Almanack Contributor Brandon Loomis

Brandon Loomis

Brandon Loomis is a former Adirondack Explorer editor.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

River restoration

ausable river restoration

Sometimes it’s not enough to let nature take its course. At least, when humans have intervened and altered a wild river, it can take humans to help restore the river’s health.

That’s what’s happening now on the East Branch of the Ausable River, as Explorer correspondent Tim Rowland reports. It’s one of the most revered watersheds in the East, and its health, water quality and ability to shelter cool, deep pools could prove critical to the persistence of native brook trout as the climate warms.

The work builds on years of improvements by restoration partners including the Ausable River Association, whose work restoring “the Dream Mile” intern Ben Westcott profiled for us a couple of years ago.

Ausable River Association stream restoration associate Gary Henry, left, and executive director Kelley Tucker go over restoration plans on the shore of the East Branch of the Ausable River in Upper Jay. Photo by Mike Lynch

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Adirondack Explorer’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.


Friday, September 3, 2021

License to backpack: Trying out permits

tetons traveling

Explorer staffers have begun traveling to other parks this summer to learn what lessons they may hold for managing popular trails and attractions. These stories will appear in the magazine later this fall and winter, and will focus largely on New England. This week, though, I’m mixing personal travel with some research, meeting my son at Grand Teton National Park for some backpacking on a permit that I reserved months ago.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Unfinished business

boat stewards

Sometimes in the environmental protection field there’s a celebration of achievements before they’re fully realized. Case in point: We recently reported that a state road salt task force that was celebrated as a potential win for Adirondack water quality was not actually a done deal, as the governor has yet to appoint its members.

When the governor announced his resignation, another such premature victory came to light: The state’s new boat inspection law to prevent movement of invasive species in the park’s waters still awaits a governor’s signature. We reported on that law’s passage months ago, but technically, it’s not reality yet.

Environmental groups are hopeful that incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul will finish the job. The Adirondack Council’s Willie Janeway said this about it in a news release: “Many of the state’s functions inside the Adirondack Park have ground to a halt as the executive branch of government succumbed to administrative paralysis while the current Governor attempted to defend his actions. As Kathy Hochul becomes governor, the entire state will have an opportunity to heal and make progress again.”

It’s important work, as is the road salt study, septic and sewage management and proposed new surveys of park lakes’ changing ecology. We’ll see how the new governor approaches these problems.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in the Explorer’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Photo courtesy of Adirondack Watershed Institute


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Award-winning water reporting

road salt truck

One of the Adirondack Explorer’s priorities over the last couple of years has been to thoroughly explain the park’s hidden water quality issues, including the problems associated with New York State’s heavy use of road salt in winter. So it was a nice affirmation recently when the Society of Environmental Journalists honored that work, and reporter Ry Rivard, with an honorable mention.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Safety in numbers: Outdoor Afro’s Adirondack outings

Outdoor AfroA couple of weekends ago, I paddled along with a group of mostly first-time Adirondack canoeists as they watched loons and enjoyed the soothing waters of Little Green Pond and Little Clear Pond — adjacent water bodies near Paul Smiths and the St. Regis Canoe Area wilderness. It was a rare occasion in this park when I stood out for the color of my skin — white. And that was by design.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Follow the discussion on Lake George

lake georgeRecently, the Explorer’s Gwendolyn Craig reported that the Lake George Park Commission had assembled a committee to consider the effects of septic systems on the lake’s water, and to discuss whether or how to regulate them. At its meeting today, the commission announced that Essex and Washington counties had joined Warren County on the committee, providing representation for all lands around the lake.

This question of septics and other possible sources of nutrient pollution in the “Queen of American Lakes” is a topic in which the Explorer has invested a considerable amount of reporting, as wastewater pollution is emerging as a top priority in the Adirondacks. We’ll continue following it and explaining how it may affect homeowners, vacationers and the environment. In the meantime, this new committee will meet today, Aug. 5, and you can find information for following that discussion online by clicking this link.

Lake George photo from the Almanack archive

This first appeared in the Explorer’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to subscribe.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Marijuana in the Adirondacks

marijuanaThe Explorer’s website, AdirondackExplorer.org, recently published a story contemplating the potential for marijuana to drive new tourism business in the park if local governments are open to allowing dispensaries. Under New York law, communities will have until the end of the year to decide whether they want to prohibit such businesses. Opting out would mean no local sales, but it wouldn’t make marijuana possession illegal under state law.

Beyond our core issues of the environment and outdoor recreation, we at the Explorer track rural economics affecting the park and its communities. So the questions surrounding new business and taxation are sure to generate intriguing stories as this new market emerges. Will cannabis and the Adirondacks, as one source in the story suggests, provide the sort of “match made in heaven” that some nature lovers seek? Will legalization and sales create new problems in a park already attracting millions of visitors? Time will tell.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Watching the Wind and Water

New York, like the nation and world, has big plans for using offshore wind power as a way of reducing carbon emissions and the severity of climate change. Recently we learned that the Adirondacks — far inland from the Atlantic Coast — will play a role in helping make that successful.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Pollution is a rural problem, too

wellWater pollution is a big concern for us here in the Adirondack Park, and we’re not just talking about the kind that wafts in from out-of-state smokestacks and deposits acid in our lakes.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A newsy issue

silver fliesThis issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine will be a doozy.

It will offer readers thorough explainers surrounding the recent court ruling against “community connector” snowmobile trails; the struggle by small Adirondack communities to fund proper water treatment; Essex County’s remarkable job of being a statewide leader in preventing COVID in the face of a serious tourism rush; a program to fight one non-native species with another; the pressures leading the Whitney estate’s owner to subdivide and sell that coveted Adirondack woodland; even a fascinating look at how and why (and at what cost) Adirondack communities ship all of the park’s garbage elsewhere.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, May 17, 2021

A bag of hammers

lean-to rescueThis spring, I paddled out across Kiwassa Lake to see the volunteers at Lean2Rescue put the finishing touches on a newly restored lean-to shelter. They had moved it, piece by piece, from Middle Saranac Lake, so they could replace the roof and some rotting logs at the base. And they left in its place a new lean-to for Middle Saranac.

This is what these guys do. They told me I could do it too, if I had an IQ in the range of a “bag of hammers.” It’s their joke for the mania that drives them to head out into the wilderness to move 400-pound logs around. What they do is no joke, though. It keeps a certain local architectural heritage alive, and gives paddlers and backpackers shelter in the woods.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The last patrol

Scott van Laer

The May/June Adirondack Explorer now landing in subscribers’ mailboxes contains two profiles of forest rangers, Julie Harjung and Scott van Laer, by reporter Gwendolyn Craig. Both of these rangers have worked the woods for 25 years and are now retiring. Gwen visited van Laer as he wrapped up is work, and shot the short video that you can view here.

These stories honor the work these public servants have done to keep us and every Adirondack visitor safe and educated. Gwen revisits their careers, including the lives they saved, the rescues that sadly turned to recoveries, the work that van Laer did in advocating for the ranger corps, and the paramedic experience that Harjung put to work in training colleagues and others to become wilderness first responders.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Alone in the woods: A place of hermits and hermit thrushes

Noah RondeauThere’s an abundance of serendipity in these parts, and in our work.

Often, related themes and stories emerge like magic, to make it appear to readers that we had planned them to run side-by-side in our magazine. Sometimes we do that, but others, like in our upcoming May/June issue, the stars just align. And one of the stars of this issue is an old-time hermit named Noah John Rondeau. (The photo of him here is courtesy of the Adirondack Experience museum in Blue Mountain Lake.)

He lived in the same Adirondack woods where hermit thrushes are now returning for spring, and where hikers and backpackers will soon flock to seek refuge from another pandemic summer. If you’ve been following our online series about the struggle to form the Adirondack Park Agency 50 years ago, you’ve had a preview of the history story in which he’ll make an appearance in print. The writer, author Brad Edmondson, presents him as a sort of bridge from the old and truly wild North Country — squatting on public lands in a time when no one really cared — to the modern, regulated park. He died just as the Northway’s fresh pavement was about to deliver a surge of new visitors.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The ‘Forever Wild’ fight

Rockefeller

A couple of years ago we started kicking around some ideas for sharing with readers the story of the people who fought to create the Adirondack Park Agency: their fervor and idealism, their mapping and lobbying, and the pushback they encountered then and for years to come.

We had only started to discuss how we might go about assembling such a narrative, and who might be best to write it, when Ithaca journalist and author Brad Edmondson wrote us an unsolicited email suggesting that we might have a use for a bunch of interviews he had conducted with the same characters — both APA proponents and opponents — over the years. He had taped some of them with the understanding that he wouldn’t print anything until after they had died, and now that time had arrived.

 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Summer reading

book stackReady to read a good book by a mountain lake? That’s a pleasant thought after a troubling year, and the time for it is creeping up on us. Maybe this summer we’ll even feel safe to mingle in bookshops, or do our reading around others in coffee shops.

Remember those days?

With high hopes, we at the Adirondack Explorer are assembling a summer reading list and some reviews, for recent books with Adirondack themes or interests.

» Continue Reading.