Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Monday, August 29, 2016

As 46er Ranks Grow, Summits Take A Beating

adk 46rThe Adirondack Forty-Sixers organization has seen a record number of people joining its ranks in recent years. Started in 1925, the club now has 9,425 members—more than a third of whom joined over the last ten years.

The club is open to hikers who have climbed its list of forty-six High Peaks, most of which top four thousand feet. It has seen a record number of new members each year since 2009. Last year, 606 hikers joined. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Beyond Peak Capacity: A Boom In High Peaks Hikers

Cascade Mountain outside Lake Placid by Mike Lynch The number of hikers in the High Peaks has been steadily increasing in recent years, especially near Lake Placid and Keene Valley, raising concerns about safety and degradation of natural resources.

“I think that we’ve got a serious overuse of some of our places in the High Peaks,” said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). “Clearly, Cascade and Pitchoff are just getting a very large number of people.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Group Seeks More Wilderness Around Boreas Ponds

AWA-Draft-Map-20160803Three wilderness advocates have banded together to garner public support for adding nearly all of the Boreas Pond Tract to the High Peaks Wilderness and keeping out motor vehicles.

Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, as they call themselves, has created a website where people can sign a letter to the Adirondack Park Agency calling for statewide hearings on the classification of the Boreas tract. People can also sign up for the group’s emails.

The founders of the Adirondack Wilderness Advocates are Bill Ingersoll, publisher of the Discover the Adirondacks guidebooks; Brendan Wiltse, a photographer and scientist employed by the Ausable River Association (his work is unrelated to his involvement with AWA); and Pete Nelson, a teacher who frequently writes for Adirondack Almanack.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dave Gibson: Testing Gov Cuomo’s Wilderness Convictions

Wallface, Henderson Mtn from Goodnow Mtn firetowerWill the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency write to urge the U.S. Congress not to gut the federal Wilderness Act of 1964? Would Governor Cuomo allow this or encourage it?

Why should these state agencies write to Senators McConnell, Schumer and Gilllibrand to strongly oppose a bill that opens up all federal Wilderness areas to bicycling? Our Adirondack State Land Master Plan echoes the federal Wilderness Act of 1964. Bicycling in Wilderness areas is disallowed in our federal and Adirondack Wilderness (and Primitive, Canoe) areas because bikes are gear-leveraged mechanical transport, a highly complex machine, just not a motorized one. And machines – motorized or not – cancel out the values and benefits of an enduring wilderness, those very rare places where human beings exercise humility and are not allowed to dominate the landscape as we do everywhere else on earth. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Commentary: A Vision For A ‘High Peaks South’ Gateway

Paddling on Boreas Ponds as guest of The Nature ConservancyOne of the biggest Adirondack issues of the year will be the debate over how to classify the Boreas Ponds Tract.  Anyone who has paid attention to land-use squabbles in the Adirondacks for the last fifty years can describe the lineups on either side just as well as I can: recreation, access and the welfare of local communities on one side and wilderness preservation, aesthetics, non-mechanized travel and ecological protection on the other.

But what if this debate is false, predicated on outdated ideas and a fading history?  What if adherence to this old narrative is detrimental to the natural world and to the residents of the Adirondacks in equal measure?   Suppose instead that Wilderness protection and the welfare of local communities is in fact a synergy ripe with opportunity?  Lots of evidence from across the country tells us what ought to make sense looking at how Lake Placid, Keene and Keene Valley thrive: proximity to grand wilderness is an economic asset, and the grander and better protected it is, the more valuable the asset. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Peter Bauer: 7 Simple Rules For Classifying The Boreas Tract

Boreas-600x343The purchase of the Boreas Ponds tract is a major milestone in the history of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, a stellar accomplishment by the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and a feather in the cap of the Cuomo Administration. This marks the completion of the state’s purchase of 69,000 acres of new Forest Preserve announced in 2012. While over 95,000 acres of the former Finch, Pruyn and Company lands were protected as conservation easements, the 69,000 acres purchased for the Forest Preserve included natural gems like OK Slip Falls, the Blue Ledges of the Hudson Gorge, the Essex Chain Lakes, 15 miles of the Hudson River, the West Stony Creek river valley, five miles of the Cedar River, and much much more.

At the Governor’s announcement of the Boreas Ponds purchase last week at Elk Lake he said he wanted to see a speedy classification of the newly purchased lands. There are more than 35,000 acres of land to be classified, mostly bordering the High Peaks Wilderness, but also in scattered parcels in the southern Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Study: Wilderness Helps Adirondack Economy

Wilderness around Fulton Chain from Castle Rock above Blue Mountain LakeA new study conducted by Clarkson University argues that the Adirondack Park’s constitutionally protected Forest Preserve is an economic asset to the private lands and communities near it, and the wildest of those lands returns the greatest financial benefit.

Clarkson’s study showed that people seeking to purchase homes and businesses in northern New York paid more for the same property inside the Adirondack Park than they would have outside of it. Buyers paid up to 25 percent more if that property was close to a wilderness area. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dave Gibson: DEC’s Essex Chain Double Standards

_DSC0161DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos signed the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) in late March, and issued a Findings Statement required by law.

The final UMP and the Findings do not appear to alter the basic management decisions ratified by the Adirondack Park Agency last November as being in compliance with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Those management decisions include creation of motorized corridors within Wild and Scenic River areas and other matters which the nonprofits Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and Protect the Adirondacks considered in serious violation of existing law and regulation. Two members of the APA voted against the UMP compliance determination because of the Environmental Conservation Department’s apparent disregard for provisions in the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act and regulations. The nonprofit organizations consequently filed a lawsuit in January. The legal matters are pending in court.

DEC has asserted from the beginning and continues to assert that as a matter of law prior uses by the private owner Finch,Pruyn and Company and its private lessees and guests, uses ending when Finch, Pruyn sold the property in 2007, justify continued uses by the public today after the land reverted to publicly- owned Forest Preserve in 2012. This is one of the several contested issues before the court. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Questions About The Light Usage Of The Essex Chain Lakes

Photo of Sue Bibeau on Third Lake by Phil BrownI have heard from many who have gone into the Essex Chain Lakes area and encountered relatively few other people. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has stated that public use has been very high but provided no numbers. When I rode my bicycle from Newcomb to Blue Mountain Lake on a beautiful 75 degree Saturday of Labor Day weekend last year there were two cars at the Deer Pond parking lot to the Essex Chain Lakes area. This contrasted with the fairly heavy use of people hiking into OK Slip Falls, which is part of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness area.

Through a freedom of Information letter, I requested trailhead logbooks from the DEC to look at the use of other flatwater canoeing locations in the Adirondack Forest Preserve – Little Tupper Lake, Low’s Lake and Lake Lila. These are all wonderful motorless areas that provide incredible flatwater canoeing and overnight opportunities. I had certainly envisioned that the Essex Chain Lakes would become another such vaunted Wilderness destination where visitors were guaranteed a wild experience, away from motor vehicles.

Here’s what I found. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

#BeWildNY Alliance Cites Science In Call For Wilderness At Boreas Ponds

boreas pondsThe state’s newest piece of Adirondack Forest Preserve shelters rare plants, pure waters and sensitive wildlife species, while exhibiting high ecological integrity and wild character, according to two recently released scientific studies. The studies are being cited by advocates for expanding the High Peaks Wilderness to include the Boreas Ponds area between North Hudson and Newcomb, north of Blue Ridge-Boreas River Road.

The #BeWildNY alliance argues that the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds Tract should be shielded from automobiles, invasive species, and motorized or mechanized recreation and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Adirondack Park Agency to classify most of the new tract Wilderness, and add it to the High Peaks Wilderness. The studies were completed by Adirondack Research LLC and by the Wildlife Conservation Society. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pete Nelson: Close The Road Into The Boreas Ponds

Paddling on Boreas Ponds as guest of The Nature ConservancyThe State of New York has completed purchase of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the final stage of its acquisition of the former Finch Pruyn lands from the Nature Conservancy.  Now the classification process will begin.  As with the Essex Chain acquisition the debate will be over recreational access and protection of its biological assets and its aesthetic experience as a wild place.  As with the Essex Chain the debate will largely come down to roads, in this case Gulf Brook Road, a dirt and gravel road that provides access to the interior of the tract from Blue Ridge Road.

It’s obvious why arguments between wilderness protection and recreational access so often come down to roads, but I think that’s unfortunate.  I think it distracts us from the larger issues of land use and protection with which we should be more concerned.  The issue of Gulf Brook Road in the Boreas classification makes a perfect example.  So let’s look at it in a little more detail. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

State Buys Boreas Ponds, Completing Finch, Pruyn Deal

Boreas-600x343The state has purchased the 20,760-acre Boreas Ponds Tract on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness, the final phase in a multi-year deal to acquire 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.

One of the natural gems of the former Finch property, Boreas Ponds is expected to become a destination of paddlers, hikers, and backpackers. The waterway offers breathtaking views of the High Peaks, including Mount Marcy, the state’s tallest summit, and much of the Great Range.

The state paid $14.5 million for the tract, according to a deed filed April 5 in the Essex County clerk’s office.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lost Brook Dispatches: April Winter Weather Adventures

full view - Kuma's view is a good one.It has been a dismal winter in these parts, and spring is closing in.  But for lovers of winter weather like Amy and myself, there is always hope.  We both had last weekend completely free, the first time that has happened since we moved to Keene last September.  The forecast promised to turn early April into something more like January: a strong front coming through, a big temperature drop, snow accumulation and winds gusting to 70 mph.  Wind warnings were up and the wind chill was expected to be well below zero that night.  It sounded like a perfect recipe for one last Adirondack winter fling.  But it was even better than we expected.  The rapidly changing conditions produced two surprises for us, two unique happenings, one dramatic, one mysterious and magical, and each beautiful in their own way.  » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 28, 2016

The Effort To Mechanize Wilderness Is Local And National

bike in Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive areaThe fight to embrace wilderness and to keep designated wilderness areas free from mechanized uses is a national fight. APA weakened the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan this month by carving out two exceptions in its Primitive Area guidelines for bicycling and motorized maintenance in the Essex Chain and Pine Lake Primitive Areas.

This reflects a lack of appreciation of how sophisticated, gear-leveraged muscle-powered recreation impacts areas where the law states humans must not dominate the landscape (and where human uses are restrained to preserve, enhance and restore natural conditions). » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pete Nelson: Slippery Slopes

Giant from Amy's Lookout. Many new Irene slides.Last weekend I did a traverse through the Giant Mountain Wilderness, from Chapel Pond over Giant, down to Hopkins and out to Keene Valley. The trail from Giant’s summit down to the col between Giant and Green Mountain is a favorite, a marvelous, unrelenting descent along a forested slope.

Last Sunday it was more entertaining than usual. Facing north and covered in trees, the slope had preserved a modest snowpack, but of course it had not escaped the cycle of thaws and freezes we have endured during this odd winter. The result was a mighty slippery hike. The Ridge Trail up Giant had its typical rivers of ice but the trail down to the col was considerably more treacherous, coated in a dull sheen, with long, icy slabs and bulwarks often lurking under less than an inch of crusty, fragile snow. Even with microspikes it was a dicey scramble requiring a special level of vigilance.

It occurred to me while I was making my way down Giant that this hike represented a pretty strong metaphor for the political shift that seems to be happening in State land use policy here in the Adirondacks. From my perspective we are positioned on a slippery slope and it is incumbent upon us as citizens of New York to raise our level of vigilance.

» Continue Reading.


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