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.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dave Gibson: The APA Says Science Can Wait

Adirondack_Park_Agency_in_Ray_Brook_NYIt’s happened again. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has eliminated a permit condition for advance studies to assure no harm comes to sensitive wildlife from new development on four mountain summits.

The entire project – a new Emergency Communication system for Essex County – could have still gone forward and been completed by next winter according to New York State Police – even with the permit condition in place. It’s remarkable how little pressure is required to cause APA to abandon its statutory purpose to protect delicate biological and physical resources of the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Where Veterans Stand: Paul Schaefer and the Pack Forest

Photo by Paul SchaeferPaul Schaefer took this photo in the Pack Forest in Warrensburg sometime in the 1940s or 50s when he was fighting elsewhere in the Adirondacks to save ancient groves from dam builders.

At Pack Forest Paul told us he took one of his best and luckiest shots. Wanting to capture the public’s imagination with something as ancient and compelling as a 500 year old stand of white pine, Paul was at a loss with the scale and the difficult angle and the lighting until the clouds parted for an instant and sun suddenly shot through the forest canopy.

Paul clicked, the shutter opened. Opportunity and preparedness aligned.

Paul told us that his photo was in demand all over the Adirondacks and the country, including in Washington, DC, where a representative of the USDA Forest Service put it on the wall. By the 1960s, the photo came to represent the urgent need to expand the Forest Preserve, protect the Adirondack Park’s remaining old-growth forests, and plan and care for the entire Park, public and private. It has been used in many publications since then, including Defending the Wilderness: The Adirondack Writings of Paul Schaefer (Syracuse University Press, 1989). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Commentary: We Should Protect Vulnerable Vernal Pools

This Spotted Salamander just crossed Ski Tow Road, Tupper Lake, en route to a vernal poolWander into a wood with your ears open in early spring  and you are likely to quizzically turn your head to try and locate an indistinct sound, far off but not too far off, remarkable but subtle, an undertone of  – castanets? That’s how we described the sound 29 years ago when as new homeowners we explored our forest and discovered the breeding quacks of the wood frog.

I learned by wandering that wood frogs bred in the hundreds, not just in that one forest pond (a vernal pool), but in several others hundreds of yards apart – but not in every pool, just in some. Twenty-nine years later, they continue to breed just in those same pools between March 15 (the earliest date I’ve recorded their sounds) and April 15 (the latest), depending on temperature. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Dave Gibson: Benefits of Conservation Development

Over Tupper LakeCongratulations are due the Adirondack Park Agency and Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program for this month’s Adirondack Park Agency (APA) presentation on the benefits of Conservation Development in the western United States. Presented by Sarah Reed (of Colorado State University and WCS), the information showed the considerable extent of non-traditional subdivision and development going on in the 11 western states today.

Some form of conservation development, or “an approach to development design, construction and subsequent stewardship which achieves functional protection for natural resources and an economic benefit” is going on in about a third of this huge area of the country, Sarah Reed told the APA. Since conservation development is distinguished from traditional development as setting aside at least half of a buildable area as open space, while performing ecological site analysis to map what habitats deserved protection, it has also comprised a remarkable 25% of all private land conservation going on in the west, she said.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 4, 2013

The Carbon Impacts of Forest Conversion

section of forest clearcut for 16-lot subdivision in Clifton ParkA few years ago, a Planning Board Member in Clifton Park, Saratoga County posed a question I have never heard asked by anyone at the Adirondack Park Agency : how much carbon dioxide will be released by this subdivision, and what can we do about it?

As it turns out, the carbon dioxide released due to simply clearing forest land for subdivisions is eye-popping, and we know that the Adirondack Park Private Land use and Development Plan law gives the APA a lot of leverage in regulating subdivision design, lot layout and forest clearing – if they choose to use it.
» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

General Permit Fails to Address Today’s Forest Challenges

logging roads on Finch landsThere has been some good writing on forestry issues in the Adirondack Park in the media recently, stimulated by the APA’s proposed, controversial General Permit for clear-cut logging. Adirondack Wild applauds the discussion and encourages more of it.

The APA held a stakeholder meeting recently of Agency staff, forest landowners and managers, scientists, and environmental groups where a conversation ensued about the difficulties that face forests and forest managers today in the Adirondack Park (and beyond). The dialogue needed to happen, and it should continue, but the General Permit (GP) does more than just get in the way of that discussion. It does little to solve the problems discussed, and cuts out the public’s involvement in these matters and, even worse, it subjects forest landowners who might apply for the GP to a perception of unfair dealings with the Agency in order to expedite the clear-cutting of their lands. That’s may be an unfair characterization, but that is the public’s perception. All in all, this General Permit is a just a bad idea. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Essex Chain of Lakes and the State Land Master Plan

Third Lake, Essex ChainThe Department of Environmental Conservation has recommended that the new Forest Preserve acquisition at the Essex Chain of Lakes be classified Wild Forest, while the Upper Hudson River just to the east become part of a river corridor Wilderness. Several organizations previously submitted ideas for how these landscapes should be classified.

The APA is now charged with preparing classification documents for 18,000-acres comprising the Essex Chain of Lakes, and Upper Hudson tracts. Those classification documents will be subject to the State Environmental Quality Review Act and must involve public hearings and a public comment period. It will prove most interesting to see if APA acts with the independence it has in law, respects the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, and acts contrary to DEC recommendations on the Essex Chain of Lakes. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arthur Savage: An Adirondack Conservation Champion

Arthur-Savage-far-right-with-l-r-Wayne-Byrne-Paul-Schaefer-Paul-Jamieson-c.-1974-736x1024Arthur V. Savage of Elizabethtown, Keene, and points south died on December 26 and belongs in my pantheon of Adirondack conservation champions. Judging from the flow of email following his death, that also holds true for many others. He was a man of varied interests, commitments, and for all seasons. I am hoping this short post will stimulate others who knew Arthur better than I to share their thoughts.

Arthur’s obituary was in many regional papers as well as The New York Times. His importance as an early leader in environmental law circles can’t be overstated. I knew Arthur principally for his work on the boards of the not for profit Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) and NYS Adirondack Park Agency. When Arthur joined these boards, the former through the recruitment of AFPA’s long-time chairman Arthur Crocker in the 1960s, and the latter thanks to his nomination to the APA by Governor Hugh Carey in 1979, he gave a complete effort.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Snowmobile Trail Through The Forest Preserve

Late December snow makes it likely that a good base will develop for snowmobiling throughout this winter. A new 13-mile snowmobile (and hiking, possibly biking) trail has been established, a so-called community connector trail between the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln-Cedar River Road) and Raquette Lake.

Nearly a dozen alternate locations for this trail were included in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan approved by the NYS DEC and APA in 2011. One was chosen as the preferred alternative, deemed most in compliance with the state’s Snowmobile Trail Guidance approved by DEC and APA in 2010. The new trail is nearly completed as it reaches the north end of Sagamore Road near Raquette Lake village, utilizing DEC operations and other staff pulled in from all over the state. Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve investigated the trail construction in mid-October. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Finding Blessings, Resilience and Self-Worth in Nature

I just mailed a contribution to an organization which immerses their community’s children in learning about river basins and watersheds. I endorsed the check “in memory of the children of Sandy Hook Elementary.”

As countless naturalists and writers, from Richard Louv, to Rachel Carson, to John Burroughs and many Adirondack teachers have shown us, children who are led and encouraged to be themselves and to explore in the outdoors, with adults who participate in that exploration without dominating it, gain significantly in awareness, confidence and self-worth. We are born to love the world, including the more than human world, and our ready inclination to explore that world, and to find answers to our place within that world is intrinsically human.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Fracking and the Adirondacks

One doesn’t read much about high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) for natural gas extraction in the Adirondack media – for a good reason. After all, who thinks they would ever profit from drilling into the bedrock of North America – crystalline granitic-gneissic bedrock yielding uphill to massive anorthosite blocks making up the high peaks region, part of the Canadian Shield, and among the oldest root rocks in North America. The geological survey of the Mount Marcy region in 1837 knew more than enough of their science not to expect gas-laden sediments here.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stewarding the Wild Adirondacks

“We are part of a movement,” Dale Penny reminded the 50 people and representatives of 25 organizations gathered for the workshop on Nov. 3, 2012. Stewarding the Wild Adirondacks was the first workshop of its kind to bring as many of the Adirondack Park’s natural resource stewardship programs as possible together in one place to discuss ways to better collaborate. Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve was the workshop sponsor, and Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center its host. International Paper helped provide underwriting support for the event.

Dale Penny is president of the Student Conservation Association, America’s conservation service organization which places over 4,200 young people annually in demanding conservation and stewardship jobs in rural and urban settings across the country, including the Adirondack Park.
» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dave Gibson: Iroquois Peace And Defending The Law

Recently I was asked to present a talk about the life and careers of Paul Schaefer, the 20th century Adirondack conservation coalition leader. The location for my talk was Niskayuna, where beginning in the late 1920s into the early 1980s Paul built and restored hundreds of homes, including his own, out of natural, recycled materials – stone, slate and timbers from old buildings then facing the wrecking ball. The host for the lecture was the Niskayuna Town Historian, fitting because Paul was also intensely interested by American history.

A healthy collection of American Heritage can be found on the shelves of his Adirondack cabin. During my talk I mentioned that Paul and his siblings, growing up after 1910, were constantly outside, and among their outdoor pursuits were days exploring for arrowheads and other implements of the Mohawk, a member of the Great League of the Haudenosaunee. I then described the outlines of Paul’s remarkably successful career defending and extending the wilderness of the Adirondacks, from its wild rivers, to its highest peaks and the wildlife rich valleys threatened from inundation by large dams. Some of this history is found in Paul’s first book, Defending the Wilderness (1989, Syracuse University Press). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pace Law School Profs Issue Forest Preserve Papers

At the Bar Association’s Environmental Law Conference in Lake Placid on October 13, Pace University Law School professors Nicholas Robinson and Philip Weinberg released twelve edited papers – eleven by their law school students – that review the history, and relevancy today of New York’s Article 14.

Effective since 1895 and known as the “Forever Wild” provision of our State Constitution which protects the State’s Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, Article 14 states that “the lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”
» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Confusion Over Development Rights

At the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) monthly meeting in September, Fred Monroe of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board made some very confusing statements about transferable development rights, or TDR.

He expressed the notion that annually leased hunting and fishing cabins on the former Finch Pryun lands constitute a guaranteed building right which can be transferred elsewhere “for affordable housing and for facilities needed for tourism.” The state’s acquisition of these lands for the public implies a loss of forestry jobs and taxes, he argued, which should be compensated by transferring building “density” to help the local tax base somewhere else. He further confused matters by stating that eventual loss of some of these camps would deprive Newcomb, for example, of places to stay overnight.
» Continue Reading.