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.
At 8 pm on Sunday evening, March 22, 2020, the State of New York began its official “pause” of most commercial and public activities in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Under the Governor’s executive order, all non-essential businesses are to close, and all state residents are to remain in their homes. Click here for a list of “essential businesses.” » Continue Reading.
It seems pretty clear at this point that the state agencies that manage the High Peaks Wilderness Area, and adjacent Wilderness areas, are not interested in limiting public use.
The state is investing in new parking areas, new hiking trails, and a new hiker transportation system that are all designed to facilitate ever-higher levels of public use in the High Peaks, not limit it.
Student enrollment in public schools is falling in every county in New York outside of New York City, except for one. School enrollments in 57 of New York’s 63 counties from Suffolk to Erie, Orange to Oswego, experienced declines in school enrollments in the last decade, from 2011 to 2019.
The only county outside of New York City to experience student enrollment growth was Saratoga County.
Yes, build the Hudson River bike trail from North Creek to Saratoga Springs. Build it, and they will come. They did not come for the ill-fated commuter trains, snow train, tourist trains or rail service that was going to haul millions of tons of aggregate from the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb. A groundswell of support is emerging for the transition of the dormant 55-mile-long Saratoga and North Creek Railway to the new Hudson River bike trail.
A new public trail from Saratoga Springs to North Creek would connect dozens of small communities such as Corinth, Lake Luzerne, Hadley, Stony Creek, Thurman, Athol, The Glen, Warrensburg, and Riparius among other hamlets and businesses along the rail line. Such a trail would be very popular and heavily used. As we’ve seen with the Warren County Bike Trail between Lake George and Glens Falls, businesses would gravitate to the trail. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2020 State of the State speech included two big pieces of good news for the Adirondack Park.
The first major highlight was his proposal for a $3 Billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act that will support a variety of pressing environmental and climate change challenges across New York. This proposal is the first listed in the 2020 State of the State book that accompanied the speech.
The 2018 population estimates by U.S. Census are out, which look at changes since 2010. The Census reports that New York’s population in these years is estimated to have grown by around 142,000 people. However, this growth has not been uniform throughout state.
The ten counties of Downstate New York (the three lower Hudson Valley counties of Orange, Rockland and Westchester; the two Long Island counties of Suffolk and Nassau; and the five New York City counties of Richmond, Bronx, New York, Kings and Queens) saw a collective gain of over 250,000 people. All Downstate counties posted gains, with the exception of Suffolk on outer Long Island, which was down by over 13,000 people.
In the July 2019 legal decision in favor of Protect the Adirondacks, regarding the constitutionality of excessive tree cutting by state agencies to build a network of Class II community connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, the Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled that the cutting of over 25,000 trees to build these trails violated Article 14, Section 1, of the state Constitution, the famed “forever wild” provision.
This article looks at the meaning of Article 14, Section 1, in light of this new ruling. (A related article dealt with use of the word “timber” in Article 14 of the state Constitution). This article looks at how small diameter trees have long been protected in Forest Preserve legal practice. Article 14 reads: “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”
By the metric of public use the High Peaks Wilderness Area, and nearby Giant, Hurricane and Sentinel Range Wilderness areas, are major successes. The crowds hiking in the High Peaks are at an all-time high. The current dismal state of many of the hiking trails does not seem to be a major deterrent to the throngs of people eager to hike one of the High Peaks.
For many people hiking a mountain like a High Peak is no sure thing and is, and should be, a challenge. There are plenty of highly used and popular smaller mountains throughout the Adirondacks that provide stunning views, but the allure of hiking a High Peak is immense.
Just after Labor Day weekend this year, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) completed its work to fully open up public access to the Boreas Ponds, in the southern High Peaks Wilderness Area. These beautiful ponds are now easily accessible for people to either canoe or to hike.
New state facilities were constructed over the past two years to rehabilitate the six-mile-long Gulf Brook Road, build parking lots, public education kiosks, a canoe carry and canoe launches to make this extraordinary natural wonder fully accessible to the public.
The reconstructed road and new access points opens a new southern gateway to the High Peaks Wilderness Area and makes easily reachable one of the most scenic and visually dramatic areas in the Adirondacks. Paddling through the network of three inter-connected waterways gives one the sensation of paddling through mountaintops. » Continue Reading.
Longtime grassroots Adirondack Park environmental activist Joe Mahay died in early August at home with his family. Joe and his wife Naomi Tannen had been living in Florence, Massachusetts, where for the past year and a half Joe had dealt with metastatic cancer and chemotherapy.
Joe was one of the founders of the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and twice served as its Chair, tactfully leading the organization through its formative years and a raucous debate over the future of the Adirondack Park in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Joe had a long career as an administrator at a non-profit agency working with people with developmental disabilities in Essex County and poured his volunteer time for many years into the protection of the Forest Preserve and Adirondack Park.
Protect the Adirondacks recently won a major victory in its lawsuit to enforce Article 14, Section 1 of the state Constitution, the well-known forever wild clause. The case challenged the excessive tree cutting undertaken by state agencies to build a vast network of Class II Community Connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
The case began in 2013 and this result has been six years in the making. Previously, the Appellate Division, Third Department, of the state Supreme Court had issued a preliminary injunction against this tree cutting in 2016 after the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had constructed or roughed out over 20 miles of new trails.
The new Frontier Town state campground was opened to great fanfare just before the July 4th holiday this year. The campground is now fully developed with campsites, trails, and amenities such as showers, playgrounds, horse stalls, pavilions, and scenic lookouts on the banks of the Schroon River, among other features. Construction of the new Paradox Brewery is well underway.
The Frontier Town Campground is designed to pay homage to the western themes of the old Frontier Town wild west amusement park that was in its heyday in the decades after the Second World War. The amusement park had become dilapidated over the years and the new campground was a State intervention to help restore the site to some form of commercial use. The main gate has a western design and many of the shower and bathroom buildings have western saloon facades. » Continue Reading.
I recently visited the rest areas on Northway that have been hyped as information hubs for the Adirondack Park as a tourism destination and as locations that will guide the public about hiking in the Forest Preserve, especially the High Peaks. These facilities are newly built and function adequately as typical rest areas with bathrooms, vending machines, and places to stretch your legs.
Unfortunately, there is scant information about hiking in the High Peaks or the Forest Preserve. As they stand now, these centers, especially the Northway northbound “High Peaks Center” between exits 29 and 30, and the major new tourism information center on the Northway northbound lane between exits 17 and 18, are major missed opportunities. » Continue Reading.
One way to understand Adirondack population trends is to look at the major changes in the experiences of different age groups. In this article we look at the experiences of the Late Baby Boomers, those born between 1956-1965, and the Generation Xers, those born 1966-1975.
Across Rural America these age groups saw major population losses by 2010, even as the U.S. population grew due to immigration from abroad.
The State Senate gaveled-out its historic 2019 Legislative Session on June 21st without acting on any of the four people that Governor Cuomo had nominated for the Board of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). These were among dozens of nominees to various state boards that were left unconfirmed, but the message from the State Senate was clear: changes were needed in many of the individuals and slates of nominees submitted by the Governor. » Continue Reading.
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