Posts Tagged ‘APA’

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peter Bauer: Update On NYCO’s Wilderness Mining Plan

NYCO Minerals Wollastonite Mine (Nancie B Photo)Two major developments are occurring simultaneously with NYCO Mineral’s mining operation in Essex County.

First, state agencies are trying to rush approvals for NYCO to begin “mineral exploration” on 200 acres of Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness, known as Lot 8, an action that was narrowly approved in a Constitutional Amendment last fall.

Second, NYCO is also seeking a massive expansion of its Lewis Mine, which abuts Lot 8 and the Jay Mountain Wilderness. » Continue Reading.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Peter Bauer:
Considering Three Hotel Projects in the Adirondacks

hotel-saranacThree major hotel projects are moving through the state and local regulatory processes here in the Adirondacks.

These projects include a top-to-bottom renovation and restoration of Saranac Lake’s iconic Hotel Saranac, a new 120-room Marriot Hotel and convention center in downtown Lake George, and the new 90-room Lake Flower Inn on the shores of Lake Flower in Saranac Lake.

As a package this marks one of the biggest investments in tourism facilities in the Adirondacks since the expansion of the Sagamore Resort in the 1980s or the expansion of the Crowne Plaza in Lake Placid in 2004.

Two of the projects are in line for significant state funding. The Hotel Saranac is approved for $5 million in grants and tax abatements and the Lake Flower Inn is scheduled for a $2 million state grant. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lake George Zipline Project Will Scar French Mountain

macchio 2.02-10-06The gap between legislative intent to protect the open space resources of the Adirondack Park and the APA’s analysis of project impacts in accordance with the law widened into a chasm in 2012 when the agency approved the Adirondack Club and Resort by a 10-1 vote.

Now, the Agency has also approved by 10-1 vote a Zipline thrill ride down scenic French Mountain above the Village of Lake George at the entrance to the Adirondack Park. That development will not engender statewide publicity nor, I suspect, a lawsuit. Nonetheless it requires the cutting of a 900-foot swath, 35-50 feet wide, down a steep and wild mountainside. According to Agency staff, the steel cables would be highly visible from many vantage points; in some views the cables would be silhouetted above the mountain, and the cut would resemble a utility line. The thrill ride benefits exactly one business in a resort community. » Continue Reading.



Monday, March 10, 2014

APA Seeks Expedited Approvals For Some Wetland Activities

APA officeThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is seeking public comment on two new general permits related to wetlands in the Adirondack Park that would expedite APA approval for qualifying activities. One relates to the the management of invasive species within 100 feet of a wetland, the other to access and replacement of power poles in wetlands. Both General Permits will apply throughout the Adirondack Park and will be effective for three years unless revoked or modified by the Agency.

The APA will accept public comments until March 28, 2014. If there is significant concern with, or opposition to these General Permits, a public hearing may be required. Approval of a General Permit by the Agency is a SEQRA, Type 1 action. A negative declaration and Full Environmental Assessment Form has been prepared by the Agency and is on file at its offices in Ray Brook, New York. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hearing Set On Hurricane, St. Regis Mtn Fire Towers

Hurricane-mtn-Fire-Tower-Phil-Brown-PhotoThe Proposed Final Drafts of the Hurricane Mountain and St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area Unit Management Plans (UMPs) were presented by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board at their monthly meeting on February 14, 2014. Pursuant to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) requirements for Historic Areas, the Agency will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 to solicit public comments related to the proposed UMPs’ conformity with the provisions of the SLMP.

The Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area is located on the Summit of Hurricane Mountain in the Town of Keene, Essex County. The St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area is located on the summit of St. Regis Mountain in the Town of Santa Clara, Franklin County. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Surplus State Budget, An Environmental Deficit

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens dedicates a new addition to the Forest Preserve above Lake George in 2013Given Governor Andrew Cuomo’s projected $2 billion surplus, his environmental agencies could have used a bit of a budgetary boost.

One can always hope. But readers already know this is not the case. Cuomo’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens, made it explicit when he testified recently to legislative committees “Basically, this is a flat budget staff-wise,” he told legislators who politely questioned why his DEC budget appeared to be cut $43 million.

“Those dollars were non-reoccurring federal pass-through funds,” the commissioner answered. “Those are not cuts to our operating funds.” When questioned about the apparent loss of staff, the commissioner answered that those were DEC information technology personnel moved to a central IT office in Albany. » Continue Reading.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Governor Cuomo Approves Finch Land Classification

Essex Chain APA-map-with-labelsNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved the State Land Classifications for 42,000 acres recently added to the State Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park.

The classification of the properties, formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company, was endorsed by the Adirondack Park Agency on December 13, 2013 as the preferred alternative.

The plan will allow recreation access to the newly acquired lands for people of all abilities for a wide variety of uses including hiking, paddling, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, horse riding and snowmobiling. » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Bernard Smith: NYS Senate Conservation Champion

Bernard SmithBernard C. Smith served in the NYS Senate from 1965-1978, an era when trust in our government’s good will and capability to improve our lives was ebbing fast. But Senator Smith, a Republican, believed strongly in that capability and responsibility.

His belief found expression in numerous laws to protect our environment, laws which had to pass through his Committee on Environmental Conservation.

The Adirondack Park Agency (1971) and its organic act (1973), the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act (1972 and ‘75), the Environmental Quality Review Act, the law creating the Department of Environmental Conservation (1972) and its organic act, the Environmental Bond Act of 1972 and many other bills all found a lead sponsor and champion in Senator Smith. » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 6, 2014

New State Lands: An Explanation and Analysis

The Essex Chain (Nancie Battaglia)After months of public debate and behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Adirondack Park Agency voted in December to prohibit motorized recreation on most of the former Finch, Pruyn timberlands the state purchased from the Nature Conservancy a year ago.

The unanimous decision will create a 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness and ensure that the quiet of the remote Essex Chain Lakes will not be disturbed by motorboats. Under the APA plan, the lakes will be the centerpiece of a 9,940-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Green Groups Question Aspects Of Classification Decision

snowmobile-bridge-600x432Three green groups are taking the Adirondack Park Agency to task for failing to provide an analysis of the environmental impacts and legal ramifications of its classification of forty-two thousand acres of state land in December—including twenty-two thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn land purchased from the Nature Conservancy.

At its monthly meeting, the APA board voted unanimously to create two motor-less tracts, the 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area and 9,940-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area, with a snowmobile corridor (classified Wild Forest) running between them.  (You can read about the decision in the latest issue of the Adirondack Explorer.)

» Continue Reading.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Poll Results: What Readers Are Thinking About

Gothics Mountain Medium ResThank you readers!  The results of my little poll exceeded my expectations.  I received nearly 150 responses, a great number.

Let me remind you that this poll was intended to be neither scientific nor comprehensive.  It was designed by me to see if the results would highlight what I think is a hidden issue concerning the future of the Adirondack Park.  It did that for sure, but it also provided other insights.

Here is how the issues fell out, ranked by weighted average:

 

» Continue Reading.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Classifications Require Rule Changes

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapFor three days, the Adirondack Park Agency deliberated on a set of classifications for Forest Preserve in Newcomb, Minerva and Indian Lake that were never in doubt. The decisions were the Governor’s. APA took its direction from him, as it did with the Adirondack Club and Resort two years ago.

APA staff labored mightily over the past week to put those State Land decisions, and the maps into a format that their members might understand. The convoluted resolution was adopted unanimously but requires changes in inconvenient regulations and policies before the classifications are finalized. That is the price this Governor exacts from his state agencies in order to settle a controversial policy matter for these magnificent new parts of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Take a Poll: Is There a Hidden Issue in Adirondacks?

part of the great range from the brothers trailWhen it comes to major issues that impact the future of the Adirondacks this year has been one of the most event-filled in decades.  From the ongoing Adirondack Club and Resort debate and the orbiting cluster of questions related to private land use to the continuing economic wins for the North Country, the recent constitutional amendments and the classification of the Finch Pruyn lands, this has been a pivotal time.

My reading of recent events is that most of the news is good news for the park.  It seems to me that stakeholders in the Adirondacks are responding to the challenges we face with concrete initiatives that are making a difference but also with a sense of intelligence: people are thinking a lot about matters in the park and there seems to be a higher level of general understanding of these challenges than in years past. » Continue Reading.



Friday, December 13, 2013

APA Approves Finch, Pruyn Classifications:
Hudson Gorge Wilderness, Motorless Essex Chain Lakes

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapThe Adirondack Park Agency voted unanimously today to approve a staff recommendation to create a 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area and a 9,940-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area on lands once owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.

The vote climaxed a year of work that included public hearings, which elicited thousands of comments, and negotiations between state officials and various stakeholders.

Underscoring the importance of the decision was that Basil Seggos, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary for the environment, drove up from Albany to attend the APA’s meeting.

» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When ‘Primitive’ Is More Protective Than ‘Wilderness’

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapWilderness is the most restrictive and most protective of the Adirondack Park Agency’s seven classifications for Forest Preserve lands, so perhaps it’s no surprise that environmental groups pushed for a Wilderness designation for the Essex Chain Lakes.

The APA staff instead recommended a Primitive classification. Ordinarily, this might be seen as a slight downgrade in protection, but in this case an argument can be made that natural resources are actually better protected under the Primitive classification. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 2, 2013

APA Refuses To Release Essex Chain Memo

Essex ChainThe Adirondack Park Agency says it won’t release a legal analysis by one of the agency’s commissioners who concluded that classifying the Essex Chain Lakes as Wild Forest would violate the State Land Master Plan.

The Adirondack Explorer had asked for the document under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), but the request was denied.

In an email last week, Brian Ford, the APA’s records-access officer, described the twenty-one-page legal analysis, written by Commissioner Dick Booth, as an intra-agency document that is not subject to disclosure under FOIL. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Commentary: Implementing a New APA Land Use Policy

APA officeMy last column in this APA series was a proposed new land use policy organized around a consensus-driven process with a development plan and ecological assessment as the primary inputs and a design that maximizes both ecological protection and the profitability of the project as the desired output.  I expected a number of less-than-receptive comments but instead I received a lot of good ones including some questions and challenges that I hope are at least partly answered this week.  » Continue Reading.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Martens Discusses Classification Process For Finch Lands

Essex ChainState officials are considering a variety of possible recreational uses, both motorized and non-motorized, for the former Finch, Pruyn lands, according to Joe Martens, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Martens said officials from DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency have been in discussions with various stakeholders, including environmental groups and local officials, on what types of recreation would be appropriate on the 21,200 acres acquired in the past year from the Nature Conservancy.

Martens told Adirondack Almanack that he believes the lands, which are split among three tracts, can accommodate a wide variety of recreation, including snowmobiling, without putting natural resources at risk. He declined to say where he thought snowmobiling might be allowed.

» Continue Reading.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peter Bauer: Backroom Land Classification Decisions

Essex ChainThe current Forest Preserve classification process underway at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the new lands around the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson River is likely go down as the worst administered process in the 40-year history of the APA. Since the close of the public hearing in mid-July, the APA leadership has openly subverted state law and moved decision making from an open and transparent public forum to a smokeless backroom.

The process has gone awry. The train has run off the tracks. This is evidenced by four recent events: » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Essex Chain Classification: Legal Memo Rejects Wild Forest

Essex ChainAn Adirondack Park Agency commissioner has written a twenty-one-page legal analysis that concludes that the Essex Chain Lakes cannot be classified Wild Forest under the State Land Master Plan.

Dick Booth, a lawyer who teaches at Cornell University, has distributed the memo to his ten fellow commissioners, but it has not been made public.

Booth declined to discuss the memo in detail, but he told Adirondack Almanack that it focuses on the Essex Chain, a string of seven linked lakes at the heart of a 17,320-acre tract that the state purchased from the Nature Conservancy, along with two smaller tracts.

Basically, he contends that the nearly pristine condition, remoteness, and interconnectivity of the lakes make the Essex Chain “a very, very special resource” where motorized use and motorized access would be inappropriate.

» Continue Reading.



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