Posts Tagged ‘Forest Preserve’

Monday, November 16, 2015

Essex Chain Plan Violates NYS Snowmobile Policies

snowmobile trailNote: This article is the second of three that looks at the widespread violations of public process, state policies, and state laws in the recent approval of the Essex Chain Plan. Part one can be found here.

One of the most controversial elements of the Essex Chain Complex Unit Management Plan (Essex Chain Plan), approved last week by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), is the proposal to cut a new five-mile snowmobile trail through the western part of the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest area, east of the Hudson River. This new snowmobile trail will retain and use the Polaris Bridge and is designed to connect the communities of Indian Lake and Minerva with a major new snowmobile trail, despite the fact that these communities are already connected with a major snowmobile trail.

» Continue Reading.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Forest Ranger History Is Rooted In The Forest Preserve

11037634_10205087400337684_4617104302708756954_nMost people think of today’s Forest Rangers as the stewards of the Forest Preserve and experts in wildland firefighting and search and rescue. The Rangers share their origins with the Forest Preserve itself. The decal on the side of a Forest Ranger vehicle states “serving since 1885.”

It was in May of that year that Governor David B. Hill signed into law Chapter 283, which authorized the appointment of a wildland fire fighting force called Fire Wardens. These men, according to their appointment, would “take charge of” and “direct the work necessary for extinguishing” fires that occurred in their assigned areas. Fire Wardens were generally only paid when involved in actual suppression but they did have some police-like powers with respect to fire and establishing a fire fighting force. Their official warrant stated, “All persons in the territory, whom you may order to render you such assistance, are required by law, to obey your order, and any person who may refuse to act in obedience to your order is, by statute, liable to a fine of not less than five nor more than twenty dollars.” » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dave Gibson: Park Priorities, Budgets Out Of Whack

MRP-Snowmobile-Trail-3During my first Adirondack conservation meeting, in January of 1987, one of the top issues discussed was the pressure the Forest Preserve was under due to the limited State budgets and loss of DEC staff personnel.

How were the hundreds of miles of state’s Forest Preserve boundaries to be surveyed and marked? How were the “forever wild” natural resources on the Forest Preserve to be properly cared for by so few foresters and rangers? Someone on my board of directors (I was still a greenhorn) had invited DEC Lands and Forests Director Robert Bathrick to our meeting to discuss the problem he faced caring for the Forest Preserve and more. » Continue Reading.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Reflections On Idaho And The Adirondacks

cowboy routeIt’s true. The mountains out west are bigger than the Adirondacks. I confirmed this when I went to Idaho last month to visit my son Nathan.

Nate used to work at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake, but he moved to Idaho last year (after a stint at the Middletown Times Herald-Record) to cover politics.

I never thought of traveling to Idaho before Nate relocated there, but I’m glad I went. It’s a gorgeous state with all sorts of opportunities for hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, and, in season, backcountry skiing.

Did I mention BASE jumping?

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Philosophers’ Camp at Follensby Pond

Philosopher_CampFew incidents in nineteenth-century Adirondack history have been more often recounted than the famous Philosophers’ Camp at Follensby Pond. The story of how Ralph Waldo Emerson and an assortment of VIPs from the Concord-Cambridge axis camped for several weeks in 1858 on the shores of a virtually untouched lake deep in the wilderness has become a familiar chestnut in the Adirondack canon. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Marshall McLean, Ardent Conservationist

Marshall McLeanPay a visit to the Adirondack Research Library (ARL, operated by Union College’s Kelly Adirondack Center) sometime. The Library is located at the former home of wilderness champion Paul Schaefer, where he and Carolyn Schaefer raised their family beginning in 1934. Reading in that library offers me a healthy reminder of the tight rope walked by former defenders of “forever wild.” When it came to standing up for wild country, our predecessors were often up against a wall, just as we sometimes feel today.

I recently visited the ARL to reacquaint myself with the federal government’s 1942 condemnation of a 100-ft Right of Way “for the rail transportation of strategic materials vital to the successful prosecution of the War” from the soon-to be built mine at Tahawus, Newcomb. In the ARL archives, the name Marshall McLean frequently crops up. He was the attorney representing the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks in court in 1942-43. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How Snowmobilers Won Their Special Privileges

1966-67 Nick's Lake 2When snowmobiling arrived in the Adirondacks in the mid-1960s, the question of where to ride became the single most important issue faced by both new sled owners and advocates for the protection of the wild character of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

As a result of efforts by the state’s Conservation Department and lobbying by the snowmobile industry, snowmobilers are today wildly over-represented in terms of access to trails. Although they represent less than 1% of the 7-10 million people who visit the Adirondacks each year, there are currently at least 3 to 4 thousand miles of snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Park,* compared to about 5,000 miles of roads. How this happened is a story that began 50 years ago with what is known as the Wilm Directive. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How The Adirondack Forest Preserve Was Motorized

06_10_004557The establishment of the Adirondack Forest Preserve in 1885 was part of growing American appreciation of a back to nature ethic. By the time of World War I, according to historian Paul Sutter: “Americans produced and consumed voluminous literature on natural and wild themes; they built vacation homes and camps; they initiated a wide variety of programs in scouting and woodcraft; they developed a distinctive hunting culture and ethos; they adopted nature study as a prominent hobby; and the embraced the ‘strenuous life’ that could be found only in the ‘great outdoors.’”

Inadvertently, this interest in wild places laid the groundwork for a future flood of visitors to New York State’s “forever wild” lands and the spread of roads and motorized snowmobile trails throughout the Adirondack Park.  For example, in a measure of the influence of the automobile alone in years since World War II, there are today more than 5,000 miles of roads in the Adirondack Park, and nearly everywhere in the Forest Preserve is within three miles of a public road. Indeed, the most remote place in the Adirondack Park, the largest park in the contagious United States, is about five miles from a public road. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

High Peaks Oil Trains: A Primer On The Issues

Iowa Pacific oil trainsThe Iowa-Pacific rail company took state officials and environmental activists by surprise in July when it unveiled a plan to store hundreds of drained oil-tanker cars on its tracks near Tahawus on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness.

Ed Ellis, the president of Iowa Pacific, says revenue from storing the cars will help keep afloat its tourist train, the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, which has been losing money. Critics contend Iowa Pacific is creating a quasi-junkyard in the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.

Monday, August 24, 2015

New Report: The Adirondack Park at a Crossroad

Crossroad ImageA new report by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve concludes that “New York’s Adirondack Park faces serious threats due to the failure by State agencies in recent years to protect and preserve the Park’s wild forest character and natural resources. ”

The report, The Adirondack Park at a Crossroad: A Road Map for Action [pdf], argues that APA and DEC are failing to fulfill their legal obligations to protect and preserve the Adirondack Park.  The report outlines what the organization considers “a pattern of state agencies straying from their historical mission of science-based conservation and resource protection.”  » Continue Reading.

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