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, November 13, 2015

APA Approves Controversial Essex Chain Plan

Polaris Bridge over the Hudson River (Linda McIntyre Photo)The Adirondack Park Agency board voted 8-2 Friday to approve a management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes region that one of the dissenters denounced for its “legal fiction.”

One of the major controversies is over the decision to retain an iron bridge over the Hudson River for use as a future snowmobile trail.

The Hudson in that area is classified as a Scenic River, a designation that normally precludes motorized uses and large bridges. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, contends that motorized use over the river predated the law and thus can continue.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

APA Seems On Board With Rail Trail

rail_bikes_adiks_10-08-15_ncprThe Adirondack Park Agency intends to seek public comment on a plan to remove the railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a recreational trail, but agency officials do not foresee any legal obstacles to the controversial proposal.

The APA has little authority to alter the proposal. Rather, its role is to determine whether it complies with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

If all goes as planned, the state would open the recreational trail in 2017 at the earliest.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Groups Seek Expansion Of High Peaks Wilderness

boreas pondsEight environmental groups are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to dramatically expand the High Peaks Wilderness once the state purchases Boreas Ponds from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.

At 203,526 acres, the High Peaks Wilderness already is by far the largest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park. Under the environmentalists’ proposal, it would grow to more than 280,000 acres, making it larger than Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado or Mount Rainer National Park in Washington.

Monday, November 9, 2015

State Plans To Give Lake Placid Train One More Season

Adirondack Scenic RailroadThe state will allow Adirondack Scenic Railroad to run its tourist trains for just one more season on the tracks between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, according to a final proposal by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation.

In the proposal, released last week, the departments are sticking with their original plan to remove 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake – the north end of a 119-mile rail corridor owned by the state.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Reflections On Idaho And The Adirondacks

cowboy routeIt’s true. The mountains out west are bigger than the Adirondacks. I confirmed this when I went to Idaho last month to visit my son Nathan.

Nate used to work at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake, but he moved to Idaho last year (after a stint at the Middletown Times Herald-Record) to cover politics.

I never thought of traveling to Idaho before Nate relocated there, but I’m glad I went. It’s a gorgeous state with all sorts of opportunities for hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, and, in season, backcountry skiing.

Did I mention BASE jumping?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Iowa Pacific: No Plans Now To Store Oil Cars

rail car 2Iowa Pacific is nearing an agreement to move waste rock from an old mine in Tahawus and has no immediate plans to store empty oil railcars on its tracks, according to Ed Ellis, the railroad’s president.

Ellis touched off a controversy in late July when he told a committee of Warren County supervisors that Iowa Pacific was exploring the possibility of storing hundreds of oil tankers on its tracks, which run twenty-nine miles from North Creek to Tahawus.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Judge Rules Against Paul Smith’s Name Change

Paul Smith's CollegeA state judge has ruled against Paul Smith’s College’s request to change its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College, a controversy that has roiled the college and its alumni for months.

State Supreme Court Justice John Ellis issued the ruling Tuesday.

Cathy Dove, president of the college, had pushed for the name change in order secure a $20 million gift from Weill, a wealthy philanthropist who once served as chairwoman of the college’s board of trustees.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

High Peaks: From Algonquin Over Boundary Peak To Iroquois

Algonquin-peakI learned that Emily wanted to do a big hike, something spectacular. It didn’t take me long to hit on the idea of climbing Algonquin Peak and Iroquois Peak and returning by way of Avalanche Lake.

We would go over the summit of the second-highest mountain in the state, follow a mile-long open ridge with breathtaking views, descend a steep but beautiful trail, and scramble along the shore of a lake whose sublimity never fails to astound.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cuomo Nominates Basil Seggos To Head DEC

seggosGovernor Andrew Cuomo has nominated one his top advisers, Basil Seggos, to serve as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Seggos joined Cuomo’s administration in 2012. He has served as the governor’s deputy secretary for the environment since 2013.

If approved by the legislature, Seggos will replace Joe Martens, who resigned the post this summer. Marc Gerstman, who has been filling in as acting commissioner, will continue as executive deputy commissioner.

John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council, said his organization is pleased with Cuomo’s choice. “He cares about the environment, and he cares about communities,” he said.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Railroad Warns Bauer To Keep Out Of Corridor

rail car 2A rail company that wants to store used oil-tanker cars on tracks in the Adirondack Park is threatening to press charges against the executive director of Protect the Adirondacks if he returns to the rail corridor — even though the corridor runs through publicly owned Forest Preserve.

Iowa Pacific Holdings, which is based in Chicago, sent a letter to Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, warning him to stay out of the corridor after Bauer and Brian Mann, a reporter for North Country Public Radio, hiked a section of the tracks and posted photos of old railcars.

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