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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Adirondack-Abruzzo Park Exchange

Abruzzo-National-Park-ItalyThere 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.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

State Agency Logos: Endangered or Extinct?

nys-dec-logoThe recognizable logos of our individual New York state agencies, symbolic of each agency mission and purpose, suddenly appear to be endangered, or extinct. They have lasted in many cases for 40 years or longer.

For instance, there was the familiar round NYS Department of Environmental Conservation logo, quite attractive really, with symbols indicative of its mission to protect our waters, our air, our land, and our mountains. As far as I know, the DEC logo dates to the agency’s very creation in law back in 1972. It must have an interesting origin story. And it was ubiquitous until late last year, appearing on DEC headquarters and many regional buildings. On searches in vain for it now on the DEC website. I had to eventually Google it.

Where has it gone? » Continue Reading.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bakers Mills: Remembering Earl And Daisy Allen

668-47 Earl AllenIt was during the late 1980’s that Paul Schaefer introduced me to Daisy and Earl Allen in Bakers Mills. Earl has passed away this past month, and his wife Daisy died some 14 years before. But the memories of Daisy’s warmth and kitchen, and Earl’s legend as a teamster, maple sugar maker, artisan, maker of hay rakes, and master of old engines remain strong. Both would do anything they could for people.

Paul and his fellow hunters relied on Earl for some twenty years or more to hitch up his team of work horses to a wagon and bring there gear into hunting camp and out again. Rev. Daisy Dalaba Allen was pastor of the Sodom Community Church and president of the Pentecostal Holiness Association. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Commentary: More Badly Designed Development

Woodworth, north shoreSeptember, 2013 was the high point in the Adirondack Park Agency’s history of engagement on conservation development for new subdivisions.

By January, 2015, as evidenced by their actions in support of New York Land and Lakes corporation’s project for 24 residential lots that parcel out two water bodies (along with streams and wetlands, all on Resource Management lands), APA had lost interest. » Continue Reading.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gov. Mario Cuomo: His Final Adirondack Speech

Mario Cuomo at Silver Bay, 1994 1There will be many eulogies this week for Mario M. Cuomo. For me, the former Governor, like a certain white pine in our woods whose annual whorl of branches totes up the years I have lived here, is a measure of my time on this earth.

Thirty years ago last summer, Mario M. Cuomo gave that great address in San Francisco to the Democratic National Convention. I had just moved to upstate New York that year to be with Susan. As Governor, Mario Cuomo helped define the first eight years I worked for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dave Gibson: Christmas Bird Counting

Phyllis Burchett - Audubon Photo AwardsPreparing for the annual Christmas Bird Count is, like the entire holiday season, on the hectic side. The binoculars and spotting scopes have been set aside and need to be found. Packing a good lunch a few hours in advance is a good idea, but rarely accomplished.

My highest hurdle is getting up and out early in the morning to meet my team of counters, whose punctuality and other habits, after nearly thirty years of counting in the dead of winter, are rather well known. » Continue Reading.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Will An ‘ACR Interpretation’ Be APA’s New Default?

Woodworth and Hines LakesPeter Bauer has well summarized the current Adirondack Park Agency application by New York Land and Lakes Development LLC for 24 housing lots (plus five common lots, including the lakes themselves) on 1,120 acres around Woodworth and Hines Lakes in the southern Adirondack Park, Towns of Bleecker and Johnstown.

The land is zoned Resource Management: “where the need to protect, manage and enhance forest, agricultural, recreational, and open space resources is of paramount importance.”  The basic purposes of RM lands is “to protect the delicate physical and biological resources, encourage proper and economic management of forest, agricultural and recreational resources and preserve the open spaces that are essential and basic to the unique character of the park.” » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

State Land Plan: A Conversation with Peter Paine

Peter Paine with hunting companionThe APA’s “Listening Sessions” about the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) conclude this month. I’ve been to several on behalf of Adirondack Wild and appreciate the low-key, helpful competency displayed by the APA staff that receive inputs, write down comments, and field questions from the public in a one-on-one style. While absent of confident, inspired opening statements by the APA about the origins, importance and relevance of the Master Plan which they are by law obliged to uphold, these sessions do foster thoughtful, private questions, comments and enhanced listening, all of which are a good thing.

At Adirondack Wild, however, we see opportunities for strengthening the SLMP and its paramount purposes – the protection of natural resources and wild character of the Forest Preserve – and that’s been the theme behind our inputs to APA. To prepare ourselves, one of the first people we wanted to sit down with was the principal author of the SLMP, Peter S. Paine, Jr. » Continue Reading.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dave Gibson: Finding Hope For Wild Places

Last Child in the WoodsAs I look out on the political landscape this week, I can give in to despair at the sour mood, the anger and the apathy.

Or I can think of this Wilderness 50th anniversary year, which gives us hope. Amidst all the Great Society social justice legislation of President Lyndon Johnson, the Wilderness Act of 1964 may appear “below the fold,” but I cannot remain hopeless for long in reading again the thoughts of the Act’s author Howard Zahniser:

“We are a part of the wildness of the universe. That is our nature. Our noblest, happiest character develops with the influeance of wilderness. Away from it we degenerate into the squalor of slums or the frustration of clinical couches. With the wilderness we are home. ..It is good and sound to realize that in preserving areas of wilderness we are recognizing our own true human interest. It seems good, ethical, to consider ourselves as members of a community of life that embraces the earth – and to see our own welfare as arising from the prosperity of the community.”
» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Message to APA: Know Your Own Master Plan

APSLMP - LogoThe Adirondack Park Agency has announced that they will hold “public sessions” in the coming weeks to consider changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The State Land Master Plan has been part of the Executive Law since 1972. It is the planning document guiding the management and public use of all state lands in the Park, including the New York State Forest Preserve. It includes landscapes as distinct from each other in character as the Five Ponds Wilderness Area and the Crown Point State Historic Site.

All of these sessions could be positive if they are respectful, well informed, organized, focused and led. The sessions also should be well grounded in State Land and Forest Preserve history. » Continue Reading.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Adirondack Wild’s 2014 Annual Meeting and Awards

Peter Tobiessen, aquatic biologist, was Adirondack Wild's guest speakerAquatic biologist Peter Tobiessen (shown at left) had found spiny water flea in his morning sample of Sacandaga Lake’s water, and by noon on October 10, 2014 he had several specimens under his microscope for us all to see. The occasion was the 4th annual meeting of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve at Camp Fowler in Lake Pleasant.

This small aquatic “invader” from Europe has concerned lake ecologists since it first showed up among the zooplankton in southern Adirondack lakes around 2010. Spiny water flea, about ½ inch long, is related to native water flea, Daphnia, but it has a very long spine at the end of its body, reproduces rapidly and can dominate the large filter-feeder level of the lake’s food web at the expense of native species. Its long spine also gets tangled in fishing lines and can clog fishing rod guides. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

20 Years Of The Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee

TowerIf my memory services me, I believe 2015 will mark the 20th since the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower Committee was organized in 1995 with the help of a spirited group of local leaders and historians in Hadley and Luzerne and Corinth, as well as the leadership of Jack Freeman of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the NYS DEC Forest Rangers, and a volunteer from the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA), Linda Champagne.

As a leader of AFPA I was glad to join Linda at one of the committee’s early meetings. Now working with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve,  I still hike the mountain every year in recognition of a voluntary group completely dedicated to an educational, historically significant part of the NYS Forest Preserve. And I hike up in hopes of talking with a Summit Steward.

I doubt any Hadley Fire Tower friends organization can claim to have a better newsletter than the annual Hadley Fire Tower Mountain News issued each spring for twenty years by the aforementioned Linda Champagne. The News is packed with historical, cultural and environmental news, paintings, photographs, perspective and poetry from the viewpoint of mountain people who have known the mountain for generations, and who with the vital help of NYS DEC are doing a lot more than simply keeping the fire tower upright – although the tower’s restoration and maintenance was a founding purpose of the committee. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dave Gibson: ‘Diversity is not Inclusion’

image001(4)It must have taken great courage, the kind needed to overcome the natural fear of rejection and isolation, for the first woman and the first person of color invited to join the board of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

For one hundred years, from 1901 until 2001, those directing  the work of the Association had been entirely white and mostly male.  So had the boards and staffs of most environmental organizations in the Adirondacks, in the entire state and, I imagine, in the country. I hope we were all warm and welcoming of these courageous individuals when they first joined. Their experience and character made a difference.

The recent conference in Newcomb at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, “Toward a More Diverse Adirondacks,” brought the reality of courage, fear of rejection and isolation to everybody’s heart. It required everyone participating to re-examine assumptions. Many governmental and non-governmental organizations today applaud diversity and are trying to find ways to walk that talk and be more diverse. This recruitment is challenging, but what this conference made clear is that it is even harder to welcome, include, accept, and embrace difference. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Conserving Land: A Personal Story

Large oak on the conservation property Adirondack pilot and conservationist Clarence Petty maintained that the only way to really protect places in the Adirondacks that lend the Park its distinctive character and integrity was to acquire and protect them on behalf of the public. He certainly put his all into that cause for decades and helped the work of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and others, including their acquisition of the former Finch, Pruyn Company lands. Yet, Clarence was also a proponent of protecting much smaller tracts of land that rated highly in terms of the threat of their change in use (development) or their value as recreational open space or their intrinsic, wildlife or ecological value.

Like Clarence I have often sought to protect land to add it to the NYS Forest Preserve or to protect it with a conservation easement.  While working for organizations such as the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks or Adirondack Wild, my colleagues and I have often asked State government to pay for land protection through a bond act or the Environmental Protection Fund.

But acquiring “conservation land” myself and paying for the privilege is something I had not experienced. I soon hope to have that opportunity, but my Susan and I did not seek it out. The opportunity or emergency sought us. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dave Gibson: The Challenges of ‘Wild Forest’ Areas

Paddling downstream of Canada Lake, with Kane Mountain framed in the backgroundThe other day some friends and I enjoyed a day in the Forest Preserve, paddling on the waters leading out of Canada Lake, eating our lunches at a primitive campsite along the shore, and walking down a trail into a vly or large wetland flow. We were in the Forest Preserve unit known as the Ferris Lake Wild Forest, one of several large Wild Forests in the southern Adirondack Park. Ferris Lake WF is 147,500 acres in size, spanning parts of four towns in three different counties.

As we arrived at Stewart’s Landing and dam holding back Sprite Creek, the outlet of Canada Lake, we noticed a number of all-terrain vehicles parked and ready to ride. As we put our canoes and kayaks in the water near the dam we noticed and appreciated this Forest Preserve reminder:  “Carry it in, Carry it Out.” This is a shared, public-private resource. One side of the flow is Forest Preserve, the other private Adirondack camps. Upstream, many kayakers and motor boaters were enjoying the Forest Preserve. With their motors turned off at their campsites, wildlife and their own awareness and appreciation of this beautiful wooded shore, held sway.  A minority raced their boats as fast they could, kicking up waves and making paddling difficult. » Continue Reading.

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