We just received our July/August issue in the Adirondack Explorer office. It’s our twentieth anniversary issue and packed with good stuff, including a timeline featuring milestones in the history of the Explorer.
Carl Heilman II took the cover photo, an aerial shot of the old titanium mine in Tahawus. The Explorer partnered with Lighthawk, a nonprofit organization, to fly over the High Peaks and the mine. The photos illustrate an in-depth story by our new watchdog reporter, Michael Virtanen, on the history and future of the mine. Incidentally, the flight confirmed that the controversial tanker cars have been removed from the railroad tracks leading to the mine.
One Explorer milestone is fast approaching: Editor Phil Brown (that’s me) is retiring in August after nineteen years on the job. He will be replaced by Brandon Loomis, who won a piece of the Pulitzer Prize this year for his reporting on the proposed border wall. Brandon is now an environmental reporter for the Arizona Republic. Phil plans to continue writing for the Explorer as a freelancer. Brian Mann profiled both Phil and Brandon in this issue.
You probably have heard that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has set forth a slew of proposals for the Boreas Ponds region and the High Peaks Wilderness. One idea is to reroute the Wright Peak ski trail. These are the first major changes to the High Peaks management plan in two decades. We break down the proposals in a package of six stories. The illustrations include a large hand-drawn map by artist Nancy Bernstein, showing proposed trails and parking areas, and a new aerial photo of Boreas Ponds, taken by Heilman on the aforementioned Lighthawk flight.
One of DEC’s proposals is to relocate the start of the popular Cascade Mountain trail, making the hike much longer. This proposal is the subject of our “It’s Debatable” feature.
The relocation of the Cascade trailhead is one way DEC is addressing overuse in the High Peaks and parking problems along Route 73. Christopher Amato, a former DEC assistant commissioner, argues in a Viewpoint that the time has come to require hiking permits for the High Peaks.
Explorer reporter Mike Lynch writes about an AdkAction study that found salt in the wells of many homes near state roads. Dan Kelting of the Adirondack Watershed Institute calls the findings “the tip of the iceberg.” The state’s road-salting policy is blamed. In an Explorer editorial, Publisher Tracy Ormsbee argues that it’s time to change that policy.
James Odato explains the state’s cleanup of pollution in Lake Flower in the village of the Saranac Lake, the legacy of a coal-gas plant that closed seventy years ago. The project has turned Pontiac Bay into a construction site this summer. It’s the biggest Superfund project ever done in the Adirondack Park.
Rick Karlin looks into why cryptocurrency companies (such as Bitcoin) are locating in the North Country—and whether that’s a good thing.
As for recreational stories, Lisa Ballard writes about two trips to Tongue Mountain. Alan Wechsler has two stories in this issue—one about rafting the Sacandaga River, the other about last year’s Cycle Adirondacks tour. Neil Burdick writes about the centennial of the fire tower on Azure Mountain (a celebration will be held July 19).
As always, we round out the issue with our regular features: Birdwatch, On the Wild Side, Trailblazer, Naturalist’s Lens, Views of the Park, Outdoor Skills, and book reviews.