until July 25 in response to » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Earthjustice Obtains Court Order To Block NYCO Drilling

vernal poolEarthjustice has obtained a court order blocking NYCO Minerals from test drilling in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area until the judge has a chance to hear oral arguments in Earthjustice’s lawsuit against NYCO and two state agencies.

State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Buchanan on Monday granted Earthjustice’s request for a temporary restraining order–providing the plaintiffs post a $10,000 bond to cover NYCO’s damages if Earthjustice loses the suit. NYCO could have begun work as early as this week and argued in court that delays would hurt the company financially.

Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg said the bond was posted Wednesday afternoon.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Is Rails With Trails A Practical Solution?

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)Supporters of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad continue to push for keeping the tracks at the Lake Placid end of the rail line and for creating a “rails-with-trails” option for bikers, hikers, snowmobilers, and others who want to use the state-owned corridor.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates the railroad, said in a news release last week that a multi-use travel corridor best serves the public interest. “Rails and trails can exist and work successfully together,” it declared.

On Monday, a volunteer group called Trails with Rail Action Committee (TRAC) also voiced support for this idea. TRAC says it has been working with state officials “to identify recreational trails within the existing » Continue Reading.



Friday, July 11, 2014

State Expects To Solicit Rail-Trail Ideas This Fall

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)State officials hope to hold public meetings on the future of the Adirondack rail corridor this fall, the state’s environmental conservation commissioner told Adirondack Almanack.

Known as scoping sessions, the meetings will be held to solicit the public’s ideas for the 90-mile corridor between Old Forge and Lake Placid.

Following the meetings, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation will analyze the public comments and develop a draft management plan for the corridor. The departments will hold public hearings on the draft before issuing a final version of the plan.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said he hopes the final plan will be adopted sometime in the second half » Continue Reading.



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