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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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.


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.