Saturday, November 16, 2013

Commentary: An Updated APA Land Use Policy Proposal

APA officeGet out your torches and pitchforks, kids.  Here comes a nice fat target to shoot at.  I’m going to propose an updated land use policy and permitting process for the Adirondack Park Agency.  I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of it since I imagine that I will have ample opportunity to do that in response to the numerous comments I hope to receive.

Consider this a straw man that you can light on fire or eviscerate as desired.  I don’t suggest for a moment that I have the one best answer or anything remotely definitive.  But I aim to have something to talk about which I can defend on the basis laid out in the two previous commentaries in this series: common ground exists to a far greater extent than the usual rhetoric would have you believe and we waste time, effort and good will by playing politics when reasoned discussion and a rational process can get us to consensus far more often than not.  So be ready, because I’m going to come back at any and all objections with direct challenges.   » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Public Meeting On Lake George Beach Road Project

Lake George Beach RoadThe State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host a public informational meeting on the proposed road and parking lot modification projects on Thursday, November 14, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Lake George Town Hall, 20 Old Post Road, Lake George.

DEC is expected to provide information and answer questions regarding Phase II and Phase III of the Beach Road stormwater management project to update the public on what is proposed and the timeline for completing the project. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Adirondacks Rapid Response: An Invasives Success Story

Early-detection-invasives (Photo Brendan Quirion-TNC)Many invasive species stories follow a similar narrative. When the non-native species first shows up, people either don’t notice it, or they don’t take the threat seriously. Suddenly, the invader explodes across the landscape, and conservationists spring into action. but so often, it’s too late.

That’s why invasive species success stories are so few and far between.

The Adirondacks is different. Here, over a huge landscape, the Conservancy and partners have excelled at a coordinated approach that’s making a difference: early detection and rapid response. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Commentary:
Compromise, Consensus and a New Land Use Paradigm for the APA

APA officeAs I began to think about my series on the Adirondack Park Agency, my discussions with people elicited a wide variety of comments.  My topic over the next two weeks, land use policy, generated some skepticism from people who have been around the proverbial block on this issue.  “If you want to be buried in angry commentary, write about zoning,” went one.  “Private land use is the third rail of Adirondack politics,” went another.  These sentiments are not news to anyone.

But there are other comments I have heard over the last month. Here’s one: “I’m not opposed to development; I’m opposed to pollution.  Development is development, pollution is pollution.”  That quote, from the Strengthening the APA Conference held at the end of September came from an environmental advocate some would consider strongly anti-development.   Then there’s this: “Policies that protect the most appealing and beautiful parts of the land we’re developing, like clustering, make sense to me.  I want strong land value.”  That one is from a developer and contractor in the park, said to me over coffee a few weeks ago.  Or how about these vicious salvos (paraphrased as I didn’t write down the exact words):  “We should always be doing that sort of thing” (conservation design) and “I never understood why the APA allows houses that big to be built; there should be a restriction on size.”  Those two are from a real estate developer and realtor I know. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Peter Bauer:
Reflections on the Vote to Sell 200 Acres of Forest Preserve

Article 14, Section 1 - croppedMuch is already being made about the great victory in passing Proposition 5 – the controversial Constitutional Amendment known as Proposition 5 that was approved by New Yorkers on November 5, 2013 to sell 200 acres of forever wild Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness to NYCO Minerals, Inc., a mining company that plans to incorporate it into its adjacent open pit mine.

I believe that some who are jubilant now will come to rue this day. If Forever Wild can’t be saved from the jaws of a mining company to be clearcut, blasted and mined, then when can it be saved? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

DEC Proposes New Invasive Species Rule

invasive_curveThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeking comments on new regulations (6 NYCRR Part 575) entitled “Prohibited and Regulated Invasive Species”. These regulations, once implemented, are expected to help control invasive species by reducing the introduction of new invasives and limiting the spread of existing invasives.

The proposed regulations include a list of prohibited species which shall be unlawful to knowingly possess with the intent to sell, import, purchase, transport or introduce; a list of regulated species which shall be legal to possess, sell, purchase, propagate and transport but may not be knowingly introduced into a free-living state; and require a permit for research, education and other approved activities involving prohibited species and release of regulated species. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Open Letter:
From Adk Council, ADK and League of Conservation Voters

Entering-Adirondack-ParkWhat follows is an open letter issued today to Adirondack Almanack readers.

Dear Adirondack Almanack Readers:

Voters reaffirmed that the Adirondack Park belongs to all New Yorkers. Proposition 4 (Township 40) was approved by a wide margin. Voters also approved Proposition 5 that expands the Jay Mountain Wilderness as part of a land swap with the NYCO mineral company. The approval of this constitutional amendment expands access to all sides of the Jay Mountain Wilderness and adds important new resources to the Forest Preserve.

Election results show that New Yorkers care deeply about the Adirondack Park.  Clearly the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and the New York League of Conservation Voters’ collaboration with local governments, unions, and property owners can produce victories and results that benefit the Forest Preserve and communities. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Environmental Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert Event Planned

kolbertAs the fall weather heads toward winter, join Elizabeth Kolbert for a conversation on climate change in our area. Kolbert is a reporter and author of the new book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. S he’ll speak at 7PM on November 14th, in the Adirondack Room of the Joan Weill Library at Paul Smith’s College.

Kolbert published Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change in 2005, in which she followed scientists and residents of high latitudes to report a local and global climate portrait. This time, she’s using the same journalistic savvy to investigate our effects on biodiversity. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Essex Chain Classification On Hold

Essex ChainWhen the Adirondack Park Agency board meets next week, it will not be voting on a question that has been the subject of public controversy for months: the classification of 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands.

“There will be no action on Finch at this month’s meeting,” APA spokesman Keith McKeever told Adirondack Almanack. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Conference: ‘Ideas For A Better Park’

 

crowd-conf2Now in its forty-second year, the Adirondack Park Agency is facing a critical time of public evaluation. Has it fulfilled its original mandate to protect millions of woodland acres and thousands of miles of waterways in the Adirondacks? Or has it fallen short, pressured by development interests and weakened by outdated regulations and inadequate funding?

These questions will not be put to rest easily, if ever. Local governments, developers, state authorities, environmentalists, and ordinary citizens will continue to struggle with competing interests and old grudges even as they face a growing number of challenges.

At a recent conference sponsored by the Adirondack Explorer, called “Strengthening the APA,” various experts discussed strategies for protecting the Park’s water quality and wilderness character. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

APA Seeks Comments on Use of Aquatic Herbicides

APA officeThe Adirondack Park Agency is seeking public comment for recently proposed Agency guidance for the use of the aquatic herbicides Renovate and Renovate OTF to manage the aquatic invasive plant Eurasian watermilfoil. The comment period will run through November 7, 2013.

Renovate and Renovate OTF are aquatic herbicides used in the management of Eurasian watermilfoil. They are approved for use in New York State and primarily target dicot classified plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Strangle-Vine: Invasive Swallow-Wort

swallow-wort1The invasive plant sometimes called dog-strangling vine doesn’t harm pets, but it lives up to its name as a strangler, choking out native wildflowers as well as Christmas tree plantations and fields of prime alfalfa. In Northern New York, in Jefferson County, a nearly 1,000-acre tract on an island lies blanketed under this perennial Eurasian vine.

Dog-strangling vine grows in almost any soil type, has a prodigious root system, and is particularly good at making and dispersing seeds. It is so toxic that no North American bird, mammal or insect will eat it, and it bounces back from the most powerful herbicides. No wonder biologists and agronomists have been losing sleep over it. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Adirondack Council Releases “State of the Park” Report

State of the Park 2013Many of the Adirondack Park’s environmental organizations and local governments stopped fighting one another and worked together in this year on issues of common concern, advancing agreements that better protect the park’s environment while also encouraging community development, according to the Adirondack Council’s 2013 State of the Park Report.

State of the Park is a 20-page, illustrated review of more than 100 actions taken by local, state and federal government officials, briefly explaining from the perspective of the Adirondack Council what they did to help or hurt the ecology and economy of the Adirondack Park over the past 12 months.  State of the Park has been published each October since 1986 as a report card intended to hold government officials accountable. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dave Gibson:
Land Sought For Mining Company Is Hardly Ordinary

This Sugar Maple on Lot 8 may be 175 years old or moreBill Ingersoll’s recent post about the November 5 vote on the NYCO Minerals-State Land Exchange (Proposition 5 on the upcoming ballot) makes good reading – as do the comments.

His interpretation, that the land exchange stripped-down to its essence represents a straight commercial transaction that lacks any public need or benefit, is one Adirondack Wild shares, but Bill made an especially articulate case.

One of the interesting comments to Bill’s post comes from my colleague Dan Plumley. Dan notes that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s characterization of “Lot 8,” the 200-acre section of Jay Mountain Wilderness the company wants to mine for wollastonite, is plain wrong. Dan’s opinion is informed by observations he and I made during recent field visits to Lot 8. We were impressed by the forest environment there, which I will get to in a moment. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Gary Randorf: Strong Link in an Historic Chain

Participants at Adirondack Wild's annual meeting at The Grange in Whallonsburg send greetings to Gary Randorf, recipient of the Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award. I don’t recall ever crying before at an annual meeting. I am pleased to catch up with people, I am excited to see members and friends gathered together in one place in support of our Adirondack and wild mission. I am proud of the efforts of my colleagues and our members as we talk about our accomplishments together over the past year, and anticipate the challenges in front of us.

But tears flooded my eyes at The Grange in Whallonsburg this past week when Bonnie MacLeod displayed the best of Gary Randorf’s photography set to some o f the most beautiful string music I have ever heard. » Continue Reading.


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