Almanack Contributor 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 PreserveDuring 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 21, 2023

Another Test of the APA’s Large Subdivision Review

Concerning a proposal for about 120 units of townhouses, “estate” homes, a hotel or clubhouse, associated several miles of roadways, parking lots, driveways, and trails on 385 mostly wooded acres in Jay near Ausable Forks, the applicant has just submitted new information to the APA.

The APA issued their second additional information request of Mr. Stackman last September, 2022. This month Mr. Stackman writes that he has been working diligently to respond. You can find it all on the Agency website. For this post, I’ll focus on just one aspect of that response to the APA’s second request for additional information: biological surveys.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

A Material Increase and Burdens on the Forest Preserve

How the Adirondack Park Agency interprets its own State Land Master Plan with respect to public motorized uses of roads on the Forest Preserve (Wild Forest guideline, “No Material Increase”) has been in the news since last spring and deservedly so. In contrast with more intensively developed park facilities elsewhere, the Adirondack and Catskill  Forest Preserve are “forever wild,” written into our state’s constitution.

The public’s general expectations on the Forest Preserve today is much as it always has been, to seek, find and experience peace, tranquility, awesome scenery, quiet, solitude, bird song, bees humming, red squirrels chattering, a sense of the primitive. The overall expectation is not to hear motors idling or accelerating. That is the contrast value of the Forest Preserve. No other state can boast of it. No other state has a Forest Preserve in their state constitution, kept, mostly,  primitive and quiet, most of it within 3 miles of a paved road or highway. 20th and 21st century voters seem to like it that way.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, March 10, 2023

APA failure to hold public hearings has consequences

lake george

Last April, Adirondack organizations wrote to the Adirondack Park Agency asking APA to rediscover their discretionary power to hold adjudicatory public hearings on particularly complex, controversial Adirondack land use projects. No response to our joint letter has been forthcoming from the APA. However, a rather resounding response has just come from a member of our state’s judicial branch.

Only one formal APA adjudicatory public hearing has been held in recent memory, and that was in 2011 and concerned the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake. Ever since, APA staff have refused to recommend that the board take any land use and development to public hearing. And no APA board has produced the required six votes to do so.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Nearly 100 people attend Adirondack Park Lobby Day in Albany

Adirondack lobby day participants

Nearly 100 people from 20 different Adirondack organizations met with 50 state legislators and their staff during Adirondack Park Lobby Day to advocate for funding and policy advancements for the Adirondack Park. A group of Eagle Scouts from Queens, NY took the bus to Albany to help the group make a collective case for Wilderness, Clean Water and Green Jobs, including:

  • $4 million for a Survey of Climate Change and Adirondack Lakes ecosystems;
  • At least $500 million for clean water projects, including road salt pollution prevention;
  • $2 million for the Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute, a partnership exposing high school students from the City of New  York to training and possible careers in natural resources in the Adirondack Park;
  • Doubling and diversifying the number of DEC Forest Rangers;
  • $40 million for open space protection, and $21 million for preserving farmland;
  • $12.8 million for Forest Preserve stewardship, and visitor use management;
  • $500,000 for Visitor Interpretive Centers at Newcomb and Paul Smith’s;
  • $400,000 for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.

In addition, the group urged passage of non-budgetary legislative action, including:

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Heart of the Adirondacks

Charlotte Demers demonstrating use of E-Bird and Merlin during a bird walk

Photo: Charlotte Demers demonstrating use of E-Bird and Merlin during our bird walk

Newcomb is in the heart of the Adirondack Park, and Newcomb’s Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) of the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry is the beating heart of Park ecological science. AIC operates one of the longest, if not the longest, uninterrupted study of the interactions of forest and aquatic ecosystems and wildlife in all North America, if not the globe. That forest is the Huntington Wildlife Forest, and the published research findings there span more than 90 years.

Huntington and the AIC are not only important for the Adirondacks but for the nation. It is one of the few data collection centers for the National Atmospheric Deposition program which monitors acid deposition and other atmospheric inputs into these forests, wetlands, streams, and lakes. Given the value of all of that research, Huntington Wildlife forests, lakes and streams on these 20,000-acres rank very highly in the Adirondack Park’s ecosystem, as do its scientists, students, and all who support them, from  Syracuse to Newcomb.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 6, 2023

APA Act at 50 – Interdependence, not Balance

Gov Nelson Rockefeller signing the APA Act in 1973 while others look on

Well, it’s happened again. Another state budget is proposed by the Executive wherein the Adirondack Park Agency’s job is mischaracterized by this Governor’s (and former governors’) budget divisions as working “to achieve a balance between strong environmental protection and sustainable economic development opportunities for the residents of the Adirondack Park” (2023 Executive Budget Briefing Book).

Balance is important to strive for in our individual lives. However, nothing in the Adirondack Park Agency law, now reaching 50 years in May, calls for “a balance between strong environmental protection and sustainable economic development.” That is a construct and interpretation that has been superimposed upon the law, most especially since Governor Andrew Cuomo began his first term in 2011, as in this example from that year: “The APA Act is a balance of the adverse resource impacts of the project with its potential benefits” (APA staff during the Adirondack Club and Resort public hearing). Many have stated similar “balancing” objectives since then.

The unstated assumption behind such a statement seems to be that natural resource protection and economic development are on a seesaw, oppositional in purpose and competing in nature, and therefore requiring a state referee to provide necessary balance. That is not what the APA Act is about.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

DEC Lands and Forests – Should It Still Do More with Less?

DEC discussing future accessible trail to Boreas Pond lean-to

Governor Kathy Hochul has signed the “30:30 by 2030” state legislation whose objective is, in line with national goals, to bring New York State’s percentage of protected lands and waters up to 30 percent by 2030.

The eminent, late biologist and ecologist E.O. Wilson urged that the nations of the world protect 50% of the lands, freshwaters and oceans under their jurisdiction in order to slow the loss of habitats and species dependent on them, including humans whose livelihoods completely depend on the health of fisheries, forest products and other natural ecosystems. At the same time, E.O. Wilson’s goal would accelerate carbon sequestration within the rich, but shrinking carbon sinks of coastal eelgrass beds, mangrove swamps, ocean surfaces and inland forests. Habitat protection and climate mitigation are inextricably linked, he taught us.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Raising Standards at the Adirondack Park Agency

A few items captured my attention about the November 2022 meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency.

First are the public privilege comments of Park resident and retired APA deputy counsel Barbara Rottier. She spoke to the Agency of prior, 1996 written decisions of the APA staff that would shed light on the agency’s current deliberations about whether there has been a material increase in the mileage of roads and snowmobile trails open to motorized use by the public in wild forest areas since 1972. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 25, 2022

The Sagacious White-Tail: Memories of Paul Schaefer

Paul Shaefer

Paul Schaefer in his early 70s in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness during deer season, perhaps around 1980.

I think of Adirondack conservationist and forever wild advocate Paul Schaefer (1908-1996) during deer season, actually in any season, but particularly in deer season at his Adirondack cabin. From 1921 on, over a century now, Paul Schaefer and his family, friends and hunting club comrades in the Cataract Club ventured into the wilderness from cabins in the Adirondack mountains. Some of them stayed in deer camp during big game season, others came and remained in the area for a lifetime. Physically, Paul frequently came and went for 75 years, but his spirit lingered in the mountains and cabin country, as he called it. Friends my age and I only knew him in his final decade. I wish that I could have known him as his family, Adirondack neighbors and hunting companions knew him, in full vigor, ever alert, loping, climbing and watching through the big woods, hills and ledges of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, searching for the “sagacious and graceful” white-tailed deer.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Dialogue for the Wild – Forest Preserve Lakes

adirondack waters

At Adirondack Wild’s  October meeting at the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center, lakes and ponds came under the spotlight in a panel discussion about Cooperative Stewardship of Adirondack Lakes. Of particular interest was a given lake’s classification and subsequent comprehensive study, planning and management. If Adirondack waterbodies are considered part of the Forest Preserve, and for the last fifty years the State Land Master Plan talks about incorporating both land and water, then the law requires that lakes and ponds be classified, just as forests are. That raises important questions.

Classification leads to…If the lakes are classified, then they are subject to unit management planning, just as trails, trailheads and mountain summits are. The classification sets the basic guidelines and legally required outcomes. If lakes and ponds are subject to UMPs, then their carrying capacity, or ability of lakes and ponds in the Forest Preserve to withstand a variety of present and anticipated future uses, must be evaluated, like the requirement to measure and assess actual and projected public use on our forest’s trails and summits. I am not suggesting such assessments are an easy or inexpensive thing to do. Under the APA Act, however, it is a legal requirement, however often left untried or unfinished.  And the state legislature just appropriated a lot more money than DEC has ever had before for wilderness protection and management.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 22, 2022

Adirondack Wild Honors Park Stewards and Champions

adirondack explorer team gets adirondack wild awardThe nonprofit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve presented its annual awards at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. The award ceremony was part of Adirondack Wild’s 12th Annual Members Meeting.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, September 23, 2022

Another large resort subdivision. Still no conservation design.

jay subdivision

I just skimmed through Eric Stackman’s recent replies to the Adirondack Park Agency. See the APA website, apa.ny.gov, large-scale subdivisions. Mr. Stackman, a Miami, Florida developer, wants to construct a 120-lot resort subdivision in Jay, Essex County, above the East Branch of the Ausable River, apparently within sightlines near Whiteface Mountain, Asgaard Farm and many other viewing locations

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Making waves for clean water: A look back to 1972

clean water act anniversary

An influential film highlighted Adirondack rivers

As the Adirondacks celebrates the 50th anniversary of the nation’s Clean Water Act (1972-2022), I thought to thumb through a set of old reports to find out what the nonprofit advocate Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks was doing or thinking about at the origins of the Clean Water Act during 1972.

So much of a groundbreaking environmental nature was happening in 1972 that shared the spotlight with the national Clean Water Act. Here is a small sampling from the Association’s 1972 report, authored by its president at the time Arthur Crocker, and by its vice president Paul Schaefer:

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

From the Mountain They Call Thunder’s Nest: An Adirondack poet

crane mountain summit

Throughout our region author Sandra Weber appears in the summer to tell tales of Remarkable Women of the Adirondacks. One of the remarkable women she features is the “poet Jeanne Robert Foster.”

Eileen Mach has similarly studied and expertly performed Jeanne Robert Foster many times in our area, including her production of Voice of the Mountains: Jeanne Robert Foster, an Adirondack Legacy.

Noel Riedinger-Johnson edited Adirondack Portraits – A Piece of Time (1986, Syracuse University Press). The jacket cover reads:

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

More misinformation about APA formal hearings

white lake quarry

Reporter Megan Plete Postol reported on a recent judicial proceeding in Oneida County Supreme Court brought by Adirondack White Lake Association. The lawsuit was brought by neighbors of Red Rock Quarry, a proposed new granite quarry to be located very close to White Lake in Forestport.

The legal challenge was filed this spring because the Adirondack Park Agency in Ray Brook failed to conduct an adjudicatory public hearing that could have, through sworn expert testimony and cross examination, uncovered facts about noise, ground, surface water and other information needed for the APA to render a determination of no undue adverse impact “upon the natural, scenic, aesthetic, ecological, wildlife, historic, recreational or open space resources of the park.”

No hearing about the granite quarry was held by the APA which, after staff review, issued the proposed granite quarry a permit to operate earlier this year.

» Continue Reading.



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