I wish to recognize Adirondack Park Agency board member Art Lussi for his insistence over the past several months that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provide a legal rationale for allowing expanded motorized uses in the Forest Preserve’s protected river corridors. When DEC failed again last week to provide that legal explanation, Lussi joined Richard Booth in voting no on DEC’s plans for the Essex Chain area because they fail to comply with the State Land Master Plan. » Continue Reading.
Dave Gibson: Park Priorities, Budgets Out Of Whack
During my first Adirondack conservation meeting, in January of 1987, one of the top issues discussed was the pressure the Forest Preserve was under due to the limited State budgets and loss of DEC staff personnel.
How were the hundreds of miles of state’s Forest Preserve boundaries to be surveyed and marked? How were the “forever wild” natural resources on the Forest Preserve to be properly cared for by so few foresters and rangers? Someone on my board of directors (I was still a greenhorn) had invited DEC Lands and Forests Director Robert Bathrick to our meeting to discuss the problem he faced caring for the Forest Preserve and more. » Continue Reading.
Promises Ignored: Adirondack Resort Seeks State Funding
This week, New York State will host the ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) to examine their annual round of project submissions. This is the fifth year of the statewide funding competition created under Governor Andrew Cuomo.
I say good luck to those projects which seek to enhance the Park’s human communities, quality of life, and job growth and retention grounded upon protection and appreciation of the Park’s natural resources, wilderness and scenic beauty, and outdoor recreation. One project however, is seeking state funding which exploits rather than enhances the Adirondack Park: the Adirondack Club and Resort. » Continue Reading.
Marshall McLean, Ardent Conservationist
Pay a visit to the Adirondack Research Library (ARL, operated by Union College’s Kelly Adirondack Center) sometime. The Library is located at the former home of wilderness champion Paul Schaefer, where he and Carolyn Schaefer raised their family beginning in 1934. Reading in that library offers me a healthy reminder of the tight rope walked by former defenders of “forever wild.” When it came to standing up for wild country, our predecessors were often up against a wall, just as we sometimes feel today.
I recently visited the ARL to reacquaint myself with the federal government’s 1942 condemnation of a 100-ft Right of Way “for the rail transportation of strategic materials vital to the successful prosecution of the War” from the soon-to be built mine at Tahawus, Newcomb. In the ARL archives, the name Marshall McLean frequently crops up. He was the attorney representing the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks in court in 1942-43. » Continue Reading.
Dave Gibson: The State’s Double Standard
This week, Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Member Richard Booth continued his efforts to get his Agency to focus on its policy and legal obligations.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which has a seat on the APA, presented its Final Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area. Mr. Booth, who chairs the APA’s State Land Committee, has repeatedly advised the DEC that drafts of the controversial UMP are not ready for APA public comment because they violate key sections of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which has the force and effect of law.
The DEC, apparently prodded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, bulldozes ahead irrespective of the law. » Continue Reading.
DEC: Biological Information ‘Not Applicable’
In its latest Recreational Management Plan for 19,000 acres near Rainbow Lake, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation appears disinterested in biological information, much less in taking actions protective of sensitive biological resources.
The Kushaqua Conservation Easement is 19,000 acres of managed private timberland, formerly International Paper Lands, now Lyme Timber lands, located in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin. The tract lies north of Rainbow Lake and Buck Pond Campground, west of Loon Lake, east of Meacham Lake, and much of the tract is surrounded by Forest Preserve in the form of the Debar Mountain Wild Forest. Kushaqua was placed under a conservation easement acquired by the State in 2004. » Continue Reading.
Dave Gibson: Snowmobile Connectors Are Disconnected
The contradictory, disconnected, segmented, illegal and impractical ways that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (with full cooperation from the Adirondack Park Agency so far and support from Governor Andrew Cuomo) is going about the business of planning and building community connector snowmobile routes in the Adirondack Park continues apace. Work planning for the just approved community connector between Newcomb and Minerva, for example, will prove very interesting indeed and will be challenged in every sense of that word. » Continue Reading.
Appreciation for Outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens
Joe Martens’ announced departure this month as State Environmental Conservation Commissioner prompts a post of appreciation and a note of apprehension about his future successor.
I have no right, and certainly possess inadequate, incomplete knowledge and understanding to write anything comprehensive about the Commissioner. But throughout four challenging years as head of the DEC, working for a very controlling boss, the Commissioner seemed to remain true to himself. From my point of view, he listened, welcomed input, kept his good sense of humor, could disagree without being disagreeable, and at times privately welcomed criticism of DEC’s performance, capacity and budget. While others in his position might get prickly under similar circumstances, Joe remained approachable. » Continue Reading.
DEC’s 11th Hour Forest Preserve Plans Criticized
Another thick set of Forest Preserve recreational plans and maps was sent by the Department of Environmental Conservation to the Adirondack Park Agency at the 11th hour, just before the APA’s June meeting. It’s the second time in as many months that APA members felt unprepared.
In May, APA Member Richard Booth spoke of having to review 80 pages and 45 maps of alternative snowmobile trails through the Forest Preserve just a few days before his State Land Committee was expected to consider them in public. This month, APA Member Art Lussi said he had less than 24 hours to review the 141-page Essex Chain of Lakes Complex Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP), which includes more than 20 maps before the Committee’s most recent meeting. “I have to comment that these plans are thrown at us in a way that doesn’t allow for us to give you input,” Mr. Lussi said to Rob Davies of the DEC. » Continue Reading.
Dave Gibson: Consider Big Policy Issues Early, Openly
Not quite twenty years ago, Governor George Pataki’s administration made some decisions about snowmobiling on the Adirondack Forest Preserve which are still playing themselves out today. Governor Pataki’s first DEC Commissioner, Michael Zagata, signaled in 1995-96 that he would support a minimum of 15-foot wide routes (roads) for snowmobiling, cleared in order to accommodate 52 inch sleds and two-way travel. A hue and cry erupted and Commissioner Zagata did not survive in the job past 1996. The cleared width standard remained 8 foot, 12 foot for sharp curves. However, two years later in 1998 the Governor recommitted to new snowmobiling initiatives in the Adirondack Park as a way to balance, in the Governor’s view, the State’s acquisition of Whitney Park in Long Lake for the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
Dave Gibson: Opening Camp
I was traveling with a friend recently and she spoke about opening her seasonal Adirondack camp this month.
Having a workable, effective routine over the 50 or so years she’s owned it makes a very big difference, she said. Actually, if you close camp properly, she opined, opening it becomes a lot easier. I worked summers at a boys’ camp. I can relate to the importance of a comprehensive “closing camp” routine that saves much effort come the following May or June.
That led me to think more about opening an Adirondack camp. There is a lot to be done, especially if there is running water, waterfront, and a dock or two to be concerned about. But one must not forget the most important step on the list – to breathe deeply and to proclaim out loud “great to be here”! » Continue Reading.
An Updated Guide To Good Development Design
This past week I received my copy of the updated guide for building and designing greener, everywhere from rural farms, to small villages, to the suburban fringe, to metro areas. The second edition of Rural by Design (2015, published by American Planning Association) is out. Its author, Randall Arendt, is a landscape planner, site designer, author, lecturer, and advocate of conservation planning.
The first edition of Rural by Design came out in 1994 and changed many mindsets. Development after World War II had been left to “professionals” working in an orbit very distant from the rest of us. They mysteriously zoned our cities and towns, built our highways and streets and subdivided farms, fields and woods according to the dictates of the automobile. Arendt and others helped others to understand what people intrinsically knew, that after 40 years “traditional” development was leaving community, neighborhood and nature, including our own, out in the cold. He and others have helped make planning ideas and tools accessible and understandable to anybody wishing to alter their hometown’s development practices. » Continue Reading.
Santanoni: Historic Preservation And Nature
As I skied south and uphill, away from Santanoni Great Camp, I was asked – “on the record” – for my reactions. It was family weekend recently at Santanoni, with plenty of skiers in family groups including dogs. I said something like “this ski has become an annual ritual.” After all everyone knows that Newcomb has the best Adirondack snow come late winter. I looked forward to seeing and listening again to the camp’s master carpenter, Michael Frenette, over a hot drink.
The chance to see Santanoni and Moose Mountains rising into the blue sky above the winter glare of Newcomb Lake is also very attractive. The Japanese influence on the camp’s layout, the impact the architecture makes, the history there – it does set your mind going. After talking into the reporter’s microphone, I had to admit that my attitude towards the restoration of the Santanoni had changed over the years. » Continue Reading.
Jay Mtn Wilderness Mining: Appraising Lot 8’s Value
Now that the issue of mineral exploration on “Lot 8” in the Jay Mountain Wilderness by NYCO Minerals has left the courts, it remains for the mining company to complete its exploratory drilling, ongoing since the turn of the year. Changes in the DEC’s temporary revocable permit for the exploratory test drilling, announced on February 18, are as follows:
“The TRP will be amended to reduce the total pad locations from 21 to 10 and eliminate the third phase. The maximum number of holes drilled will decrease from 21 to 18. Elimination of the third phase will result in a substantial reduction in the number of trees cut for access corridors and pad sites. Other amendments to the TRP include relocation of two pad sites and changes in the water system to allow winter operation.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack-Abruzzo Park Exchange
There is a fruitful global partnership for parks and protected areas among people all over the globe. I see this reflected, for example, in each issue of the international Journal of Wilderness (Chad P. Dawson, Editor). For Americans who have given the world the gift of wilderness in law it sh
ould be inspiring to read about or witness. There is no reason to be cynical or hopeless. Look around the world to witness what our example (Yellowstone, 1872, Forever Wild, 1894, National Parks, 1916, National Wilderness Preservation, 1964, etc.) has wrought. That is, in part, why we were motivated to launch Adirondack Wild in 2010 – to take hope and inspiration from people who care deeply about their remaining wilderness, here or anywhere, and who are busy restoring it through every possible means. » Continue Reading.
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