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.


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.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Adk Park Population Trends Track Those Of Rural America

AA-EmigrationCharts-National-MapsOne persistent myth in the Adirondack Park population debate is that environmental regulations and the Forest Preserve drive young people out of the Adirondack Park. In certain quarters this is considered gospel in the debate over the future of the Adirondack Park.

The reality is that this myth is a myth.

A great tool is being offered by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who put together a fascinating interactive website with U.S. population emigration data 1950-2010. It lets one explore various population migration trends across the U.S. post World War II. The UW-Madison site helps us in the Adirondacks see how our demographic trends track closely to the rest of rural America.

Population decline in rural America has been driven by the loss of the rural manufacturing base that could not compete with cheap overseas costs. It’s been driven by the vast mechanization and contraction of the farm and logging work forces. For example, Iowa State University reports the number of hog farmers in Iowa dropped from 65,000 in 1980 to 10,000 in 2002, while the number of hogs per farm increased from 200 to 1,400. It’s been driven by the massive growth of online shopping and services (remember in the days before NetFlix when there were video stores in several Park communities). Government austerity programs don’t help rural areas either as public sector employment is always higher in rural areas as a total percentage of the work force. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DEC Readies ATV Use Experiment on the Kushaqua Tract

 ATV-DamageThe NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing a new experiment trying to combine intensive public motorized recreational use and natural resource management. The DEC has released a draft Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Kushaqua Conservation Easement tract located in the Towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County.  Throughout this tract, the DEC is proposing to open a number of roads to all terrain vehicles (ATVs).

The DEC went down this road once before in the mid-1990s when they opened scores of roads on the Forest Preserve to ATVs. Though official processes were not followed at that time, scores of roads and trails throughout the western Adirondacks were opened to ATVs. Trespassing in other areas was also widespread across the Forest Preserve. After extensive damage to roads, trails, and natural resources, the DEC and APA backtracked in 2005 and closed scores of Forest Preserve roads to ATV use.

At that time, public ATV use on the Forest Preserve was seen by many as an experiment that failed. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Commentary: Statewide Action Needed for Invasives Control

invasive_curveMay 15, 2014 will see the beginning of a new mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program on Lake George designed to significantly reduce the risk of new aquatic invasive species (AIS) infestations. Each year, around 15,000 motorboats use Lake George, about 10,000 resident boats and around 5,000 transitory boats are trailered in from areas near and far.

Lake George is one of the most famous lakes in the eastern U.S., known internationally for its high water quality, clarity, and scenic beauty. This new mandatory boat control program will generate a lot of interest and help to raise the profile of bold, serious efforts to prevent the spread of AIS. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thoughts on Climate Change Denial in 2014

global-warming-socialist-scamIn 2014, global climate change denial not only persists, but is politically powerful and has effectively prevented the large-scale changes we need to start now to drastically reduce use and reliance on fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. We need to make this transition to avoid enormous negative changes that will make living conditions much more difficult in the decades ahead on a warmer planet.

Recently, Donald Trump, who tweets to about 2.5 million twitter followers, sent a message about the “global warming hoax” after he watched an NBC News report about the wave of current subzero temperatures in the northeast U.S.

There are a couple of things to note in this episode. First, Trump tweets to 2.5 million people, while climate change activist and author Bill Mckibben tweets to 111,000. Second, Trump distorts reality in a lazy self-referential way without looking at any evidence. Had he bothered to look at any easily accessible long-term temperature data, he would have found that in the past decade far more records (they ran 2-1 in fact) were set across the U.S. for all-time-high temperatures rather than all-time-lows. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

PROTECT Launches New Cougar Watch Project

CougarWatch-ArticleImageProtect the Adirondacks has launched a new project Cougar Watch to record public sightings of cougars (Puma concolor) in and around the Adirondack Park. There are regular reports of cougar sightings throughout the Adirondacks, but there has not been a publicly available repository to record these sightings. PROTECT will work to organize and map these reports and provide regular updates.

The purpose of the Cougar Watch project is two-fold. First, there continue to be regular reports of cougars across the Adirondacks. Jerry Jenkin’s Adirondack Atlas features a map of cougar sightings on page 51. PROTECT will manage a database about all reports made available to us. We will investigate sightings that include information, such as pictures, pictures of tracks, scat samples, etc. Second, if there is a cluster of reports in a specific geographic area, PROTECT will work with cougar experts to try and assess the presence of cougars. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Random Notes on Climate Change in 2013

namgnld_season22013 was another watershed year in climate change news. The reality of life on a warmer planet was seen in a variety of ways. The reality of the inability of U.S. and international efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels was also stark as use continues to rise. Here are some new data points about life on a warming planet.

The year’s biggest news was made last summer when scientists at a Hawaii research station measured 400 ppm (parts per million) of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has famously called the 350 ppm carbon mark the safe zone for avoiding the worst of climate change impacts. Some terrific charts in The Guardian (probably the best news site for tracking climate issues) provides important context to carbon loading to the earth’s atmosphere. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 23, 2013

LG Porous Pavement Project Update

Map shows Beach Road area at the south end of Lake George.The recent round of snow, ice and rain has provided a good opportunity to see the winter performance of the porous pavement used at the newly reconstructed Beach Road, on  Lake George. In the last few days we’ve seen lots of black ice and freezing rain, but the porous pavement has been clear.

This road project is one of the biggest experiments in the northeast in stormwater management, but many also believed it will provide better winter driving conditions too. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Peter Bauer: Local Activists Hold ATV Laws in Check

Local government leaders in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have tried for years to rapidly expand the use of public roads and public lands for All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) recreational use. This has been controversial and has resulted in a series of legal challenges. The most recent action was in the Town of Colton, where the Town just announced it plans to withdraw its local ATV law passed in August after a legal challenge by affected property owners was filed.

For more than a decade in the western Adirondacks and Tug Hill, local residents have repeatedly gone to court to stop aggressive local and county governments from illegally opening public roads to ATV riding. These same local governments also seek access to nearby Forest Preserve, state forests and conservation easement lands for ATV use. Three ATV law related lawsuits are currently pending in Lewis County. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peter Bauer: Backroom Land Classification Decisions

Essex ChainThe current Forest Preserve classification process underway at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the new lands around the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson River is likely go down as the worst administered process in the 40-year history of the APA. Since the close of the public hearing in mid-July, the APA leadership has openly subverted state law and moved decision making from an open and transparent public forum to a smokeless backroom.

The process has gone awry. The train has run off the tracks. This is evidenced by four recent events: » Continue Reading.


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