Monday, July 8, 2013

Understanding NYS Tax Payments On State Lands

Historic Forest Preserve LandsThe idea that the State of New York does not pay taxes on state lands is an enduring myth in the Adirondack Park. At the June-July 2013 APA Forest Preserve classification hearings some speakers erroneously made this charge. Different state laws require property tax payments by the state for both Forest Preserve and conservation easements. The NYS Real Property Tax Law defines most categories of state tax payments.

The State of New York pays local property taxes on Forest Preserve lands it owns just like any other taxpayer. In 2011, it was estimated that combined town, county, school and special district taxes topped $75 million from the state for over 3.4 million acres of Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands in the Adirondack Park. Here is information from NYS Real Property Services organized by town-level data and county-level data. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Adirondack Legal History: The Lake George Trespass Case

erosionI recently came across an essay by Edmund H. Richard in The Forest Preserve, written during the big conservation battle over the proposed construction of Panther Dam in 1947:

“A citizen may not have title to his home, but he does have an undivided deed to this Adirondack land of solitude and peace and tranquility.  To him belong the sparkling lakes tucked away in the deep woods and the cold, pure rivers which thread like quicksilver through lush mountain valleys.  His determination to preserve his personal treasure for posterity has been tempered by memories of campfires, and strengthened by pack-laden tramps along wilderness trails and by mountaintop views of his chosen land.  To him the South Branch of the Moose is a River of Opportunity, for he has come to regard it as the front line of defense against the commercial invasion of his Forest Preserve.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Reverence for the Back Twenty

Lake Placid basin in the clouds, from Kuma's ViewIn mere days Amy and I will be be heading to Lost Brook Tract for an extended residence.  We will have many things on our agenda but the one to which I look forward the most is the exploration of the large part of our land that remains unknown to me.

As it always will be.

Lost Brook Tract is square in shape, encompassing an area of some forty acres.  Lost Brook itself cuts through the land for a few hundred feet near the lowest corner.  A short way up from this corner there is a patch of relatively level terrain where Hal Burton built his second lean-to, the one that constitutes our home base.  A half-mile from there and a good three hundred feet up a ridge sits Burton’s Peak, the high point of our land, positioned a little bit to the east of the opposite corner and quite close to the tract’s northern edge.  If you were to draw a diagonal line across the land starting at the southern boundary of Lost Brook Tract and far enough west of the lowest corner to encompass the stream and lean-to, then extended the line to the northern boundary far enough east of the opposite corner to just skirt the beginning of the promontory that defines Burton’s Peak, you would split the tract just about exactly in half. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lawsuit Seeks Protection for Bicknell’s Thrush

Bicknell's Thrush, Catharus bicknelli, by T. B. RyderThe Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect Bicknell’s thrush as an endangered species.

The thrush breeds only high in the mountains of the Northeast and eastern Canada, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York; scientists have predicted that 98 percent or more of the songbird’s U.S. habitat could be lost due to climate change. The Center petitioned for protection for the imperiled songbird in 2010, but the agency has failed to make a final decision on the petition. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

$3M Project Will Rebuild Lake George Beach Road

Lake George Beach RoadThe New York State Department of Conservation plans to move forward with a $3 million project to reconstruct a section of Beach Road on State lands and the Lake George Beach parking with porous asphalt and other storm water management features to protect water quality, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The project is funded by the state’s New York Works initiative.

Under the plan, the current DEC boat launch would also be moved to the east side of DEC’s Lake George Beach (aka Million Dollar Beach) as part of the two-year project. The project must be approved by the Adirondack Park Agency and the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Commentary: What is the Purpose of the APA?

APA officeWell folks, here I was happily writing an actual Dispatch about Lost Brook Tract for once, followed by a whole series of columns related to a particular and wonderful piece of Adirondack history, these to run over the next few weeks while I am away in the back country.

But no!  Lo and behold along comes another debate with a massive streak of irrationality which gets me all lathered up.  So that other stuff is on hold for a week.

Governor Cuomo has made his nominations, hearings are being held on classification of the Essex Chain and the Hudson River corridor and as a result the Adirondack Park Agency, our beloved and reviled APA, is back in the news. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dave Gibson: Fighting For A Wild Upper Hudson, 1968-2013

Proposed Gooley Dam Reservoir c 1968This week’s Adirondack Park Agency public hearings in Minerva and Newcomb about the classification of new Forest Preserve land along the Upper Hudson River, Essex Chain of Lakes, Cedar and Indian Rivers were well attended and informative. At Minerva Central School, there was no applause, no heckling. Folks listened to differing viewpoints respectfully, and several speakers noted a fair amount of common interests.

While most speakers favored a Wild Forest classification which would allow motorized access through an area long closed to public use, one former Finch, Pruyn manager noted the damage done to the roads by all-terrain vehicles. There was only one speaker in Minerva who favored unrestricted, unregulated, all-out motorized use from the Goodnow Flow to the Cedar River. Most appreciate the havoc this would cause to a region they know, or wish to get to know.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Forest Preserve Advocates Disagree On Mining Amendment

NYCO Land Swap ProposalOrganizations that advocate for the protection of Adirondack Forest Preserve lands disagree over whether to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the international wollastonite mining company NYCO Minerals Inc., which has facilities in Willsboro and Lewis, to mine 200 acres of Adirondack Forest Preserve lands in the Jay Mountain Wilderness.

The Adirondack Council has issued a statement in support of the proposal outlining 1,500 acres it says the state will receive if the amendment and additional enabling legislation passes.  The Adirondack Mountain Club has said it supports the proposal and DEC Commissioner Joesph Martens has also lent his weight to the NYCO land swap.  PROTECT’s Executive Director Peter Bauer has called the accommodation of the mining company a bad precedent. He says the process has been riddled with misinformation, and the state will be giving up old growth forests. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Will Andrew Cuomo’s APA Picks Protect Natural Resources?

Gov Rockefeller signs the APA Private Land Use Plan legislation. Richard W. Lawrence, first APA Chair, looks on at left. Photo by Paul Schaefer.By the end of this month, I believe six of the eight citizen members of the Adirondack Park Agency (those gubernatorial nominees who by law cannot be officers or employees of a state agency) will be serving expired, four-year terms.

This situation is neither new nor surprising. Section 803 of the APA Act allows members to serve until replaced or until they resign. Many governors have allowed members with expired terms to simply continue on without gubernatorial re-nomination and re-confirmation by the State Senate. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Drinking The Water: Is Beaver Fever A Myth?

Giardia Free Rill on Lost BrookIn exactly one month Amy and I will hike into Lost Brook Tract laden with food and supplies for a few weeks of glorious wilderness living.  Our initial pack loads will be heavy and the four-mile ascent will be a beautiful toil.  At about the halfway point we will reach Lost Brook for the first time, crossing it just before we begin the steep part of the ascent.  There we will refill our bottles and drink the glorious, bracing water of a perfect Adirondack stream, a pleasure every back country hiker knows.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cuomo Nominates Downstate Attorney To APA Board

APA officeGovernor Andrew Cuomo has nominated attorney Karen Feldman of Hudson to a seat on the board of the Adirondack Park Agency to replace longtime commissioner Cecil Wray.

Like Wray, Feldman is a Democrat. She has served as an adviser to a number of Democratic candidates and politicians, including U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She graduated from Yale University in 1978 and earned a law degree from the University of Miami in 1983.

Feldman is the live-in partner of Thomas Williams, the president of the Adirondack Landowners Association.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paddling: The Myth of Motor-free Adirondack Waters

Shannon PhotoThe Adirondack Park is held up as the great wilderness area in the eastern United States. It’s the place where people come for a wilderness experience and to enjoy the great outdoors. One great myth about the wild Adirondack Park is that there is an abundance of motor-free lakes and ponds. In fact, the Park faces a scarcity of quiet waters where one can paddle a canoe or kayak without interruption from motorboats, jet skis, floatplanes, and other types of motorized watercraft.

Of the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, from Lake Champlain, with 262,864 acres, to Round Pond in Indian Lake, covering 134.9 acres, the overwhelming majority of big lakes and ponds provide abundant opportunities for motorized watercraft—but scant opportunity for quiet, motor-free waters. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 3, 2013

APA Schedules NYC Hearing On Finch Lands

Essex ChainThe Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled a hearing in New York City on various options for classifying of 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn land and up to 24,200 acres of adjacent Forest Preserve. The classification decision will determine whether motorized access and recreation will be allowed on the lands and waters in question.

The hearing will be in the Downtown Conference Center at Pace University on Wednesday, June 19, at 6 p.m. The center is located at 157 William Street, 18th Floor, in Manhattan.

The APA plans to hold eight hearings throughout the state on the Finch, Pruyn lands, which the state recently acquired from the Nature Conservancy. The agency had previously announced the dates and locations of the other seven. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Record Brook Trout Caught in Adirondack Wilderness Area

Record Brook trout 2013Rick Beauchamp, of Mayfield, Fulton County, is the new holder of the state record for brook trout after catching a six-pound, 22.5-inch brookie in Silver Lake on May 16, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. The previous record holder was William Altman of Athol, who caught a 21-inch, 5 pound, 14 ounce brook trout in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness in Hamilton County in 2012.

Beauchamp reeled in the new record-breaking fish while fishing Silver Lake, also in Hamilton County in the Adirondack’s Silver Lake Wilderness. The new record brook trout, caught on a lake clear wabbler (the same lure used to catch the previous record fish) and worm, weighed in at slightly more than 6 pounds, surpassing the previous state record set in 2012 by two ounces. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

DEC: Skiers Face Uphill Battle For Glades In Preserve

Ron Konowitz skis on Lyon MountainBackcountry skiers who want the state to allow them to maintain ski glades on Lyon Mountain face an uphill battle, but it might be said that those who “earn their turns” are used to uphill battles.

At a public meeting in Saranac last week, several skiers said the glades on Lyon offer some of the best backcountry skiing in the Adirondack Park.

“We’re not looking to cut down mature forest; we’re looking to maintain what’s already there,” said Dean Schneller, a lawyer representing the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. » Continue Reading.


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