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, April 6, 2021

HPAG Report: High Peaks Trails

This is the fourth article in a series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “High Peaks Wilderness Trails” section of the report. A focus on hiking trails in the High Peaks is vital, as in many ways, it’s the condition of the trails that ties together other management efforts.

As with other sections of the HPAG report, the recommendations on trails require significant new investment by the state on a sustained, annual basis to make progress. Trail work success in the High Peaks, given the challenges of the terrain and the heavy use, is measured in feet, not in miles. There are roughly 200 miles of formal trails in the HPWC and another 100 miles of herd trails for the so-called “trailless peaks.” Perhaps, more than any other area in the HPAG report, the measurement of its traction and impact will be seen through a change in trail work scope and intensity.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, March 29, 2021

HPAG Report: The Visitor Experience

This is the third article in a series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “Visitor Experience” section of the report.

HPAG’s recommendations will require a significant investment in state resources on an ongoing basis and additional staffing to improve the management of the HPWC by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). HPAG recommends a long-term, broad-based advisory group to help coordinate management reforms. Without greater funding, enhanced staffing, and a management committee to lead the process, many of the HPAG report ideas will rust.

The Visitor Experience section is a big part of the HPAG report. I count 35 separate recommendations, some that try to breathe new life into dormant actions from existing Unit Management Plans (UMPs), others that spotlight ideas that have been in the wind for a while, and others that try to introduce new and different management options.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, March 19, 2021

HPAG Report: Impacts to Wilderness and Ecology

This is the second article in a series examining the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that outlines a plan to build a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex. This article focuses on recommendations and ideas in the “Impacts to Wilderness and Ecology” section of the HPAG report. It’s important to note that the recommendations discussed below are predicated on the state embarking on a “secondary planning process” that HPAG recommends be organized by some kind of formal, longstanding “Adirondack Advisory Group” (AAG) that is named by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). This advisory group is central to the HPAG report. Without it, the plan dissolves.

HPAG envisions that the AAG membership includes a much broader Adirondack-wide representation than that of the HPAG. This diverse, multi-stakeholder group is supposed to carry forward the report’s recommendations in coordination with state agencies but at the same time remain independent so that it can hold state agencies accountable. HPAG wants this group staffed and funded. That’s a pretty tall order in Cuomoworld.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Thoughts on the High Peaks Advisory Group Report, Part 1

The eagerly awaited final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group (HPAG) is out. It was worth the wait. The report is ambitious and thorough and comes at a point in time that could potentially mark a new beginning, where we’ll start to see a leavening in the overall management of the High Peaks Wilderness in particular and the Forest Preserve in general. Or, this report could be filed away to rust, lost to time. I hope that this report sees serious follow-up and implementation.

Bringing serious reforms to the management of the High Peaks Wilderness, and the Forest Preserve, is no easy task, but the HPAG report is the most serious blueprint we’ve seen since the days of the Pomeroy Committee and Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks the 1950s and 1960s.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

OPINION: Elise Stefanik Is Lying To Us

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is lying to us. There’s no other way to say it. Her preferred candidate lost the presidential election and now she is trying a variety of maneuvers, unseen in modern American political life, to undo the November 2020 presidential election. Elise Stefanik is willing to lie and cheat to steal this election away from Joe Biden.

On Sunday January 3rd, Congresswoman Stefanik released a video than ran 1 minute and 50 seconds to explain why on January 6th she will object to the votes of the Electoral College, certified by the states, that show Joe Biden lawfully won the presidency. Her video is amazing because in it she packs in five major lies. Real whoppers. In this video Elise Stefanik looks straight into the camera and with a big smile on her face she tells lie after lie. That’s a lot of deception in just 110 seconds.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Peter Hornbeck, Master Boatbuilder And Wilderness Advocate, 1943-2020

Peter Hornbeck, founder of Hornbeck Boats and master boatbuilder of lightweight canoes and kayaks with a distinctive red stripe below the gunwales, famous throughout the Adirondacks and beyond, died quietly and unexpectedly at his home in Olmstedville on December 26, 2020, after a hike with his family.

Pete was a founding Board member of Protect the Adirondacks since 2009 and served on the Board of the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) before that from 1993 to 2009, serving eight years as the Chair. Pete was an unwavering advocate for the public Forest Preserve, especially on the need for more Wilderness lands in the Adirondack Park. Pete died at 77 years old. (Editor’s note: We posted this article about Pete on Adirondack Explorer’s website last night.) » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Things Fall Apart At The Adirondack Park Agency

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) was rocked last week with the sudden resignation of Chad Dawson, who served as one of three APA Board members from outside the Adirondack Park Blue Line. Dawson is a Professor Emeritus at SUNY ESF, who not literally, but actually, wrote the book on the management of Wilderness and public lands. See Wilderness Management: Stewardship and Protection of Resources and Values (4th edition). Though Dawson was an authority on public lands management and is recognized widely across the U.S. as an expert, few at the APA and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would listen to him.

Dawson took words on paper seriously, especially the words of the APA Act and Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. One such case was where the Master Plan calls for carrying capacity studies on public water bodies during the development of Unit Management Plans (UMPs), a clause that the DEC has long refused to acknowledge and fulfill. The APA has never tried to uphold this requirement. At deliberations over UMPs in the last four years, Dawson would point to this section of the Master Plan and he would be met with yawns from other APA Board members that the APA has never asked for these studies before, so why start now.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 26, 2020

Fort Drum training activities should take place on conservation easement lands

In June, the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, based at Fort Drum in Jefferson County, released a draft programmatic environmental assessment titled “Fort Drum 10th Mountain Combat Aviation Brigade and 10th Sustainment Brigade Mission and Training Activities” that outlined ambitious “air and land-based training activities” to possibly take place across nine counties in Upstate New York, including four (St. Lawrence, Lewis, Oneida, Herkimer) that are partially within the Adirondack Park, and two (Hamilton, Essex) that are entirely within the Adirondack Park Blue Line. (Henceforth the Programmatic Environmental Assessment will be referred to as the “PEA”).

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 3, 2020

50 Hikes Outside Of The High Peaks To See The Fall Colors

The first weekend in October is one of the biggest hiking weekends in the Adirondacks each year, and often sees peak leaf color at many locations. Many trailhead parking areas will fill up early and the trails in the High Peaks Wilderness will likely see continued unprecedented crowds through the fall. In an effort to lessen the flow of thousands to the High Peaks Wilderness, Protect the Adirondacks has published online trail guides for 50 terrific hikes and destinations throughout the Adirondack Park in areas outside of the busy and over-used High Peaks Wilderness Area. These online trail guides are available now.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Save Whitney Park, Make it Forest Preserve

The 36,000-acre Whitney Park is up for sale. This tract, which includes 22 lakes and ponds, and over 100 miles of undeveloped shoreline, has been at the top of New York State’s land protection priority list for 50 years. Over the decades, the property has been lightly developed by the Whitney family, which maintains a large complex of buildings in a mountain estate called Deerlands on Little Forked Lake, and two inholdings totaling around 400 acres on Forked Lake and Plumley Pond at the south end of the tract.

» Continue Reading.


Friday, July 24, 2020

Take a Survey About Hiking Trails in Hamilton County

Public input is sought for the selection of 5-10 priority hiking trails within Hamilton County for inclusion in a trail maintenance plan as the primary goal of the Hamilton County Trails into Prosperity project.  The project will enhance recreational opportunities, bolster local economies, and improve natural resource user experience by designing comprehensive trail maintenance and sustainability plans for key Hamilton County hiking trails. Those who hike in Hamilton County are encouraged to complete a brief survey regarding priority trail selection.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, July 6, 2020

DEC involvement in NYCO Amendment raises questions about public benefit

This is the last article in a 5-part series on possible amendments in 2020 to Article 14, Section 1, of the NYS Constitution, the famed forever wild provision.

This article looks back at the amendment for NYCO Minerals, Inc., in 2013, that authorized exploratory drilling on 200 acres in Lewis Lot 8 in the Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness. This amendment was barely approved, passing by the narrowest margin of any successful Article 14 amendment. The NYCO Amendment was different from all other amendments to Article 14 because it marked the first time that a private corporation used the amendment process to seek and obtain Forest Preserve lands for no other purpose than benefitting its bottom line. Every other amendment had a public benefit and purpose. The NYCO Amendment did not.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Cathead Mountain Amendment Would be Complicated and Difficult

This is the fourth article in a series that looks at three possible NYS constitutional amendments to Article 14, Section 1 (the “Forever Wild” clause) that are being debated in 2020. This article looks at the issue of utilizing Forest Preserve lands around Cathead Mountain, in the south edge of the Silver Lake Wilderness area, to locate a new emergency communications tower, similar to such towers on Blue Mountain and East Mountain.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Amendment needed to transfer state ownership of Camp Gabriels

Protect the Adirondacks has reviewed the options for the future of the Camp Gabriels complex, a former state prison in the Town of Brighton in Franklin County in the northern Adirondack Park. The site is located between Saranac Lake and Paul Smith’s just outside of Gabriels. The land that the prison complex was built upon is Forest Preserve, protected under NYS Constitution Article 14, Section 1. The prison complex was part of a state purchase in 1982 of over 224 acres. This facility has been dormant since 2009 when the state closed the prison camp.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Blurred lines surround Mt. Van Hoevenberg sports complex

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 in a five-part series that will run over the next few weeks, exploring amendments to the “Forever Wild” clause of the NYS constitution.

Protect the Adirondacks has long believed that an amendment to Article 14, Section 1 is needed for the Mt. Van Hoevenberg Winter Olympic Sports Complex currently managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, ORDA currently manages 1,220 acres +/- of Forest Preserve classified as Intensive Use by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). Abutting these lands is 319 acres of lands owned by the Town of North Elba. This complex houses the Olympic bobsled and luge track, cross-country skiing and biathlon trails, and associated facilities.

» Continue Reading.