Almanack Contributor David Gibson

David Gibson

Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for over 30 years as executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and currently as managing partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

During Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history.

Currently, Dave is managing partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Living, Growing Memorial to Brother Yusuf

I recently went back to an area where the NYS DEC Forest Rangers and Foresters had recruited us to help plant young potted and bare root trees from the DEC’s Saratoga Tree Nursery on an eroding section of Adirondack Forest Preserve. The planting took place seven growing seasons ago. How were they doing today?

Among the tree planters were Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi (Joseph Burgess) and his team of youth and adult counselors and teachers from the Green Tech Charter School in Albany and Youth Ed-Venture and Nature Network or YENN, and several volunteers from Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 26, 2019

The Roots Of The Conflict Over Snowmobile Connectors

In order to cut a lot more trees on the Forest Preserve for new snowmobile corridors, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General’s Office have announced that they will appeal July’s court ruling against the State and in favor of Protect the Adirondacks.

That ruling by a 4-1 court majority declared that the extent of tree cutting for snowmobile trail construction, when considered cumulatively, violated our state’s constitutional limit on destruction of timber on the Forest Preserve “to a material degree” (Article XIV, Section 1, NYS Constitution, and court interpretations). » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Forever Wild, ORDA and Adirondack Legal History

There are more than three million acres of Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks today. Yet, the most consequential New York State Court decision restricting the ways we can develop and use the “forever wild” Preserve was all about a few acres of land below Mt. Van Hoevenberg, close to Lake Placid.

There, in 1929, the state planned a “bobsleigh run or slide on state lands in the forest preserve.” About 2500 trees would need cutting to create the bobsled course for the 1932 Olympics. The lower court, the Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled that this activity was unconstitutional on grounds that this was wild forest and therefore must be preserved in its wild state, stating that “we must preserve it in its wild nature, its trees, its rocks, its streams. It must always retain the character of a wilderness.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 8, 2019

David Gibson On APA Appointments, Role of Statewide Interests

APA Building in Ray Brook NYSome local government leaders in the Adirondack Park complain that Governor Cuomo’s 2019 picks for seats on the Adirondack Park Agency remain unconfirmed by the State Senate. They feel that these individuals have been unfairly blocked by environmentalists putting pressure on State Senators.

They can be forgiven for forgetting that this is not the first time that a Democratic Governor’s choices for the Adirondack Park Agency have been rejected by a Democratic State Senate. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Did Her Independence Sink APA Acting Chair Feldman?

Having been nominated and confirmed to the NYS Adirondack Park Agency five years earlier, Karen Feldman was named by Governor Cuomo as APA’s acting chair following the resignation of Sherman Craig in summer 2018. In Ms. Feldman the Governor had an experienced board member chairing APA and one interested in continuing on as permanent chair of the eleven-member board. Ms. Feldman appeared energetic, communicative with board, staff and the public, engaged in APA matters, politically astute and well connected.

She seemed prepared and ready to lead. One would think she would be a shoe-in to be named APA chair at any time. Instead, she resigned last month and the consequences of that decision are serious ones for the APA and for the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

In 1969, Citizens Saved the Upper Hudson from Destruction

Fifty springs ago, the Upper Hudson River was conserved as a wild, free flowing river. The Schenectady Gazette’s writer Pete Jacobs reported the news in the April 17, 1969 edition of that newspaper:

“Without opposition, the Assembly gave swift approval to legislation prohibiting the construction of the Gooley Dam on the Upper Hudson River, branded by conservationists as a threat to the wild river country.”

In addition to Gooley, the bill blocks construction of any reservoirs on the river from Luzerne to its source in the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Making Conservation Design The Norm, Not The Exception

My hometown of Ballston in Saratoga County is poised to make the principles and detailed process of conservation design the standard for major subdivisions. The town’s revised subdivision law comes on the heels of some disastrously bad subdivision approvals here, projects which sprawl new housing, roads and traffic all over this once wildlife-rich, rural, wet, heavily forested and formerly farmed part of town.

Later this month, my town board votes on whether “any major subdivision in the Rural District and Ballston Lake Residential District shall be designed as a conservation subdivision.” If so, that would mean that the Town planning board would require an applicant of five lots or more to conduct: » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Dave Gibson: E-Bikes Are Not For The Forest Preserve

bicycling on a Wild Forest corridor near the Cedar RiverJack Drury’s recent essay promoting the use of E-bikes opens with the challenge facing an older but reasonably well conditioned body attempting to keep up with younger bicycle riders.

Jack articulates well what many of us baby boomers are feeling as we take up a ski, paddle, hike, or bike with younger friends and colleagues. We think we are reasonably fit, but how to keep up? Especially, as Jack wondered, on the uphill sections? » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century: A Status Report

Governor Mario Cuomo greets school children at Adirondack conference, Silver Bay Conference Center, in 1994. Photo by Ken Rimany, the Association for the Protection of the AdirondacksAdirondack Almanack readers may recall that in 2018 Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget office introduced legislation which would have changed the way the state pays taxes on the public’s Forest Preserve. It was proposed to change the ad valorem system, in place since 1886, to a payment in lieu of taxes.

Local school districts and supervisors were alarmed by the negative consequences of the proposed change, as were Forest Preserve advocates. In response, legislative staff sought background information about how the Real Property Tax Law applied to the Adirondack Park, historically speaking. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Becoming Rooted Thanks to People like Bob

I know one or several who are rooted in their town and who prove instrumental in helping newcomers become rooted there as well – someone who could plow them out; someone who could lend them a rototiller; someone who could repair their water line or dug well; someone who knew the previous occupants; someone who knew what used to be on that piece of land; someone who knew the stories and just how to tell them; someone we laughed with and, gradually, over time, someone on whom we could bestow a favor ourselves. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Dave Gibson: Rail Trail Controversy Shows Master Plan Has Teeth

Headlined at this month’s meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency was a vote by the APA members to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) to allow Rail Trails to be added to the definition of a Travel Corridor, and to support a rail trail in the SLMP’s Travel Corridor management guidance.

Prior to the APA decision, which like all Master Plan amendments must be ratified by the Governor, rail trails were not defined or authorized under the SLMP’s Travel Corridor overlay classification. Travel Corridors  applied only to the strip of land constituting the roadbed and right of way of state and interstate highways and the Remsen to Lake Placid railroad right of way, as well those state lands immediately adjacent to these facilities.  Such facilities had to be transportation related- not just recreational. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Gibson: Adirondack Land Use, Climate Change Linked

Satellite view of the Adirondacks with blue line superimposed courtesy Adirondack WildCongresswoman Elise Stefanik’s district has one of the great carbon banks in North America, its public and private forests. Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have, on our behalf, custody of over an even larger carbon bank in the Catskills, Adirondacks, State Forests and Parks and Conservation Easements all across the State.

Yet, despite their vocal and demonstrable commitments to combat climate change, I’ve not heard either official tout the great importance of New York’s forest policies and stewardship to store and offset our carbon pollution. Goals and policies on use of solar, wind, hydro, transportation, batteries, and efficiency are routinely and passionately enunciated and in some cases enacted. Rarely is forest policy in that mix. It’s curious. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Gibson: Large Scale Subdivision An Important Test of APA

Applicant's preferred design of subdivision at Woodward LakeCurrently on the Adirondack Park Agency website (apa.ny.gov) are links to “large scale subdivisions currently under review,” an entirely new feature. What is that new feature all about?

Earlier this year, APA adopted a new application for large-scale residential subdivisions, as the agency defines them. In the green land use color, Resource Management, large scale subdivisions are defined as 5 or more lots or parcels in a given project. In the yellow land use color, Rural Use, they are defined as 10 or more lots or parcels. In the orange, or Low Intensity use, they are defined as 25 or more lots or parcels. All subdivisions in those colors meeting those size thresholds, says the APA, must meet new application guidelines. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dave Gibson: Push for DEC Personnel Increases, Again

Forest Rangers lead search and rescueI listened to NCPR’s Brian Mann recent report about NYS DEC Forest Ranger staffing, and the great pressures on the static ranger staff resulting from so many emergency incidents. DEC Commissioner Seggos’ remarks appeared to be resistant to the need for additional Forest Rangers. He was quoted as saying that the entire DEC staff must rally to help to relieve the pressures on the Rangers and – I would add – on all natural resource professionals at the DEC. In other words, don’t worry members of the media, members of the public, we always do more with less.

In my experience, this Commissioner is very responsive to issues facing him and pays attention to detail. I also know he supports his people in the field. However, it was important for him to hear the support for more DEC Forest Rangers from local government representatives, like Wilmington Town Supervisor and Essex County Board of Supervisors chair Randy Preston. The supervisor was persistent because he knows what we all know: that the DEC Commissioner has no authority to increase the number of rangers, or foresters, or wildlife or fisheries, or operations or campground professionals. The urgent message that DEC natural resource and lands and forests and ranger personnel are at the breaking point must get to the Governor. Local government officials make excellent messengers. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Will DEC Rubber Stamp New Bridge Over the Cedar River?

State agencies in the Adirondack Park are full of dedicated, hardworking employees who want to do their level best under their relevant laws and jurisdictions. However, in a situation where the same agency acts both as the applicant and the decider of an application, the public has good reason to be skeptical that there will be sufficient independence to raise difficult questions, much less objections.

This situation is apparent in the August 22, 2018 edition of the Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB) issued weekly by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC. This edition of the ENB gives the public notice that a “Cedar River Bridge and Recreational Trail” is the subject of a permit application by the DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests. The decider of that permit application is the Permits Division of the same DEC. » Continue Reading.