This is not another viewpoint on the Essex Chain, but a story from the past. In 1897 the state announced its intent to acquire two Totten and Crossfield townships located near Indian Lake; and like the modern Finch Pruyn acquisition that was recently consummated, this one was hailed as a landmark purchase full of benefits to the state. Then its flaws became exposed. More than simply sparking a debate over which land use would best benefit the local economy, this purchase directly impacted dozens of families—and it took more than two decades to resolve most of the issues. Some aspects of the purchase remain legal anomalies today. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Forest Preserve’
I’ve been preoccupied with Adirondack vistas of late. Two recent copies of Adirondack Life had pictures with Burton’s Peak in them: one was a cover picture and the other placed in the 2014 Photo Contest (those of you who are savvy about my Lost Brook Dispatches and have followed the clues can see if you can identify it).
Like so many of us, I cherish beholding a corker Adirondack view perhaps more than any other experience in the park. There is something magical about the combination of grandeur and intimacy in wild Adirondack vistas, studded with lakes, ponds and streams and infused with a dark, raw primeval power impossible to capture in words. Quite frankly I have never experienced a stronger sense of wild harmony and beauty anywhere else I’ve been. » Continue Reading.
Fifty years ago, the nation as a whole needed a diversion after the shocking assassination of President Kennedy, and all eyes were on the Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. President Johnson was hard at work persuading key congressmen to support the Civil Rights Act. The seedling that was to become the Vietnam War was growing. I knew little about any of this. I joined thousands my age trying to impersonate the Beatles with a mop on my head and a “plugged-in” broomstick.
And in Washington DC the final legislative compromises behind another civil right encompassed within the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 were agreed to. The legislated right to an enduring, living wilderness for every American was nearing. The labors of the Wilderness Society’s Howard Zahniser reflected in 18 years of his advocacy and 66 drafts of the bill had nearly reached an end. On September 3, 1964 President Johnson signed the bill. Zahniser had died a few months earlier, just days after the bill’s final hearing. » Continue Reading.
Earthjustice, an environmental group that specializes in legal issues, contends that NYCO Mineral’s plans to drill for wollastonite samples in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area would violate several state laws and regulations.
Earthjustice, headquartered in California, stakes out its position in a January 17 letter to state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, written on behalf of Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club, and the Atlantic States Legal Foundation. These environmental groups oppose NYCO’s plan to expand an existing mine onto the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
The “Forever Wild” provision of the New York State constitution has protected the Forest Preserve since the first day of January 1895. On that day a new constitution, drafted during the summer of 1894 and approved by New York voters in November, took effect. But over the ensuing years, we have learned that “forever” doesn’t mean exactly what it seems to mean.
It’s not easy, but the constitution can be amended, and land that appeared to be protected in perpetuity can be alienated from the Forest Preserve and become anything but wild. The reasons may seem sound, and the process may be difficult, but the Forest Preserve is forever wild only to the extent that we want it to be. (An invaluable source on this history is The Adirondack Forest Preserve by Norman VanValkenburgh.) » Continue Reading.
It’s state budget time, and the members of regional advisory committees on open space conservation from the Adirondacks to Niagara and Long Island will be watching that fraction of one percent of the state budget called the Environmental Protection Fund. Will the EPF continue to recover from the recessionary influenza it caught in 2009?
New York State’s extraordinary three million acre Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and its extensive State Park and Historic area system (330,000 acres) outside of these Parks are two big reasons why the state has been a national leader in conserving forests and open space since the 19th century.
Another is nearly million acres conserved through the use of conservation easements on private lands. The EPF and spending from the 1996 $1.75 billion Clean Water/Air Bond Act (expended years ago) has funded this growth: 85% growth in conservation easements since 1992, 5% growth in the Forest Preserve during that time span. » Continue Reading.
NYCO Minerals spent $662,000 to secure passage of Proposition 5, whereas opponents of the measure spent hardly anything. Yet the proposition passed by a fairly narrow margin, earning only 53 percent of the vote.
Opponents of Prop 5 have portrayed the ballot battle as a David-versus-Goliath confrontation in which David almost won. The assumption is that, despite spending almost no money, the little guys persuaded 47 percent of the electorate to vote against the proposition.
There is some truth in this, but the bigger picture is more complicated. » Continue Reading.
Thank 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:
When 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.
The 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.
Someone I know gained some of his inspiration for helping to conserve the backwoods and wildlife in the Adirondack Park from an African who spoke admiringly of the Adirondack Park’s people and wilderness coexisting, and as one of the globe’s most important places. My friend has never forgotten this encounter with a man knowledgeable of the Adirondacks in East Africa. Perhaps it is necessary to travel purposefully in the world to more keenly appreciate how many from all walks of life pay attention to what goes on in our Park.
I don’t know if Nelson Mandela was another one of those on the African continent paying attention to the Adirondack Park, and it doesn’t matter. He paid attention to freedom and justice in South Africa and the world, and that attention encompasses the right to enjoy, appreciate and protect an unpolluted world from whence he and we come, and evolved. As he stated in the address copied below, “a sustainable future for humankind depends on a caring partnership with nature as much as anything else.” He clearly loved the land of his birth, and his body and spirit are returning to it this week. » Continue Reading.
Last month, voters in New York State approved Proposition 5, which amends Article 14 of the New York Constitution to potentially allow exploratory drilling and mining by a private mining company, NYCO, on two hundred acres of Forest Preserve lands (Lot 8) in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area. The amendment authorizes a potential land swap from NYCO that, in theory, will compensate the people of the state for the loss of two hundred wilderness acres, and further requires that Lot 8 ultimately be “remediated” and returned to state ownership.
In the months leading up to the vote and in the weeks since its passage, Prop 5 has stirred intense and at times acrimonious debate. Unfortunately, the debate has tended to obscure rather than shed light on what Prop 5 really authorizes and what this novel amendment might mean for the future of “forever wild.” Here is some fact and fiction about Prop 5: » Continue Reading.
Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and those fortunate enough are gathering with family and friends to gorge themselves on a hearty meal, giving thanks for the bounty enjoyed throughout the year. Tomorrow, many of us will turn around and venture into the shopping wilderness to forage for the best deal on things few of us need, in celebration of the birth of a man who lived over two thousand years ago when people got by with so little.
Just appreciating what we already have seems to be out of vogue these days. Our appetite for stuff appears more insatiable with each passing year. The simple things in life, such as family, friends, and the beauty of the great outdoors are no longer satisfying enough, and hardly a substitute for the newest smart phone, tablet, or new-fangled whatchamacallit.
» Continue Reading.
Since November 5, when voters approved an amendment to the state constitution to permit a mining company to mine 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands, we have learned much more about the proposition than we knew before the vote. We always knew that the company proposed to mine the Forest Preserve, and everyone, proponents and opponents alike, thought it at least noteworthy that two environmental protection groups dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the constitutional clause that states that Forest Preserve lands will remain “Forever Wild,” supported the proposition.
But we did not know that the state officials who were lobbying the legislature to place the proposal on the ballot were unaware that the mining company already had access to a second mine on its own land, which it has not yet begun to utilize. We did not know that the company was spending at least half a million dollars to win passage of the proposition. And that’s not including the thousands of dollars it donated to the campaigns of Senator Betty Little, who sponsored the bill that put the proposition on the ballot. » Continue Reading.
I have been experiencing potent daydreams over the last week. Really they are little flashes of transference, brief moments where my conscious self is in a different place than I am. It is less than an out of body experience – a concept which my reason will not allow – but it is much more than simply thinking about or remembering or longing to be somewhere. Everyone has had similar experiences, when all of a sudden another place or time from memory, or even a fiction from imagination, floods into one’s head so strongly that the smell, sound and feel of it is palpable.
My daydream is no fiction: it is a small glade two thousand feet up and three miles in along the bushwhack route we take to Lost Brook Tract. Some disturbance created it many decades past, a long enough span of time so that almost no trace of downed trees remains. Since then the fortunes of wind and slope, of patterns of water running down the bedrock below the soil, have kept it from filling back in. Surrounded by a ring of birch, spruce and balsam, it is perhaps fifty feet by thirty feet in extent, carpeted in ferns and boreal undergrowth. » Continue Reading.
Starting in January, NYCO will drill a series of test bores to determine whether the bedrock under the parcel, known as Lot 8, contains enough wollastonite to make mining worthwhile.
Mark Buckley, NYCO’s environmental manager, said the company expects to drill eight to twelve holes over a few months. Each hole will be two inches in diameter and perhaps 200 to 250 feet deep. » Continue Reading.
It was my first ski of the season. November 12th isn’t my earliest start to the ski season, but I was feeling pretty good about it.
Not surprisingly, I ran into Ron Konowitz, president of the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. It was Ron’s thirteenth day on skis.
We talked for several minutes about the association’s campaign to maintain ski glades in the Forest Preserve. Adirondack Almanack reported on this initiative back in May. Since then, the association has been meeting with environmental activists and government officials to drum up support.
I put together a map visualization that shows the relative proportion of public land, trails and lean-to’s around the interior hamlets of the park. The land classification figures are probably very accurate, as they are derived from the Adirondack Park Agency’s Land Classification and Land Use map. If you notice some strange numbers for biking and horse trails its because these trail types have not been as diligently classified in the DEC trails database as hiking and snowmobile trails.
Much 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.
When Susan Bibeau and I paddled the Essex Chain Lakes on October 1, the day it opened to the public, we ran into a crew on the shore of Third Lake who were recording a video for the Nature Conservancy, which had sold the Essex Chain Tract to the state, making it part of the forever-wild Forest Preserve.
I asked Connie Prickett, the conservancy’s spokeswoman, to send me a link to the video when it was done, and now she has. » Continue Reading.