New roads and facilities will allow motor vehicles to access the 18,000-acre Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands in Franklin County using the 3.3-mile Mountain Pond Road, and the 1,600-acre public use area of the Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands in Hamilton County using the 2.6 miles of O’Neil Flow Road and Barker Pond Road. In the Essex Chain Lakes Complex gates have been opened to allow increased access to Camp Six Road in Newcomb, which will allow access for hunting, along with limited camping at designated primitive tent sites. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Forest Preserve’
The 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.
One of the things I value most about Adirondack wilderness is how evocative it is in its intimate spaces. Where other wilderness areas might be most affecting in their scenery, their grand vistas or their iconic imagery, the Adirondack forest itself, in its dense, primeval nature, generates equally strong emotions. The vast and trackless stretches of uneven terrain and close-held woods, unremarkable by any common standards of majesty or wonder, possess as much power as any wild place I’ve ever visited. To venture into the Forest Preserve is to experience an unmistakable immersion that activates ancient echoes of the primitive selves we all harbor, institutional memories lodged deep in our genetic code.
Of all the sensations the Adirondack wilderness evokes, the strongest and most valued to me is loneliness. It may seem odd to value loneliness so highly. If I were forced to live with it on a daily basis I have no doubt it would lose its appeal. But in this era of social bombardment a little loneliness is good for the soul. Indeed it always has been. Loneliness invites a distinct form of reflection replete with significance about one’s place in the world, about one’s values and priorities. It requires, in the absence of civilized companionship, that we instead connect with Nature and with our internal lives, indeed with those deep, primeval echoes that, more to me than religion or the supernatural, define mystery. » Continue Reading.
I recently visited this spot in the Black River Wild Forest while surveying trail damage from ATVs. I had heard that this lean-to was being used as a private camp and using Google Earth I could see a chimney and skylights in the lean-to roof and a large cleared area. When I reached the site, it was even worse than I expected. » Continue Reading.
It was a perfect fall day here in Madison last Monday, the kind of luminous afternoon where it seems nothing can possibly go wrong. I was at the park with my loyal dog Henderson, whose raison d’etre is to chase and catch flying discs (Frisbees, for those of you as old as me). There we were, surrounded by blazing fall colors and muted green grass, warmed by an Indian summer sun and refreshed by a delightful breeze. All was bucolic even as I, in a moment of excess enthusiasm, overthrew the disc, launching it into what seemed like the jet stream. It soared skyward, caught the prevailing westerlies and proceeded well down field like a fat, migrating goose until it shot past a fence and over a thick stand of trees and brush, depositing itself somewhere therein. “No worries,” I cheerily shouted to Henderson, who had brought himself up short at the fence and was peering beyond with concerned attention. “I’ll get it.”
I hopped the fence and jogged over to the thicket. The disc was lodged deep inside so I forged on in. It was quite dense and I had to bull my way through it. No matter – everything around me was erupting in fall beauty and my spirits were unassailable.
My scratching, scraping and shoving efforts immediately brought to mind memories of Adirondack bushwhacking, which did nothing but brighten my mood. I could almost imagine myself plundering along in some great Adirondack fastness, maybe a favorite place like the dense woods between Blue Mountain Lake and the Sargent Ponds. Oh revel! » Continue Reading.
Updated every five years, the plan guides the state’s decisions regarding land acquisitions and sets a strategy for land conservation. The plan is developed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Regional committees throughout the state provide additional input.
This plan listed four urgent priorities: promoting outdoor recreation; addressing climate change; ensuring clean water, air and land for a healthy economy; and protecting, using and conserving natural resources and cultural heritage.
In the outdoor recreation section, it specifically mentions promoting recreation for all types of users on both private and public lands, connecting children with nature, and connecting open space corridors. » Continue Reading.
Since I posted my little prototype promotional quiz on Saturday I have gotten a lot of great input, some on-line, some off-line. The reaction tells me that people are interested in this, so I have incorporated the various suggestions I received into a new version.
Last time Amy and I were at Lost Brook Tract we were talking about how to promote the Adirondack Region to people who know little or nothing about it. The default approach for decades has been to promote it as something like Vermont, the Berkshires or the Poconos: cozy resorts, Adirondack chairs, pretty scenery, shopping, tourist sites and an overriding rustic chic. That’s all well and good, but in a time when more and more people crave mountains and wild places, when camping and hiking are the leading recreational pursuits, I have wondered why we don’t try to promote the Adirondacks in a different way. » Continue Reading.
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.
Known as Macintyre West, the tract includes 3,081-foot Mount Andrew and sixteen-acre Lake Andrew as well as Santanoni Brook, which flows into Henderson Lake, and Sucker Brook, which flows into Newcomb Lake.
“It’s an important part of the upper Hudson watershed,” said John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council. “We think it’d be a fine addition to the High Peaks Wilderness.”
He expects the tract will be used by hikers, hunters, and anglers.
Environmental activists seeking to prevent NYCO Minerals from drilling in the Jay Mountain Wilderness are trying to thwart the will of the electorate, according to court papers filed by the state attorney general’s office.
Assistant Attorney General Susan Taylor argues that NYCO should be allowed to drill for wollastonite in the state-owned Forest Preserve despite a lawsuit filed by Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks, Sierra Club, and Atlantic States Legal Foundation.
In November 2013, voters approved an amendment to Article 14 of the state constitution to permit NYCO to acquire a 200-acre parcel known as Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness in exchange for land of equal or greater value. Known as Proposition 5, the amendment authorized NYCO to conduct test bores to ensure that Lot 8 contains enough wollastonite—a mineral used in plastics and ceramics—to make the land swap worthwhile. » Continue Reading.
Howard Zahniser knew he needed two things when he came to the Adirondacks in 1946. The two things could help him prove himself to his national wilderness mentors—now his new employers—at the Wilderness Society. They could also help him build the practical and functional organization needed to pursue a national wilderness preservation system. First, Zahnie, as he was known, needed honest-to-goodness wilderness in reasonable automobile vacation reach of Washington, D.C. for our family. Even this was a two-day car trip then, and we would camp overnight on the way. Second, he needed to leave his professional comfort zone of public relations and public information and journalism work. He needed to expand into grassroots political organizing and consensus building. That is, he needed to learn to operate in the larger world that would become the environmental movement twenty-five years later.
The Adirondacks and their Edwards Hill setting—soon to be Mateskared—met the first need. Paul Schaefer met the second. Paul was my father’s ticket out of his own comfort zone. » Continue Reading.
Last week we spent a few precious days at Lost Brook Tract. It was a cool, overcast stretch of weather that reminded me of the Adirondacks of my youth, when impending fall could at any time push and urge its way into lazy August days, into the fading summer.
During nearly all of the time we were on our land the cloud ceiling remained low and Keene Valley enjoyed gray days and rain. But at our lean- to at 3,300 feet we were immersed in the clouds themselves, the daylight hours gloaming, exalting the primeval feel of the forest.
We are accommodated to – though ever awed by – our cathedral of ancient forest giants: red spruces that lift from thick-barked trunks to as much as a hundred feet in the air. At Lost Brook Tract stands of old-growth trees tower and brood as in few other boreal forest communities in the park. To sit among them is for me to feel both old and ageless, all at once. These groves are for patience and contemplation. » Continue Reading.
Land classification battles are a common feature of new Forest Preserve acquisitions in the Adirondack Park these days, with the Essex Chain of Lakes property being a prime example. Typically, the disagreement boils down to Wild Forest versus Wilderness, the two most common land classifications in the Adirondacks. While Wilderness remains the more restrictive, Wild Forests are supposed to maintain a wild character despite the presence of dirt roads, snowmobile trails, etc. Unfortunately, this wild character seems to be slowly fading away in many cases, making room for increasing (and often illegal) human uses.
According to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, Wilderness are areas dominated by natural forces, where the Earth and its communities of life remain relatively untrammeled by man, while Wild Forests allow for a greater impact from humans, supposedly due to their lack of remoteness and ability to absorb the impact from such activity. The subjectivity of these definitions allows for a great deal of interpretation though. Often the classification of a new area appears mainly political, with the appeasement of certain user groups sublimating all other considerations.
» Continue Reading.
The other day some friends and I enjoyed a day in the Forest Preserve, paddling on the waters leading out of Canada Lake, eating our lunches at a primitive campsite along the shore, and walking down a trail into a vly or large wetland flow. We were in the Forest Preserve unit known as the Ferris Lake Wild Forest, one of several large Wild Forests in the southern Adirondack Park. Ferris Lake WF is 147,500 acres in size, spanning parts of four towns in three different counties.
As we arrived at Stewart’s Landing and dam holding back Sprite Creek, the outlet of Canada Lake, we noticed a number of all-terrain vehicles parked and ready to ride. As we put our canoes and kayaks in the water near the dam we noticed and appreciated this Forest Preserve reminder: “Carry it in, Carry it Out.” This is a shared, public-private resource. One side of the flow is Forest Preserve, the other private Adirondack camps. Upstream, many kayakers and motor boaters were enjoying the Forest Preserve. With their motors turned off at their campsites, wildlife and their own awareness and appreciation of this beautiful wooded shore, held sway. A minority raced their boats as fast they could, kicking up waves and making paddling difficult. » Continue Reading.
The recent decision by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court upholding the approval by the Adirondack Park Agency of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) project in Tupper Lake has generated intense controversy. Groups on both sides have weighed in with their views on the wisdom or folly of the APA’s approval of the massive project and the court’s affirmance of that approval.
Putting aside the merits of the controversy, what is striking about the court’s decision is the startling absence of any discussion of the uniqueness of the Adirondack Park, the history or purpose of the APA Act, or the special place the Park occupies in the hearts and minds of the people of New York. These omissions are all the more disturbing because of the court’s recognition that ACR is “the largest project ever proposed for New York’s 6,000,000-acre Adirondack Park.” Which leads one to wonder: have the courts fallen out of love with the Adirondack Park? » Continue Reading.
Several months ago I wrote a series of columns on socioeconomic and racial diversity and the Adirondacks. The reception to these columns was even stronger than I expected. Much of it was thoughtful. Some of it was controversial. Some of it was ugly. But in total the columns and the reaction validated my point that for most people diversity in the Adirondacks is an under-the-radar issue even though it is arguably the most important issue facing the future of the park.
Since then the conversation has grown and led to action. Many stakeholders in the park recognize that human diversity – my new descriptor, for indeed the issue is bigger than just racial or socioeconomic problems – is just as important to the Adirondacks as plant and animal diversity is to a healthy Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
When the results for Proposition 5 came in last November, I decided I must visit Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness. Since the voters of New York State made this area yet another sacrificial lamb at the altar of greed and profitability, I knew it would only be a matter of time before the chainsaws, bulldozers and explosives moved in and converted a living and breathing forest into something akin to a war zone.
It soon became evident this juggernaut of “progress” was unstoppable, as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) relinquished their roles of protecting the environment and the Adirondack Park. Instead, these governmental organizations engaged in the complete evisceration of nearly every environmental protection law on the books in an attempt to ensure NYCO Minerals, Inc. destroyed Lot 8 as soon as possible.
This left me little choice but to put hastily together a 6-day bushwhacking trip through the Jay Mountain Wilderness, with an entire day allocated to exploring the condemned Lot 8 in all its natural glory before its destruction. I felt it would ease my conscience somewhat for not doing enough to prevent its impending demise in the first place. Unfortunately, despite getting up-close and personal with Lot 8, I only ended-up feeling worse. In between the joy and wonder of experiencing this property for myself firsthand, was a sense of deep sorrow, bordering on moroseness, as the fate of everything I saw, smelled and heard was never far from my mind.
» Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the opening of the trail today in news release in which he also touted funding for equestrian trails in the central Adirondacks and for the repair of the Lake Abanakee Dam in Indian Lake.
The state acquired OK Slip Falls—one of the tallest cascades in the Adirondack Park—from the Nature Conservancy in 2013. Since then, people have been hiking to the falls along informal trails or bushwhacking.
The official trail starts on the north side of Route 28, at the same trailhead for a pre-existing trail that leads to Ross, Whortleberry, and Big Bad Luck ponds. The parking area is on the south side of the highway, about 7.5 miles east of the hamlet of Indian Lake and 0.2 miles west of the trailhead.
A month ago I wrote a column advocating that we create and maintain a regional memory of the NYCO amendment process and all that comes from it. My argument is that by doing so we will be better able to prevail in future battles against amendments that propose to take from the Forest Preserve for private gain. At the end of that column I said my starting point would be to ask who NYCO really is, in contrast to the picture of NYCO given by its own claims, by pro-amendment advocates and by popular assumption.
At the moment we need no assistance recalling the amendment controversy since NYCO is once again all over the regional news. With the dual stories that NYCO is seeking to expand its two existing mines and that environmental groups have sued to stop test drilling on Lot 8, any profile of NYCO is not only important in chronicling the amendment process, it is relevant right now. NYCO is making certain claims, environmental groups are making others and the state of New York still others. That means the question I pose today matters, today: who is NYCO? » Continue Reading.