Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

State Land Plan: A Conversation with Peter Paine

Peter Paine with hunting companionThe APA’s “Listening Sessions” about the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) conclude this month. I’ve been to several on behalf of Adirondack Wild and appreciate the low-key, helpful competency displayed by the APA staff that receive inputs, write down comments, and field questions from the public in a one-on-one style. While absent of confident, inspired opening statements by the APA about the origins, importance and relevance of the Master Plan which they are by law obliged to uphold, these sessions do foster thoughtful, private questions, comments and enhanced listening, all of which are a good thing.

At Adirondack Wild, however, we see opportunities for strengthening the SLMP and its paramount purposes – the protection of natural resources and wild character of the Forest Preserve – and that’s been the theme behind our inputs to APA. To prepare ourselves, one of the first people we wanted to sit down with was the principal author of the SLMP, Peter S. Paine, Jr. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

State Land Master Plan: Managing for the 21st Century

APSLMP - LogoFriday, I concluded a four-part history of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan: why it was written, how it has been applied, and why it has been updated. Together, I think the four essays provide a good overview of most of the key events that influenced the original plan and its two revisions, from the point at which the Forest Preserve was created in 1885, to how we arrived at the master plan that we have today. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

SLMP History: Implementing the Great Compromise

APSLMP - LogoThe Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) was created in 1972 to address the cumulative impacts of sixty years of unplanned recreation management. The original plan – and to a large degree, the current version of the SLMP too – reflects this era by listing many of the facilities and uses that the old Conservation Department had allowed into the Forest Preserve, and then commenting on their appropriateness within each of the various zoning categories (Wild Forest, Primitive, Wilderness, et cetera). This certainly lends credence to the complaint that aspects of the SLMP are outdated in 2014 and need to be amended.

Without a doubt, the SLMP was never intended to be a static document, its provisions set in stone for all eternity. Part of any sound management process is to review successes and failures, and to identify opportunities for improving a set of guidelines based on the experience of having worked within them. The expectation was that the plan would be reviewed at least every five years—sooner, if there was a valid reason. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Old Trees: Methuselah In Your Backyard

TOS_OldTreeThere’s something in us that can’t help but be impressed by an old tree. Perhaps we’re simply in awe of something that has outlived generations of humans and will outlive us.

We acknowledge this when we compare the giant sequoia groves to a cathedral. When we compile state lists of big old trees. When we give names like Methuselah to the longest-lived specimens.

Most trees are not destined to live long lives. Ninety percent of the trees in a forest will never become very big, or very old. Some will lose the race for sunlight and food. Others will succumb to insects, wind, fire, or logging. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No Action On Closing Silver Lake Wilderness Road

WestRiverRoad-5The West River Road ends with a football-field size turnaround. At this point it’s 0.7 miles inside the Silver Lake Wilderness area. ATVs use this as a launching pad to trespass even further into Wilderness area, where they get close to the Northville Placid trail.

The management of this illegal road is a mess. In 2006, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) stated in its approval of the Silver Lake Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan that it would work with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Town of Wells to fix this non-complying road. As 2014 winds down, there has been zero action at the APA to close this illegal road. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Peter Bauer: Crane Pond Road is a Mess

CranePondRoad-11For nearly 25 years the Crane Pond Road has existed as an illegal and controversial 2-mile-long road in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area. This summer, there were regular reports about cars and trucks getting stuck in a mud wallow at a degraded point where the Crane Pond Road cuts through a wetland. In August, I encountered a group stuck there with their jeep when I walked the road.

In September, state agencies celebrated 50 years of the National Wilderness Act. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had presentations about the Wilderness Act and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) attended various ceremonies to pay homage to Wilderness. Both agencies elegized the importance of Wilderness.

The failure to close the Crane Pond Road belies their pretty words about Wilderness. Natural resource degradation has reached a point where the Crane Pond Road is now a public safety hazard. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ed Zahniser: Let Sleeping Cabins Lie

Wilderness around Fulton Chain from Castle Rock above Blue Mountain LakeIn the soul’s delicious fog between our sleep and full wakefulness, consciousness emerges like a sly ventriloquist. Moving freely about the stage, it takes full advantage of the blurry atmospherics. These mornings on the cabin porch, when my sons emerge from their cabin sleep, I try to blend my voice with this ventriloquism. It’s a parent’s only hope of revising the coding errors of our contributions to their DNA.

How often we know far better than we manage to do. If wisdom were a basketball hoop it would be 15 feet off the ground, not the standard 10 feet. I probe my sons’ inner fogs: “Wisdom is knowledge lived over time,” I say. » Continue Reading.


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Saturday, November 1, 2014

What Would an Adirondack National Park Look Like?

1967 National Park Proposal An interesting discussion developed this week in the comment sections of several Almanack articles related to the APA’s review of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP). The discussion was spurred by DEC Forest Ranger Scott van Laer. His contribution: why not consider an Adirondack National Park? So I thought I’d have a little fun and explore what one might look like.

Those who know their history or have read Bill Ingersoll’s two-part series covering the history that led to the SLMP know that this is not a new idea. In 1967 Laurance Rockefeller proposed that a National Park be established in the heart of the Adirondacks. It was a non-starter – overwhelmingly opposed – but spurred changes in thinking that were critical to all that followed. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

APA Gets Ideas For Amending State Land Master Plan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency is considering two amendments to the State Land Master Plan, both concerning the Essex Chain Lakes region, but the agency likely will be asked to weigh broader changes to the document.

The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board already has set forth nine proposals for amending the master plan, which governs the state’s management of the Forest Preserve.

“There’s going to be more, but that’s a start,” Fred Monroe, the board’s executive director, told Adirondack Almanack at an APA “listening session” Wednesday evening, the first of four such meetings that the agency plans to hold to gather ideas on amending the master plan.

» Continue Reading.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

SLMP History: Zoning the Forest Preserve

APSLMP - LogoI have no doubt that when the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) announced its intent to begin an amendment process for the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), more than one preservation-minded advocate held their breath for a moment. The master plan, after all, is the document that has guided the management of the Forest Preserve for the past forty-two years. It has capped the amount of roads and snowmobile trails to essentially 1972 levels, kept snowmobile trails reasonably narrow and trail-like, and kept both roads and snowmobile trails out of the designated Wilderness areas. For a preservationist who seeks to foster the wild forest character of our state lands, these are accomplishments worth celebrating.

On the other hand, people seeking enhanced access to the Forest Preserve for a greater number of people will list these same SLMP accomplishments as a set of roadblocks that should be reconsidered.

The current amendment process is being conducted because in 2013, as part of the classification package that designated the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area, the APA promised it would revisit the SLMP to see if there was a way to open these lands to mountain bike use. The area was classified Primitive to balance competing political influences: on one side, a desire to keep the lakes as motorless as possible — floatplanes notwithstanding — while on the other hand allowing motor vehicle access on some of the surrounding roads. In an odd twist, some traditionally preservation-minded voices were more than okay with this, calling the classification scheme “wilderness with access” — turning the old “Access versus Wildness” argument on its head. » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Commentary: Make Ecology Cornerstone Of State Land Plan

Slide BrookThe Adirondack Park Agency has announced that it is opening the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan for review. This is momentous news. Together with the Land Use and Development Plan which governs development on private land in the Park, the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) is one of two fundamental documents used to carry out the will of the people, as expressed in Article XIV of the NYS Constitution, that the Adirondack Forest Preserve  should be “forever kept as wild forest lands”.

My interest in revising the SLMP is to strengthen its focus on ecological integrity over more traditional notions of open space. The SLMP, to its credit, already emphasizes science and ecology. But it was written in 1972, when ecology was still very much a nascent science. It can be a stronger document by taking advantage of forty years of maturation in a discipline more relevant to the protection of the Adirondacks than any other. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Lecture on Wilderness by William Cronon

Giant from Amy's Lookout.  Many new Irene slides.This week I attended the Third Annual Jordahl Lecture, established by the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in Madison, Wisconsin.

This year’s lecture, intended to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act, was given by renowned environmental historian William Cronon. As we ponder revisions to both New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), Cronon’s presentation provides an interesting and useful historical perspective. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Western Ridge

S0010504-001One 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.



Saturday, October 11, 2014

What’s The Most Difficult Bushwhack in the Adirondacks?

Bushwhack Fallen Spruce and DuffIt 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.



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ed Zahniser: There Is A Wolf in Me!

Mountain_view_from_Sandburg's_porch_IMG_4850My sister Esther is a therapist in London, England. She specializes in voice dialogue therapy. Her work tries to engage the client’s heretofore unacknowledged multiple inner voices in constructive dialog with each other. Esther is highly intuitive. She can still work up her own fright by recalling from childhood our father Howard Zahniser reciting a poem she and I remembered as “There Is a Wolf in Me.” It turns out the poem by Carl Sandburg (1878–1967) is titled “Wilderness”:

There is a wolf in me . . . fangs pointed for tearing gashes . . . a red tongue for raw meat . . . and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

I can still conjure my father reciting the poem to us as he stood framed by the doorway from our kitchen pantry-way into the dining room of our childhood home in the Hyattsville, Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.

No matter that the house no longer exists. No matter that our father Howard Zahniser died 50 years ago. No matter that I have since seen wolves in the wild and witnessed their extreme wariness toward their bipedal primate nemesis humankind.

What was so frightening about the poem may be the fact that, truth to tell, there is probably a wolf in each of us. What if my wolf got out? What if your wolf got out? » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pete Nelson: An Updated Adirondack Promotional Quiz

the view from NewcombSince 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.

Here it is: Adirondack Promotional Quiz Version Two » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: A Promotional Adirondack Quiz

the view from NewcombLast 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.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

State Acquires Former Finch, Pruyn Lands Near High Peaks

D08A9330The state has purchased a 5,770-acre tract abutting the High Peaks Wilderness from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, the latest acquisition of former Finch, Pruyn lands for the Forest Preserve.

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.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wilderness 50th Celebration in North Creek Wednesday

Wilderness 50thThe Wilderness 50th Steering Committee will sponsor a public event in North Creek to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The National Wilderness Preservation System Act of 1964.

The event will feature remarks by members of the Wilderness 50th committee, including but not limited to Adirondack Wild, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Chad Dawson, Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Professor Dawson is also the editor of the international Journal of Wilderness.

The event is also intended to recognize the legacies of Howard Zahniser and Paul Schaefer. The National Wilderness Act’s author and chief lobbyist Howard Zahniser took his inspiration from New York’s “forever wild” constitutional protection of the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. That constitutional protection also marks its 120th anniversary this year (1894-2014). Zahniser said many times that New York State set the example for the national Wilderness movement and for the legislation. His legislation was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

West Stony Creek: Seeing Wilderness In A Wild Forest

West Stony mapThis summer, a small parcel of state land on the Fulton-Hamilton county line in the southern Adirondacks has been receiving an increased amount of public scrutiny. Most of it has enjoyed a quiet existence since the state started acquiring lots here at tax sales as early as the 1870s and 1880s; with no trails or famous landmarks, few people have had a reason to visit it. However, this little block of state land will soon become the site of a new section of the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT), fulfilling the goal of relocating the southern end of that long-distance hiking route closer to its official starting point in Northville. It has also been proposed for a wilderness reclassification, due to the acquisition of a former Finch Pruyn parcel to the south. Therefore if you are not familiar with this corner of the Adirondack Park, you will probably be hearing more about it soon.

The area that I am describing is a corner of the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest straddling the banks of West Stony Creek, immediately south of Benson. Most of it occupies the rectangular bulge in Hamilton County’s southern border that was created when the town of Benson was set apart from Hope in 1860, taking with it the northernmost portion of Mayfield. This has always been a blank spot on most maps—unsettled and unknown. To my knowledge there have never been any official state trails here, although it is possible that an ancient town road may have traversed the hillside south of the creek. It has one small pond, a range of unnamed mountains, and of course a section of West Stony Creek, which is here designated as a “scenic river” under state law. » Continue Reading.



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