Almanack Contributor Peter Bauer

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 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 and two children, 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 Twitter.


Monday, January 23, 2023

DEC-APA Defy The Courts And Keep Unconstitutional Trails Open

It’s been nearly two years since the New York Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court, ruled that extra-wide Class II Community Connector Snowmobile Trails designed, approved, and constructed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) violate Article 14, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution, the famed the “Forever Wild” clause. The high court’s decision followed a decision in 2019 by the Appellate Division, Third Department, that Class II trails violate Article 14. The Court of Appeals decision came out in May 2021 and we’re now into our second winter where the DEC and APA continue to operate unconstitutional Class II trails as if the courts have not ruled against them.

Protect the Adirondacks is now back in court in an effort to get the state to comply with the appellate court decisions.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Russell Banks And The Frozen North

Author Russell Banks at his Saratoga Springs residence in 2008. Photo by Cindy Schultz, courtesy of the Times Union

The news of Russell Banks’s death reached me through a text from a friend. I then read his obituary in The New York Times. I knew  Russell Banks a little bit, but I had been a fan of his books since the 1980s when I was living in New York City, and a friend lent me a review copy of Continental Drift. I was blown away by the book but could not finish it before leaving for a trip west. I remember finding Continental Drift in a bookstore in Boston a few months later and read the last few chapters there. Continental Drift was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction but lost to Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Lame, Tired, And Wrong Blame-The-Park Editorializing Persists

In the Adirondacks, I thought we had moved beyond weak economic and social analysis that blames the Park for all of the problems and challenges facing Adirondack communities. I thought that many in the Adirondacks had looked at long-term national rural population and economic trends and learned that the issues facing Adirondack communities are the same issues facing Rural America – and that the first decades of the 21st Century in the U.S. have proved extremely difficult and challenging times for Rural America.

But I was wrong. A recent editorial in Sun Community News went in big with a blame-the-Park rant. Its editorial started out lamenting the closure of an Emergency Room at Adirondack Health in Lake Placid but then went all in on blaming the Park. Now, I live in a community in Hamilton County where we’re at least an hour’s ambulance drive from the nearest Emergency Room, so I get the concerns about the ER closure.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, November 18, 2022

DEC Illegally Rebuilt A Mile Of Road In The High Peaks Wilderness Area And The APA Swept It Under The Rug

A year ago, we published a piece in the Adirondack Almanack alerting the public to a weird incident where the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had worked for two years to tear apart abandoned logging roads on newly purchased lands at the south end of the High Peaks Wilderness, only to go back in with heavy machinery and start to undo their work and rebuild the road. Heavy rains last December limited how much of the road the DEC was able to rebuild before winter set in, but by our measurements they managed to rebuild 0.82 miles.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 16, 2022

Important NYSDEC Forest Preserve Management Reforms, Part 2

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for development of a “Visitor Use Management” Plan for the Central High Peaks Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park and the Kaaterskill Clove/Route 23A corridor of the Catskill Park. The RFP marks a major step forward in DEC’s efforts to evaluate and address a series of impacts to the natural resources, the visitor experience, and public safety due to high recreational use in these two popular destinations on the Forest Preserve.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Important NYSDEC Forest Preserve Management Reforms, Part 1

2022 may end up as the year where some of the most important reforms in Forest Preserve management were started, both in practice and in theory. Forest Preserve management reform has been a long time coming as the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is responsible for the care and custody of the Forest Preserve, has struggled for years with how to improve its overall management program. Small changes have been attempted at various points, but no major reforms have been successfully brought to the DEC’s Forest Preserve management.

As this fall’s Crayola crayon box colors blossom across Adirondack Park mountainsides, hillsides, and shorelines, reform is mixed in the air with the first autumn chills. This is the first article in a 3-part series that looks at nascent Forest Preserve management reforms underway at the DEC.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, September 26, 2022

NYSDEC Reverses Course, Now Calls The Cooperstown Wolf A Wolf

On September 21, 2022, after a second independent DNA study confirmed that the wolf killed outside of Cooperstown, New York, was really a wolf, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reversed course and announced that the wolf was indeed a wolf. DEC had been calling the Cooperstown wolf a coyote since it examined the dead animal in December 2021 and conducted a DNA study in early 2022. DEC publicly called the wolf a coyote in July in many news reports, after the release of an independent DNA study by Trent University in Canada, organized by the Northeast Ecological Recovery Society (NERS). The Trent University DNA analysis found that the Cooperstown wolf had 98% wolf genes.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

38 Groups Call On NYSDEC To Protect Wolves in New York

wolves

The plot thickens around the killing of an 85-pound wolf near Cooperstown in December of 2021 and the response by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Under state and federal law, a wolf that wanders into New York State is protected under the Endangered Species Act. The wolf shot near Cooperstown by a coyote hunter clearly enjoyed no such protections.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Review of the AMR Parking Permit System in Year Two

2021 was the first year of the new permit system at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) parking area and trailheads in St. Hubert’s, organized by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The permit reservation system is seasonal and runs from May 1st to October 31st. 2022 is year two. Last year I went through the system in its first month on a hike up Gothics Mountain and wrote a review about my experience.

This year, I went back on a summer weekend, a day I figured to be a busy weekend, on Saturday, July 9th, the height of the hiking season in the High Peaks. I’ve looked at the AMR reservation system as an important experiment in public use management in the High Peaks Wilderness, an area that has seen remarkably little experimentation over the years.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, June 13, 2022

2021 Forest Preserve Court Decision Has Far-Reaching Implications

Recent pieces in the Adirondack Explorer (see here and here) have attempted to assess the implications of the decision by New York State’s highest court in Protect the Adirondacks v Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency. The Court of Appeals found that these state agencies violated the state Constitution in their efforts to build a network of new extra-wide snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. These commenters have derided the decision because they say it’s focused on tree cutting, which they argue is a poor standard to evaluate the constitutionality of management actions by state agencies under Article 14, Section 1, the Forever Wild Clause.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

It’s Time To Work Out Cathead Mountain Amendment

Hamilton County has been trying to expand its emergency communications network for years. The county has dead spots for not only cell service but for its emergency communications system too, especially in the southern part of the county. The only viable option for the county, given the widely and most commonly used emergency communications equipment in New York State, is to expand its network of line-of-sight towers powered through utility lines, with emergency backups, and are accessible by motor vehicle for servicing. The south end of Hamilton County has limited police and EMT communications service.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Time To Pass A Constitutional Amendment For Van Hoevenberg

Protect the Adirondacks supports a proposed Article 14 Constitutional Amendment for the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex outside Lake Placid. At the Mt. Van Hoevenberg complex, the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) currently manages around 1,220 acres of Forest Preserve classified as Intensive Use by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). Abutting these lands is 319 acres of land owned by the Town of North Elba. Together this complex houses the Olympic bobsled and luge track, cross-country skiing and biathlon trails, and associated facilities, with most of the intensive buildings and facilities located on the town lands.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, March 25, 2022

DEC Needs To Conduct Nationwide Search For New State Forester

The current New York State Forester at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that he is retiring in April. This position doubles as the Director of the Division of Lands and Forests, and as such is the top public lands manager in the state, supervising the management of the 3-million-acre Forest Preserve, more than 750,000 acres of conservation easements, over 700,000 acre of State Forests, and thousands of acres of Wildlife Refuges and various other properties.

The current state Forester has held this position for a quarter-century, since being appointed during the Pataki years in the late 1990s. The Division of Lands and Forests at the DEC includes, among other things, the Forest Preserve Bureau, the center point for setting Forest Preserve policy and administering public use. Given the importance of this position at the DEC, the Hochul Administration and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos must conduct a nationwide search for a new State Forester and bring in somebody with broad experience and a strong track record in public lands management.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 21, 2022

New Political District Maps And The Adirondack Park

Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed redistricting legislation to create new districts for the 26 US House of Representatives in New York State, 63 State Senators, and 150 Assembly members. Redistricting is a process that occurs every ten years and follows the decennial US Census. The first elections for the new districts will be in June, when New York has a series of state and federal primaries, followed by the November 2022 general election.

Redistricting this year has changed things for the Adirondack Park in both subtle and substantial ways. Click here for a good interactive map of the current and new districts.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 10, 2022

No Major Changes for Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks

The current New York State budget being negotiated by Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature contains significant new spending on a number of things, like $29 million for a new headquarters for the Adirondack Park Agency, and a new $30 million building for the Olympic Regional Development Authority at the North Creek Ski Bowl, yet funding for Forest Rangers in the Adirondack Park and across the state is flat.

» Continue Reading.



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