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.


Friday, April 9, 2021

At 50, how are APA and DEC Performing?

Report of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century April 1990In the just-approved 2021-22 state budget is a $3 billion-dollar environmental bond act, subject to voter approval in November 2022. If approved, it may make a small dent in the $60+ billion needed statewide to upgrade our state’s old water and sewage treatment systems. If approved, it may help to do even more than we are doing today to prepare and make more resilient New Yorkers and their villages, towns, counties and cities for the more frequent and more severe weather events that will continue during a warming climate. And it may help to create more incentives to protect intact forests in private ownership to offset our carbon emissions.

If approved, maybe a tiny amount, relatively speaking, perhaps as little as a few hundreds of thousands of dollars from the $3 billion could go towards an independent evaluation of how well the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation are fulfilling their respective, but also overlapping missions.

This also being the 50th anniversary of the Adirondack Park Agency, the question should be asked: has there ever been an evaluation of the agency’s current and past performance visa vi its legislated responsibilities and jurisdiction? The answer is a qualified no.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Adirondack Wild applauds pilot reservation system at AMR

AMR lotThe non-profit Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve applauds the announcement by Commissioner Basil Seggos of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation of a pilot reservation system for accessing selected trails from the privately-owned Adirondack Mountain Reserve located off State Rte. 73 in the Town of Keene.

“This pilot program for the upcoming High Peaks Wilderness hiking season is part of a critically needed set of user management tools for both the DEC, the Town of Keene, and the adjacent, cooperating private landowner, the AMR,” said Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson.

“We have been calling for a pilot reservation system for a number of years to reduce Wilderness congestion, restore wilder conditions, and increase both hiker education and public safety. Now, we wish to thank the High Peaks Strategic Advisory Group, the DEC, the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, the Town of Keene, and other stakeholders involved for their study of the problems, and for their upcoming cooperation and commitment to initiate this pilot beginning on May 1.”

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Loss of Institutional Memory at the APA

acrInstitutional memory is important. It reminds folks who join an institution of any kind what the mission of that organization is, what has come before them, what was considered important then and why, what continues to be the mission today. It strengthens the links in a longer historical chain that can easily be weakened if there is no one left in the institution to remember, to teach and to motivate the newcomers.

Veterans should be empowered to help newer hires understand that they are part of an important historical legacy. This is not to say that the institution cannot adapt to new circumstances and improve. It must. It is to say that there ought to remain a commitment to always keep the legacy in view so that the compass points in the same direction.

Adirondack Park Agency staff are highly skilled resource professionals doing a difficult job on a huge scale, working under difficult legal timelines and, like the rest of us, isolated from their colleagues during the pandemic.  However, judging from comments some of them made last week during the permit issuance for the Woodward Lake major subdivision, I believe the Adirondack Park Agency has lost significant amounts of institutional memory. That can lead to mission creep.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 8, 2021

Elk Lake: The First Adirondack Conservation Easement

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website reveals that 777,206 acres of private land in the Adirondack Park are protected by a state-owned conservation easement.  During the Adirondack Park Centennial year of 1992 there were 93,000 acres of private lands under state-owned easement in the Park.

That number jumped to 250,000 acres early in this century as the former pulp and paper companies in the Park, such as International Paper, Champion International and Domtar, all negotiated easements under the state’s program. Lyme Timber acquired many of these eased holdings in the 21st century and is now the largest private forest landowner in the Park.

The Finch, Pruyn Company also sold just under 100,000 acres of private lands under conservation easement in 2007  (plus about 60,000-acres that has become Forest Preserve). The acreage under easement has steadily grown since then. And that doesn’t even count all of the private easements negotiated and acquired by groups such as the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Land Trust, Lake Placid Land Conservancy, Champlain Area Trails, and others.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

‘Out of harmony with forest lands in their wild state’

Article 14 of NYS constitutionPreviously, the Almanack has asked “which side are you on” when it comes to a court case involving Article 14, the “forever wild” provision of our state constitution.

Recently, dueling press releases from plaintiff Protect the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Mountain Club, Open Space Institute, Adirondack Council, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, the group I work for – indeed suggest that all of us are retreating to our separate corners.

In truth we are longstanding and natural allies and proponents of the “forever wild” provision and much else. Politicization has not completely engulfed the world of wild nature – yet.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, January 29, 2021

Adirondack Wild’s Comments on the Governor’s Environmental Budget

forest ranger logo

Budget testimony from Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve to the New York State Legislature, January 27, 2021

Adirondack Wild applauds Governor Cuomo’s executive budget for not cutting environmental protection, stewardship and related staffing despite steep projected reductions in budget revenues.  We applaud the Governor’s and the State Legislature’s ongoing emphasis on climate protection and mitigation. We believe that the following targeted and relatively modest budget increases are needed to respond to climate and resource-based opportunities and urgent needs that should also be confronted during this year of budget challenges.

 

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Driving the Northway with Paul Schaefer

As the decade of the 1990’s began, noted Adirondack conservationist and wilderness coalition leader Paul Schaefer’s eyesight was failing. He had macular degeneration. We had noticed that this skilled carpenter, home and cabin builder and historic restorationist was no longer hitting the nail squarely on its head.

We worried about him continuing to drive. Some of us were eager to drive him to meetings or to his Adirondack cabin and, increasingly, he accepted our invitations. He had a lot to say to those who drove him or sat with him in his living room or at his Adirondack cabin before a blazing fireplace. Paul liked his fires hot.

His larger-than-life experiences, salted with many humorous moments, crackled along with the logs in his hearth. Paul laughed heartily in recounting his adventures, and those of us privileged to sit with him joined right in.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Developer shows why new APA legislation is necessary

A second-home developer of undeveloped private lakes and forests in Fulton County has worn down the Adirondack Park Agency over the past two years. Thus far, the applicant is succeeding in placing his real estate sales and marketing goals far ahead of the APA’s responsibilities for natural resource protection and solid site design of human development.

The application of New York Land and Lakes Development LLC (NYLL), Oneonta, NY, was declared complete by the APA on Dec. 14. The proposal calls for 34 new home lots, driveways, individual septic, and a new access road surrounding 100+-acre Woodward Lake.  The subdivision sprawls across just under 1,200 acres of forest zoned Rural Use and Resource Management above Great Sacandaga Lake.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, December 7, 2020

Winter Memories – Journaling during a June Day at Beaver Lake

A slight fever only adds to my mood to see the Moose River, the Plains, and to take some walk to an isolated lake. Sitting by the Moose, swelling downstream but pooled where I sit above, I imagine Paul Schaefer here*, speaking before a camera in 1948 to let the world know what would be lost by the building of Higley and Panther Mountain dams.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Although it is historic, Debar Lodge can’t stay

The Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed that the ultimate removal of Debar Lodge from the Debar Mountain Wild Forest in Duane will require a full Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. The scope of that EIS has been out for public comment on the Adirondack Park Agency’s website.

DEC considers the following proposed mitigation for the Lodge’s removal: reclassification of 41-acres where the Lodge is located from Wild Forest to an Intensive Use Day Use Area to become a “recreation hub” involving expanded parking; pavilions; picnicking; bathrooms; trail development; and exhibits.  DEC appears to believe that the more intensive the recreational use allowed at the former Lodge location, the faster folks will forget that the Lodge ever existed. I doubt that is the case.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Wilderness Training to Match our Mountains

The stress of our sheer numbers on wild lands, other hikers, summit stewards, forest and assistant rangers and local communities and volunteers bordering Routes 73 and 86 this hiking season – and many before this – easily disconnects and untethers us from the historical and philosophical roots of wilderness preservation and management.

None of what gets debated weekly about the High Peaks is truly untethered from these historical roots. As Almanack contributor Ed Zahniser has written, “take courage for your own work for visitor use management in wilderness. It has a history, a history set in concern for the common good, a history stemming from the American people’s long-standing concern to protect some remnant of our public lands in their wild, natural state. “

» Continue Reading.


Friday, October 16, 2020

DEC is Capable of Testing Limited Entry for High Peaks in 2021

route 73On this 2020 Columbus Day weekend, peak use of parts of the High Peaks and Giant Mountain Wilderness areas in the Adirondack Park were again exceeded. Now is the time to consider a permit reservation or limited entry system for key points of entry into these wilderness areas as necessary, helpful, practical, and practicable.

Adirondack Wild is concerned with a spate of recent comments made to North Country Public Radio that our NYS DEC is not ready to launch a limited entry or permit reservation system. Of course, DEC is not ready right now. They have not been given any direction from the Governor and the DEC Commissioner to get and be ready. Given such a direction and expectation, DEC could be ready in summer and fall of 2021. DEC is fully capable of studying, gaining public input, designing, and implementing with partners a fair and effective limited entry pilot program next year.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, October 2, 2020

High Intensity, Multi-Day, Air-Land Military Training Coming to the Park

Back in June something occurred with potentially great significance for the Adirondack Park that flew below the proverbial radar. That month, a letter was mailed from the U.S. Army at Ft. Drum to selected agencies notifying them that “Fort Drum is initiating agency coordination for a new proposed action within the existing nine county Local Flying Area surrounding Fort Drum’s Installation Restricted Airspace area.”

That nine county Local Flying Area includes large portions of the Adirondack Park.

Interestingly, the Army’s letter and lengthy environmental assessment document never mentions the existence or the significance of the Adirondack Park, or of the Forest Preserve, or of state constitutional protection under Article 14.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

“We are seriously degrading the resource”

Thank you to reporter Gwen Craig of the Adirondack Explorer (and Times Union) for her recent articles about recreational user pressures created by all of us entering the High Peaks Wilderness from the private lands of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR)/Ausable Club off of Rt. 73.

As reported, user pressures and resulting damage to the private lands have reached the point where the private landowner is considering restrictions or limits on public access through the AMR to the High Peaks Wilderness.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, August 28, 2020

Limited Entry System for the High Peaks – Let’s Get Started

I appreciate the Adirondack Council’s recent press release, which highlights the many benefits of permit reservation or limited entry systems and how such a system is needed and necessary now in parts of the High Peaks Wilderness Area. (Editor’s note: See the Explorer’s article about it here) Support from the Adirondack Council for such a system comes at an important moment, as overuse of the peaks continues to spike during this pandemic summer.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has been publicly advocating for a limited entry or permit reservation pilot project in the High Peaks since we met with Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos in September 2016. For the past four years we have advocated that such a system must be one part of a comprehensive management approach, including Leave No Trace education and use of many information platforms, including High Peaks social messaging to hikers and campers before they leave home.

» Continue Reading.



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