John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.
John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.
John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.
Two Adirondack conservation groups, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Protect the Adirondacks! (PROTECT), have won an important round in a lawsuit to force the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to classify a state-owned wilderness canoe route in the heart of the Adirondacks. According to the local conservationists their lawsuit challenges the failure of the state to classify the waters of Lows Lake and other water bodies at all and is not challenging a particular classification determination.
State Supreme Court Justice Michael C. Lynch denied the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against APA and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to a press release issued Friday, “the groups brought the lawsuit because of APA’s failure to classify the waters of Lows Lake and nearby water bodies. The groups assert that state law requires the state to classify state-owned water bodies that are part of the Forest Preserve.” » Continue Reading.
Despite undeniable proof that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) almost never denies a permit, the usual anti-APA folks are currently rallying once again for another push against the regional planning and zoning board that has kept the Adirondacks from looking like a suburb of the Northeast megalopolis for more than 30 years. It’s time for those who support reasonable and responsible development in the Adirondack Park to step forward and let their voice be heard.
In case you went to the lobby during intermission, here’s a review of the cast of leading characters: Maynard Baker: Despite his failed leadership that left Warrensburg perhaps the most poorly developed village in the Park – a virtual wreck of its former self – Maynard Baker persists in his angry denunciations of anything even approaching planning, zoning and smart development. Baker is the scariest of the cast, having once started a fistfight during the Battle of Crane Pond. His latest approach has been lawsuits, and threats of lawsuits. Most recently he is attempting to argue in court that veterans cannot access the Park. On Monday, Baker called the APA “terrorists” securing for all time that this guy is a dangerous demagogue.
Will Doolittle: Despite serious questions about his motives with regards to his reporting about the APA (detailed here, here, and here), Will Doolittle has started another campaign in the pages of the Glens Falls Post Star. That’s the same Post Star that called for the abolition of the APA in an editorial during Doolittle’s last round of APA attacks. You’d think that when your motives are questioned so seriously regarding your reporting of a particular subject, you’d leave those stories to someone else. Not Doolittle, apparently he and his bosses think it’s entirely appropriate to continue to put an anti-APA reporter on the job to cover the APA.
Kim Smith Dedam: One of only two women in the cast (Carol LaGrasse and her one-woman Property Rights Foundation of America is the other), Kim Smith Dedam is the Plattsburgh Press Republican‘s answer to accurate and judicious reporting of the APA and smart development in the Adirondacks. Her outright false claims, apparently designed to foster her agenda, are awful legend. Kim Smith Dedam can always be counted on to tell the story of development in the Adirondacks to the benefit of her handlers. Check out two stories that read like press releases: “Tupper Lake project projected to create 584 jobs” and “Veterans sue for seaplane access to Adirondack lakes.” Floatplane ban supporters? Kim Smith Dedam doesn’t think they’re necessary in a story about the ban on floatplanes, but that’s just one in what seems an unending litany of slanted stories about development issues in the Adirondacks.
Fred Monroe: When it comes to one-man bands, Fred Monroe plays the loudest. Overseeing the demise and awful strip development of Chestertown as the Supervisor of the Town Chester is not enough for Monroe, so he also collects a paycheck as the Chair of the economically challenged Warren County Board of Supervisors and a paycheck from bankrupt New York State as the voice of the anti-APA Local Government Review Board. That’s right, Monroe is paid by the Town, County, and State government – after a raise he gave himself last year, that’s more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded salary. It’s no wonder that while he’s content to serve as a mouth-piece around the state for anti-APA activities and as the go-to guy for his media buddies, he came out last year to say that no, he doesn’t want the APA dissolved. And why would he? He’d be out of a job heading a one man (and one wife) tax supported board whose main focus has been to fight another tax funded board. That is the goose that laid the $100,000 egg.
Podskoch’s endeavor to chronicle the history and lore of each of the nearly 60 Adirondack fire towers deserves a spot on the shelf of not just those interested in the history of the Adirondacks (where it’s an essential volume), but also those with an interest in the history of forestry, conservation, wildfires, rural labor and community life in remote places. Podskoch’s extensive interviews with those familiar with the towers serves as an important Adirondack oral history of New York’s leadership in wildfire suppression. » Continue Reading.
“Although global in scale, the impact of climate change will be felt, and its effects will need to be fought, at the local level.” That simple truth – that the climate is changing, that we’ll feel it, and fight it, here in the Adirondacks – is taken from the flap of the new book Climate Change in the Adirondacks: The Path to Sustainability by Jerry Jenkins (who is giving a talk on the book this Friday at 7 PM at the Northwoods Inn in Lake Placid).
The book is an extensive gathering of data on local climate change problems, and as importantly, what Jenkins calls “An Adirondack Strategy” that includes suggestions for moving from fossil fuels (coal and oil) to renewable energy (sun and wind). What makes this book so valuable is that Jenkins has crafted a readable and useful reference developed with local Adirondack conditions in mind: our excessive automobile and home energy use; the increasing loss of ice and snow cover and winter recreation businesses and facilities; the northern movement of the boreal forest and invasive species from the south; the loss of northern climate cultural traditions. “These losses will be extensive,” Jenkins writes. » Continue Reading.
I’m pleased to announce that Dave Gibson is the newest contributor to Adirondack Almanack. Dave 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. Beginning tomorrow he will contribute regularly around issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more. Dave has some unique historical connections to the Adirondacks. He’s part-owner of an Adirondack wilderness camp built by Paul Schaefer, a great 20th century Adirondack wilderness advocate and a Vice President of the Association. “Paul taught me a great deal about the Adirondacks, making a difference, and respecting all people concerned with the region,” Gibson told me. “He was also a great storyteller, and the extended Schaefer family is still very devoted to 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. » Continue Reading.
During Prohibition my great uncle Denis Warren, a veteran of some of the bloodiest American battles of the First World War, was left for dead on the side of Route 9N south of Port Henry. He was in the second of two cars of friends returning from Montreal with a small supply of beer.
Going through Port Henry customs agents gave chase, the car Denis was in hit a rock cut and he was badly injured. Figuring he was dead, or nearly so, and worried he would go to prison, one of Denis’s close friends rolled him under the guardrail, climbed into the other car, and sped off. » Continue Reading.
The Moose River Plains Wild Forest, sitting between Route 28 and the West Canada Lake Wilderness in Hamilton and Herkimer counties, is a bit of an Adirondack political and natural history wonder.
The gravelly, flat, grassy “plains” of the Moose and Red Rivers are a significant contrast to the rest of the Adirondack Park and one of it’s more unique (and popular) features. Although it’s hard to know for sure, indications from various studies and permit requests suggest that about 50,000 people use the plains each year (not including the some 500 campsites bordering the area, and the incidental use generated by those in the hamlets of Inlet, Raquette Lake and Indian Lake). “The Plains,” as the area is known, was also the site of one of the region’s legendary environmental conservation fights of the last 100 years. » Continue Reading.
Not the Johnny Weissmüller films, but one of the last scenes from the original book by Edgar Rice Burroughs in which Tarzan rescues Jane one last time by swinging through the trees – “with the speed of a squirrel” – the trees of Wisconsin. Yup. Wisconsin. In a forest fire. » Continue Reading.
The 740-mile paddling route known as the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge, the NFCT was just an idea in the late 1990s when two executives retiring from Mad River Canoe founded the nonprofit to establish the trail.
Kay Henry and Rob Center have spent their retirement bringing to life the long distance paddle route which opened June 3, 2006. The trail is marked with NFCT’s yellow diamond with blue lettering trail markers and includes 56 lakes and ponds, 22 rivers and streams, and 62 carries (totaling 55 miles). Portages, campsites, and access areas are marked on some sections of the trail. The NFCT includes more than 150 public access points, and more than 470 individual campsites on public and private land. » Continue Reading.
On Earth Day 1970, people around the country, mostly college students, demonstrated on behalf of environmental causes. Forty years later, the environmental movement has come into the mainstream and secured state and federal agency leadership positions. More importantly, the movement has significantly improved the quality of our rivers, lakes and forests and in doing so has provided for the proliferation of local wildlife. While there are certainly challenges that remain – invasive species, inappropriate development, toxic exposures, nitrate and storm water management, climate change, the plight of amphibians, migratory birds, and bats – the environmental successes of the last 40 years should not be underestimated. By and large, the first Earth Day was much like those that have followed: politicians, celebrities, concerts, environmental fairs, and the like. But Earth Day 1970 was a radical proposition in a time before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded, and before there were state sanctioned bodies like the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to protect the environment. At Boston’s Logan Airport, where a few hundred demonstrators had gathered in what a CBS reporter called a “thoroughly peaceful and non-disruptive demonstration”, police charged the crowd and arrested 13.
In the 40 years since that first Earth Day the Adirondack region has seen a revolution in the way we interact with our environment. Sure, we can point to the founding of DEC (1970), the establishment of the EPA (1971), the Clean Air Act (1970), and the Clean Water Act (1972), State Environmental Quality Review Act (1980), the Superfund Law (1980), and the Environmental Protection Fund (1993) but there has been a leadership revolution as well. Today, Pete Grannis, who was part of the first Earth Day demonstrations, is now the head of the DEC. Judith Enck, the state’s leading environmental activist in the 1980s, is now the Administrator of EPA’s Region 2.
Changes in the natural environment have been extraordinary. The Hudson River, once an open sewer where no one dared to boat, never-mind swim or fish, now bustles with recreation activities in summer. According to the DEC, the number of seriously polluted waters in the state has fallen by 85% and Sulfur Dioxide pollution is down by 90%, with a corresponding improvement in Acid Rain.
Successes we don’t typically consider include the closure of outdated and poorly located landfills (more than 100 in Adirondacks alone), the elimination of the tire dumps (including more than 27 million tires statewide), the cleaning up of Superfund and brownfield sites (1,800 statewide) and the thousands of water bodies large and small around the state that have been cleaned-up in the last 40 years through waste-water management.
We may not consider those victories as much as we should, but local wildlife certainly has. In 1970 there was just one occupied Bald Eagle nest in New York State, in 2010 there are 173. Eagles and other raptors we rarely saw in the 1970s and 1980s, birds like the peregrine falcon, are now fairly frequent sights; ravens and osprey have returned to the Adirondacks. Wild turkeys have exploded from about 25,000 in 2010 to 275,000 today, and so turkey hunting has returned to the Adirondacks. Native trout have been returned to more than 50 ponds according to the DEC, and the average number of fish species has increased by a third offering increased angling opportunities. Beaver, fisher, and otter have flourished in cleaner, more diverse waters and so trapping seasons have returned for those species. In 1970 there were no Moose in the Adirondacks, today there are 400 to 500 in the region.
Clean water, clean air, and open spaces were the demands at the first Earth Day in 1970. Those demands were met by legions of combative corporations, industry alliances, business groups, chambers of commerce and their attorneys. A look at a local paper on any given day shows that those battles continue, but 40 years has shown that the environmental movement has been an enormous success. Despite the attacks and “enviro-nazi” insults, the former hippies, political greens, organization environmentalists, and wildlife conservationists who have made up the environmental movement have much to be proud of.
Here are ten songs everyone with Irish aspirations should know, in no particular order. Learn these and you’ll never spend St. Paddy’s alone.
Whiskey in the Jar – This classic tune is believed to have originated in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Since then it’s by been covered by The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, Peter, Paul & Mary, Gerry Garcia and David Grisman, and Metallica. My favorite line: “I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier.” » Continue Reading.
Dannemora Prison (known officially as the Clinton Correctional Facility and the only maximum security prison inside the Blue Line) is the third oldest state prison in New York, and the largest, holding about 3,000 prisoners. According to the Great Wiki, inmates there have included Tupac Shakur, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Beat poet Gregory Corso, mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano, New York City Club Kid Michael Alig, Robert Chambers (the “preppy murderer”), Jesse Friedman (subject of the documentary Capturing the Friedmans), Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, Joel Rifkin, and a half dozen other serial killers. You can search for prisoners in Clinton, and New York’s other prisons here; there is a map of the state’s prison’s here. » Continue Reading.
Yesterday, Almanack contributor (and Adirondack Explorer editor) Phil Brown pointed out the existence of Special Management Areas at the back of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (pdf). The areas are broken into Scenic, Geographical, Historic, and Natural “Illustrative Special Interest Areas”. The historic list includes a sometimes strange selection of 14 places of special historic interest on state forest lands.
One thing for sure, this list is not complete. There are perhaps thirty important people who didn’t make this short list. Suggestions from readers on the original post seeking nominations offers a much more complete list of those influential in the Adirondacks, but I said ten, and so here is ten. I’ve listed them roughly chronologically.
Something I found interesting: five of these men (yeah, they’re all men) were born in the eighteen years between 1840 and 1858—an Adirondack Greatest Generation? » Continue Reading.
Fans of Adirondack history will want to check out the Adirondack Chronology. The Chronology is a project of the Protect the Adirondacks!’s Adirondack Research Library at the Center for the Forest Preserve in Niskayuna. The Chronology consists of a chronological listing of significant events (natural or human-made) over the years and centuries, back to prehistoric times, that have taken place directly in the Adirondacks or which directly impacted the Adirondacks. The document, available as an online pdf, stretches to more than 300 pages and covers everything from the Big Bang (15 billion years before present) to a sunspot cycle in 2012 and 2013 that is predicted to causing major impacts on global electronics. The Chronology also includes an extensive and useful bibliography of relevant sources.The Chronology is easily searched using the pdf search function, making it one of the most important documents for Adirondack history. » Continue Reading.
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