Posts Tagged ‘APA’

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Peter Bauer: Backcountry Sprawl At Woodworth Lake

The final design for the 1,100 acre subdivision around Hines Pond and Woodworth Lake.Just inside the Blue Line in the southern Adirondacks in the Towns of Bleecker and Johnstown, a new 1,118-acre, 26-lot subdivision on lands zoned Resource Management is poised for approval by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). An application has been completed, and now the APA must either issue a permit or send the project to an official adjudicatory public hearing. The developer is a professional outfit called New York Land & Lakes, and it completes a half dozen major subdivisions each year throughout the northeast. This is its first project in the Adirondack Park.

This development involves lands of the former Woodworth Lake Boy Scout Camp on an 1,118-acre site that was operated by the Boy Scouts from 1950-1992 as a retreat center and sold in 2013. On the tract, there are two lakes, Hines Pond and Woodworth Lake, and extensive wetlands and steep slopes. The tract is bordered by Forest Preserve in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest around the north end. Some 97% of this tract is classified as Resource Management and 3% Low Intensity under the APA Land Use and Development Plan.

This is the biggest Resource Management project since the Adirondack Club & Resort (ACR) project was approved in 2012. The ACR project cut 4,739 acres of Resource Management lands into 80 lots. The maximum development density for Resource Management is 15 units per square mile, which averages to 42.7 acres per principal building. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

State Land Plan: A Conversation with Peter Paine

Peter Paine with hunting companionThe APA’s “Listening Sessions” about the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) conclude this month. I’ve been to several on behalf of Adirondack Wild and appreciate the low-key, helpful competency displayed by the APA staff that receive inputs, write down comments, and field questions from the public in a one-on-one style. While absent of confident, inspired opening statements by the APA about the origins, importance and relevance of the Master Plan which they are by law obliged to uphold, these sessions do foster thoughtful, private questions, comments and enhanced listening, all of which are a good thing.

At Adirondack Wild, however, we see opportunities for strengthening the SLMP and its paramount purposes – the protection of natural resources and wild character of the Forest Preserve – and that’s been the theme behind our inputs to APA. To prepare ourselves, one of the first people we wanted to sit down with was the principal author of the SLMP, Peter S. Paine, Jr. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

State Land Master Plan Meeting Rescheduled

comments board for webBecause of snow in the forecast, the Adirondack Park Agency has canceled tonight’s meeting in Old Forge on proposed amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

The meeting has been rescheduled for 4-6 p.m. Monday at the gymnasium in the Town of Webb School on Route 28 in Old Forge.

The APA is considering two changes to the master plan. One would permit mountain biking in the Essex Chain Primitive Area, and the other would allow the state to build a snowmobile bridge over the Cedar River using some non-natural materials.

In addition, the agency is soliciting ideas for other amendments to the plan. The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board has set forth nine proposals.

» Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

State Land Master Plan: Managing for the 21st Century

APSLMP - LogoFriday, I concluded a four-part history of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan: why it was written, how it has been applied, and why it has been updated. Together, I think the four essays provide a good overview of most of the key events that influenced the original plan and its two revisions, from the point at which the Forest Preserve was created in 1885, to how we arrived at the master plan that we have today. » Continue Reading.



Friday, November 14, 2014

SLMP History: Winning and Losing Whitney Lake

APSLMP - LogoThe purpose of this five-part history of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) has been to place certain current events within a larger context, from the historical developments that inspired the creation of the master plan to its implementation. The discussion that we are having today was triggered by a high-profile land acquisition in the central Adirondacks (the Essex Chain of Lakes) and the requirement that this land be classified in a way that will determine the preferred future management policy. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) did reach a classification decision last year, but recognizing the inadequacy of this decision, the agency simultaneously promised to consider ways of changing it.

While this sense of indecision on the part of the APA is certainly novel, the basic elements of the case – an attractive and well publicized land acquisition, an eager but divided public, the need to reach a management decision – are as old as the SLMP itself. Of all the events that have occurred since 1972, the one with the greatest resemblance to our own times was perhaps the Perkins Clearing land exchange of 1983. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

SLMP History: Implementing the Great Compromise

APSLMP - LogoThe Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) was created in 1972 to address the cumulative impacts of sixty years of unplanned recreation management. The original plan – and to a large degree, the current version of the SLMP too – reflects this era by listing many of the facilities and uses that the old Conservation Department had allowed into the Forest Preserve, and then commenting on their appropriateness within each of the various zoning categories (Wild Forest, Primitive, Wilderness, et cetera). This certainly lends credence to the complaint that aspects of the SLMP are outdated in 2014 and need to be amended.

Without a doubt, the SLMP was never intended to be a static document, its provisions set in stone for all eternity. Part of any sound management process is to review successes and failures, and to identify opportunities for improving a set of guidelines based on the experience of having worked within them. The expectation was that the plan would be reviewed at least every five years—sooner, if there was a valid reason. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Commentary: Summon The Will To Address Land Issues

APSLMP - LogoNearly a year ago I posted an informal poll here at the Almanack in order to measure which issues facing the Adirondack Park were considered most important to readers. At the time my purpose was to prove my suspicion that human diversity, the issue I considered most critical to the future of the region, was not on the collective radar. The poll results supported my contention and started a conversation that has grown into multiple initiatives. I couldn’t be happier about that. But now I want to return to the poll for a different purpose. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PROTECT Faults DEC For Rebuilding Road in Preserve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few years ago I wrote a story for the Adirondack Explorer about a trail run to Gull Lake in the Black River Wild Forest near Woodgate. My outing began on a muddy mess of a road passable only by jeeps and pickup trucks.

This year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation repaired two miles of the road, smoothing it out, laying down gravel, and installing new culverts. I was able to drive my Honda Fit (not a high-clearance vehicle) the full two miles with no problem.

» Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Peter Bauer: Crane Pond Road is a Mess

CranePondRoad-11For nearly 25 years the Crane Pond Road has existed as an illegal and controversial 2-mile-long road in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area. This summer, there were regular reports about cars and trucks getting stuck in a mud wallow at a degraded point where the Crane Pond Road cuts through a wetland. In August, I encountered a group stuck there with their jeep when I walked the road.

In September, state agencies celebrated 50 years of the National Wilderness Act. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had presentations about the Wilderness Act and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) attended various ceremonies to pay homage to Wilderness. Both agencies elegized the importance of Wilderness.

The failure to close the Crane Pond Road belies their pretty words about Wilderness. Natural resource degradation has reached a point where the Crane Pond Road is now a public safety hazard. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

What Would an Adirondack National Park Look Like?

1967 National Park Proposal An interesting discussion developed this week in the comment sections of several Almanack articles related to the APA’s review of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP). The discussion was spurred by DEC Forest Ranger Scott van Laer. His contribution: why not consider an Adirondack National Park? So I thought I’d have a little fun and explore what one might look like.

Those who know their history or have read Bill Ingersoll’s two-part series covering the history that led to the SLMP know that this is not a new idea. In 1967 Laurance Rockefeller proposed that a National Park be established in the heart of the Adirondacks. It was a non-starter – overwhelmingly opposed – but spurred changes in thinking that were critical to all that followed. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

APA Gets Ideas For Amending State Land Master Plan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency is considering two amendments to the State Land Master Plan, both concerning the Essex Chain Lakes region, but the agency likely will be asked to weigh broader changes to the document.

The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board already has set forth nine proposals for amending the master plan, which governs the state’s management of the Forest Preserve.

“There’s going to be more, but that’s a start,” Fred Monroe, the board’s executive director, told Adirondack Almanack at an APA “listening session” Wednesday evening, the first of four such meetings that the agency plans to hold to gather ideas on amending the master plan.

» Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

SLMP History: Zoning the Forest Preserve

APSLMP - LogoI have no doubt that when the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) announced its intent to begin an amendment process for the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), more than one preservation-minded advocate held their breath for a moment. The master plan, after all, is the document that has guided the management of the Forest Preserve for the past forty-two years. It has capped the amount of roads and snowmobile trails to essentially 1972 levels, kept snowmobile trails reasonably narrow and trail-like, and kept both roads and snowmobile trails out of the designated Wilderness areas. For a preservationist who seeks to foster the wild forest character of our state lands, these are accomplishments worth celebrating.

On the other hand, people seeking enhanced access to the Forest Preserve for a greater number of people will list these same SLMP accomplishments as a set of roadblocks that should be reconsidered.

The current amendment process is being conducted because in 2013, as part of the classification package that designated the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area, the APA promised it would revisit the SLMP to see if there was a way to open these lands to mountain bike use. The area was classified Primitive to balance competing political influences: on one side, a desire to keep the lakes as motorless as possible — floatplanes notwithstanding — while on the other hand allowing motor vehicle access on some of the surrounding roads. In an odd twist, some traditionally preservation-minded voices were more than okay with this, calling the classification scheme “wilderness with access” — turning the old “Access versus Wildness” argument on its head. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Feds Preserve Local Jurisdiction Over Cell Towers

Exit 29 Cell Tower - North Hudson (APA Photo)A coalition of New York’s environmental and historic preservation organizations is expressing its gratitude today after receiving a decision from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that preserves the rights of state and local governments to regulate the size, shape and visibility of telecommunications towers in scenic and historic areas, including the Adirondack Park.

In January, the groups sent a joint letter to the FCC, urging federal officials to recognize that scenic beauty and historic significance are the backbone of local tourism, both inside and outside of the Adirondack Park.  In public comments on a proposed FCC rule, they asked the commissioners to reject the notion that expansions of 10 percent or more in the height or width of cell towers would have no impact on the environment or historic preservation. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SLMP History: The Preservation of Wildness

APSLMP - LogoRecently, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) announced that it will commence an amendment process for the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the document that sets the state’s management policies for the Forest Preserve and other state-owned lands in the Adirondack Park.

For some people this action will be seen as a long-overdue opportunity to update an important document that has not been materially amended since 1987. For others, this will be a period of apprehension—an opportunity for opponents to weaken certain cherished provisions that have been in place since 1972. » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Commentary: Make Ecology Cornerstone Of State Land Plan

Slide BrookThe Adirondack Park Agency has announced that it is opening the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan for review. This is momentous news. Together with the Land Use and Development Plan which governs development on private land in the Park, the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) is one of two fundamental documents used to carry out the will of the people, as expressed in Article XIV of the NYS Constitution, that the Adirondack Forest Preserve  should be “forever kept as wild forest lands”.

My interest in revising the SLMP is to strengthen its focus on ecological integrity over more traditional notions of open space. The SLMP, to its credit, already emphasizes science and ecology. But it was written in 1972, when ecology was still very much a nascent science. It can be a stronger document by taking advantage of forty years of maturation in a discipline more relevant to the protection of the Adirondacks than any other. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Adirondack Park Master Plan Public Hearings Set

APSLMP - LogoThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold a series of what it’s calling “public listening sessions” to solicit comments regarding their plan to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP).  The SLPM was written to govern management of the constitutionally protected “forever wild” lands in the Adirondack Park.

Changes to the plan for state lands in the Adirondacks are currently being considered, including: allowing the use of “all-terrain bicycles” in the Essex Chain Lakes tract, building a steel bridge over the Cedar River for snowmobiles, and other wider changes. For example, snowmobile and ATV owners are also pushing for wider motorized access to Adirondack Forest Preserve and there could also be a push by the Adirondack Powder Skier Association to clearly allow cutting backcountry glades for skiing.

The public will have the opportunity to be heard on changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan at the following four meetings: » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Message to APA: Know Your Own Master Plan

APSLMP - LogoThe Adirondack Park Agency has announced that they will hold “public sessions” in the coming weeks to consider changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The State Land Master Plan has been part of the Executive Law since 1972. It is the planning document guiding the management and public use of all state lands in the Park, including the New York State Forest Preserve. It includes landscapes as distinct from each other in character as the Five Ponds Wilderness Area and the Crown Point State Historic Site.

All of these sessions could be positive if they are respectful, well informed, organized, focused and led. The sessions also should be well grounded in State Land and Forest Preserve history. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Foes Of Tupper Lake Project Denied Leave To Appeal

ACR-aerial3Opponents of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake have suffered another legal setback in their quest to stop the project.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has refused to grant the opponents leave to take their case to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said the opponents will file a similar motion with the Court of Appeals itself within thirty days. The high court is expected to issue its decision by the end of the year.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Is The APA’s Land-Use Plan Mandatory Or Not?

ACR-aerial3Backers of the Adirondack Club and Resort complain that their opponents are stalling the project by appealing the Appellate Division’s 5-0 decision in favor of the resort.

That’s an understandable reaction, but the opponents have raised an interesting legal question with broad ramifications for the whole Adirondack Park. At least, that’s how it appears to a layman.

The question is: Are the development guidelines set forth in the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan mandatory or not?

In a decision in July, the Appellate Division suggested that they are not mandatory.

The question came up because the project’s opponents contend, among other things, that dividing up timberlands for “Great Camp” estates violates the land-use plan.

» Continue Reading.



Monday, September 15, 2014

ATV Damage in the Black River Wild Forest

ATV damage to the Gull Lake Trail, Black River Wild Forest.On August 29th, I visited the Gull Lake and Chub Pond trails in the Black River Wild Forest. I photographed all sorts of trail and wetland damage from All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use on these trails. ATVs are not allowed on these trails, but the Black River Wild Forest area has a history of illegal ATV use, and I thought that the damage to these trails reflected more of the same.

I had received reports about ATV damage in this part of the Forest Preserve earlier this year. The previous week I had spent time in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest inventorying trail damage from ATVs and photographing ATV side-routes around various barrier gates put up by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It appeared that the damage to the Chub Pond and Gull Lake trails was also caused by illegal trespass. The usual telltale signs of illegal trespass and recreational riding were evident. » Continue Reading.



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