Almanack Contributor Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Behind the scenes look at the governor’s budget reveal

Gov Kathy Hochul, wearing red, at a podium

Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul presented her $227 billion executive budget in Albany. Here’s a little glimpse into how it all unfolds for reporters in Albany.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, January 30, 2023

New diversity director; outgoing APA commissioner

Tiffany Rea-Fisher is the new director of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.

The Adirondack Diversity Initiative has a new director starting next month, Tiffany Rea-Fisher. I spoke with her over the phone last week about her role as an area choreographer and her upcoming role at ADI. Rea-Fisher will take the helm after former Director Nicole Hylton-Patterson left in the fall.

I also spoke with members of ADI’s core team and staff with the Adirondack North Country Association, which houses the ADI program. There will be a push this state budgetary cycle for a $100,000 increase in what the state gave ADI last year ($300,000). You can read more about ADI’s new leader and the organization’s future in our story here.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Remembering Gary Lovett, forest expert

Gary Lovett, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, presents at an invasive species meeting in October 2022 in Blue Mountain Lake. Lovett died in December.

I’m sorry to report that Gary Lovett, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, died last month while cross country skiing in the Catskills. Lovett was a source I could often turn to about Adirondack forestry issues, and was most recently featured in our January/February issue for a story about hemlock woolly adelgid. I learned of his death this weekend from Mark Whitmore, of the New York State Hemlock Institute at Cornell University. Whitmore and Lovett had recently presented at an Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program summit on invasive species in October. Whitmore said Lovett’s “passing leaves a huge gap in New York’s scientific awareness of issues impacting our forests.”

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The State of the State

State Sen. Dan Stec, Shari Raymond and state Assemblyman Matt Simpson at a memorial service for fallen officers. Photo courtesy of Shari Raymond

Tomorrow Gov. Kathy Hochul will present her State of the State address, a blueprint outlining some of her agenda items for the year. We’ll be listening for any Adirondack Park mentions and reading through her State of the State book, which delves into more details on proposed projects statewide. (Editor’s note: This column originally ran in Gwen’s newsletter on Jan. 9. The story is now live here.)

Adirondack Park lawmakers are already slated to have important roles on certain legislative committees. State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, is the ranking minority member on both the environmental conservation and internet and technology committees. In a news release he said: “From protecting our unique natural resources to improving broadband access and other regionally specific issues, I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure state government takes action to improve our quality of life.” State Assemblyman Matthew Simpson, R-Horicon, was also appointed ranking minority member on the environmental conservation committee.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

A wrap up of 2022 policy news

Gov. Kathy Hochul celebrates the start of construction on the Champlain Hudson Power Express on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 in Whitehall. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig

The end of 2022 was busy with policy news as Gov. Kathy Hochul signed and vetoed remaining bills. On the afternoon of Dec. 23 she signed the 30-by-30 bill setting a conservation goal for the state to protect 30% of its lands and waters by 2030. You can read more on that here.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Great Sacandaga campground approved

An Adirondack Park Agency presentation shows the slice of a proposed campground in Mayfield that is located in the Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Park Agency gave its stamp of approval for an RV campground in the town of Mayfield at is monthly meeting last week. It also sent out to public comment plans for an expanded boat launch and a beach closure in Broadalbin, about seven miles from where the campground is planned.

The two projects brought up some interesting questions about the park’s boundary, which does not include the southern tip of Great Sacandaga Lake. You can read more about the projects and the Blue Line discussion here.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Champlain Hudson Power Express breaks ground

An indoor ceremonial groundbreaking for the Champlain Hudson Power Express in Whitehall. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig
Last week, about a couple of hundred people attended a ceremonial groundbreaking of the Champlain Hudson Power Express in Whitehall, including Gov. Kathy Hochul. Whitehall is just outside the Adirondack Park in Washington County. Its population is about 2,485. It’s the birthplace of the U.S. Navy and perhaps also known for its Sasquatch Calling Festival. The village has had its share of building and water infrastructure struggles. I’ve covered some of them in past newspaper jobs, but just this morning I received a New York alert from Whitehall’s department of public works about a water emergency, asking users to conserve water and to look for any signs of a major leak.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, December 5, 2022

An APA chairman’s legacy

john ernst

John Ernst has been chair of the Adirondack Park Agency for over a year now. I sat down with him and his wife Margot over the summer to see how his new role was going. We also talked about his deep family connection to the Adirondacks, which is how I learned that Ernst’s grandfather, a magician and the attorney for escape artist Harry Houdini, started the multi-generation treks to Elk Lake from New York City.

» Continue Reading.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Questioning APA transparency

roads in wild forest

The Adirondack Park Agency has received criticism for what some say is its lack of transparency regarding the release of old memos about questions staff have posed to commissioners that would interpret a cap on roads in wild forest areas. Commissioners made no determinations at the APA meeting last week, but staff hinted they could be looking for decisions, soon.

Here’s a reminder, quoted from APA Deputy Director of Planning Megan Phillips’s presentation, on the questions:

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

APA case spurs free speech question

On July 28, 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Lake Placid ahead of the 2023 FISU World University Games. Photo by Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Last week, voters approved a $4.2 billion environmental bond act and kept Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul in office. We took a look at how voters within the Blue Line cast their ballots. Adirondack Park residents heavily favored Hochul’s competition, Republican Lee Zeldin. They also had mixed voting on the bond act.

You can read our story here.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Bug battle on Lake George

A hemlock branch covered in the white masses of invasive hemlock woolly adelgid seen on Oct. 27, 2022 at Paradise Bay on Lake George. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig

We are getting to that time of year where you can more easily check hemlock trees for invasive woolly adelgids. The insects sprout white wool to keep them warm in the winter, which is easier to see than the black specks they tend to look like in the spring. Remember to flip the branches over to look.

It’s strange talking about aphids bundling up for the cold weather, though, when it has been such a warm start to November. Some of our local lilac bushes have budded, and my small vegetable garden rebounded with a few grape tomatoes–a tasty surprise, but unsettling. But back to the bugs.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Election Day is coming, and here’s a bond act breakdown

Funding left from the 1996 environmental bond act may build a new fish ladder on the Imperial Mills Dam so salmon may spawn upriver of the structure. Anglers would like to see the dam removed. Photo by Benjamin Chambers

Environmental Advocates Action released its scorecard of 2022 last week, ranking lawmakers on their environmental voting records.

State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, received a score of 47/100 and state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, received 59/100. In the state Assembly, Plattsburgh Democrat Billy Jones received a 63/100 while Horicon Republican Matt Simpson received a 34/100. You can view the full scorecard here.

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Trees under threat

blue mountain lake

There were very few pops of bright color on Blue Mountain Lake last week now that we are past peak leaf season. Zach Matson and I were out there last Wednesday listening to the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program’s speakers on invasive species. We are working on stories in our next issue of the magazine about some of the different forest pests and what is being done about them.

In case you missed it, Mike Lynch had a story up online today about beech leaf disease, another kind of threat to trees that was spotted this summer in the southwestern Adirondacks. Read that story here.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Report: NY has more work to do to be more inclusive, accessible


The New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition and the Open Space Institute released a report on how the state needs to do more when it comes to making open spaces and parks more inclusive, equitable and accessible. This issue was part of our solutions reporting on how to make sure the Adirondack Park is welcoming for all people. You can see our series on solutions to visitor management here:

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

APA transparency updates and autumn blazes

autumn blaze

Owl Head Lookout. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig

The Adirondack Park Agency will not be meeting this week, “due to no agenda items that require board action,” according to its website. I do have some update to share with you about how the APA is running its public comments and hearings page.

Upon glancing at the APA’s website this morning, I do see that the agency will be holding a virtual training for commissioners on shoreline setbacks, which the public is invited to watch on WebEx. Got to the APA’s homepage for more info:

» Continue Reading.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox