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 and 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.

He lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife and two children and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Peter Bauer: Backcountry Sprawl At Woodworth Lake

The final design for the 1,100 acre subdivision around Hines Pond and Woodworth Lake.Just inside the Blue Line in the southern Adirondacks in the Towns of Bleecker and Johnstown, a new 1,118-acre, 26-lot subdivision on lands zoned Resource Management is poised for approval by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). An application has been completed, and now the APA must either issue a permit or send the project to an official adjudicatory public hearing. The developer is a professional outfit called New York Land & Lakes, and it completes a half dozen major subdivisions each year throughout the northeast. This is its first project in the Adirondack Park.

This development involves lands of the former Woodworth Lake Boy Scout Camp on an 1,118-acre site that was operated by the Boy Scouts from 1950-1992 as a retreat center and sold in 2013. On the tract, there are two lakes, Hines Pond and Woodworth Lake, and extensive wetlands and steep slopes. The tract is bordered by Forest Preserve in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest around the north end. Some 97% of this tract is classified as Resource Management and 3% Low Intensity under the APA Land Use and Development Plan.

This is the biggest Resource Management project since the Adirondack Club & Resort (ACR) project was approved in 2012. The ACR project cut 4,739 acres of Resource Management lands into 80 lots. The maximum development density for Resource Management is 15 units per square mile, which averages to 42.7 acres per principal building. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Report: Educated Young People Flocking To Cities

AtlantisA new report from the City Observatory think tank finds that college educated young people are flocking to metropolitan areas in ever higher numbers.

This report sheds new light on national and Adirondack Park demographic trends. Titled The Young and Restless and the Nation’s Cities, this report draws a number of interesting conclusions. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No Action On Closing Silver Lake Wilderness Road

WestRiverRoad-5The West River Road ends with a football-field size turnaround. At this point it’s 0.7 miles inside the Silver Lake Wilderness area. ATVs use this as a launching pad to trespass even further into Wilderness area, where they get close to the Northville Placid trail.

The management of this illegal road is a mess. In 2006, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) stated in its approval of the Silver Lake Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan that it would work with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Town of Wells to fix this non-complying road. As 2014 winds down, there has been zero action at the APA to close this illegal road. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Peter Bauer: Crane Pond Road is a Mess

CranePondRoad-11For nearly 25 years the Crane Pond Road has existed as an illegal and controversial 2-mile-long road in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area. This summer, there were regular reports about cars and trucks getting stuck in a mud wallow at a degraded point where the Crane Pond Road cuts through a wetland. In August, I encountered a group stuck there with their jeep when I walked the road.

In September, state agencies celebrated 50 years of the National Wilderness Act. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had presentations about the Wilderness Act and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) attended various ceremonies to pay homage to Wilderness. Both agencies elegized the importance of Wilderness.

The failure to close the Crane Pond Road belies their pretty words about Wilderness. Natural resource degradation has reached a point where the Crane Pond Road is now a public safety hazard. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Curious Case of Chub Pond Lean-to 1

ChubPondLean-to-1-2Chub Pond lean-to 1 is unlike any other lean-to on the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

I recently visited this spot in the Black River Wild Forest while surveying trail damage from ATVs. I had heard that this lean-to was being used as a private camp and using Google Earth I could see a chimney and skylights in the lean-to roof and a large cleared area. When I reached the site, it was even worse than I expected. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 15, 2014

ATV Damage in the Black River Wild Forest

ATV damage to the Gull Lake Trail, Black River Wild Forest.On August 29th, I visited the Gull Lake and Chub Pond trails in the Black River Wild Forest. I photographed all sorts of trail and wetland damage from All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use on these trails. ATVs are not allowed on these trails, but the Black River Wild Forest area has a history of illegal ATV use, and I thought that the damage to these trails reflected more of the same.

I had received reports about ATV damage in this part of the Forest Preserve earlier this year. The previous week I had spent time in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest inventorying trail damage from ATVs and photographing ATV side-routes around various barrier gates put up by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It appeared that the damage to the Chub Pond and Gull Lake trails was also caused by illegal trespass. The usual telltale signs of illegal trespass and recreational riding were evident. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Commentary: Governor Should Sign Aquatic Invasives Bill

Michael Abrahamson, LGA lake steward, inspects boat at Dunham’s Bay in 2011Legislation passed in June that bans the transport of aquatic invasive species (AIS) across New York has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law. Similar laws are on the books in a number of other states. This legislation will significantly improve New York’s focus and ability to control AIS.

Governor Cuomo has until September 6th to sign this legislation. He should sign it. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bauer: APA Must Lead State Land Master Plan Revision

Adirondack State Land Master PlanThe Common Ground Alliance (CGA) recently met in Long Lake. One of the break-out sessions focused on reform of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), which is the policy document for management of the Forest Preserve. The Common Ground Alliance effort is one of a handful of organizing efforts around the Adirondacks where ideas are being collected to detail potential changes to the SLMP.

In its December 2013 resolution classifying the Essex Chain Lakes/Pine Lake Primitive areas and Hudson Gorge Wilderness area, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) committed to examine several items for possible SLMP revision. Since then, there has been no action by the APA or release of a public memo detailing a schedule for the APA to follow up the December 2013 resolution. In this void, various APA Commissioners have made comments at APA meetings, as has the representative from the Local Government Review Board, that express the desire that the APA undertake a revision of the SLMP well beyond the scope of the December 2013 resolution.

The SLMP has worked effectively for 40 years. As a frequent user of the SLMP, I’m continually impressed by the durability and prescience of this regulatory document. Though it was written long before wildlands management developed as a professional field, it has served the Adirondack Forest Preserve exceedingly well. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Peter Bauer: No Balance In NYCO Mining Expansions

NYCO-Map-1On the heels of the passage of Proposal 5 last November to sell 200 acres of Forest Preserve to NYCO Minerals, Inc., state agencies and NYCO are now going for broke in new permit applications for a massive expansion of NYCO’s two mines in the Town of Lewis. At the December 2013 meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) there was unanimous cheering among the APA Board and senior leadership over passage of Proposal 5. In those same weeks, NYCO began its applications to expand its two mines in Lewis.

NYCO is seeking major expansions of both mines. With its political fortunes at an all-time high, the time is right to permanently change the scale of its mining activities in the Champlain Valley. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Report: Adirondack Living Easier Than Most Places

NY Times Easy Living ReportRecent pieces (here and here) in the Adirondack Almanack stressed the importance of placing the Adirondack Park experience and condition in a national context, especially with the rest of rural America. National context is important when trying to ascertain trends in Adirondack Park demographics, economics or land use.

This past weekend, The New York Times data-crunching blog The Upshot published an interactive map that ranked the 3,135 counties in the U.S. by how hard or easy these places are to live. The indicators they chose to create this ease or hardship ranking were median income, unemployment, percent of population with a college degree, disability rate, obesity and life expectancy. The Upshot said these metrics were selected due to the availability of county level data across the U.S., which provided a profile of economic and public health conditions. Disability was not used as a health indicator, but as a data point for the non-working adult population, which was used in conjunction with unemployment. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 23, 2014

NYS Aquatic Invasive Species Control Legislation Passed

nycapitolLegislation passed at the bitter end of the 2014 NYS Legislative Session included a historic bill that will help transition New York to a greater focus on the prevention and interdiction of aquatic invasive species (AIS). This bill was carried by Assembly member Barbara Lifton from Ithaca and Senator Thomas O’Mara from Chemung County. Both have communities engaged in trying to stop the spread of hydrilla (hydrilla verticillata) on Cayuga Lake and elsewhere. Adirondack legislators all supported this bill and Dan Stec was one of the Assembly co-sponsors.

This bill is important for the Adirondacks because we still have many lakes and ponds that are not yet infested with AIS. While the list of infested waters grows and the number of AIS increases, we now have an important new tool to try and stop the spread. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finalized rules this month that prohibits the launching of boats with any visible plant or animal matter or standing water at DEC boat launches and fishing access sites. This is important but limited. This new legislation will allow the DEC to develop similar regulations for all public, private and commercial boat launches across the state. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Peter Bauer: APRAP Update Misdiagnoses Issues

APRAP Update CoverThe Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project (APRAP) recently came out with a 5-year Update. The APRAP Update provides new data on land protection in the Adirondacks, the Park’s demographics, school district enrollments, and the delivery of emergency services in local communities. The main theme of the APRAP Update is that the Adirondack Park is out of balance. This lack of balance is depicted by a 2-page cartoon where an upended seesaw has flung children and loggers out of the Park, while waitresses, birdwatchers, EMS staff, and retirees, among others, stand firmly on the grounded end of the seesaw.

The APRAP Update has some useful information, but continues to try and make the case that the root of the problems and challenges facing the Adirondack Park are the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Act and the growth of the Forest Preserve. We are asked to assume, because the Park is growing and the population is aging and shrinking, that the former causes the latter. (No note is made of the fact that the population grew along with the Park for most of the post WWII period.) Thus, the APRAP project continues to supply the intellectual fodder for the blame-the-park lobby. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 2, 2014

EPA Takes Historic Action on Climate Change

380px-Carbon_Dioxide_400kyrToday’s announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released draft greenhouse gas emission reduction regulations for over 1,000 existing power plants is a major landmark in environmental history. EPA estimates that 83% of greenhouse gas emissions are from carbon dioxide (C02) released into the atmosphere.

As a group these coal-fired power plants are the single largest sources of C02 pollution in the U.S., producing nearly 25%. These new rules expect to produce a 20% reduction in C02 emissions at these plants by 2020 and 30% by 2030 (based on 2005 levels). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peter Bauer: Update On NYCO’s Wilderness Mining Plan

NYCO Minerals Wollastonite Mine (Nancie B Photo)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.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Peter Bauer:
Considering Three Hotel Projects in the Adirondacks

hotel-saranacThree 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.


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