Almanack Contributor Peter Bauer

Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Do The Fastest Growing U.S. Rural Counties Hold Lessons For The Adirondacks?

A previous article pointed out that from 2010 to 2020, 66% of the counties across “Rural America” experienced declining populations. These are counties much like those in the Adirondack Park. These counties cover 68% of the continental U.S. yet contain just 14% of the country’s population. Mild population loss in the Adirondacks is often held up as a uniquely Adirondack thing, in reality it’s widely shared throughout most of rural Upstate New York and across the majority of Rural America. Many questions arise from the 2020 US Census data. One question I’ve been asked: What can you tell us about the counties in Rural America that are growing, and do they hold any lessons for Adirondack Park communities?

Across Rural America, 662 out of 1,941 rural counties gained population, but for about a hundred of those it was growth of 1% or less. Let’s look at the top 25 rural counties in the U.S. that experienced growth from 2010 to 2020 to see if there is anything applicable to the Adirondacks and North Country?

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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Franklin County’s Proposed New Trail Plan Has Many Problems

Franklin County has proposed a new 500-mile “multi-use” recreational trail system that will crisscross the county. The County recently released a draft plan and received public comments through June 14th. The draft plan generated considerable opposition from landowners along the proposed motorized trail routes and from local governments who felt they had not been consulted on the trails slated to be opened through their towns.

While county planners claim that the proposed “multi-use” trail system will be “for recreational use by off-road vehicle (ORV), foot, bicycle, horseback, dog sled, and other outdoor activities,” the plan is heavily geared towards motorized uses by All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). Many landowners do not want to see the road where they live opened for ATV riding. Many already feel that illegal ATV riding in rural parts of Franklin County is out of control and they want no part of the County’s plans to stimulate even more ATV riding.

Click here to read comments submitted by Protect the Adirondacks.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, June 3, 2024

2020 Adirondack Population Trends Mirror Rural America

Conversation in the Adirondack Park has long been dominated by the belief that local land use controls under the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Act and the abundant public land mass in the Forest Preserve drive local population trends. This, of course, is a myth and not reality. There’s power in myths, and sometimes there’s truth in myths, but mostly there’s a lot of myth in myths. There is nothing unique or locally-inspired about the population trends in the Adirondack Park and North Country. No matter how much one may dislike the 52-year-old APA land use controls or the 139-year-old Forest Preserve, the population trends playing out today in the Adirondack Park and North Country are the same as those playing out across the great majority of Rural America.

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

2020 Census: National Drop In Numbers Of Children

The US Census recently released more in-depth 2020 population data with full age ranges and an assortment of other demographic data. The 2020 Census was historically late, given the COVID-19 pandemic and other administrative problems. Comparing the 2020 data with 2010 gives us a window into the realities and challenges for communities throughout the Adirondack Park, Upstate New York, and Rural America.

In 2020, the US Census found that New York State grew by 4.2%, gaining over 800,000 new people, increasing from 19,378,102 to 20,201,249. This followed a decade of official Census estimates about population loss in New York that proved to be false. This gain was also against a trend where half of all counties across the U.S. lost population, something that had never happened before in American history.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Constitutional Amendment Needed To Re-Purpose The 3 Closed Prisons In The Forest Preserve

There are now three decommissioned State correctional facilities on Forest Preserve lands. Two are within the Adirondack Park and one is outside the Park on Forest Preserve lands in Saratoga County. The three closed prisons are Camp Gabriels Correctional Facility in the town of Brighton, Franklin County; Moriah Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in the towns of Moriah and Elizabethtown, Essex County; and Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in the towns of Corinth, Moreau and Wilton, Saratoga County.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Pass The New York Wildlife Crossings Bill

The New York State Senate just passed the New York Wildlife Crossings Act (S.4198A/A.4243A) by a landslide margin of 55 yeas to 4 nays. This bill enjoyed widespread and bipartisan support from all corners of New York State. Senator Dan Stec, Republican from Queensbury, who represents much of the Adirondack Park, was one of just four members who voted no. Senator Stec was also the lone “no” vote in the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee that had earlier voted 9-1 to approve this bill.

This legislation is sponsored by Senator Leroy Comrie and Assembly Member Robert Carroll, and directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to identify sites along highways, thruways and parkways in the state where wildlife crossings are most needed to increase public safety and improve habitat connectivity. This legislation enjoys broad, popular support across the environmental community. It’s now time for the State Assembly to follow suit and pass this bill. Two key North Country Assemblymembers, Billy Jones, Democrat from Franklin County, and Matt Simpson, Republican from Warren County, support this bill.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What’s Happening With The 2013 NYCO Amendment?

In November 2013, New York State voters narrowly approved an amendment to the Forever Wild clause of the New York State Constitution granting a private company, NYCO Minerals, Inc. (NYCO), permission to conduct mineral exploration in a 200-acre portion of the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

The NYCO amendment was opposed by Protect the Adirondacks and many others because it granted, for the first time, a private company the ability to exploit public Forest Preserve lands for profit and because the amendment completely undermined the classification of the affected lands as Wilderness, which is the most protective Forest Preserve classification established in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. PROTECT also opposed the amendment because it had no sunset provision, meaning that the mineral exploration authorization was granted to NYCO in perpetuity.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Nuances Among North Country Voters In 2022

As we look ahead to Election Day 2024, it’s worth looking at the nuances of 2022 voting patterns across the Adirondack Park and North Country. 2022 saw a number of different candidates on the ballot and a close look at these races shows varying levels of enthusiasm for candidates of the same party and some apparent ticket splitting. Beyond the normal Republican-Democrat divide, the ballot question for the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act showed even more nuances among North Country voters. Far from a monolith or a one-party state, the North Country shows differences across its communities and the candidates they back.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

State Agencies Have Clear Authority To Act On WhistlePig Whiskey Fungus Pollution

In March, Protect the Adirondacks called upon the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to launch enforcement investigations into an invasive “whiskey fungus” in the Mineville area in the Town of Moriah, Essex County. The Adirondack Explorer reported that DEC has demanded that WhistlePig Whiskey submit plans for mitigating “the effects of its operations on neighboring properties” by April 20th. WhistlePig Whiskey owns and operates a warehouse facility in Mineville that is the apparent source of vapors that create what’s come to be known as the whiskey fungus that has coated homes in the area with a slimy black mold-like fungus.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Hard Times For Bobcats In New York State

These are hard times to be a bobcat in New York State. The state’s annual bobcat hunting season just ended, which runs in the Adirondacks and Catskills for nearly four months from October 25 until February 15. Bobcats are an important species in Upstate New York ecosystems because they are predators of rodents, squirrels, snowshoe hare, rabbits, and deer. New York’s bobcat hunting season is one of the longest among states in the Northeast, and there are no limits on how many bobcats an individual hunter/trapper can kill in a season. Bobcat hunting in New York was historically largely focused on the Adirondacks and Catskills and upper Hudson Valley. In 2013, it was expanded into parts of central New York, the Southern Tier, and the lower Hudson Valley, with a shorter 3- to 4-week season.

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Essex & Saratoga Counties Have Picked The Winner In The Last 7 Presidential Elections

2024 is a Presidential election year. It’s worth noting that we’re seeing something highly unusual in American life in the Adirondack Park and North Country. Two of our counties, Saratoga and Essex, are among a handful of counties of more than 3,100 counties across the United States to have voted for the winner in each of the last seven Presidential elections from 1996 to 2020. Given this winning streak, we may not want to fixate as much on national polls, election models, or different theories of election or voter or demographic trends, but perhaps we should just watch what happens in Essex County and Saratoga County. This string of picking winners is uncanny in modern American life, dominated today by intense political partisanship and geographic sorting of people into landscapes and communities with broadly consistent “red” or “blue” politics.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Incredible Shrinking Adirondack Park Agency Board

When the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) was created over 50 years ago, it was at the forefront of environmental protection and regional land use regulation and planning for the Adirondacks, New York State, and the United States. The APA was established to “insure optimum overall conservation, protection, preservation, development and use of the unique scenic, aesthetic, wildlife, recreational, open space, historic, ecological and natural resources of the Adirondack park.” No small task, for sure. The APA Board, made up of eight individuals nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate and three representatives from state agencies, has “responsibility for developing long-range park policy in a forum reflecting statewide concern.” The APA, led by its Board, is supposed to be the lead agency for planning in the Adirondack Park and is supposed to oversee the management of the Forest Preserve.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Mysterious Case Of The Disappearing Adjudicatory Hearing

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) was created by the Adirondack Park Agency Act (APA Act), which also established the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan (Development Plan) and gave the APA the responsibility for administering and enforcing the Development Plan. The APA implements its statutory responsibilities through its regulations and a series of policies. These regulations and policies establish the standards for how the APA implements the APA Act and reviews development projects in the Adirondack Park.

One part of the APA Act that has seen major changes in recent years is the strange and mysterious case of the disappearing formal adjudicatory public hearing as administered by the agency. There have been no changes the APA law, regulations, or policies, but the APA has made major changes to how it implements this part of its law, nevertheless.

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Opposition Grows To The Proposed Debar Lodge Constitutional Amendment

Through most of the last few years, Protect the Adirondacks stood alone in its opposition to the proposed amendment to Article 14, Section 1, the famed Forever Wild clause of the New York Constitution, to privatize and remove six acres from the Forest Preserve at the north end of Debar Pond. The affected lands provide the best public access to a popular beach and canoe launching area on Debar Pond in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest area and include some decrepit buildings that should be demolished and removed around the boarded-up Debar Lodge. Protect the Adirondacks has made the case that the Debar Lodge site should be reclaimed and restored to a wild forest setting and the site should remain highly accessible and easy to reach for swimming, hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, and camping, and be a place that can grow wilder each year and one day be like another Lake Lila.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Protect the Adirondacks Releases New Report On NYS “30 by 30” Law

In 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the “30 by 30” law that establishes a conservation goal for New York State of protecting 30% of the State’s “lands and inland waters” by the year 2030. This landmark environmental protection legislation enjoyed broad bipartisan support, passing the State Senate by a vote of 58 to 3, and the State Assembly by a vote of 137 to 8. The 30 by 30 law commits New York to do its part to reach a similar national goal established by President Joe Biden in 2021, to protect 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030, and is a major step forward to protect New York’s open spaces, forests, and wetlands, which are cornerstones of the State’s long-term climate resilience and mitigation efforts.

Protect the Adirondacks released a new special report 20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act that assessed the level of protected lands and waters in New York State in 2023, the types of lands protected, what constitutes protected lands, and the amount of land that needs to be protected by 2030 to reach the goal of protecting 30% of New York State’s lands and waters as set out in the 30 by 30 Act. The new report also lays out recommendations for needed actions by the State of New York and includes tables for all 62 counties that details the types of lands and total acreages currently protected in each county.

» Continue Reading.