Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wilderness 50th Anniversary Plans Move Forward

image003(5)Plans to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of The National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 are moving ahead.  A steering committee has been established and a new logo has been designed that will be used to help promote a variety of commemorative activities being planned later this year at college campuses and other venues across New York State this year.

The Wilderness Act’s chief author, Howard Zahniser, took his inspiration from New York’s “forever wild” constitutional protection of the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. That constitutional protection also has its 120th anniversary this year (1894-2014). Zahniser wrote that New York State set the example for the national Wilderness movement. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Eureka Tent Chronicles: Wrecked by the Wild

Collapsing AdirondacLate one June afternoon in the Year of Our Lord 1995 I checked into the Lake Placid Econo Lodge with my brother, spent a comfortable night and left in the morning.  I have not been back since (through no fault of Econo Lodge).  It’s just as well – if Econo Lodge has any sort of institutional memory I will never again get another room.

In the summer of 1995 I took a long –and long awaited – backpacking trip with my nephew Michael.  Michael and I are roughly the same age and we are close, so “brother” serves us as a more proper salutation.  By the mid 1990’s I was an experienced backpacker but Michael was a novice.  Like me he had been going to the Adirondacks all his life and adored them, but he was relatively new to the High Peaks region and its glories.  We planned a six day trip in order to really take it in.

Michael remembers the details for the trip much better than I do, so I will liberally quote from the reminiscences he recently shared with me. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

DEC Plan:
Amend Jay Mtn Wilderness Management Plan For Mining

NYCO-Minerals-Wollastonite-Mine-Nancie-B-PhotoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says it submitted a proposed amendment to the 2010 Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP) on Wednesday to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in an attempt to change the UMP to be consistent with the constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2013 that permits, in the words of a DEC press release, “exploratory sampling” on the state-owned wilderness area in the Town of Lewis, Essex County.

“The constitutional amendment authorizes NYCO Materials, Inc. to conduct sampling on the 200-acre parcel, known as Lot 8, to determine the quantity and quality of wollastonite on the site, which is adjacent to the company’s long-standing mine,” the DEC press release said. “The exploratory sampling will also provide information that DEC will use to accurately appraise the value of Lot 8 for a potential land exchange if NYCO decides to expand its mining operations.”

The current Jay Mountain Wilderness Area includes Lot 8, which is part of the State Forest Preserve and is governed by Article XIV, Section 1 of the State Constitution, the “forever wild” clause which states in part that Forest Preserve lands, “shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private.” The property is also subject to the provisions of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) as outlined in the 2010 Unit Management Plan for the Jay Mountain Wilderness area. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crowd-funding Sought For Wilderness 50th Anniv. Project

Slides033-658x396A new campaign on Adirondack Gives, the crowd-funding site for the Adirondacks, hopes to raise funds for a short video to celebrate this year’s 50th Anniversary of The National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964.

The Act’s chief author, Howard Zahniser, took his inspiration from New York’s “Forever Wild” constitutional protection of the New York State Forest Preserve. That constitutional protection has its 120th anniversary this year (1894-2014). Zahniser often wrote that New York State set the example for the national Wilderness movement, and is “where wilderness preservation began.” » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Diversity and the Adirondacks: Moving Forward

DiversityToday I wrap up my series on Diversity and the Adirondacks.  The response has exceeded my expectations, even as it has – not unexpectedly – raised some troubling voices.

I have always believed that the initial step in addressing a deep and difficult issue – especially one that is controversial – is recognition: we must first understand that something matters; that it is real; that it affects people’s lives.  Without recognition, without an embrace of the importance of an issue, we risk what will likely be at best a display of sturm und drang when we try to talk about it, signifying nothing but ego and personality.  Yet despite the sometimes perfunctory dismalness of on-line comments, I am convinced by the experience of writing these columns that the issue of diversity in the park is headed for a substantive future, not just shouting and rhetoric. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Adirondack Diversity: More with Carol Cain

John Brown FarmhouseTwo weeks ago I posted my initial interview with noted travel writer and blogger Carol Cain.  That column set a record for comments here at the Almanack.  My own reaction to those comments taken as a whole is that they persuasively demonstrate the need for this conversation (fortunately the off-line discussions that have been spurred by this issue are leading to some productive initiatives… more on that in the future).

Subsequent to my first interview with Carol I asked her a series of of follow-up questions.  I share her answers today.  These questions were formulated previous to the posting of the first interview, thus not influenced by the tone and content of the comments.   However her answers, written after the comments, speak powerfully for themselves.

» Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sitz Pond In The Five Ponds Wilderness

Sitz PondThe Adirondack backcountry contains a plethora of natural gems, such as ponds, lakes, mountains, bogs and beaver meadows. Although many are reachable by trail, the vast majority are islands of remoteness, surrounded by a sea of near-impenetrable forest, just waiting for a human bold enough to venture away from the marked trails to discover them. Few humans ever visit these gems, which undoubtedly suits both the gems themselves and the meager number of visitors just fine.

One of these gems is a small pond found in the southwest corner of the Five Ponds Wilderness. Sitz Pond is its name, and as attractive backcountry ponds go, it ranks up there with the best.
» Continue Reading.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Best Vista in the Adirondacks

Wallface in SnowI’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.



Friday, February 14, 2014

DEC: No Reprieve For Marcy Dam

Marcy Dam aerialThe decision is final: Marcy Dam will be torn down.

As reported last month on the Almanack, the state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to dismantle the dam, which was damaged in Tropical Storm Irene, over the next five years. At the time, though, the department was waiting to hear from the public on the proposal.

Recently, I submitted a freedom-of-information request to review the public comments. Given the popularity of the dam, I was surprised to learn that DEC heard from only two people—and both agreed that the dam should be removed.

One of the writers, Wallace Elton, suggested that a dam failure would damage the environment downstream and put people at risk. “The expense of rebuilding the dam to today’s safety standards cannot be justified with current funding limitations,” he wrote. “Beyond that, this is an opportunity to re-wild a key area in the heart of the Forest Preserve.”

» Continue Reading.



Monday, February 10, 2014

The Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary

WildernessAct1Fifty 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.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Governor Cuomo Approves Finch Land Classification

Essex Chain APA-map-with-labelsNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved the State Land Classifications for 42,000 acres recently added to the State Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park.

The classification of the properties, formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company, was endorsed by the Adirondack Park Agency on December 13, 2013 as the preferred alternative.

The plan will allow recreation access to the newly acquired lands for people of all abilities for a wide variety of uses including hiking, paddling, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, horse riding and snowmobiling. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pete Nelson: The Myth of Pristine Wilderness

Our Christmas tree.  Forgot lights.  Oh well.  Nature does it best.Over the last couple of weeks I have noticed a substantial increase in reader comments on various posts claiming that environmentalists who are uncompromising about preserving or restoring pristine wilderness are absolutists, because there is no such thing in the Adirondacks.

The idea of pristine wilderness, they say, is an elitist fantasy.  The real-world approach, they suggest, is some common sense pragmatism.  When we don’t take that approach, residents suffer, recreationalists suffer, the economy suffers – in short, people suffer.  » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 13, 2014

DEC Plans To Dismantle Marcy Dam

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen Tropical Storm Irene damaged Marcy Dam, draining most of the pond behind it, hikers debated passionately whether the dam should be rebuilt to restore an iconic vista enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors over the years.

It looks like it won’t be.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently decided to dismantle the wooden dam in stages over the next five years.

DEC spokesman David Winchell said the cost of rebuilding the dam to modern standards would have been too costly and may have conflicted with the management principles for the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Those principles seek to minimize the presence of man-made structures. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Remote New Year’s Perfection

From Burtons PeakAfter four nights at Lost Brook Tract with Amy, two adult sons and our irrepressible dog Henderson, I’m raring to go for another year of Almanacking, though my contributions will be a little less frequent as I bear down with more purpose on the book I’m undertaking.

This stay at Lost Brook Tract was the best ever.  The weather conditions and quality of light were the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced in the Adirondacks, to which the photo can attest.  It was truly luminous. There was less snow than in past years but no less winter.  The temperatures ranged from a positively balmy 35 degrees on the first afternoon to properly Adirondack zero-and-below readings the last two days.  For New Year’s Eve I served a bottle of Prosecco we’d carried in.  It was frozen.  That’s cold.  I can report that thawing Prosecco by positioning it next to a flaming birch log flattens it into tepid watery juice faster than any other method I know.  Oh well, we had hot chocolate too.  And the salmon pasta was “spiced” with a little rye, which thanks to its higher alcohol content resolutely maintained its golden liquidity to the bitter end. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Poll Results: What Readers Are Thinking About

Gothics Mountain Medium ResThank 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:

 

» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bill Ingersoll: South Pond

DSCN0444I might have abandoned the idea of reaching South Pond had I not caught a glimpse of it through the trees, right at that critical moment of decision. There it was, right there at the foot of the mountain, a snowy white expanse about a quarter mile away, a remote and lonely retreat with a siren call I could not refuse. Not when I was this close.

I became resolved to continue forward—even though it had taken a full two hours just to come this short distance, and Lexie and I still had the trip back over the mountain to face, too. We had taken our time dealing with the thickets of tangled spruce and the isolated deadfalls that had been dogging us all the way up and over the mountain, one after the other. There had not been much clear walking. Ironically, near the bottom of the mountain we began to encounter a new obstacle: small but steep ledges that again forced us to adjust our course and find yet another way around. Not once since we had started up the mountain had we been able to simply proceed in a straight line. » 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.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Take a Poll: Is There a Hidden Issue in Adirondacks?

part of the great range from the brothers trailWhen 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.



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.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Unanswered Questions About Essex Chain Proposal

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapThe Adirondack Park Agency began deliberations Wednesday on the classification of 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands, with staff members explaining why the agency’s staff settled on a Primitive classification for the Essex Chain Lakes. However, some questions were left unanswered.

The staff had considered proposals to classify the Essex Chain as Wilderness, Canoe, and Wild Forest. As reported earlier on the Almanack, the staff rejected the Wilderness and Canoe designations largely because local towns own the floatplane rights to First Lake, which is part of the Essex Chain, as well as Pine Lake, which is located a mile and a half south of the chain.

“The presence of floatplanes landing and taking off would detract from the sense of wilderness,” Kathy Regan, a senior natural resource planner, told the APA board.

» Continue Reading.



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