Posts Tagged ‘State Land Master Plan’

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bauer: APA Must Lead State Land Master Plan Revision

Adirondack State Land Master PlanThe Common Ground Alliance (CGA) recently met in Long Lake. One of the break-out sessions focused on reform of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), which is the policy document for management of the Forest Preserve. The Common Ground Alliance effort is one of a handful of organizing efforts around the Adirondacks where ideas are being collected to detail potential changes to the SLMP.

In its December 2013 resolution classifying the Essex Chain Lakes/Pine Lake Primitive areas and Hudson Gorge Wilderness area, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) committed to examine several items for possible SLMP revision. Since then, there has been no action by the APA or release of a public memo detailing a schedule for the APA to follow up the December 2013 resolution. In this void, various APA Commissioners have made comments at APA meetings, as has the representative from the Local Government Review Board, that express the desire that the APA undertake a revision of the SLMP well beyond the scope of the December 2013 resolution.

The SLMP has worked effectively for 40 years. As a frequent user of the SLMP, I’m continually impressed by the durability and prescience of this regulatory document. Though it was written long before wildlands management developed as a professional field, it has served the Adirondack Forest Preserve exceedingly well. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dan Crane: What’s So Wild About Wild Forest Areas?

ATV Trail Damage in the Black River Wild ForestLand 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.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dave Gibson: The Challenges of ‘Wild Forest’ Areas

Paddling downstream of Canada Lake, with Kane Mountain framed in the backgroundThe 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.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dave Gibson On Essex Chain Plan:
Does It Comply? Does Anyone Care?

Essex Chain APA-map-with-labelsThe draft Unit Management Plan (UMP)  for the Essex Chain of Lakes is out and available for public comment until July 18th. To discerning readers, it will be clear that many of its recommendations and management actions, which the APA must deem to be in compliance with the State Land Master Plan, are just going ahead anyway. For example, primitive tent sites, parking lots and other facilities throughout are being completed this summer “prior to adoption of the Unit Management Plan.” These are not interim steps. These are final decisions as to number, design, and location.

I understand why the State appears to be rushing to complete this parking and camping by permit system on the Essex Chain and Upper Hudson River. These are vulnerable aquatic systems and nobody wants to establish an early pattern of recreational overuse which could degrade these ponds and their shorelines and rare ecological plant and fish communities. I conceptually support this UMP’s camping permit reservation system. It makes management and stewardship sense, as does the inclusion of the Student Conservation Association and the Adirondack Interpretive Center in managing such a camping reservation system. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Comments Sought On Snowmobile Trails, New State Lands

Essex Chain CampsitesIncreased opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks would be available under two proposed plans released today for public review and comment, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced. Comments will be accepted on the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex Draft Unit Management Plan (Draft UMP) and a Draft Community Connector Multiple-Use Trail Plan (Draft Trail Plan) through July 18.

The Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex includes the 6,956-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area, the 2,788-acre Pine Lake Primitive Area and a portion of the 42,537-acre Blue Mountain Wild Forest. These lands are located in the Town of Indian Lake in Hamilton County, and towns of Newcomb and Minerva in Essex County. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Barbara McMartin’s Guidebook Series Marks 40 Years

Discover SeriesIn 2014, the Discover the Adirondacks series of guidebooks has reached an important milestone: its fortieth birthday. The series began in 1974 under a different name, with a single book that covered just one part of the Adirondacks.  It was intended by its author to illustrate that there was more to the Adirondack Park than just the High Peaks, where the majority of the non-motorized trail building had occurred. When philosophical differences led to a split with her original publisher, she found a new one and proceeded to accomplish the unprecedented: a detailed, eleven-volume guidebook series that covered every region in the six-million-acre park. To mark the occasion, I have taken the liberty of writing this short history of how the Discover series came to be—with hints of where it might be going.

In 1974, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) published a compact volume called Walks and Waterways: An Introduction to Adventure by Barbara McMartin Patterson. It was a guidebook that suggested ninety-eight walks and paddle trips in the space of about 170 pages, covering an area that ranged from Stratford to Speculator in the southern Adirondacks. The book featured five small pullout trail maps that had been drawn by a cartography student at Briarcliff College, and it was adorned by dozens of pencil sketches drawn by the author. It was intended to be “an encyclopedic list of all the paths and water routes,” as well as “a guide for the amateur explorer, in order that he can better enjoy the forest paths, canoe trips, and automobile routes.” It was, in fact, the first guidebook that McMartin would publish, and the nucleus of what would grow to become the future series.

» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Neil Woodworth: ADK Urges State to Comply With Laws

NYCO-Minerals-Wollastonite-Mine-Nancie-B-PhotoOn May 30, 2014 the Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) Advocacy Office in Albany submitted comments in response to the Opportunity to Comment posted by both the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) on DEC’s proposed amendment to the Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (JMUMP) and to the Draft Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) for NYCO Minerals, Inc. to conduct exploratory drilling on Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hearing Set On Hurricane, St. Regis Mtn Fire Towers

Hurricane-mtn-Fire-Tower-Phil-Brown-PhotoThe Proposed Final Drafts of the Hurricane Mountain and St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area Unit Management Plans (UMPs) were presented by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) staff to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board at their monthly meeting on February 14, 2014. Pursuant to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) requirements for Historic Areas, the Agency will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 to solicit public comments related to the proposed UMPs’ conformity with the provisions of the SLMP.

The Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area is located on the Summit of Hurricane Mountain in the Town of Keene, Essex County. The St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area is located on the summit of St. Regis Mountain in the Town of Santa Clara, Franklin County. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Classifications Require Rule Changes

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapFor three days, the Adirondack Park Agency deliberated on a set of classifications for Forest Preserve in Newcomb, Minerva and Indian Lake that were never in doubt. The decisions were the Governor’s. APA took its direction from him, as it did with the Adirondack Club and Resort two years ago.

APA staff labored mightily over the past week to put those State Land decisions, and the maps into a format that their members might understand. The convoluted resolution was adopted unanimously but requires changes in inconvenient regulations and policies before the classifications are finalized. That is the price this Governor exacts from his state agencies in order to settle a controversial policy matter for these magnificent new parts of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.



Friday, December 13, 2013

APA Approves Finch, Pruyn Classifications:
Hudson Gorge Wilderness, Motorless Essex Chain Lakes

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapThe 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.

» Continue Reading.



Friday, December 6, 2013

NYCO Mining Amendment: Fact And Fiction

800px-2013_Adirondack_Land_Exchange_MapLast 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.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peter Bauer: Backroom Land Classification Decisions

Essex ChainThe current Forest Preserve classification process underway at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the new lands around the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson River is likely go down as the worst administered process in the 40-year history of the APA. Since the close of the public hearing in mid-July, the APA leadership has openly subverted state law and moved decision making from an open and transparent public forum to a smokeless backroom.

The process has gone awry. The train has run off the tracks. This is evidenced by four recent events: » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Backcountry Skiers Continue Push For Glades

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI overslept yesterday, so rather than cheat my employer out of a few hours of labor, I decided to take the day off and ski the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway.

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.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

DEC Seeks Comments on Fire Tower Historic Areas

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the draft unit management plans (UMPs) for the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area and the Saint Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area.  The UMPs contain management proposals for the fire observation towers located on the summit of Hurricane Mountain in the Town of Keene, Essex County, and the summit of Saint Regis Mountain in the Town of Santa Clara, Franklin County.

The Hurricane Mountain fire tower was discontinued for use as a fire observation station in 1979, and the Saint Regis Mountain fire tower was shut down in 1990. Both structures have been closed to the public ever since.  The UMPs propose to restore the two fire towers to a condition that will accommodate full public access of the structures and include interpretive materials related to the towers’ history. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New State Lands: The Ecological Case for Wilderness

Essex ChainThe 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.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gibson: Make Protection, Preservation of New Lands Paramount

Essex ChainWhen 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.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bill Ingersoll:
Don’t Rush To Judgement On New State Lands

Essex ChainThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has issued a set of seven potential classification schemes and is inviting public comments on these proposals. But the process that I am seeing strongly resembles a horserace, with numerous groups and individuals “voting” based on recreational affinity: paddlers pushing for motorless waterways that are accessed by motor vehicle roads, bike enthusiasts advocating for whatever gives them access, snowmobilers pushing for snowmobile trails, and so forth.

The problem is that the new lands are so new that very few people have had the opportunity to visit them. The APA is essentially asking the public to comment on a sight unseen basis. Therefore, as someone who has also not yet visited the Essex Chain, I cast my “vote” for the following classification alternative: NONE OF THE ABOVE » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

DEC: Skiers Face Uphill Battle For Glades In Preserve

Ron Konowitz skis on Lyon MountainBackcountry skiers who want the state to allow them to maintain ski glades on Lyon Mountain face an uphill battle, but it might be said that those who “earn their turns” are used to uphill battles.

At a public meeting in Saranac last week, several skiers said the glades on Lyon offer some of the best backcountry skiing in the Adirondack Park.

“We’re not looking to cut down mature forest; we’re looking to maintain what’s already there,” said Dean Schneller, a lawyer representing the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. » Continue Reading.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Designing the Park: Updating APA Regulations

Averyville-2As the proposed Adirondack Club & Resort in Tupper Lake wound its way through the approval process, two planning consultants separately recommended in 2008 that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) require clustering of homes in the backcountry. Under a draft clustering policy written by one consultant, the resort’s “Great Camp” estates would have consumed 280 acres of forest instead of 2,800 acres.

“The same number of homes could have been constructed, but the project would have been largely concentrated near the [Big Tupper] ski area,” said Jeff Lacy, a consultant in Shutesbury, Mass., who proposed the policy on behalf of the Adirondack Council.  “My guess is it would be under construction today rather than under review by a court.” » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peter Bauer: The Unbearable Wrongness of Will Doolittle

Moose River PLains Road Signs (Dave Gibson Photo)Will Doolittle’s column in the Post Star (“Protecting their Preferences” February 28, 2013) gets a lot of things wrong – really wrong.

We all know that Doolittle is antagonistic towards Adirondack Park environmental groups, but this column sets a new standard for careless editorializing. » Continue Reading.



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