Sturdy, visually appealing and informative exhibits coupled with well-designed DOT parking along the Hudson River have attracted visitors and residents for years to turn off the engine, breathe deeply, eat lunch, listen to the river and learn from the exhibits. » Continue Reading.
On November 22, we lost one of the finest legislators in my lifetime, U.S. Congressman and former chair of the NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, Maurice Hinchey of Saugerties.
He was, no doubt, flawed like any human being. But he had remarkable qualities and political skills that allowed him to reach many of his public goals benefiting the Adirondacks, the Catskills and beyond.
My Adirondack career started in 1987. By that time, Assemblyman Hinchey had been a champion for the environment for well over a dozen years. All environmental legislation, including New York’s first-in-the-nation acid rain law of 1984 as well as our state’s leading wetland and stream protection laws passed the previous decade bore his influential stamp, as all sprung from and had to pass through his committee. » Continue Reading.
Previously I wrote in the Almanack about “a notice for public comment about what seems a relatively innocuous, relatively short (1.25 mile) road construction… has been circulated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC… This is actually not a small deal at all.”
Indeed it is not a small deal. I wanted to follow up my earlier post with one that examines whether the State DEC has properly applied the law in its initial review of this project affecting more than 20,000 acres of private land easement, as well as State Land near the border of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties. All of this area is part of a low-elevation boreal ecosystem identified for its significance by State and private ecologists since the 1970s. » Continue Reading.
“They own the track so they believe they have the right to store their trains on their track in the Adirondacks. It is unsightly. It’s out of character with the Adirondacks. We don’t own the tracks. There’s a question as to what legal right we have to oppose it. But we oppose it one hundred percent and we are going to do everything we can do to stop the owner from storing the trains on those tracks.” – Governor Andrew Cuomo
So said Governor Andrew Cuomo to media gathered in Glens Falls last week concerning Iowa Pacific/Saratoga-North Creek Railroad (SNCRR) storage of old, supposedly cleaned tanker cars on rails in Minerva, Essex County, close to the designated “Scenic” Boreas River. The underlying land below and on either side of the tracks where tanker cars are being stored is “forever wild” Forest Preserve (Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest). » Continue Reading.
A notice inviting public comment about what seems a relatively innocuous, relatively short (1.25 mile) road construction has been circulated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC.
The Adirondack Almanack headlined the matter as “DEC planning new road east of Carry Falls Reservoir.”
This is not a small deal. In fact, the 1.25 miles of new road cut through the forest will result in nearly 20 miles of new public motorized access within a sensitive low-elevation boreal ecosystem. For many years, our DEC has been badly conflicted about balancing resource protection and motorized access to this area. » Continue Reading.
A friend and fellow founder of Adirondack Wild first urged me to read Wallace Stegner’s Beyond the Hundredth Meridian (Houghton Mifflin, 1954). Perhaps my friend sensed connections between the “second opening of the west” and the Adirondacks. Regardless, it remains a fascinating work, to be read and re-read. Although never part of my schooling, it should be on anyone’s lifetime reading list.
Stegner chronicles the explorer of the Colorado River, John Wesley Powell, who spent his middle life and health attempting to teach our late 19th century politicians (and those moving west) that only scientifically-based land use planning and restrictions would save us from the disaster of letting Americans willy-nilly settle, break sod, and farm the arid west under the 1862 Homestead Act.
As head of brand new scientific agencies in Washington DC, the Geological and Irrigation Surveys, Powell acted for the “common interest” through his dry-eyed assessment that 160-acres, a mule and a plow on either side of the 100th meridian were irrational and pitiable against prairie and desert wind, snow, sun, drought and loneliness. Rain, it turned out, did not follow the plow in the 1880s and 90s, or during the 1930s Dust Bowl. Powell fought tenaciously against scientific misconceptions, false prophets, personal gain, corrupt practice, and speculative acquisitiveness – whereby a handful of individuals could and did gobble up millions of acres of the public’s dry lands and whatever little water existed there, for their own use. » Continue Reading.
Wilderness preservationist Louis Marshall would have not only commented about the extremism, murder and related tragic loss of life in Charlottesville, VA. He would have been outspoken against the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi followers that caused it. Further, he would have responded vigorously and explicitly against President Trump’s persistent equivocation about who caused the violence and loss of life. To the lawyer and civil rights advocate Louis Marshall, love of justice and love of nature bubbled up from the same headwaters.
We continue to live in a time of specialists where our humanity is defined and constrained as lanes we live and practice within. The messages we receive daily are to stay in our separate lanes, interests and specialties. By dint of his and world history and by force of personality, Louis Marshall (1856-1929) would not stay in any lane. Nor did Martin Luther King. Nor do young people today. Nor should any of us. » Continue Reading.
There has been detailed documentation in the Adirondack Almanack about ongoing recreational pressures and resulting damage to parts of the High Peaks Wilderness Area, the largest Wilderness unit in the NYS Forest Preserve (and in most of the country).
Severe impacts have resulted to some adjacent trailheads, highways, roads, and parking areas, and certain areas of the interior. NYS DEC personnel, Summit Stewards, and town governments, indeed all of us, feel the pressure from large numbers of us enjoying the Eastern High Peaks, and in some cases requiring search and rescue. What to do about it all has been debated in this space by various stakeholders, including DEC Forest Rangers, with much good information exchanged and good comments and suggestions.
However, current comments and conditions feel like déjà vu all over again. I refer to the 17 year-old document that very specifically guides our public land manager, the NYS DEC, in addressing recreational user pressure on the High Peaks and how to keep the High Peaks as wilderness.
The 1999 High Peaks Wilderness Complex Unit Management Plan (UMP) is that guiding document. I propose that we spend more time addressing this plan, its management recommendations and actions to date, and how the UMP might be updated to reflect the era, conditions and user pressures we are now encountering. » Continue Reading.
The late Newcomb Town Supervisor George Canon did not concede anything to the environmental side, but in paying my respects to him I admit to admiration for what he accomplished for his town and county and for how, beneath a very tough exterior, George cared little about who he was seen with, who he would approach, talk with or share a drink with. Not that he wanted my organizations to publish pictures of us smiling before the camera. That would have gone too far.
Early on, when George and I met occasionally, our only common ground was to talk about a man we knew from very different points of view – Arthur Masten Crocker. Arthur was a patrician member of the Tahawus Club, so a part-time resident of Newcomb. He was also a leading environmentalist of his time, having grown to young manhood around Masten House, near the old village of Adirondac, and fished lakes Henderson and Colden. Arthur also appreciated Adirondack history, local guides and men who worked for National Lead – men like George Canon. » Continue Reading.
The slivers of time that I shared with John since I first met him at the Adirondack Park Agency thirty years ago became tall pillars of pine after hearing from those who grew up with John, or grew better and stronger thanks to their interactions and positive influence. » Continue Reading.
I recently led a bird walk up Hadley Mountain (or Hadley Hill), near Hadley and Stony Creek.
Hadley’s firetower marks its centennial anniversary this year (1917-2017) so there is increased appreciation of this forest preserve mountain ridgeline (2653’) and its history in the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest.
Dating to its organization under the leadership of Jack Freeman of ADK in 1995, Hadley’s firetower committee, led by local residents, is one of the oldest, most tenacious and effective in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
As this year’s legislative session winds down, more public attention is focused on November’s vote whether or not convene a state constitutional convention in Albany.
As Article XIV – the “forever wild” clause – is of particular relevance to both the Adirondack and Catskill Park regions, I offer the following resolution approved by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve this spring. » Continue Reading.
The feeling that remains in me following the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. is one of renewal. Spring in the northeast has a lot to do with sustaining it. A wood thrush is singing in our woods again (miracle of miracles, given their steady decline in the northeast), a newly arrived pair of gray catbirds are eagerly consuming the mealworms in our feeder, bluebird nestlings can be heard peeping from the nest box. It is a time of renewal of life and of faith.
But to witness the strength and determination of that huge crowd clogging the streets of D.C.; to be with so many in their teens and 20s climbing those big trees on the Ellipse to get a better picture of the immense crowd; to see faces of all colors; to feel the pounding pulse of the drummers from North Carolina who never once stopped their rhythm from 11 am to 4 pm; to see sweat pouring off a not so young woman from that same state determined to keep her banner aloft despite the gusts of wind on Pennsylvania Avenue almost (but not quite) as determined to bring it down; to stay in the close company of three very determined New York State women, each about 76 years young, keeping to their feet all day in 92 degrees (one keeping beat with the drummers with a whistle); these are all impressions I will not soon forget and which renew my faith in humankind. » Continue Reading.
Governor Cuomo has used that term to describe the $32 million Gateway to the Adirondacks around Northway Exit 29 in North Hudson. This “world class recreational experience will be realized through the establishment of state, local and private partnerships,” said the Governor’s State of the State report. “Transforming this site into an attractive destination will link local and regional resources and provide year round recreation opportunities and services for multiple uses, users and businesses… Drawing visitors to North Hudson to connect with premier opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and boating. This, coupled with commercial business development, will revitalize communities and help transform this region.”
I join others in certainly wishing this Gateway project well. But in a sense every I-87 Northway exit is a kind of gateway for visitors and residents who seek what the Adirondack Park has to offer – not just recreation but re-creation of ourselves in some cases, not just adventure but transformative experience in some cases, not just an automotive gateway but a gateway to the mind, the emotions and the senses that highly contrasts with our response to populous, pressure packed, polluted places and imagery not far away. When you drive into the Park you immediately realize this is not anyplace USA. That’s not an accident but a result of policies to protect the Park. » Continue Reading.
Long before antimalarial drugs, draining the swamp was a literal human life saver. Sometime after Earth Day 1970, when over 90 percent of the country’s swamps had already been drained, people began to appreciate by their very rarity what swamps looked like, what lived there and how they functioned and benefited society. By 2017, “draining the swamp” has been trivialized into a meaningless electoral slogan. The usage of this phrase infuriates me, but someone inside my head is reminding me to “get over it.”
The actual swamps in New York are highly diverse and on a landscape or local scale contribute vitally to natural infrastructure benefiting our human communities and the more than human world we should aspire to live with. » Continue Reading.