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 nearly 25 years, much of that time as Executive Director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and then as first Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

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 a partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Dave Gibson: APA’s Response To Rail-Trail Comments Falls Short

Train-300x241 Nancie BattagliaBy this stage the NYS APA, DEC, and DOT may feel justified that they have adequately addressed public comments about the future of the Remsen-Lake Placid Railroad Travel Corridor. Having hosted listening sessions in 2013-14 and several public comment periods in 2015, the last one concluding in December, the DEC’s unit management plan amendment goes on, page after page, responding to questions and comment. The DEC responses justify the preferred alternative of separate corridor segments; segment one with rail from Remsen terminating at Tupper Lake, the other, an all-recreational segment two between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, without rail. The underlying economic studies doubtless contributed to the result, as do the physical obstacles to rail with trail, but the compromise seems almost unavoidable in light of the often clamorous, divided public point and counterpoint.

Still, one would have hoped that in its mailing to Agency members this month APA staff would have gone the extra mile in describing and analyzing the public comments in explaining why the Travel Corridor UMP amendment, and the creation of the two corridor segments (and much else in the UMP) complies with the State Land Master Plan. That was the purpose of the public comment period ending in mid-December. That is the decision APA Members will have to make next week in Ray Brook. The case for compliance, the major policy issues facing the APA, and staff’s assessment of public comment letters visa vi those important policy questions should form the basis of an informed decision, right? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dave Gibson: What Should Guide APA Nominations?

The open space character of the Adirondack Park as seen from Owl's Head in KeeneRecently someone asked me about how I was following through on Adirondack Wild’s 2015 report Adirondack Park at a Crossroad: A Road Map for Action. When I launched into some of the report’s recommendations for legislative and policy changes, they focused on that portion of the report dealing with appointments to the Adirondack Park Agency.

They felt the quality of those gubernatorial nominations and the decisions made each month at the APA have a persistent impact on the Adirondack Park and deserved priority over other issues.  I agree. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 4, 2016

A Historic Defeat For Forest Preserve Exploiters

old white pine that would have been flooded by the Higley Mtn Dam. The tree, while dead, still stands today. It takes more than 4 people to put their arms around it.During his years as a senior advisor to many younger Adirondack conservationists, Paul Schaefer told some interesting stories. He witnessed the following incident in the New York State Legislature in 1953, when he was about 45-years-old, at the height of his effectiveness as a conservation organizer. The following story is about passage of what was called the Ostrander Amendment, an amendment to Article 14, Section 1 – the “forever wild clause” – of the New York State Constitution.

In 1953, the Ostrander Amendment had been twice passed by the State Assembly and the bill was on the floor of the State Senate, then being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Frank Moore. The Clerk of the Senate began to read the bill when a State Senator came up to the Lt. Governor’s desk, grabbed the bill from the Clerk, and quickly left the Senate Chamber. The Lt. Governor sent one of his aides after him and as the aide rushed out of the Senate chamber, he saw the Senator headed into a washroom. Following him, the aide found the State Senator about to flush the bill down the toilet. The aide, a big man, grabs the Senator by the collar, snatches the bill from his grasp and takes it back to the Senate Chamber and hands it back to the Lt. Governor, who said, according to Paul, “the next man who tries to take this bill I will personally hit with this gavel.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

APA, DEC Proposals Would Alter Wilderness Protection

Adirondack Park Open-for-Business VignetteThe 2015 report Adirondack Park at a Crossroad: A Road Map for Action begins this way:

“We document recent permit decisions and management practices by the NYS Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) which we believe are inconsistent with the constitutional and statutory requirements designed to ensure long term protection of the Park’s integrity and which are irreconcilable with the agencies’ obligations as the public’s trustees of the Adirondack Park…We illustrate how this significant shift in priorities at APA and DEC…are part of a larger pattern of allowing increasingly destructive development to proceed with little or no environmental baseline data, only cursory environmental review, and little in the way of avoidance or mitigation of negative impacts.”

As the year ends, we see the pattern described in our report of favoring recreational use over the State Land Master Plan’s “paramount” purpose of natural resource and wilderness protection continuing. Several of the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) amendment alternatives sent by the APA in December to public hearing in January would, if selected as the preferred alternative, fundamentally alter wilderness protection policies in place since 1972. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Climate: Our Important Adirondack Carbon Bank

IMG_3904Our small solar photovoltaic system has, over its seven years of use, prevented about 12 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.  The 25 acres of northern hardwood forest in our fee ownership however, has stored over 87 tons of CO2 over the same seven years.

In Paris this week, with the stakes for our planet so very high, I would like to see as much media focus on offsetting and storing carbon emissions through forest preservation and stewardship as we see about reducing fossil fuel emissions. In fact, Paris talks are moving on while great swaths of tropical forests continue to go up in smoke to be converted to small farms and large palm plantations for the palm oil humans greedily consume. These nations are only ravaging in the same way we in the United States have already greedily ravaged our original rainwood forests in the northwest, hardwood swamps in the south, and midwestern and eastern pine and spruce forests. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Gibson: APA’s Legal Fiction To Motorize Forest Preserve

Dan at APA (2)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.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dave Gibson: Park Priorities, Budgets Out Of Whack

MRP-Snowmobile-Trail-3During 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.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Promises Ignored: Adirondack Resort Seeks State Funding

REDC-Regions-300x236This 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.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Marshall McLean, Ardent Conservationist

Marshall McLeanPay 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.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Dave Gibson: The State’s Double Standard

biking along the Chain Lakes Road South towards Indian Lake, July 2015This 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.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

DEC: Biological Information ‘Not Applicable’

Picture1In 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.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Dave Gibson: Snowmobile Connectors Are Disconnected

Boreas River and Rt. 28N where DEC proposes a new snowmobile bridgeThe 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.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Appreciation for Outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens

Commissioner Martens announcing the Cat and Thomas Mountain addition to the Adirondack Forest PreserveJoe 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.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DEC’s 11th Hour Forest Preserve Plans Criticized

Polaris Bridge and the Upper Hudson (courtesy Protect the Adirodnacks)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.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dave Gibson: Consider Big Policy Issues Early, Openly

MRP-Snowmobile-Trail-3Not 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.


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