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.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bauer: State Ignoring Lessons of Class II Snowmobile Trails

Public comments were illuminating at the public hearing in Raquette Lake on November 28th. Held at the Raquette Lake School, the hearing took comments on the state’s proposal to build a new 4-mile section of a 9-12-foot-wide community connector snowmobile trail through the northern edge of the Blue Ridge Wilderness Area where it borders NYS Route 28 between Raquette Lake and the Marion River Carry.

I attended the hearing and made comments. I was the only environmentalist among the crowd of 40 or so snowmobilers, local government officials, local residents and representatives of the NYS Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

School Closures in the Adirondacks and Rural America

NYS education at a glance courtesy NYS Education DepartmentOne refrain I have heard from Adirondack leaders through the years is that declining school enrollments across the Adirondacks, with particular emphasis on the closures of the Piseco School and Lake Clear School, show the overall decline of the Adirondacks as a viable social and economic region. Blaming environmental policies immediately follows these statements. I have always argued back that there are many factors that affect school enrollment levels and that the changes afoot in the Adirondacks are far less severe than the changes that are transforming vast portions of Rural America. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bauer: What Does The New State Senate Mean For The Adirondacks?

NYS CapitolOn Election Day in November 2018, voters across New York State voted for a new direction for the 63-member New York State Senate. With some races remaining close and needing to be finalized based on a count of absentee and provisional ballots, it appears that Democrats have elected 40 Senators and Republicans just 23. There is no way to overstate just what a sea change this is for New York State politics.

There is also no way to overstate the questions that this sea change raise for the Adirondack Park, which is cut up into four State Senate districts, each steadfastly represented by a Republican. These four Senators – Betty Little, Joe Griffo, Patti Ritchie and Jim Tedisco – led by Little whose 45th Senate District has the majority of the Adirondack Park, were members in excellent standing in the exclusive club of the Republican Senate Majority. With a membership of around three dozen they unrelentingly, efficiently and ruthlessly wielded power and thoroughly enjoyed their political spoils. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Bauer: Long Pond Easement Changes A Bad Deal

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently wrapped up a public hearing on proposed changes to the 18,950-acre Long Pond Conservation Easement located in the Town of Colton, St. Lawrence County. The state purchased this easement for $1.667 million in 1999 and the taxpayers of New York State have paid the state’s share of all local taxes on the property since then. The DEC held this public hearing because it wants to rewrite this conservation easement to allow 15 leased residential camps to remain on the property in perpetuity.

At the time that the state purchased the Long Pond Conservation Easement in 1999 there were six camps that were allowed to remain on the tract in perpetuity due to special deeded rights. At that time there were nearly three dozen other smaller hunting and fishing camps on the property that were grandfathered and given exclusive hunting and fishing rights for 15 years. The 1999 easement purchase included blanket public recreational rights, but they were deferred until 2014 to keep the peace among the club members and local politicians. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Gooley Club Buildings Removed At The Essex Chain

All of the buildings of the Gooley Club hunting camp on Third Lake on the Essex Chain Lakes have been removed. The site is cleared. The dozen or so cabins, the shower building, the main lodge clubhouse, the various storage buildings, and the network of docks are all gone.

Under the terms of the state’s purchase from The Nature Conservancy in 2012, the hunting camps and clubs on these lands were allowed to remain until the end of September 2018. Their last exclusive big game season was 2017. The Essex Chain Lakes Complex Unit Management Plan (UMP) called for the removal of the Gooley Club buildings once their term of exclusive use was up, but some members of the Gooley Club, along with allies at Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) and local government leaders, made a last stand to keep these buildings. They argued that the Gooley Club should stay and be preserved and maintained by the state as a kind of living museum of Adirondack hunting and fishing camp culture. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Cuomo Searches for New Chair of the Adirondack Park Agency

APA Building in Ray Brook NYThe Cuomo Administration is searching for a new Chair for the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The Governor appointed Karen Feldman, an attorney from Columbia County, who also has a home on Schroon Lake, as a Temporary Chair in July at the time the APA Chair Sherman Craig (Wanakena) resigned. Feldman is campaigning for her temporary status to be made permanent and she is currently Team Cuomo’s top candidate for the job.

The APA Chair is one of eight appointed Board seats where an individual is nominated by the Governor and approved by the State Senate. Under state law, five APA Board members must be full-time Park residents and three must reside in counties outside the Adirondack Park Blue Line. There can only be a maximum of five Board members from one political party and Board members serve 4 year terms, two of which expire each year and run in a continuous cycle. Under NYS law Board members can continue to serve in “expired” terms. New Board members are often appointed to partial terms. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Bauer: Poorly Designed Subdivision Proposed in Southern Adirondacks

Woodward Lake DevelopmentA new major subdivision project is under review by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). It’s the first to use the new application process developed by the APA earlier this year for large-scale subdivisions.

The project is shaping up as an important test drive of both the new review process and to see if the APA can convince a major developer that has undertaken a series of conventional checkerboard subdivision projects across New York to do business in the Adirondacks differently by utilizing land use development practices that protect open space and natural resources. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

20 Years After Canoe-In for Wilderness at Little Tupper Lake

Motorless lakes protest courtesy Nancie BattagliaWednesday marks the 20th anniversary of the Canoe-In for Wilderness on Little Tupper Lake. On August 15, 1998, over 300 people in over 200 canoes, kayaks, guide-boats, rowboats, and one small sailboat, rallied on the sloping lawns of the Whitney Headquarters on the shore of Little Tupper Lake and then paddled out onto the lake in a massive flotilla in the Canoe-In for Wilderness at Little Tupper Lake.

This event was the biggest environmental rally in a very challenging and divisive time in Adirondack Park history. Those who gathered that day were unabashed in their support for a Wilderness classification for the newly purchased Little Tupper Lake. A number of important motorless waters were created in the years after the Canoe-In for Wilderness. In 1998, there had not been a major piece of land classified as Wilderness since the late 1980s when the Blue Ridge and West Canada Lake Wilderness Areas were expanded around Cedar River Flow. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

National Changes Across Rural America Shape the Adirondacks

misleading county election mapOne of the most striking maps coming out of the 2016 Presidential election is the red-blue county map. Despite Clinton winning the popular vote by 3 million, the county map shows a sea of red across the U.S. as Trump won 2,632 counties and the country is flecked with blue dots in the interior and on the coasts where Hillary Clinton won 489 counties. In our part of New York, Trump swept everything north of the Mohawk River with the lone exception of Clinton County. He won Lewis, Hamilton, Fulton, and Herkimer counties by wide margins. Having poured over maps of Rural and Urban America in the last few years, the interesting thing to me is that the 2016 Trump victory map tracks closely to the rural-urban divide in the U.S. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Buildings on the Forest Preserve: Public Lodging Facilities

Buildings on the Forest Preserve are limited by state laws, regulations and policies to administrative and historic preservation purposes. The biggest looming threat to the Forest Preserve is the proposal to expand allowable buildings to include public lodging structures through some kind of formal hut-to-hut system.

The final report issued by Adirondack Community-based Trails and Lodging recommends four instances where Forest Preserve lands were included for “hut” locations as necessary stops for one of their proposed 59 hut-to-hut trips. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Buildings on the Forest Preserve: The Historic Classification

The management of historic buildings on the Forest Preserve has been a vexing issue for decades. State management has evolved over the years from a position of building removal to now accommodating historic buildings on the Forest Preserve through the creation of a “Historic” area classification.

The state has since built a policy of retaining buildings for public educational and historic preservation purposes. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bauer: Buildings on the Forest Preserve

The pressure by local governments and historic preservation groups on the state to keep the inner Gooley Club buildings shows some of the challenges the state has had in organizing a coherent management program for buildings on the Forest Preserve. This is not a new issue.

It’s been a struggle for decades. Different administrations have dealt with the issue in different ways over the decades; some making ad hoc choices with long-term implications for Forest Preserve law and policy, and others trying to sort out durable long-term solutions. This is the first of three articles that look in depth at the issue of buildings on the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Local Railroad CEO Seeks $5M Payday

In March 2016, Ed Ellis stood before the Warren County Board of Supervisors and said that there would be no oil tanker railcars stored in the Adirondacks.

He said it again and again as he pushed county leaders to authorize a new five-year contract to operate the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad (SNCRR). He gave the Supervisors his “word.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2017 Census Estimates Show Population Losses Upstate

Population-2010-2017-NYSThe US Census 2017 population estimates are out and 11 of the 12 Adirondack counties lost population. These estimates are based on samples and are not the comprehensive decennial censuses based on extensive surveys and counts. The next one is 2020. Nevertheless, the estimates are useful and in 2017 they show that 11 Adirondack counties are estimated to have lost a total of 16,263 people. These 11 counties started 2010 with a combined population of around 800,000 and dropped 16,000 to 784,000.

When we add Saratoga County to the mix of Adirondack counties, the results change somewhat. Saratoga was the only one of the 12 Adirondack counties projected to have grown, jumping by over 9,000, from 220,000 to 229,000 in those years. When we look at the total population of the 12 Adirondack counties, we see a net drop of over 6,000, from 1.02 million to 1.014 million. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Peter Bauer: Sporting Clubs, Hinchey Law, And The Forest Preserve

The State of New York continues to face the challenge of managing buildings on the Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park.

This has been an issue for decades and is now an even bigger issue at the inner Gooley Club, a complex of more than a dozen buildings, on Third Lake in the heart of the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive area. » Continue Reading.