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.


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.


Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Let’s Take A Look At An Adirondack Park Community Housing Act

The recent public forums organized by the Common Ground Alliance and the Adirondack Explorer shined bright spotlights on housing needs and challenges in the Adirondack Park. The various housing advocates and housing non-profit leaders who spoke at these events outlined the problems and challenges facing their work and Adirondack communities. Tim Rowland’s ongoing reporting on the Adirondack housing challenge for the Explorer (see here, here , and here for some good ones) has admirably gone deep into this issue.

The common denominator among advocates and in Rowland’s reporting points to inadequate public funds to deal with the issue, meet the challenge. With more money, it seems, many of the advocates and non-profits who work on this issue every day could bring more affordable/low income/work force housing onto the market. State funding is a big question now with the State’s projected $9 billion deficit and state leaders unable to develop a statewide affordable housing program. The various existing programs, spread widely across New York, don’t meet the current need, and are often a hard fit for small rural communities.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

25 Great Adirondack Hikes to See Fall Colors

North Creek, NY— It’s nearing peak fall colors in the Adirondack Park. There are many places to see the leaves as mountainsides and valleys turn bright orange, yellow, and red. Protect the Adirondacks has put together hiking guides to 25 hikes that are easy, moderate, and challenging, but lead to terrific locations to see the fall colors in all corners of the Adirondack Park. These guides include maps, information about hiking conditions, and pictures.

This list includes short, easy hikes of one mile or so, such as Azure Mountain, north of Paul Smith’s, Coney Mountain outside of Tupper Lake, Cook Mountain in Ticonderoga, Balm of Gilead outside of North Creek, the Bloomingdale Bog outside of Saranac Lake, Cobble Lookout in Wilmington, or Black Bear Mountain near Inlet and Old Forge.

Moderate hikes of 2 to 4 miles include Poke-O-Moonshine, Catamount Mountain and Silver Lake Mountain south of Plattsburgh, Haystack Mountain outside of Lake Placid, Owl Head Lookout near Elizabethtown, Goodnow Mountain in Newcomb, Moxham Mountain in Minerva, Hadley Mountain outside of Lake Luzerne, Five Mile Mountain north of Bolton Landing, or Owls Head Mountain in Long Lake.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Forest Preserve Work Plan Policy Codifies Important Reforms

Just after Labor Day, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finalized and released a new Forest Preserve Work Plan policy and template. This new policy,  Commissioner’s Policy 78, or “CP-78,” is the first significant change in Forest Preserve management resulting from Protect the Adirondacks’ legal victory in 2021. This lawsuit upheld and defended Article 14, Section 1, in the State constitution, the Forever Wild clause, which governs management of the Forest Preserve.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Carrying Capacity Study Needed For The Saranac Chain Of Lakes

Assessing the carrying capacity of specific areas of the public Forest Preserve, especially lakes and ponds, has been a requirement of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan for decades. Despite the plain language of the Master Plan, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has failed to complete any such studies for major lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has never pushed the DEC to complete these analyses, nor undertaken any on its own. This Master Plan requirement has been openly flaunted by both agencies.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 16, 2023

Governor Hochul Must Order The Release Of The Adirondack Road Salt Task Force Report

Road salt pollution in Adirondacks lakes has been well documented over the last three decades and spotlighted for political action over the last decade. Contamination of residential and small business drinking water wells in lands downslope of heavily salted roads have also been documented, and in some communities is on the rise. The much-heralded Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force was appointed in 2021 after legislation was passed to form it in 2020. This Task Force was created in honor of former Town of former Wilmington Highway Supervisor and Town Supervisor Randy Preston, who was outspoken about reducing road salt pollution.

The Task Force, led by Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Transportation (DOT), got off to a slow start with closed door meetings at first, followed by a few open meetings in 2022 after public criticism before it closed its door again to write its final report, which is now long overdue. At this point it appears that Adirondack Park communities will head into another winter without any meaningful actions to halt or mitigate road salt pollution.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, June 16, 2023

Mount Van Hoevenberg sees 1st passage of Article 14 constitutional amendment

In June, a draft Article 14 Constitutional Amendment was passed by both the State Senate and State Assembly to clean up violations at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Winter Sports Complex outside of Lake Placid. This draft amends the Forever Wild clause of the NYS Constitution. This amendment will clean up longstanding violations.

At the Mount 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) under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. State lands are bordered by 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.

Under this amendment, the state would be authorized to utilize 323 acres of 1,039 acres in the Mount Van Hoevenberg complex for a variety of winter sports activities and facilities, including trails, buildings, water lines, and parking lots, among other structures or facilities. Through an Article 14 amendment, the Mount Van Hoevenberg complex would be governed by the distinct terms just as the downhill ski areas at Whiteface Mountain, Gore Mountain, and Belleayre Mountain have been regulated by amendments.

» Continue Reading.



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