When 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.
The recent acquisition by the State of New York of the former Finch-Pruyn/Nature Conservancy lands means many things to many people. While economic, social, and political implications fuel many of the broader conversations occurring over these lands, these issues tend to drown out the quieter voice of the land itself.
Any visitor to the North Country knows that wild places are anything but silent, from the ever persistent hum of the mosquito, to the chittering call of the hunting kingfisher, to the push and pull of the wind through the forested hillsides. At the Adirondack Council we pay attention to these sounds, or more specifically, to the scientist and professionals who study how wild places and wild things are ecologically connected, and incorporate this critical input into our decision making process. » Continue Reading.
As Sue Bibeau and I drove down the long dirt road west of Goodnow Flow, we wondered if many people, if anybody, besides us would be paddling the Essex Chain Lakes. Although it was the first day the chain would be open to the public in more than a century, the state had done little advance publicity.
It turns out we were late for the party. When we arrived at the newly created parking area, we were hard-pressed to find a spot. There were nineteen vehicles already there—one from the Florida, the rest from New York State. » Continue Reading.
I climbed steadily over rocks and boulders, some the size of large pieces of furniture, for half a mile as I worked my way up OK Slip Brook. Sometimes in the thick growth along the shoreline, sometimes rock-hopping right up the brook itself. After a good 30-40 minutes, I came around a bend, crossed several sections of the brook at a gravelly section, and the falls came into sight ahead.
OK Slip Falls – around a 250 foot drop – sun coming in from the side, dark rocks, a small drop visible at the top, then the water comes over a ledge and drops almost the entire way, cascading into a pile of jagged boulders at the bottom. The sound of the graceful curtain of water dropping down was mesmerizing. A gust of wind brought a flurry of golden leaves fluttering down into the steep walled ravine, glowing brightly as they passed in and out of bands of sunlight. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the Adirondack Park on Thursday September 26th and devoted a full day to discussions with various parties about the looming decision by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) on the Forest Preserve classification of 21,000-acres of former Finch Paper lands along the Hudson River and around the Essex Chain Lakes.
I give the Governor high marks for making the trip and holding these meetings. (In the interest of full disclosure no one from Protect the Adirondacks was invited to these meetings. We are, after all, suing the Cuomo Administration with two pretty big lawsuits.) With Joe Martens, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in tow, the Governor met at Follensby Pond (his second trip there) with the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Adirondack Council and ADK. Those most closely aligned with the Cuomo Administration, who supported for the Adirondack Club & Resort project and/or the NYCO land swap, get to go fishing with the Governor.
The Governor then went to Gore Mountain and met with seven local government officials as well as Senator Betty Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec. At Gore, the Governor held a press conference. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency commissioners have yet to vote on the classification of the Essex Chain Lakes, but one commissioner asserted Thursday that a Wild Forest designation would be inappropriate.
Richard Booth, one of eleven members of the APA board, said his reading of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan leads him to the conclusion that motorized access to, and motorized use of, the Essex Chain should be prohibited.
Under a Wild Forest classification, state officials would have the option of allowing people to drive all the way to the Essex Chain and to use motorboats. Thus, Booth favors a Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe designation, all of which prohibit motorized use. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) spokesperson Keith McKeever has confirmed that the agency will not make a decision at its September meeting on how former Finch Paper lands recently acquired by New York State will be managed.
The classification of the lands around the Essex Chain of Lakes and Hudson Gorge is one of the biggest Forest Preserve decisions the APA has faced in more than a decade, one that has recently dominated public discussion in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
When the Adirondack Park Agency was reviewing the Adirondack Club and Resort in 2011, board member Richard Booth encouraged APA staff to put all of the most important legal and other considerations from the hearing record on the table early in the review process. Avoid having Agency members get buried in minutia was his advice because it is easy for a board to get overwhelmed by a lot of presentation data, or to assume they know the most important factors and considerations when, in fact, they may not. » Continue Reading.
Some recent events started me thinking about land classifications in the Adirondacks, and their possible inadequacy to preserve biological diversity in the future. With the twin threats of climate change and invasive exotic species, new strategies may be necessary. One such strategy is a new land classification, one where human beings will no longer be welcome.
I started thinking about the necessity of a new land classification when I read recent articles by Bill Ingersoll and Pete Nelson proposing their own new classification categories. Where their proposals were for a new category wedged between the current Wilderness and Wild Forest classes, mine would be the most restrictive land class in the Adirondacks, essentially preserving the land exclusively for the use of the other living organisms. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at its Headquarters in Ray Brook on Thursday, August 8 and Friday August 9, 2013. At the top of its agenda will be deliberations on the classification of newly acquired state lands. These new Forest Preserve lands are located in the Towns of Minerva and Newcomb, in Essex County, and Indian Lake, Hamilton County, including the Essex Chain Lakes, Indian River and OK Slip Falls parcels. The meeting will be webcast live (streaming details and the full agenda are below).
The APA will also welcome two new Board members. In June, the New York State Senate confirmed Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s nominations of Karen Feldman and Daniel Wilt. The Senate also re-confirmed the Governor’s nomination of Leilani Crafts Ulrich to serve as Chairwoman of the Adirondack Park Agency. Leilani Crafts Ulrich was the first woman to serve as Chair of the Adirondack Park Agency when Governor Cuomo nominated her for this distinction in November 2011. » Continue Reading.
Gazing on OK Slip Falls as the waters plunge 250 feet into the gorge at our feet, it’s easy to give in to a rush of impressions. This cataract, the tallest in the Adirondack Park, has true grandeur and raw power. But it also displays surprising subtlety. The falling torrent divides into bands of white foam and darker water, moving in undulating patterns before crashing onto the boulders below.
For the visitors in our group, there is a sense of excitement. We’re a vanguard for a public that has long been unable to view this wonder. Until this year it has been hidden on private property. Located amid woodlands near the Hudson River Gorge, OK Slip Falls is now part of the publicly owned Forest Preserve and will soon be accessible by a new hiking trail. It’s one of the premier destinations in the former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands recently purchased by New York State from the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. » Continue Reading.
Almost 5,000 pages of written public comments, most supporting Wilderness classification, were submitted as part of the recent public hearing concerning some 46,000 acres of newly purchased and existing Forest Preserve lands around the Essex Chain Lakes area and 22 miles of the Hudson River. The carefully argued and highly emotional comments, were acquired from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The comments were emailed, faxed and mailed; some were handwritten or sent from iPads and smartphones. They included a variety of form letters and petitions.
The nearly 5,000 pages were part of some 3,600 written comments submitted in total. Only the written comments were included in the FOIA request. An analysis of testimony from the eight public hearings; five held in the Adirondacks, three outside the Park, was not included. Around 200 total speakers made statements at those hearings, many speaking more than once. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by Connie Prickett, Director of Communications for The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. The Nature Conservancy is using $500,000 to create a new grant opportunity for recreation-based development in local communities.
When The Nature Conservancy in 2007 took on its largest single land conservation project in the Adirondacks, we knew success was only going to happen through collaboration. Recent steps by the Conservancy to establish a $500,000 grant opportunity ensures that community involvement continues to be an integral part of the conservation equation and a key element to the project’s overall success. The aim is to help communities position themselves to capitalize on new outdoor recreation opportunities being created through this project. » Continue Reading.
Last Friday was the deadline for submitting comments on the classification of the former Finch, Pruyn properties that New York State recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy. Fortunately, I got my email off to the Adirondack Park Agency with a couple hours to spare. For me, deciding between the seven proposed alternative classification plans was a no-brainer.
Can you guess my recommendation? Come on, I know you can!
True to form, I recommended implementation of Alternative Plan 1B, the plan calling for the largest Wilderness area among all seven proposed alternatives. I realize this puts me in the minority, as even the majority of environmental groups within the Adirondacks do not support this position. » Continue Reading.
Like many readers of the Adirondack Almanack, I have been closely following the public meetings, discussions, editorials, and position statements concerning the land use proposals for the former Finch-Pruyn lands encompassing the Essex Chain of Lakes and the Upper Hudson River. I do have my favored position, as does everyone who loves and appreciates the Adirondacks. But my intent here is to talk about the “near losses”. That is to say the geographic area of our concern, over the many years, would have been very different, if a few politicians, and engineers had their way.
Of course a near loss would have been if the State of New York had not purchased the land from the Nature Conservancy. Another near loss would have been if the Nature Conservancy had not purchased the property form the Finch-Pruyn Paper Company in the first place. The citizens of New York State could have lost it all.
But there was another potential loss, in the mid-to-late 1960’s that would have mooted all of the present discussions. There was a plan to dam the Upper Hudson in order to supply water and hydro-electric power to the parched, urban, metropolitan area of New York City. » Continue Reading.
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