Wednesday, March 16, 2016

APA Commissioner Indicts Cuomo Administration

APA Meeting 3-11-2016At the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meeting on Friday March 11, 2016, the APA acted to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) to make a series of changes, the most controversial being changes to the Essex Chain Lakes and Pine Lake Primitive areas to allow public bicycle use and use of motor vehicles for management and maintenance by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The APSLMP sets management policy for the 2.6-million acre Adirondack Forest Preserve. Since enactment in 1972, the APSLMP has managed Forest Preserve lands classified as Primitive Areas as essentially Wilderness areas. Many Primitive areas have ultimately been upgraded and reclassified to Wilderness. Bicycles and motorized use, even for state agencies, except in times of emergencies, are prohibited in Wilderness areas. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dave Gibson: APA Weakened State Land Master Plan

5th Lake, Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive AreaIt was a riveting 90 minutes at the APA this week. In those 90 minutes, the NYS Adirondack Park Agency amended the State Land Master Plan. In doing so, the agency contradicted and violated basic definitions and guidelines that have been protective of wilderness values since 1972.

The big four amendments: » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 11, 2016

APA Votes To Amend Master Plan, Allow Bikes In Essex Chain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency board voted 9-1 on Friday to allow the use of mountain bikes in the Essex Chain region — a move that some wild-land advocates say weakens protections for the Forest Preserve.

With one dissent, the board agreed to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan to permit bicycling along nine miles of former logging roads in the Essex Chain Primitive Area and the nearby Pine Lake Primitive Area. (The two areas are expected to be combined in the future.)

The master plan will continue to prohibit bicycling in other Primitive Areas except on administrative roads.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Comments Sought On Adirondack Fishing Regulations

DEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing changes to the fishing regulations and is seeking public comments. Changes being considered to the current freshwater fishing regulations are now available here, and if approved, these regulation changes would take effect on April 1, 2017.

Regulation changes include adjusting creel and minimum size limits for walleye as part of DEC’s multi-year effort to establish walleye populations in candidate waters, as well as protecting walleye where they congregate during the spawning season. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Forest Product Biochar Enriches Soils, Improves Productivity

enriching soils with biocharAt this time of year, many a gardener’s daydreams turn to the springtime promise of sprouting plants. Seed catalogs start arriving in the mail months before the soil will be thawed and drained enough for planting, and we use this downtime to plan for the coming season.

At Green Fire Farm in Peacham, Vermont, Michael Low is also planning, not only for this year’s crops, but for biochar to help those crops grow. He harvests about 50 cords of low-grade wood each year on his 67-acre homestead, and turns the wood into his own version of black gold. Biochar is charcoal used for agricultural purposes. Its advocates laud its potential to retain soil nutrients, sustain moisture levels in both drought and heavy rain conditions, and sequester carbon in the ground. For evidence of biochar’s usefulness, they point to the terra preta of the Amazon region, where biochar-enriched soils have maintained high fertility for thousands of years. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Efforts To Mechanize Adirondack Forests Hurt Wilderness

biking photo by DEC 2The Adirondack Forest Preserve has largely been divided between motorized and non-motorized lands, mechanized and non-mechanized areas. Primarily, these dividing lines separate where automobiles, snowmobiles, and bicycles are allowed and where they are prohibited. On one side, people walk, run, cross country ski or paddle a canoe. On the other side people can use motor vehicles and ride bikes. By and large, the separation of uses has worked well. It’s coherent and there’s virtue in its simplicity. As one long-time local government leader often quipped referring to Forest Preserve advocates, “Wilderness is yours and Wild Forest is ours.”

Not so anymore. There is an effort underway now to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP), the first serious policy changes in a generation (since 1987). These amendments seek, among other things, to shift up to 39,000 acres away from Wilderness and closer to that of Wild Forest. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wetlands Politics: Justice Scalia’s “Transitory Puddles”

DSC_1373I feel a connection with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, albeit indirect. He had strengths, but an environmental and land ethic, because they were not enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, seemed irrelevant to the Justice. Just before he died, he joined the majority in putting a stay on the the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power regulation and thus called into question American climate commitments made in Paris. But my story is local, not global.

Some years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) was involved in determining whether small, one-eighth acre, biologically active wetlands near our home that dry up in the summer, known as vernal pools, were worth protecting under the federal Clean Water Act’s Section 404 program. A developer wanted to build 18 homes – outside of the Adirondack Park – abutting ours that would directly impact the red maple swamp forest in which the pools lay. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LCBP Launches 2016 Boat Launch Steward Program

APIPP Photo Steward Inspecting KayaksThe Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) has announced that they are hiring up to ten seasonal Lake Champlain boat launch stewards to work at New York and Vermont public boat launch access areas this summer. This will be the tenth season of boat launch stewards on Lake Champlain.

In 2015, LCBP stewards surveyed 12,555 boats and offered courtesy boat inspection to remove and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Stewards spoke to 26,306 visitors about steps they could take to ensure their boats and equipment were clean, drained, and dry. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Pete Nelson: The Adirondack Rail Trail’s Benefits For Wilderness

Elroy Sparta TrailThe unfortunate war over New York State’s plan to turn 34 miles of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor into an all-season recreational trail may not be entirely over; certainly no one has surrendered just yet. But for all intents and purposes, opponents of the State’s plan have had their Waterloo.

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board has voted to affirm that the plan is consistent with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), clearing the way to proceed. Barring successful lawsuits or an unlikely turnaround, the Tri-Lakes region is going to get its Adirondack Recreational Trail.  » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Puts Hold On Clean Power Plan

US Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court has issued an injunction that delays implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan’s greenhouse-gas regulations. EPA’s plan must wait until after a legal challenge in a lower court, as well as an expected appeal to the Supreme Court, are decided. These events are expected to take a year or more. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rail Trail, Camp Santanoni, Snowmobile Trails At APA Thursday

APA Seeks Comments On Camp SantanoniThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Ray Brook on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

Among the issues set to be addressed by the Agency Board are changes at Historic Great Camp Santanoni in Newcomb, new development for snowmobiles in the Black River Wild Forest; and the legality under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan of tearing up a portion of the railroad on the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Dave Gibson: APA’s Response To Rail-Trail Comments Falls Short

Train-300x241 Nancie BattagliaBy this stage the NYS APA, DEC, and DOT may feel justified that they have adequately addressed public comments about the future of the Remsen-Lake Placid Railroad Travel Corridor. Having hosted listening sessions in 2013-14 and several public comment periods in 2015, the last one concluding in December, the DEC’s unit management plan amendment goes on, page after page, responding to questions and comment. The DEC responses justify the preferred alternative of separate corridor segments; segment one with rail from Remsen terminating at Tupper Lake, the other, an all-recreational segment two between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, without rail. The underlying economic studies doubtless contributed to the result, as do the physical obstacles to rail with trail, but the compromise seems almost unavoidable in light of the often clamorous, divided public point and counterpoint.

Still, one would have hoped that in its mailing to Agency members this month APA staff would have gone the extra mile in describing and analyzing the public comments in explaining why the Travel Corridor UMP amendment, and the creation of the two corridor segments (and much else in the UMP) complies with the State Land Master Plan. That was the purpose of the public comment period ending in mid-December. That is the decision APA Members will have to make next week in Ray Brook. The case for compliance, the major policy issues facing the APA, and staff’s assessment of public comment letters visa vi those important policy questions should form the basis of an informed decision, right? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

As Climate Changes, Poor Winters Hurt Adirondack Tourism

Mountaineer in Keene ValleyThe most profitable months for the tourism-based businesses in the Adirondacks are without question July and August. This is when families take their summer vacations, the weather is warm, and the bugs are tolerable. But while summer is crucial for small businesses, a successful winter season can mean the difference between making money or not for the year.

Vinny McClelland, owner of the Mountaineer in Keene Valley, knows this as much as anyone. His business depends on customers who recreate in the outdoors. In winter, they include backcountry skiers, ice climbers, mountaineers, and snowshoers. If there is a shortage of snow or ice in the winter, chances are there will be a shortage of customers visiting the Adirondacks and his store.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Applications for Environmental Excellence Awards Sought

nys-dec-logoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is now accepting applications for the 2016 Environmental Excellence Awards program.  The awards program recognizes businesses, institutions, government agencies and non-profit organizations for outstanding, innovative and sustainable projects or programs that are contributing to a healthier environment and economy.

Eligible applicants include businesses (i.e., small, medium and large businesses, manufacturing, power generation, retail, agri-business, hospitality, sports, etc.); not-for-profit organizations; education, health care and recreational facilities; individuals, and local, state, federal and Indian Nation government agencies. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Willie Janeway: Governor’s Budget Supports Adirondack Wilderness, Communities

NYS CapitolIt is pretty amazing how times have changed in the Adirondacks.

When the Governor announced this year’s budget proposals, environmental organizations applauded increasing investments in the park’s communities. At the same time, local government officials such as retiring Newcomb Town Supervisor George Canon praised the Governor’s plan to purchase important new Forest Preserve lands.

Yes, that was George in the Governor’s pre-State of the State Address video, smiling at the camera as he thanked the Governor for buying 69,000 acres of new Forest Preserve formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn & Co.  Even the Essex County Board of Supervisors’ Ways and Means Committee passed a resolution praising the Governor’s plan to fully fund the Environmental Protection Fund.

These apparent role reversals are not really so surprising, however, when you delve into details. » Continue Reading.


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