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.
Two major developments are occurring simultaneously with NYCO Mineral’s mining operation in Essex County.
First, state agencies are trying to rush approvals for NYCO to begin “mineral exploration” on 200 acres of Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness, known as Lot 8, an action that was narrowly approved in a Constitutional Amendment last fall.
Second, NYCO is also seeking a massive expansion of its Lewis Mine, which abuts Lot 8 and the Jay Mountain Wilderness. » Continue Reading.
Three major hotel projects are moving through the state and local regulatory processes here in the Adirondacks.
These projects include a top-to-bottom renovation and restoration of Saranac Lake’s iconic Hotel Saranac, a new 120-room Marriot Hotel and convention center in downtown Lake George, and the new 90-room Lake Flower Inn on the shores of Lake Flower in Saranac Lake.
As a package this marks one of the biggest investments in tourism facilities in the Adirondacks since the expansion of the Sagamore Resort in the 1980s or the expansion of the Crowne Plaza in Lake Placid in 2004.
Two of the projects are in line for significant state funding. The Hotel Saranac is approved for $5 million in grants and tax abatements and the Lake Flower Inn is scheduled for a $2 million state grant. » Continue Reading.
One persistent myth in the Adirondack Park population debate is that environmental regulations and the Forest Preserve drive young people out of the Adirondack Park. In certain quarters this is considered gospel in the debate over the future of the Adirondack Park.
The reality is that this myth is a myth.
A great tool is being offered by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who put together a fascinating interactive website with U.S. population emigration data 1950-2010. It lets one explore various population migration trends across the U.S. post World War II. The UW-Madison site helps us in the Adirondacks see how our demographic trends track closely to the rest of rural America.
Population decline in rural America has been driven by the loss of the rural manufacturing base that could not compete with cheap overseas costs. It’s been driven by the vast mechanization and contraction of the farm and logging work forces. For example, Iowa State University reports the number of hog farmers in Iowa dropped from 65,000 in 1980 to 10,000 in 2002, while the number of hogs per farm increased from 200 to 1,400. It’s been driven by the massive growth of online shopping and services (remember in the days before NetFlix when there were video stores in several Park communities). Government austerity programs don’t help rural areas either as public sector employment is always higher in rural areas as a total percentage of the work force. » Continue Reading.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing a new experiment trying to combine intensive public motorized recreational use and natural resource management. The DEC has released a draft Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Kushaqua Conservation Easement tract located in the Towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County. Throughout this tract, the DEC is proposing to open a number of roads to all terrain vehicles (ATVs).
The DEC went down this road once before in the mid-1990s when they opened scores of roads on the Forest Preserve to ATVs. Though official processes were not followed at that time, scores of roads and trails throughout the western Adirondacks were opened to ATVs. Trespassing in other areas was also widespread across the Forest Preserve. After extensive damage to roads, trails, and natural resources, the DEC and APA backtracked in 2005 and closed scores of Forest Preserve roads to ATV use.
At that time, public ATV use on the Forest Preserve was seen by many as an experiment that failed. » Continue Reading.
May 15, 2014 will see the beginning of a new mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program on Lake George designed to significantly reduce the risk of new aquatic invasive species (AIS) infestations. Each year, around 15,000 motorboats use Lake George, about 10,000 resident boats and around 5,000 transitory boats are trailered in from areas near and far.
Lake George is one of the most famous lakes in the eastern U.S., known internationally for its high water quality, clarity, and scenic beauty. This new mandatory boat control program will generate a lot of interest and help to raise the profile of bold, serious efforts to prevent the spread of AIS. » Continue Reading.
In 2014, global climate change denial not only persists, but is politically powerful and has effectively prevented the large-scale changes we need to start now to drastically reduce use and reliance on fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. We need to make this transition to avoid enormous negative changes that will make living conditions much more difficult in the decades ahead on a warmer planet.
Recently, Donald Trump, who tweets to about 2.5 million twitter followers, sent a message about the “global warming hoax” after he watched an NBC News report about the wave of current subzero temperatures in the northeast U.S.
There are a couple of things to note in this episode. First, Trump tweets to 2.5 million people, while climate change activist and author Bill Mckibben tweets to 111,000. Second, Trump distorts reality in a lazy self-referential way without looking at any evidence. Had he bothered to look at any easily accessible long-term temperature data, he would have found that in the past decade far more records (they ran 2-1 in fact) were set across the U.S. for all-time-high temperatures rather than all-time-lows. » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks has launched a new project Cougar Watch to record public sightings of cougars (Puma concolor) in and around the Adirondack Park. There are regular reports of cougar sightings throughout the Adirondacks, but there has not been a publicly available repository to record these sightings. PROTECT will work to organize and map these reports and provide regular updates.
The purpose of the Cougar Watch project is two-fold. First, there continue to be regular reports of cougars across the Adirondacks. Jerry Jenkin’s Adirondack Atlas features a map of cougar sightings on page 51. PROTECT will manage a database about all reports made available to us. We will investigate sightings that include information, such as pictures, pictures of tracks, scat samples, etc. Second, if there is a cluster of reports in a specific geographic area, PROTECT will work with cougar experts to try and assess the presence of cougars. » Continue Reading.
2013 was another watershed year in climate change news. The reality of life on a warmer planet was seen in a variety of ways. The reality of the inability of U.S. and international efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels was also stark as use continues to rise. Here are some new data points about life on a warming planet.
The year’s biggest news was made last summer when scientists at a Hawaii research station measured 400 ppm (parts per million) of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has famously called the 350 ppm carbon mark the safe zone for avoiding the worst of climate change impacts. Some terrific charts in The Guardian (probably the best news site for tracking climate issues) provides important context to carbon loading to the earth’s atmosphere. » Continue Reading.
The recent round of snow, ice and rain has provided a good opportunity to see the winter performance of the porous pavement used at the newly reconstructed Beach Road, on Lake George. In the last few days we’ve seen lots of black ice and freezing rain, but the porous pavement has been clear.
This road project is one of the biggest experiments in the northeast in stormwater management, but many also believed it will provide better winter driving conditions too. » Continue Reading.
Local government leaders in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have tried for years to rapidly expand the use of public roads and public lands for All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) recreational use. This has been controversial and has resulted in a series of legal challenges. The most recent action was in the Town of Colton, where the Town just announced it plans to withdraw its local ATV law passed in August after a legal challenge by affected property owners was filed.
For more than a decade in the western Adirondacks and Tug Hill, local residents have repeatedly gone to court to stop aggressive local and county governments from illegally opening public roads to ATV riding. These same local governments also seek access to nearby Forest Preserve, state forests and conservation easement lands for ATV use. Three ATV law related lawsuits are currently pending in Lewis County. » Continue Reading.
The current Forest Preserve classification process underway at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the new lands around the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson River is likely go down as the worst administered process in the 40-year history of the APA. Since the close of the public hearing in mid-July, the APA leadership has openly subverted state law and moved decision making from an open and transparent public forum to a smokeless backroom.
The process has gone awry. The train has run off the tracks. This is evidenced by four recent events: » Continue Reading.
Much is already being made about the great victory in passing Proposition 5 – the controversial Constitutional Amendment known as Proposition 5 that was approved by New Yorkers on November 5, 2013 to sell 200 acres of forever wild Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness to NYCO Minerals, Inc., a mining company that plans to incorporate it into its adjacent open pit mine.
I believe that some who are jubilant now will come to rue this day. If Forever Wild can’t be saved from the jaws of a mining company to be clearcut, blasted and mined, then when can it be saved? » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the Adirondack Park on Thursday September 26th and devoted a full day to discussions with various parties about the looming decision by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) on the Forest Preserve classification of 21,000-acres of former Finch Paper lands along the Hudson River and around the Essex Chain Lakes.
I give the Governor high marks for making the trip and holding these meetings. (In the interest of full disclosure no one from Protect the Adirondacks was invited to these meetings. We are, after all, suing the Cuomo Administration with two pretty big lawsuits.) With Joe Martens, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in tow, the Governor met at Follensby Pond (his second trip there) with the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Adirondack Council and ADK. Those most closely aligned with the Cuomo Administration, who supported for the Adirondack Club & Resort project and/or the NYCO land swap, get to go fishing with the Governor.
The Governor then went to Gore Mountain and met with seven local government officials as well as Senator Betty Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec. At Gore, the Governor held a press conference. » Continue Reading.
The 1924 sign law that effectively banned billboards throughout the Adirondack Park shows how our forbearers were braver, wiser, and more prescient than we are today.
It was a bold decision that resulted, by some accounts, in the removal of over 1,400 billboards. In the Adirondack Park this law largely prevented an assault of rooftop and roadside billboards that dominate broad stretches of the U.S. – the cluttered strips of Anywhere USA. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) spokesperson Keith McKeever has confirmed that the agency will not make a decision at its September meeting on how former Finch Paper lands recently acquired by New York State will be managed.
The classification of the lands around the Essex Chain of Lakes and Hudson Gorge is one of the biggest Forest Preserve decisions the APA has faced in more than a decade, one that has recently dominated public discussion in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
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