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.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Conservation Development in the Park: The Default Option

Butler Lake project, c. 1991“Let us develop as if human beings were planning to be around and live on this land for a while longer,” said Randall Arendt, the noted landscape planner and designer and author of numerous books about how to develop the land without ruining its natural, ecologically functional, aesthetic and economic values as open space, books such as Rural By Design. Arendt was one of the keynote speakers at the Adirondack Explorer’s one-day conference last week, Strengthening the APA (NYS Adirondack Park Agency).

Stating “there is no constitutional right to sprawl,” Arendt took it right to the APA. “I look forward to returning to the Adirondack Park when conservation development is the mandate and the norm, not the exception.” He argued that the APA should make conservation design of development the default option, and conventional lots which spreads development out the rare, special case. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Founding Moment of the Adirondack Park:
The 1894 Constitutional Convention

Log sluice and stripped mountainside, near Elizabethtown, 1880s1894 had been a hot summer. 119 years ago this week the most important question before the Constitutional Convention of 1894 came to a head. What, if any, amendments to the State Constitution should be adopted for the preservation of the State forests?

The scene was the Assembly chamber in the Capitol at Albany, the date was Saturday, September 8, 1894, and the speaker was a New York City lawyer by the name of David McClure, the chairman of the convention’s five-man special committee on forest preservation. The topic was, according to the man with the gavel, Convention Chairman Joseph Choate, “further consideration of a general order relating to the forest preserves.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Students Consider Adirondack, Wilderness Act History

Research fellows, Toni-Marie with Becky, Dave and Lorie at Zahniser'sThis summer, Union College student research fellows and Union College staff involved with the College’s Kelly Adirondack Center in Schenectady County visited the Adirondack cabin of National Wilderness Act author and chief legislative advocate Howard Zahniser, and that of Paul Schaefer, foremost Adirondack Park campaigner for wilderness and wild rivers in the 20th century.

The two cabins, and the close friendship that developed between Schaefer and Zahniser help tell the story of where wilderness preservation began and how the Adirondack Park has served as a national and global model of wilderness history, preservation and active stewardship so proximate to villages, towns, residents and more than ten million annual visitors to the Adirondack Park. The cabins are located in Johnsburg, Warren County. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gibson: Make Protection, Preservation of New Lands Paramount

Essex ChainWhen the Adirondack Park Agency  was reviewing the Adirondack Club and Resort in 2011, board member Richard Booth encouraged APA staff to put all of the most important legal and other considerations from the hearing record on the table early in the review process. Avoid having Agency members get buried in minutia was his advice because it is easy for a board to get overwhelmed by a lot of presentation data, or to assume they know the most important factors and considerations when, in fact, they may not. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Economic Value of Protected Land

Ashokan Reservoir, Catskill MountainsThe Catskill Park and Forest Preserve may be smaller in size than our Adirondack Park but, like Avis in relation to Hertz, Catskill residents may feel the need to try harder.

One senses some good energy in the Catskill Mountains these days, and interesting initiatives are underway there, including an attempt to quantify visitation to the Catskill’s protected public and private lands and waters, and resulting economic value added to the Catskill economy.

It would make sense if the same evaluation study method were applied to the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 15, 2013

The Indian River Tract: Lost and Found

DSC_1451New Yorkers have recently come into ownership of nine more miles of the Upper Hudson River and adjoining lakes and tributaries to the west amounting to about 20,000 acres. In addition to the incredible ecological variety and richness, the public has also gained new, strategic points from which canoeists and rafters can exit the river before the truly big rapids begin at Cedar Ledges below the confluence with the Indian River.

In early July I went to see one of those exit points and the new canoe carry at the former outer Gooley Club north of Indian Lake, once leased by Finch, Pruyn. I then walked further down the Chain Lakes Road to see what the Gooley Club structure looks like. It is apparently eligible for listing on the State or National Register. Then, I walked further north on the former logging road to see what I could see. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dave Gibson: Fighting For A Wild Upper Hudson, 1968-2013

Proposed Gooley Dam Reservoir c 1968This week’s Adirondack Park Agency public hearings in Minerva and Newcomb about the classification of new Forest Preserve land along the Upper Hudson River, Essex Chain of Lakes, Cedar and Indian Rivers were well attended and informative. At Minerva Central School, there was no applause, no heckling. Folks listened to differing viewpoints respectfully, and several speakers noted a fair amount of common interests.

While most speakers favored a Wild Forest classification which would allow motorized access through an area long closed to public use, one former Finch, Pruyn manager noted the damage done to the roads by all-terrain vehicles. There was only one speaker in Minerva who favored unrestricted, unregulated, all-out motorized use from the Goodnow Flow to the Cedar River. Most appreciate the havoc this would cause to a region they know, or wish to get to know.
» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Will Andrew Cuomo’s APA Picks Protect Natural Resources?

Gov Rockefeller signs the APA Private Land Use Plan legislation. Richard W. Lawrence, first APA Chair, looks on at left. Photo by Paul Schaefer.By the end of this month, I believe six of the eight citizen members of the Adirondack Park Agency (those gubernatorial nominees who by law cannot be officers or employees of a state agency) will be serving expired, four-year terms.

This situation is neither new nor surprising. Section 803 of the APA Act allows members to serve until replaced or until they resign. Many governors have allowed members with expired terms to simply continue on without gubernatorial re-nomination and re-confirmation by the State Senate. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Big Tupper Resort Amphibian Study: Science After The Fact

Michael Klemens sampling for amphibiansWhile it has not attracted much attention yet, Preserve Associates has hired some biologists to conduct an amphibian study this spring to determine the presence of amphibians on some, but by no means all, of the lands proposed for subdivision and development at the permitted Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) site in Tupper Lake.

According to APA correspondence, this survey is taking place or has recently taken place within 800 feet of all wetlands on seven of the small eastern great camp lots, and along Lake Simond Road Extension and the proposed but not yet developed Bypass Road. » Continue Reading.


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.



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