Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Adirondack High Peaks Management Plan Unmet, Outdated

There has been detailed documentation in the Adirondack Almanack about ongoing recreational pressures and resulting damage to parts of the High Peaks Wilderness Area, the largest Wilderness unit in the NYS Forest Preserve (and in most of the country).

Severe impacts have resulted to some adjacent trailheads, highways, roads, and parking areas, and certain areas of the interior. NYS DEC personnel, Summit Stewards, and town governments, indeed all of us, feel the pressure from large numbers of us enjoying the Eastern High Peaks, and in some cases requiring search and rescue. What to do about it all has been debated in this space by various stakeholders, including DEC Forest Rangers, with much good information exchanged and good comments and suggestions.

However, current comments and conditions feel like déjà vu all over again. I refer to the 17 year-old document that very specifically guides our public land manager, the NYS DEC, in addressing recreational user pressure on the High Peaks and how to keep the High Peaks as wilderness.

The 1999 High Peaks Wilderness Complex Unit Management Plan (UMP) is that guiding document. I propose that we spend more time addressing this plan, its management recommendations and actions to date, and how the UMP might be updated to reflect the era, conditions and user pressures we are now encountering. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pete Nelson: Norway has Lessons for High Peaks Overuse

Regular Almanack readers are used to hearing me stress the importance of perspectives from outside the Adirondack Park. Today I’ve got one from way outside the Adirondack Park, specifically Norway, where my wife Amy and I are traveling for two weeks. While here I have enjoyed the geologic kinship Norway shares with the Adirondacks. I have also enjoyed the fact that my experiences so far have reinforced the sentiments I expressed in my last Almanack column, namely that we should not overreact to busy trails in the High Peaks. If you think we have a problem in the Adirondacks, you should see the hiking traffic here. And if you think that pervasive cultural experiences of pristine, wild places can’t place their fragile value at the heart of an entire society, you should see this country.

Yesterday Amy and I climbed Preikestolen, one of Norway’s most popular hiking destinations and a national icon. In some ways Preikestolen is Norway’s answer to Indian Head: a massive, open rock slab with a spectacular view, positioned far above a narrow body of water that is set between mountain ridges. However the scale is far greater: Priekestolen’s height above the water is three times that of Indian Head and the body of water is a sizeable fjord, not a small lake. For the purposes of this article, a better comparison is our own infamous Cascade Mountain. Cascade’s trail involves several hundred feet more vertical ascent than Preikestolen, but both routes are 2.4 miles and, more important, both trails are crammed with people who want an accessible but authentic regional mountain experience. Like Cascade, Preikestolen is a challenge that a neophyte hiker or ambitious family might take, an intimidating but doable workout with major parking problems down below and a show-stopper payoff on top. The difference, once again, is scale: Preikestolen’s foot traffic makes Cascade look like Allen Mountain.   » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Ticket Issued For Drone Usage In Adirondack Wilderness Area

A man who allegedly flew a drone in the High Peaks Wilderness in June is headed to court in Keene next month.

The man allegedly flew and landed a drone on June 17th near the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Johns Brook Outpost. The man was issued a ticket after the incident was observed by a forest ranger.

The ticket was first of its kind for operation of a drone on the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve. It alleges the individual operated motorized equipment within land classified as wilderness. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Pete Nelson: Don’t Overreact to High Peaks Use

Overuse in portions of the High Peaks is a real and growing problem, exacerbated by trends in social media and the expanding desire to count-off summits.  It has been documented extensively here in the Almanack.  But in the last few weeks these discussions have reached a rolling boil with a bit too much hyperbole for me.   A range of ideas has been raised, a number of them falling under the general concept of limiting access to the High Peaks, including permit systems, licensing schemes, daily caps and so on.  Some of these limiting suggestions have been accompanied by exclusionary rhetoric with which I strongly disagree, along the lines of “Why are we trying to get more people here?” or “I like my (town, street, access) the way it is, without all the visitors.”  I agree that increasing use in parts of the High Peaks is a real issue, and I have written about various aspects of the problem for several years.  But the exclusionary sentiments I’m starting to hear are where I draw the line. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

High Peaks Overuse: Make Cascade an Educational Asset

Over the past few months Governor Andrew Cuomo has shown his economic love for the Adirondacks by putting his money where his mouth is, pledging $32 million towards an Adirondack Gateway facility at Frontier Town in North Hudson and another $20 million for improvements to the Gore, Whiteface and Mt Van Hoevenberg ski centers.

Seeing as generosity is in the air, I have a proposal:  let’s take a small portion of the monetary love intended for these projects and turn Cascade Mountain from a dangerous and degraded poster child for Adirondack overuse to a model of Wilderness education that becomes an asset in the struggle to protect the High Peaks. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Fight Brewing Over High Peaks Lodging Facilities

Aerial Boreas Ponds, Adirondacks, summerEnvironmental groups are alarmed by a conceptual proposal floated by the Cuomo administration to establish lodging facilities near Boreas Ponds — in an area they believe should be classified as “untrammeled” Wilderness.

The groups say they would fight any such proposal vigorously, contending that it would violate both the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Article 14, the section of the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest land.”

State officials have not released details of the proposal, but they have discussed it with the Park’s green groups. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

DEC Exploring Lodging and Dining Facilities at Boreas Ponds

Photo by Phil Brown 2016. View of Gothics from Boreas Ponds.The Adirondack Park Agency has posted its agenda and materials for its meeting this week (May 11-12th) and there is no action scheduled for the classification of Boreas Ponds or any other Forest Preserve lands. All indications show that there is little likelihood for action on the Boreas Ponds at the APA’s June meeting.

The state’s ambitious schedule announced at the time of the classification hearings at the end of 2016, where they stated a plan to have this process completed in advance of the 2017 summer season, has been abandoned. What has slowed the state to a grind is its commitment to a series of unprecedented Forest Preserve management actions to build some form of lodging and dining facility near Boreas Ponds. The exact form of this plan remains in flux, but the state leaders at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is leading this effort, remain determined to fundamentally change management of the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Siena Poll: NY Voters Favor Wilderness for Boreas Ponds

Photo by Phil Brown 2016. View of Gothics from Boreas Ponds.An overwhelming majority of New York voters want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to protect the newly purchased Boreas Ponds tract in the Adirondack Park by classifying it as a Wilderness Area where motorized vehicles and bicycles are prohibited, according to a poll by the Siena College Research Institute.

Those who favor a wilderness classification for Boreas Ponds outnumbered opponents of wilderness by 4.5-to-1 (67 percent to 15 percent), the poll found. Support came from all geographic areas and from across the entire political spectrum.

These are extremely positive results for wilderness advocates. They look even better when you consider that the state didn’t hold a single public hearing south of the Catskills on the classification of Boreas Ponds. Everyone in New York City, the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island had to make a special effort to learn about this issue. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pete Nelson: Facts Show Boreas Ponds Tract Should Be Wilderness

Boreas Ponds ClassificationAs the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) prepares for their March meeting, a decision on classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract is not on the agenda.  That’s a good thing, indicating that more research and deliberations are ongoing and providing some comfort that the decision is not just pro forma.

Adirondack Wilderness Advocates believes that it is therefore an excellent time to review the status of the deliberation process.  In doing so, we can justly say “hats off” to the Adirondack Park Agency staff.  Their thorough analysis of the Boreas Ponds Tract, conducted as part of  developing a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS), and presented to the State Land Committee at the February Agency Meeting, was a breath of fresh, evidence-based, rational air in a process that to this point has been in dire need of reason and facts.  » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lorraine Duvall: Great Old Broads for Wilderness

founding broadsIn honor of the tenth anniversary of Women’s History Month, I want to recognize the work of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a national grassroots organization dedicated to protecting wilderness and wild lands. This organization was conceived by older women who love wilderness, giving voice to the millions of older Americans who want to protect their public lands as wilderness for this and future generations. The group prides itself on the thousands of hours (37,857 last year) people volunteer to care for the environment. Based in Durango, Colorado, their on-the-ground work happens throughout the country, with 36 active chapters in 16 states. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Boreas Ponds: A Rare Addition To Forest Preserve

Boreas Ponds photo by Carl Heilman IISome might wonder: What’s the big deal about Boreas Ponds? Yes, it boasts a fantastic view of the High Peaks, but you can paddle the waterway in less than an hour. And then what?

Unlike Lake Lila, Boreas Ponds has no sandy beaches where you can loll in the sun or go for a swim. Nor is there a nearby peak to climb for a lookout (though you could bushwhack to the top of Boreas Mountain).

Nevertheless, Boreas Ponds is a big deal. It’s one of our last chances to add a sizable water body to the Forest Preserve and declare it motor-free.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Unitarian Universalists: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary

What follows is a letter sent to the APA.

The Board of Directors, Congregational Delegates, and Members of Camp Unirondack, by vote of our 2016 Annual Meeting, hereby ask you to reject all of the four alternatives that you have set forth for the Boreas Ponds land classification. None of these alternatives truly protect the area around the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness.

Only an action that prohibits motorized vehicles and/or equipment on or within one mile of these ponds, and protects these lands as Wilderness to the south, is acceptable to the long-standing visionary legacy of the writers of Article XIV of the New York State Constitution. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Nature Conservancy: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary

What follows is a letter sent to the APA.

In response to the Adirondack Park Agency 2016 – 2017 Amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan involving the Classification and Reclassification of 54,418 acres of State Lands in the Adirondack Park which include the Boreas Ponds Tract, 32 Additional Classification Proposals, 13 Reclassification Proposals, and 56 Classifications involving map corrections, The Nature Conservancy respectfully submits our comments related exclusively to Boreas Ponds. Our perspective is informed by nearly ten years of ownership and stewardship of this parcel, as well as focused stakeholder engagement. For over 50 years The Nature Conservancy has managed lands globally for both conservation and public use purposes, including our 160 preserves in New York State, and we are accordingly very mindful of the challenges and opportunities presented by this classification proceeding. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide input with respect to the classification of the Boreas Ponds parcel we conveyed to New York State in April 2016. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Media To Host Boreas Ponds Forum in Schroon Lake Thursday

Three media outlets will host a forum on the future of the Boreas Ponds Tract at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Schroon Lake Central School auditorium.

The Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine, Sun Community News, and Adirondack Daily Enterprise invited a number of stakeholders to take part in the forum, including environmental activists and local-government representatives.

The Adirondack Park Agency has yet to decide how to classify the 20,758-acre parcel under the Park’s State Land Management Plan. The state Department of Environmental will later write a management plan for the property, but the types of recreation allowed and the degree of motorized access will be partially predetermined by the classification. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Tom Jorling: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary

What follows is a letter sent to the APA.

The Adirondack Park Agency has pending before it the classification of lands and waters comprising the Boreas pond tract. This action represents the final step in an historic process beginning with the acquisition of these lands by the Nature Conservancy followed by the acquisition from the Nature Conservancy by the state of New York and now the pending classification decision.

The decision by the Adirondack Park Agency regarding this parcel is anything but routine. It is a decision that must be made in the context of New York’s historic role in establishing the Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Park. The decision must be made from the perspective of history and the decision must be made as a part of that history; that is, as a decision that will be judged not now, but 100 years from now. » Continue Reading.


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