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.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

50 Years of Forest Preserve Purchases and Classifications

In thinking about the final decisions in early February by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on the recent Forest Preserve classification package, which included the Boreas Ponds, I took a look back at Forest Preserve acquisition and classification over the years. This led me to dig back and look at how the Forest Preserve has changed in the modern era of the Adirondack Park, a period of nearly 50 years.

I went back to 1970, to the technical reports of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks. The main Forest Preserve data is provided in the private and public lands set of reports. All of the Temporary Study Commission reports are important historical markers. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bauer: Empire Forests of the Future Initiative Worthy of Support

NYS capital buildingA major new program in Governor Andrew’s Cuomo’s 2018-19 state budget is the Empire Forests of the Future Initiative, referred to as “EFFI.”

This new program seeks to overhaul and modernize two longstanding “Preferential Forest Tax Law Programs” known by the shorthands “480” and “480a” for their respective parts of the Real Property Tax Law. These programs provide tax exemptions for forestland owners who enroll their lands and manage them for long-term for forestry purposes. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

State Land Tax Cap Could Cost Adirondack Communities

NYS capital buildingThe Cuomo Administration has proposed to cap Forest Preserve property tax assessments and change state law from the current system of locally assessed property taxes to a system of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs) with a rate set by the State Comptroller.

The state is doing this to save money because Forest Preserve assessments and the PILOT for tax payments would be centrally controlled. This proposal raises issues about a likely decrease in state lands tax payments over time and subsequent tax shift to private lands in Forest Preserve communities in the Adirondacks and Catskills. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bauer: Making The Boreas Ponds Compromise

News about the state’s decision on the classification of the 21,000-acre Boreas Ponds tract, part of a larger 54,000-acre classification package released by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), has been met with a spectrum of cheers and some jeers.

The decision is clearly a compromise, and as with any good compromise there was give and take, with things in it that people both support and oppose. As we evaluate this historic turn of events in the days before the APA takes up deliberations on February 1st and 2nd, it’s worth taking stock of the making of this compromise. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bauer: Boreas Decision Will Bring Mountain Bikes To Wilderness

It is unlikely that there will be a decision on the classification of the Boreas Ponds at the January 2018 meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The APA will reportedly take up this work at its February meeting.

The APA has received the preferred option for the classification of the Boreas Ponds from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is still awaiting the final check off from Governor Cuomo, but the APA is taking this as a done deal. The DEC’s preferred option enjoys the support of APA Chairman Sherman Craig, long a proponent for mountainbike use in Wilderness areas. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Bauer: Another Setback For Adk Tanker Storage Plans

stored tanker carsThe plan by Iowa Pacific Holdings and its owner/CEO Ed Ellis to use the Adirondack Park as a junkyard to store thousands of out-of-service oil tanker railcars has hit significant stumbling blocks in the recent days.

Last week, the Cuomo Administration announced plans to petition the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to reject use of the Sanford Lake Railway, which stretches 30 miles from North Creek to the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb, for storage of used, out-of-service oil tanker railcars. Ed Ellis has claimed that he could store between 2,000 and 3,000 railcars along the 30-mile line. Ellis will now have to lawyer-up and fight the state in the official proceedings before the STB. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

State Steps In To Oppose Adirondack Oil Tanker Storage

stored tanker carsGovernor Andrew Cuomo and Basil Segos, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a petition to the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) arguing against continued use by Iowa Pacific Holdings for rail operations and storage of oil tanker railcars on the 30-mile Sanford Lake Railway, which runs from North Creek to the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb. The State is requesting immediate action. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Peter Bauer: Ban Motors on Weller Pond

Weller Pond and Little Weller Pond should be a quiet-waters area off limits to motorboats, accessible only by non-motorized craft. These ponds could offer a peaceful and beautiful refuge from the heavily used and extremely popular Saranac Lakes chain.

It would be easy to do. New York State owns the entire shoreline around both ponds. The state also owns the lands around the navigable channel that connects these ponds to Middle Saranac Lake. And the state has the authority to close these ponds to motorized boat traffic; it simply needs the will to do so. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 6, 2017

At Boreas Ponds Will Governor Cuomo Learn From His Mistakes?

There will be no decision on the classification of the Boreas Ponds at the November meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The APA often does not meet in either December or January so it could be that there is no decision until February 2018 or after. The Governor has made it clear that he will make the final decision on Boreas Ponds and will instruct the APA on what to do. For it’s part, the APA has prepared the paperwork for the Boreas classification, but patiently awaits the decision by the Governor.

The Boreas Ponds sit as the centerpiece of a classification package of over 50,000 acres of Forest Preserve lands that the APA took to public hearing one year ago. Once the hearings concluded in mid-December a decision was supposed to be speedy with management set by the summer 2017 field season. Yet, here we are a year later with no decision in sight. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Governor Cuomo Speaks Out Against Storing Oil Tanker Railcars

stored tanker carsAt an address at the Glens Falls Hospital on October 25th concerning a new cancer study by his administration in Warren County and Upstate New York, Governor Cuomo addressed the recent controversy around storing used out-of-service oil tanker rail cars by Iowa Pacific Holdings on a remote line in the central Adirondack Park. The Governor starkly denounced the plan.

The Governor said: “It is unsightly, it is out of character with the Adirondacks, nobody goes to the Adirondacks to look at old trains, they go there to look at the natural beauty. We don’t own the tracks, there is a question as to what legal right we have to oppose it, but we oppose it 100% and we are going to do everything we can do to stop the owner from storing the trains on those tracks.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 9, 2017

A Day On Cascade Mountain: Some Data

On September 16th I hiked Cascade Mountain and wrote about the experience. On that day over 500 people hiked Cascade. I returned the next weekend (on Saturday September 23rd), with a friend and survey sheets and clipboards to ask hikers a series of questions. The interviews took about two minutes and many people graciously answered questions. At busy points, we were both talking with groups as others walked by us. This was a rough survey, undertaken as much to learn about what is necessary for conducting this kind of survey as it was for getting some basic data from the hikers on Cascade Mountain. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Opinion: Vote Yes on Proposal 3 on Election Day 2017

Proposal 3 is a proposed amendment to Article 14, the forever wild provision of the NYS Constitution, to create a new “Health and Safety Land Account” to help local communities with highway and utilities maintenance, location of wells for municipal water supplies, and creation of a bike path network. It also authorizes use of highway corridors for routing of utility lines by co-location or burial to expand broadband capacity, ensure delivery of other services like electric and phone, and routing of water and sewer lines.

This amendment has seen the same coming-together of stakeholders from across the Adirondack political spectrum that we saw in support of resolving the longstanding land disputes around Raquette Lake that was the basis of the Township 40 Amendment that passed in 2013. Hopefully, Proposal 3 this year meets with the same good fortune. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Crowded Peaks: Hiking Cascade With 500 Other People

I hiked Cascade Mountain from the Route 73 trailhead on Saturday September 16th. I went to see the crowds, the condition of the trail, and the general scene of what is believed to be the most popular High Peaks hiking trail. In 2015, over 33,000 people signed in at the trailhead register. In 2016, over 42,000 people are believed to have hiked the summit. Near the top there is now an electronic counter.

My whole trip took about five hours in the middle of the day. Many passed me by on the hike up and many others were hiking down the mountain during my ascent. I stayed on the summit about 90 minutes, which was gloriously sunny with the lightest of breezes. On the summit I counted people twice, with each count topping 100. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

APA Awaits Governor Cuomo’s Final Decision on Boreas Ponds

Photo by Phil Brown 2016. View of Gothics from Boreas Ponds.The best information to trickle out so far is that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will take up the Boreas Ponds classification deliberations starting at the October 2017 meeting in Ray Brook, but that it could be delayed until November. The APA has, apparently completed much of the paper work on the Environmental Impact Statement and organized its response to public comments. The APA has also organized various options for consideration by the APA Board; mostly they are similar to those taken to public hearing last fall. The missing piece is final layout of the classification of the Boreas Ponds tract that will be used as the APA’s “Preferred Option.” For that, the APA is waiting on Governor Cuomo to make the final call and tell the APA what his, and their, “Preferred Option” will be.

Governor Cuomo’s preferred option faces a number of questions, which will affect the process and timing of the APA’s final decision. For instance, if the Governor decides he wants a new Intensive Use area on any of the lands in question this will necessitate a change to the EIS and a new round of public hearings. If the Governor decides to leave a blank 5-acre cutout that remains unclassified “pending classification,” the decisions on the surrounding classifications will limit what can eventually be authorized in the unclassified tract. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

DEC Commissioner Eyes Major Changes to Forest Preserve

Hamlet to Hut demonstration project in Long LakeEarlier this year I wrote two articles in the Adirondack Almanack (here and here) about how state agencies had switched their focus from a classification of the Boreas Ponds with various Wilderness-Wild Forest options to a new option that included some form of public lodging facilities. My purpose in writing these pieces was to convey the fears of many at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and state government who were alarmed at these ideas cooked up by Governor Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. These articles in the Almanack triggered a round of press scrutiny and helped to inform the public about how state leaders had changed their focus on the Boreas classification (see some here, here, and here). These press reports also authenticated what I had written.

Last week, we saw an op-ed published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise by Commissioner Seggos making the case for building some kind of rental cabins, lodges, huts, or glamping-style tent platforms in the Forest Preserve. The op-ed talked about the possibility of “full service” and “self service” buildings. It was premised on the idea that the Forest Preserve needs to add a new and different type recreational amenity to facilitate broader public use. The Commissioner promoted the ideas of the hut-to-hut initiative from the Hamlets to Huts organization and listed the ways in which some kind of cabin on the Forest Preserve could provide different opportunities for public use. » Continue Reading.