Almanack Contributor Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Parting DEC commissioner reflects on Adks

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announces the release of a new Lake Champlain watershed plan at Ausable Point Campground on Monday.

Department of Environmental Conservation

Basil Seggos spent part of his last day as DEC commissioner speaking with the Explorer about his Adirondacks legacy, forest rangers, park protections and plans for more High Peaks hikes in the future.

Read our interview here.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Solar eclipse

girl scout wear eclipse glasses

Eclipse

Explorer staff and correspondents were stationed across the region to bring you solar eclipse coverage. Check out our website and social media accounts for updates, photos and more. Read our story here.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Camp Santanoni access in question

Santanoni Great Camp Newcomb lake Historic Preservation farm ADKs

Great Camp Santanoni

There’s a difficult situation playing out in the town of Newcomb. Under a court settlement, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is required to provide access to Great Camp Santanoni for people with disabilities. But the horse and wagon operator it contracted with to provide those services, cannot provide them at the level required.

So now the operator’s contract has been terminated, though he may be able to operate under a different permit later this year. It still leaves the question of how the state will comply with its court settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Read our update here.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Tests: Whiskey fungus is more widespread

The WhistlePig Whiskey facility in Moriah

Whiskey fungus

Results from November fungus samples taken from homes near WhistlePig Whiskey in the town of Moriah were released last week. The state Department of Environmental Conservation said “the samples matched the morphology of the whiskey fungus from the WhistlePig facility.”

Read our update here.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Adding Adirondacks back into budget

Students learn about history of Timbuctoo Institute

Legislature

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed $233 billion budget included some program cuts relevant to the Adirondacks. The state Assembly and Senate released their one-house budgets last week, adding some of those funds back.

Here are some of the takeaways:

  • Reinstated Clean Water Infrastructure Act funding to $500 million for the fiscal year.
  • The Assembly proposed dedicating $10 million from the Clean Water Fund for road salt management.
  • Restored funding to the Timbuctoo Climate and Careers Institute at $2.1 million.
  • Restored funding to the Survey of Climate Change and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems at $2 million.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

4 High Peaks rescues, 3 days

Rescue on Basin Mountain

Ranger rescues

It’s officially mud season, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation has asked hikers to avoid climbs above 2,500 feet. Two weekends ago, forest rangers were already dealing with the difficulties of conducting rescues in the mix of mud, ice and snow. I spoke with a ranger about his assistance on four rescues that weekend, two of them involving a team of 30 rangers.

You can check out that story here.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Frontier-era delay at campground

Top photo: Frontier Town campground gate.

Legislature

Following up on last week’s newsletter about the state’s progress toward protecting 30-percent of its lands and waters by 2030, we have more to share on an odd conservation easement issue playing out in North Hudson.

During the Feb. 7 environmental conservation budget hearing before the state Legislature, Kathy Moser of the Open Space Institute, mentioned how title insurance would be a beneficial tool for the state to use. She pointed to North Hudson’s Frontier Town campground as an example, where an 1850s bankruptcy case was holding up a conservation easement.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Tracking 30-by-30 progress

OSI’s West Mountain Property in Saratoga County

Legislature

One of our takeaways from the state Legislature’s joint environmental conservation budget hearing earlier this month, was land trusts’ concern over the backlog of properties they are holding for state acquisition.

Kathy Moser, chief conservation officer of the Open Space Institute, told lawmakers that over 90 land trusts are currently holding 100,000 acres with a fair market value of $150 million for the state. In 2022, New York protected just over 5,000 acres. It has more than 3 million acres left to protect to meet its conservation goals of 30-percent by 2030.

Read more about the issue here.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

A breakthrough in Adirondack land protection

follensby pond

The largest land protection initiative in the Adirondack Park in the last decade was announced on a virtual conference call last week.

The state is acquiring two conservation easements, including one on the famous Follensby Pond, from The Nature Conservancy for $9.3 million. About 14,600 acres will be protected overall. People have been waiting for some sort of news about this parcel since 2008 when TNC first purchased it.

The state is expecting to close on the easements in the spring, so we don’t have those documents for details. However, we learned that the state plans to mostly keep closed the 970-acre pond where Ralph Waldo Emerson and other philosophers camped. It will be open to researchers to study cold water fish and other climate-related questions. On Friday I spoke with Katie Petronis, deputy director of natural resources at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and she said there will be some sort of public access but DEC and TNC are still working out what that will look like. It could be an annual guided tour or some sort of programming with another organization.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Lawmakers want clean water funds

State Senate

Legislature

On Wednesday I attended part of the state Legislature’s joint environmental conservation budget hearing in Albany. State leaders and lawmakers cram the future of New York’s agriculture, parks, environment and energy into one day. You can watch the whole 13 hours and 20 minutes of it on YouTube.

I’m unclear why the state doesn’t separate energy, the environment or agriculture into their own days. The sheer number of topics legislators fly through, however, provides a fascinating snapshot of what’s happening across the state.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 8, 2024

Wildlife crossing bill moves

A woman in a bike helmet takes a photo of roadkill

Legislature

The state Senate’s environmental conservation committee today [Feb. 5] passed a bill enacting New York’s Wildlife Crossing Act. It directs the state Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority to identify sites where wildlife crossings are needed. Federal funding may be used to build the top five projects the state agencies identify.

Check out my colleague Mike Lynch’s story about why creating different kinds of safe passages for wildlife is important at this link. 

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Upcoming budget hearings set for today, next month

Governor Kathy Hochul

Legislature

Hello, all. Some legislative dates that may be of interest:

  • Jan. 30 the state Legislature holds a joint economic development budget hearing;
  • Feb. 6 the state Legislature holds a joint local government budget hearing;
  • Feb. 7 the state Legislature holds a joint environmental conservation budget hearing;
  • Feb. 15 the state Legislature holds a joint housing budget hearing;
  • Feb. 26 organizations come to Albany for Adirondack Lobby Day.

For a full list of budget hearing schedules go to https://nyassembly.gov/Press/?sec=story&story=108807.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

A $233 billion proposed state budget

Cars parked on Adirondack Loj Road

Legislature

The state Legislature is gearing up for a marathon of budget hearings starting tomorrow and running through Valentine’s Day.

We’ll see if lawmakers add anything back into the already $233 billion budget that Gov. Kathy Hochul left out.

After Hochul’s budget speech last week, her team released budget bills with more details. In those we learned Clean Water Infrastructure funding was cut in half and there was no new money for the Timbuctoo Institute. But the North Elba town supervisor was happy to learn that the governor included funds for paving Adirondack Loj Road, a popular gateway to many High Peaks hikes.

Click here for a rundown of some of the executive’s proposals that will impact the Adirondacks.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 15, 2024

State of the State to budget

Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her 2024 State of the State address

Legislature

I was looking back at our coverage of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State speeches. During her first in 2022, she mentioned the Adirondacks in passing during her speech. In her accompanying agenda book, she made specific mentions of an Olympic Regional Development Authority venue and of managing visitors in the Adirondack forest preserve.

In 2023, there were no specific mentions of either the Adirondack or Catskill forest preserves in her agenda book, and no mentions of them in her speech. But she used the metaphor of climbing mountains in last year’s address and continued to use it this year. Before the Assembly chambers last week, Hochul made no passing mention of the Adirondacks and her agenda book included one mention of it.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 10, 2024

2024 legislative session

A senator and assemblyman

Legislature

Lawmakers are back in Albany for a busy session before November’s elections. We have a round-up of some of the bills and other forest preserve-related business we are watching here.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is set to deliver her State of the State address [Jan. 9] in the Assembly chambers. She revealed some of her priority initiatives in press conferences over the last couple of weeks. Some of them include more state investment in swimming opportunities, establishing paid prenatal leave, addressing how literacy is taught in schools and protecting consumers from unfair business practices.

» Continue Reading.



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