Almanack Contributor Guest Contributor

Guest Essayist

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]


Saturday, September 11, 2021

My Loon Friend: A Story of Trust and Healing 

loonBy Ronni Tichenor 

We have a camp on the south shore of 4th Lake, in the Fulton Chain, and early one  morning in August, I was on our dock practicing my yoga. I was about to release my Down Dog  position, when movement on the water caught my eye. It was a loon, less than ten feet off the  dock, swimming slowly by. I froze, fearing that any movement would scare it and cause it to  dive, which meant I could not see very clearly because, in my head-down position, my hair hung  over my face. The loon appeared to have a fish in its mouth—but then I thought I could see little  legs on the side, so I said, “No—it’s a crawfish.” We had seen a couple of loon families in the  previous days, so I thought the loon was delivering breakfast to someone. Once it had swum  away, my husband came down to the dock. He had been up at the house, watching from a  distance. “Wow,” he said, “that was so close.” We went on about our day—he went for a bike  ride, I went for a walk. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Adirondack Semester: A lifechanging, different kind of ‘study abroad’

By Zach Lawrence

I came to the Adirondacks when I was 12. It was much different for me back then, back before I had put down roots. I didn’t even really want anything to do with this place when I was that young. I had it in my mind that the park was cursed. It seemed to me that those who spent too much time inside the blue line were never truly able to leave. My grandparents were from the AuSable Valley. They had all left for long periods of their lives, traveling around the states at the military’s command. But they all ended up right back where they started. My cousins followed the same path, as did both of my parents. 

I grew up gallivanting around the Rocky Mountain states due to my father’s career in the Air Force. Montana to Wyoming to Colorado. All I had known growing up was wind and dust. Wind that would find its way under my skin and crack my hands. My knuckles split and bled and stung under the unceasing wind of the plains. Dust had a permanent place in my teeth and in my eyes. In the winter, the snow was no better. Dry as can be, I don’t think I ever was able to make a snowman. Champagne powder they called it farther west in the mountains, but where we were on the plains, it was nothing more than white dust. 

So after only living the dry life at 7,500 ft, the Adirondacks were the exact opposite of what I was accustomed to. I remember my first thought when I stepped out of the car at my grandpa’s place in Upper Jay. It felt like the air was sitting on me. It was August of 2012- the sun was high, and the humidity was higher. I was experiencing for the first time a weather phenomenon known by the locals as “muggy,” and I hated it. 

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Business ownership: the key to retaining a young population?

By Dana Bamford, ANCA 2021 Summer Fellow

Having grown up in suburban Boston, it was a real change moving to northern New York.

Not because of the swarming Yankees and Mets fans and not even because of the dreaded winters —  those I’ve had my fair share of in Boston. The biggest change for me was the shift to a more rural lifestyle.

Before moving up to the Adirondacks and working with ANCA this summer, I attended Colgate University, which is located in a pretty isolated location. At Colgate, I got used to driving an hour to the closest Target, or thirty minutes to the best ice cream spot. Thirty minutes to the nearest gas station, however, came as quite the shock despite my rural-life grace period at school.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Was the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Duped?

upper saranac

APA mandate is to “ensure compliance with the laws the Agency administers” including the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Act. Instead, APA did the exact opposite with a recent decision permitting the virtual destruction of a Category 1 Wetland- the highest designation for a wetland – on Lot 9, Deerwood, Upper Saranac Lake (USL). For no apparent reason, other than convenience of the new landowner, APA issued an amended permit.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, August 2, 2021

Sabotaging Trail Deal Was No Way to Protect the Adirondacks 

snowmobile trail

By Brian Wells 

This is a story that should have had a happy ending. 

A story of five Adirondack towns working with state government and environmental non-profits on an agreement to expand the taxpayer-owned Forest Preserve, improve public recreation and bring new economic growth to the area. 

The Community Connector Trails agreement would have helped turn the page on decades of Adirondack Region job losses brought on by industry disinvestment and Forest Preserve expansion, and established a model for the type of common-sense, compromise solutions needed for many problems confronting the Adirondack Park. 

Instead, it’s a sad story of misplaced trust and lost opportunity, ending with the towns and the people who live there getting left out in the cold. 

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 11, 2021

It’s Debatable: Should New York enforce boat inspections?

Adirondack Watershed Institute boat stewardEditor’s note: This “It’s Debatable” column is running in the July/August 2021 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine. Click here to subscribe. This issue’s debaters don’t fit neatly into the Explorer’s usual yes/no format, as both support inspections of some kind. We’ve attempted to frame the question in a way to reflect their nuanced views.

The question: Should New York enforce boat inspections?

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Coalition to launch referral system for patients with diabetes 

heart network logoBy Ann Morgan, The Heart Network

This July, the North Country Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition will launch a new referral system to link prediabetic and diabetic patients with local, evidence-based programs that can help them prevent or better manage their condition. The Heart Network sends its thanks and appreciation to members of the Coalition who have worked to develop this process, which providers can use to easily connect patients to these life-saving services.

One particular partner in this effort, NY Connects, deserves special recognition for agreeing to manage this new referral program.  NY Connects — a statewide directory of health, home care, transportation and other resources — will provide follow-ups to patients referred to help them understand community-based program options and get them enrolled.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A Conversation with Aaron Mair

Aaron MairBy David Crews

Aaron Mair of Schenectady, New York served as 57th President of the National Sierra Club. A retired epidemiological-spatial analyst with the New York State Department of Health, Mair’s experience includes more than three decades of environmental activism and over twenty-five years as a Sierra Club wilderness volunteer leader, where he has worked diligently for environmental justice. Mr. Mair recently joined the Adirondack Council to direct a “Forever Adirondack Campaign” to protect clean water, jobs, and wilderness. Editor and wilderness advocate, David Crews, had a chance to talk with Aaron about the inescapable mutuality of connection from Yosemite to the Hudson Valley and Adirondacks. This interview was previously published in Adirondack PEEKS, and is forthcoming in Wild Northeast (2021). (Reused by permission, thanks to John Sheehan at the Adirondack Council)

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 1, 2021

Upper Saranac coalition: APA ruling endangers wetlands

upper saranac In an unprecedented reversal of its prior position, the APA is amending a long-standing 1987 permit to allow a large private residential septic system to endanger to a rare bog and degrade Upper Saranac Lake water quality.  The APA has ignored their own 1987 permit requirements.

A coalition of conservationists, engineers, a wetland ecologist, and neighbors of a proposed development within the Class 1 wetlands on Upper Saranac Lake said today that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had, over the strong objections of environmentalists, engineers and local landowners, approved an amendment to an existing APA permit.  The amendment eases the restrictions normally required for wetlands, and for only the last lot of the Deerwood Subdivision. This amendment allows for an on-site septic system 100 feet from a stream that empties into the Upper Saranac Lake and from the rare Category 1 wetlands boundary.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Applauding the Plattsburgh Compact

The historic collaboration between the city and town of Plattsburgh — both anchors of the upstate New York economy — is a commitment by local and regional leaders to strive for transformational and generational change that creates harmony, prosperity and lasting impacts for the people and businesses of the greater Plattsburgh region and the North Country.

As community based nonprofit organizations, we applaud the groundbreaking Plattsburgh Compact. We recognize that this promise of collaboration goes deeper than the typical duties of local government, creating a tangible spirit of partnership through public service.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 6, 2021

It’s Debatable: Hiking permits

AMR lotEditor’s note: This commentary is in the March/April 2021 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine, as part of our “It’s Debatable” feature. In this regular column, we invite organizations and/or individuals to address a particular issue. Click here to subscribe to the magazine, available in both print and digital formats: www.adirondackexplorer.org/subscribe.

The question: Should the Adirondack Mountain Reserve require reservations?

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Is the Adirondack Park dying for recreational activities?

Class II Snowmobile connector trailBy Harsh Vaish, Skidmore College

The Department of Environmental Conservation – henceforth referred to as DEC – has been developing plans for major community connector snowmobile trails between Adirondack communities for a number of years. Protect the Adirondacks first sued the DEC in 2013, contending the trials cause significant environmental damage and violate the Constitutional clause for the ‘forever wild’.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, the environmental organization that sued to block the construction said the litigation is about Class 2 snowmobile trails and not hiking trails. He specifically called out the Adirondack Mountain Club and Open Space Institute’s concerns “specious claims.”

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tree cutting lawsuit: A timeline and background

Class II Snowmobile connector trailA timeline of events that lead to today’s court decision:

  • Protect the Adirondacks launched this lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency in 2013 alleging that Class II trails violated Article 14, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution due to excessive tree cutting and terrain alterations.
  • Protect the Adirondacks and its expert witnesses undertook extensive fieldwork in 2012-13 and in 2015-16 to document abuses to the Forest Preserve. Counts of over 16,000 tree stumps on Class II trails, with diameter measurements and GPS locations, including photographs of over 12,000 tree stumps, were made.
  • In the summer of 2016 Protect the Adirondacks obtained a temporary restraining order that stopped all tree cutting by the state on Class II trails after the first 34 miles of trails were in various stages of development. The DEC and APA had approved plans for a network of hundreds of miles of Class II trails in the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks.
  • In early 2017, a 13-day trial was held in state Supreme Court in Albany. In December 2017 the trial judge ruled against Protect the Adirondacks. In 2018, Protect the Adirondacks appealed to the Appellate Division, Third Department, which in a 4-1 decision overturned the lower court’s ruling in July 2019. In 2020, the DEC and APA appealed to the Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held in March 2021 at the Court of Appeals. Today, the Court of Appeals ruled 4 to 2 in favor of Protect the Adirondacks that the DEC and APA have violated the forever wild clause of the New York State Constitution.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Court of Appeals: Snowmobile trails violate state constitution

  • Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Protect the Adirondacks, Finds Cuomo Administration Violated Forever Wild Clause of State Constitution
  • The Cuomo administration’s plan to expand motorized use on the public Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks by building hundreds of miles of wide Class II snowmobile trails was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s highest court.
  • This historic decision will shape Forest Preserve management for decades to come.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, May 3, 2021

Poetry: Hermits

Hermits

Han Shan, Cold Mountain, that Zen sage

1200 years ago enjoyed a view from his cave

better than the Emperor saw when he

looked out his windows in the Forbidden City.

Han Shan also used–with the other monks

from the caves around his– a heated pool

at least four times a month.

Living in his own stench was not his style.

» Continue Reading.