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.
I recently walked the stretch of the Remsen to Lake Placid Railroad corridor from where it crosses the Old Military Road near the firehouse in Lake Placid to where the Scarface Mountain hiking trail crosses the tracks. It’s a bit over four miles. The rails have been removed, and there were small piles of them stacked on the rail side, and many of the ties were loose. There were steel plates that held the rails to the ties and lots of railroad spikes were strewn on the disheveled ties. The removal of the steel rails is the first stage of the transformation of this long-defunct railroad into a public multi-use recreation trail.
The railroad corridor is thickly forested, mostly typical northern upland forest at the Lake Placid end, but cuts through boreal habitat and wetlands with some stands dominated by red pines. The rail corridor shares space in this stretch with the utility lines to Lake Placid. The poles have all been recently rebuilt and the new fiber optic line hangs on them.
In the days before the riots at our nation’s Capital that temporarily stopped certification of Joe Biden’s election as President, I wrote a piece for the Almanack detailing all the ways that our Adirondack and North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik had lied to her constituents about the 2020 election. Then, after the rioters were cleared from the Capitol on January 6th, which included dead bodies, Elise Stefanik took to the floor of the House of Representatives and lied some more.
This article concludes the series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that provides ideas for building a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on the realities of turning the ideas in the HPAG report, many of which have been around for years or are already in the works, into on-the-ground realities in the management of the HPWC. This piece looks at how to evaluate the success of the ideas enumerated in this report through adoption and implementation of leading ideas in the short-term and long-term.
The report was greeted warmly by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement “I commend the efforts of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group in developing this important report which provides solid recommendations to further enhance our ongoing efforts to manage use and protect our irreplaceable natural treasures.… With the growing uptick in visitors to the High Peaks region, compounded this past summer by New Yorkers desperate to get outside as a respite from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that DEC and our partners work together to protect these irreplaceable lands for future generations by promoting sustainable recreation, supporting local communities, and improving the visitor experience, and we look forward to working with all partners to continue and expand our ongoing efforts.”
This is the sixth article in a series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on the ideas cataloged in the last two parts of the report “Hamlets as Hubs” and “Stabilizing Financial Support.”
The “Hamlets” section attempts to lay out ideas for how communities that are overwhelmed by people seeking to hike in the High Peaks can better manage the associated impacts, such as the Town of Keene, and how other communities can attract more visitors, such as North Hudson and Newcomb. Adirondack communities unevenly experience the impacts of the hiking surge in the High Peaks and other parts of the Forest Preserve. The “Hamlets” section is one of the biggest sections in the HPAG report. It includes 30 recommendations for action, more than a dozen alone to manage human and animal waste better.
This is the fifth article in a series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “Public Safety, Transportation and Traffic Safety” section of the report.
A high priority in reformed High Peaks Wilderness management is improvements to the ad hoc parking situation that has grown worse over the years and is stressed to breaking during periods of intense use all along the north side of the High Peaks Wilderness. Good public access with a coherent trailhead parking plan is as important as sustainable trails, science and monitoring, and higher levels of professional staffing to significantly improve the management of the High Peaks Wilderness Complex in the years ahead.
Recruitment of new people to live in Adirondack communities is all the buzz. It’s a central focus of the Common Ground Alliance, which contracted for a plan of action for communities with ambitions to recruit more people to move here.
While Adirondack communities recruit young professionals after ages 35 and 45 years old in low numbers and retirees in higher numbers, a premium has been placed on recruiting young adults with young children or young adults who may have children once they move here.
The push for recruitment of new residents is not just an Adirondack thing; it is now in vogue all across Rural America. Many rural areas see recruitment opportunities after a full year of the COVID19 pandemic.
When thinking about and planning for population recruitment in the Adirondacks, local leaders and planners should be aware of five dominant trends that shape population dynamics in the Adirondacks and Rural America.
This is the fourth article in a series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “High Peaks Wilderness Trails” section of the report. A focus on hiking trails in the High Peaks is vital, as in many ways, it’s the condition of the trails that ties together other management efforts.
As with other sections of the HPAG report, the recommendations on trails require significant new investment by the state on a sustained, annual basis to make progress. Trail work success in the High Peaks, given the challenges of the terrain and the heavy use, is measured in feet, not in miles. There are roughly 200 miles of formal trails in the HPWC and another 100 miles of herd trails for the so-called “trailless peaks.” Perhaps, more than any other area in the HPAG report, the measurement of its traction and impact will be seen through a change in trail work scope and intensity.
This is the third article in a series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “Visitor Experience” section of the report.
HPAG’s recommendations will require a significant investment in state resources on an ongoing basis and additional staffing to improve the management of the HPWC by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). HPAG recommends a long-term, broad-based advisory group to help coordinate management reforms. Without greater funding, enhanced staffing, and a management committee to lead the process, many of the HPAG report ideas will rust.
The Visitor Experience section is a big part of the HPAG report. I count 35 separate recommendations, some that try to breathe new life into dormant actions from existing Unit Management Plans (UMPs), others that spotlight ideas that have been in the wind for a while, and others that try to introduce new and different management options.
This is the second article in a series examining the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex. This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “Impacts to Wilderness and Ecology” section of the HPAG report. It’s important to note that the recommendations discussed below are predicated on the state embarking on a “secondary planning process” that HPAG recommends be organized by some kind of formal, longstanding “Adirondack Advisory Group” (AAG) that is named by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). This advisory group is central to the HPAG report. Without it, the plan dissolves.
HPAG envisions that the AAG membership includes a much broader Adirondack-wide representation than that of the HPAG. This diverse, multi-stakeholder group is supposed to carry forward the report’s recommendations in coordination with state agencies but at the same time remain independent so that it can hold state agencies accountable. HPAG wants this group staffed and funded. That’s a pretty tall order in Cuomoworld.
The eagerly awaited final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group (HPAG) is out. It was worth the wait. The report is ambitious and thorough and comes at a point in time that could potentially mark a new beginning, where we’ll start to see a leavening in the overall management of the High Peaks Wilderness in particular and the Forest Preserve in general. Or, this report could be filed away to rust, lost to time. I hope that this report sees serious follow-up and implementation.
Bringing serious reforms to the management of the High Peaks Wilderness, and the Forest Preserve, is no easy task, but the HPAG report is the most serious blueprint we’ve seen since the days of the Pomeroy Committee and Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks the 1950s and 1960s.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is lying to us. There’s no other way to say it. Her preferred candidate lost the presidential election and now she is trying a variety of maneuvers, unseen in modern American political life, to undo the November 2020 presidential election. Elise Stefanik is willing to lie and cheat to steal this election away from Joe Biden.
On Sunday January 3rd, Congresswoman Stefanik released a video than ran 1 minute and 50 seconds to explain why on January 6th she will object to the votes of the Electoral College, certified by the states, that show Joe Biden lawfully won the presidency. Her video is amazing because in it she packs in five major lies. Real whoppers. In this video Elise Stefanik looks straight into the camera and with a big smile on her face she tells lie after lie. That’s a lot of deception in just 110 seconds.
Peter Hornbeck, founder of Hornbeck Boats and master boatbuilder of lightweight canoes and kayaks with a distinctive red stripe below the gunwales, famous throughout the Adirondacks and beyond, died quietly and unexpectedly at his home in Olmstedville on December 26, 2020, after a hike with his family.
Pete was a founding Board member of Protect the Adirondacks since 2009 and served on the Board of the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) before that from 1993 to 2009, serving eight years as the Chair. Pete was an unwavering advocate for the public Forest Preserve, especially on the need for more Wilderness lands in the Adirondack Park. Pete died at 77 years old. (Editor’s note: We posted this article about Pete on Adirondack Explorer’s website last night.) » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) was rocked last week with the sudden resignation of Chad Dawson, who served as one of three APA Board members from outside the Adirondack Park Blue Line. Dawson is a Professor Emeritus at SUNY ESF, who not literally, but actually, wrote the book on the management of Wilderness and public lands. See Wilderness Management: Stewardship and Protection of Resources and Values (4th edition). Though Dawson was an authority on public lands management and is recognized widely across the U.S. as an expert, few at the APA and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would listen to him.
Dawson took words on paper seriously, especially the words of the APA Act and Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. One such case was where the Master Plan calls for carrying capacity studies on public water bodies during the development of Unit Management Plans (UMPs), a clause that the DEC has long refused to acknowledge and fulfill. The APA has never tried to uphold this requirement. At deliberations over UMPs in the last four years, Dawson would point to this section of the Master Plan and he would be met with yawns from other APA Board members that the APA has never asked for these studies before, so why start now.
In June, the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, based at Fort Drum in Jefferson County, released a draft programmatic environmental assessment titled “Fort Drum 10th Mountain Combat Aviation Brigade and 10th Sustainment Brigade Mission and Training Activities” that outlined ambitious “air and land-based training activities” to possibly take place across nine counties in Upstate New York, including four (St. Lawrence, Lewis, Oneida, Herkimer) that are partially within the Adirondack Park, and two (Hamilton, Essex) that are entirely within the Adirondack Park Blue Line. (Henceforth the Programmatic Environmental Assessment will be referred to as the “PEA”).
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