Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Mourning a ranger

two ice climbers

Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus died after falling 1,000 feet climbing a peak at Denali National Park in Alaska last week. Mecus patrolled the Adirondacks and fostered an inclusive LGBTQ community. Colleague Chloe Bennett wrote this story. We’re collecting more memories of Mecus to share. If you’d like to submit anything or speak to a reporter, please feel free to reach out to us.

Legislature

In case you missed it, we had stories about some highlights in the $237 billion state budget lawmakers passed on April 20.

In the good news category for many park advocates, the state’s two forest preserves received an increase in funding for stewardship projects from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed “up to $8 million” to a full $10 million. Other Adirondack initiatives that had received cuts in the executive proposal were mostly restored.

And in other good news to most everyone we spoke to, the budget restored a 50-percent cut to clean water funding. Read more here.

One thing that had some Adirondack Park lawmakers worried about this budget is that it gives Hochul the authority to close up to five prisons with 90 days notice. You can read more about that here.

Tupper Lake news

Editor Jim Odato published an update on the former Adirondack Club and Resort, long tied up in litigation.

Adirondack Park Agency

The APA held its second annual planning forum last week, discussing hamlet development, flood mitigation, visitor use management and regulations, to name a few topics.

One of the sessions I attended was about municipal comprehensive plans. Paula Gilbert and Monica Ryan, of the state Department of State’s Local Government Services division, spoke about how important these documents are for grant applications, zoning and development guides and more.

There are so many things for local governments to consider from the changing economic landscape, to extreme weather events and climate change, to the preparedness planning for life-altering events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

When applying for state and federal grants, Gilbert and Ryan recommended municipalities use the word “resilience” at least 10 to 20 times to score well with applicant reviewers.

I snapped a photo of one of my favorite murals while heading to the planning forum. This is outside the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation in Saranac Lake.
I snapped a photo of one of my favorite murals while heading to the planning forum. This is outside the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation in Saranac Lake.

APA wetlands permit

There’s a new general permit for wetland-related projects at the APA replacing an old one. The permit is relevant for projects like:

  • Replacing/repairing underground utilities or utility poles;
  • Installing temporary work pads or access drives;
  • Installing water control structures involving less than 300 square-feet of wetlands;
  • Installing “beaver deceivers” (see this explanation from the state of Maine);
  • Removing and repairing culverts;
  • Grading and filling wetlands for less than one year for certain activities; and
  • Improving roadways or trails involving less than 300 square feet of wetland.

Not sure if this applies to you? Best to submit a jurisdictional inquiry form with the APA. Read more about this here: https://apa.ny.gov/Forms/index.cfm.

APA comment opportunities

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/index.cfm.

  • Inlet Marina & Lodging, LLC is applying to build a new 19,200 square foot commercial use boat storage structure. The project also includes approval of a 16,000-square-foot boat storage structure constructed in 2019 and a proposed 4,760-square-foot expansion of this structure. Comments are due by May 16. To review site plans and submit comments go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2024-0015.
  • Highland Forests LLC  is seeking to use the aquatic herbicide ProcellaCOR EC within six treatment areas in Highlands Forge Lake in the town of Willsoboro to be undertaken over two treatment seasons to control invasive Eurasian watermilfoil. Comments are due by May 16. To view site plans and submit comments go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2024-0083.
  • The Chateaugay Lake Foundation is seeking to use the aquatic herbicide ProcellaCOR EC in wetlands within three treatment areas in the Chateaugay Lake Narrows to control invasive Eurasian watermilfoil. The three proposed herbicide application areas are south of the narrows bridge in the town of Ellenburg. A portion of the post-treatment residual herbicide monitoring area is in the town of Bellmont at the northern end of the Narrows. Comments are due by May 16. To view the plans and submit comments, go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2024-0090.

Environmental Notice Bulletin

View all the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s weekly environmental notice bulletin projects. As of this newsletter writing, there were no new projects out for public comment.

P.S.

The black flies are out, at least in the Lake George area. My husband David and I haven’t hiked in a while, and we were looking forward to getting our Adirondack legs back with a short climb to the Pilot Knob gazebo on the eastern side of the lake. The parking lot was full of the little buggers, but they thinned out as we gained elevation.

The Lake George Land Conservancy has done a lot of work to this trail over the years. I remember when it was a straight shot up, but now there are switchbacks and stairs. We saw some beautiful flowers along the way. Trees are just starting to bud.

Sharing some photos below.

Photo at top: Robbi Mecus, left, and Melissa Orzechowski, right, fell while ice climbing in Alaska. Mecus died from the accident. Orzechowski remains in critical condition. Photo provided by Stephen Pucci.

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.




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