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.


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.


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Tear Down Debar Lodge And Make Debar Pond Into Another Lake Lila

Protect the Adirondacks opposes legislation for an amendment to Article 14, Section 1, of the New York Constitution to remove six acres of public lands from the constitutionally protected Adirondack Forest Preserve. The affected lands provide public access to Debar Pond in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest area and include some decrepit buildings that should be demolished and removed. The proposed constitutional amendment would convey into private ownership an area is used by the public seeking remote, wild experiences on an otherwise undeveloped lake. The existing buildings, known as Debar Lodge, are dilapidated and will costs millions of dollars to restore for their proposed new use as some kind of private institute. If the deal goes through, public access will be sharply reduced from what we all enjoy today. This is a bad deal for public recreation, for wild places, and for the forever wild Forest Preserve.

Supporters of resuscitating Debar Lodge want to reduce public access to a side path on the edge of the private compound, while the paying guests of the renovated Debar Lodge complex will be able to monopolize the area with the best access to Debar Pond. The public will be allowed on the grounds of the private enclave for a fee or with a conference reservation.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

It’s Time To Ban Wildlife Killing Contests In New York

This year, Protect the Adirondacks is working with a number of other groups to support legislation banning wildlife killing contests. Legislation introduced by State Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair Deborah Glick and State Senator Timothy Kennedy, makes it “unlawful for any person to organize, sponsor, conduct, promote, or participate in any contest, competition, tournament or derby where the objective of such contest or competition is to take wildlife.” This legislation protects coyotes, small mammals, and fur bearers.

This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law to make it unlawful for any person to organize, sponsor, conduct, promote or participate in any contest, competition, tournament, or derby with the objective of taking or hunting wildlife for prizes or other inducement, or for entertainment. Contests for taking or hunting white-tailed deer, turkey or bear are exempted, which are already regulated by seasons, bag limits, and reporting requirements. Special dog training areas or field trials or similar canine performance events are also exempted. Violations are punishable by fines of $500 to $2,000. In addition, the remains of any wildlife killed in violation of the bill’s provisions are forfeited to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

2022 US Census Estimates: 89% Of NYS Counties Lost Population

The US Census recently released its estimates for changes in U.S. population for 2021-2022. These are estimates that are based on samples and models from across the country and are not the complete counts that we see with the decennial census. This new estimate for New York State projected that the state lost just over 180,000 residents in the last two years, with losses projected from every part of the state. Across New York, 55 of the state’s 62 counties were estimated to have lost population.

Now, be advised that we should all take these estimates with whatever grain of salt that one chooses. Remember that throughout the 2010-2019 decade, the US Census estimates had New York State losing population, estimate after estimate, but the actual 2020 decennial US Census recorded a gain of over 800,000 new residents for the decade. The 2020 US Census was an important correction to the series of big misses from the estimates since 2010. There’s a difference between estimates that model a variety of samples and the actual counts undertaken every 10 years. This is also just county-level data; estimates are not done at the town level.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

APA-DEC Take A Bold Stand To Deny Reality

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have teamed up to formally interpret an important guideline in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (Master Plan) that deals with the mileage of roads allowable in Wild Forest areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. This is a high stakes action by these agencies because of the potential to significantly expand the mileage of roads open to motor vehicles in all corners of the Forest Preserve.

There is no greater impact to a wild area than a road. From the fact that motor vehicles travel on roads at high speeds to the fact that roads are conduits for invasive species, the impacts of roads are undeniable. Roads change and fragment forest habitats, impact wildlife travel pathways, and impact streams, rivers, and wetlands that they cross and border. They are also extremely expensive for the DEC to maintain and repair.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 16, 2023

NYSDEC Now Admits Cooperstown Wolf Was A Wild Wolf

gray wolf was one of the top 10 stories from 2022

After a large 85-pound canid was shot by a hunter in Otsego County in December 2021, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that the animal was a coyote.  Despite possessing wolf-like size and physical characteristics—and the hunter’s own belief that he had mistakenly shot a wolf—DEC claimed that a DNA analysis showed that the animal was just a large coyote and cited the DNA study in its press comments. Mike Lynch at the Adirondack Explorer reported in July 2022 that DEC had a DNA analysis that showed the Cooperstown wolf was “closely identified as an Eastern coyote, with a mix of coyote, wolf, and dog genetics.” WTEN News 10 in Albany reported the story with a quote from Lori Severino, a DEC spokesperson, saying “Initial DNA analysis conducted determined the wild canid to be most closely identified as an eastern coyote.”

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Did Covid Reshape Adirondack And New York State School District Enrollment?

The answer appears to be not so much. School district enrollment trends in New York State have been consistent for the last few decades, and an assessment of enrollment numbers over the last five years doesn’t show a big or lasting change to these trends. The last five years for which we have data, 2017-18 to 2021-22 (2022-23 data will not be released until September 2023), show that student enrollment in the 718 school districts across New York collectively dropped from 2,607,284 K-12 students in the 2017-18 school year to 2,418,569 in 2021-22, a loss of 188,715 students.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 2, 2023

PROTECT Challenges DEC’s Road Rebuilding in Wilderness

On January 20, 2023, Protect the Adirondacks filed a lawsuit challenging the reconstruction by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of a previously closed and reclaimed road in the High Peaks Wilderness Complex. DEC’s road construction activity in the High Peaks violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (Master Plan) which prohibits roads in Wilderness areas.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 23, 2023

DEC-APA Defy The Courts And Keep Unconstitutional Trails Open

It’s been nearly two years since the New York Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court, ruled that extra-wide Class II Community Connector Snowmobile Trails designed, approved, and constructed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) violate Article 14, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution, the famed the “Forever Wild” clause. The high court’s decision followed a decision in 2019 by the Appellate Division, Third Department, that Class II trails violate Article 14. The Court of Appeals decision came out in May 2021 and we’re now into our second winter where the DEC and APA continue to operate unconstitutional Class II trails as if the courts have not ruled against them.

Protect the Adirondacks is now back in court in an effort to get the state to comply with the appellate court decisions.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

Russell Banks And The Frozen North

Author Russell Banks at his Saratoga Springs residence in 2008. Photo by Cindy Schultz, courtesy of the Times Union

The news of Russell Banks’s death reached me through a text from a friend. I then read his obituary in The New York Times. I knew  Russell Banks a little bit, but I had been a fan of his books since the 1980s when I was living in New York City, and a friend lent me a review copy of Continental Drift. I was blown away by the book but could not finish it before leaving for a trip west. I remember finding Continental Drift in a bookstore in Boston a few months later and read the last few chapters there. Continental Drift was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction but lost to Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Lame, Tired, And Wrong Blame-The-Park Editorializing Persists

In the Adirondacks, I thought we had moved beyond weak economic and social analysis that blames the Park for all of the problems and challenges facing Adirondack communities. I thought that many in the Adirondacks had looked at long-term national rural population and economic trends and learned that the issues facing Adirondack communities are the same issues facing Rural America – and that the first decades of the 21st Century in the U.S. have proved extremely difficult and challenging times for Rural America.

But I was wrong. A recent editorial in Sun Community News went in big with a blame-the-Park rant. Its editorial started out lamenting the closure of an Emergency Room at Adirondack Health in Lake Placid but then went all in on blaming the Park. Now, I live in a community in Hamilton County where we’re at least an hour’s ambulance drive from the nearest Emergency Room, so I get the concerns about the ER closure.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, November 18, 2022

DEC Illegally Rebuilt A Mile Of Road In The High Peaks Wilderness Area And The APA Swept It Under The Rug

A year ago, we published a piece in the Adirondack Almanack alerting the public to a weird incident where the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had worked for two years to tear apart abandoned logging roads on newly purchased lands at the south end of the High Peaks Wilderness, only to go back in with heavy machinery and start to undo their work and rebuild the road. Heavy rains last December limited how much of the road the DEC was able to rebuild before winter set in, but by our measurements they managed to rebuild 0.82 miles.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 16, 2022

Important NYSDEC Forest Preserve Management Reforms, Part 2

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for development of a “Visitor Use Management” Plan for the Central High Peaks Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park and the Kaaterskill Clove/Route 23A corridor of the Catskill Park. The RFP marks a major step forward in DEC’s efforts to evaluate and address a series of impacts to the natural resources, the visitor experience, and public safety due to high recreational use in these two popular destinations on the Forest Preserve.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Important NYSDEC Forest Preserve Management Reforms, Part 1

2022 may end up as the year where some of the most important reforms in Forest Preserve management were started, both in practice and in theory. Forest Preserve management reform has been a long time coming as the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is responsible for the care and custody of the Forest Preserve, has struggled for years with how to improve its overall management program. Small changes have been attempted at various points, but no major reforms have been successfully brought to the DEC’s Forest Preserve management.

As this fall’s Crayola crayon box colors blossom across Adirondack Park mountainsides, hillsides, and shorelines, reform is mixed in the air with the first autumn chills. This is the first article in a 3-part series that looks at nascent Forest Preserve management reforms underway at the DEC.

» Continue Reading.



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