Almanack Contributor Guest Contributor

Guest writer

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 editor@adirondackalmanack.com


Monday, November 8, 2021

Wild Center COP26 update from a youth delegate

cop26

The Wild Center has sent a 9-person delegation to Scotland for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, as well as pre-COP26 events. The Wild Center’s delegates will have a front-row seat as representatives from 197 countries seek solutions to mitigate ongoing effects of climate change.

Here is an update from Day 1 from Silas Swanson. Silas is studying earth and environmental engineering and philosophy at Columbia University, where he is a senior. He is the founder and head coordinator for the Columbia Youth Climate Summit, and a member of the Youth Climate Program’s Advisory Board. Silas has also worked as a research assistant at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Columbia Electrochemical Energy Center. He also served as president of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association, and is a former student mentor for the Green Schools Alliance.

Pictured here: Silas speaks on a panel in the Blue Zone about the need to scale up Youth Climate Summits and their impact in order to meet the goals of COP26

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

We’ve hit the ceiling on short-term rentals

housingBy Mary Brophy-Moore

I find myself frustrated by the ballooning trend in the Adirondacks, including the Town of Webb, whereby local family homes in once stable neighborhoods are being bought up by out of towners looking to make a killing on short term rentals.

As a resident since 1986, I’ve watched the housing market move steadily upward in terms of new builds and values. In the early 2000’s, especially after 9-11, there was a strong uptick in neighborhood homes being bought by down-staters presumably to have a place to escape the cities and feel safe. That created “dark” spots in previously year-round neighborhoods. But locals at least knew who their neighbors were even if their presence was sporadic. A direct result of the demand was a significant increase in property values that led to the current housing crisis in which locals are unable to afford homes of their own and fewer quality long-term rental units are available. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

ANCA’s Center for Pandemic Response (CPR) helps businesses thrive post-COVID

By Zach Hobbs, Center for Pandemic Response Outreach Coordinator, Adirondack North Country Association

CPR home officeIn graduate school, I studied the concept of risk and resilience as it relates to the development of children and young adults. Put succinctly, the healthy development of humans is slowed by risk factors and promoted by resilience factors. Understanding these factors allows us to address risks and encourage resilience, either generally or in very specific ways.

This rather academic concept was far from my mind 19 months ago when my boss, in another city and in a different capacity, called me across the office for an unscheduled meeting. A growing global concern over a mysterious virus meant we needed to press pause on big ideas and major projects and prepare to respond to a looming crisis.

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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Funding for Sustainable Adirondack Trails is Needed

sustainable trails

By Charlotte Staats, Adirondack Council

The overuse crisis is no secret in the Adirondack Park. While it has been building for years, the global COVID-19 pandemic sent residents and visitors to the woods in unprecedented numbers, seeking exercise, solace, and connection to nature. The physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors have been well documented; and generally speaking, a growing hiking community is a plus for public health, local businesses, and our collective societal wellbeing.

Here’s the drawback – trails in the Adirondacks were not built with a sustainable design in mind, nor to withstand current levels of use. As a result, Adirondack trails are suffering from trail degradation that impacts natural resources, human safety and the wilderness experience. There’s a solution, and it requires state action and dedicated resources.

» Continue Reading.


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?

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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.



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