Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.
Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.
He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.
A lot of people in New York State, including the governor, are upset that Iowa Pacific Holdings is storing empty tank cars on tracks in the Adirondacks. But what, if anything, can be done about it?
Iowa Pacific says that railroads are overseen by the federal government and so the state doesn’t have legal grounds to stop the storage.
But Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, argues that storing rail cars has nothing to do with rail transportation and so the state can assert jurisdiction. And he believes the state can take steps now to force Iowa Pacific to remove the cars. » Continue Reading.
It’s obvious to anyone who spends time here that the vast majority of people who live in or visit the Adirondack Park are white. This could have consequences for the Forest Preserve, because the Preserve belongs to all New Yorkers and its future is in their hands.
The latest census data indicate that about 18 percent of the state’s population is African-American (another 19 percent is Hispanic or Latino).
Although few African-Americans live in the Adirondacks, our region is not without its own black history. Most people will think of John Brown’s farm in North Elba and Gerrit Smith’s effort to relocate black farmers. But there is much more to the story.
Sally E. Svenson tells the rest of the story in Blacks in the Adirondacks: A History, a new book published by Syracuse University Press. As it turns out, African-Americans lived and worked in the Park as miners, loggers, musicians, waiters, and baseball players, among other things.
The historian Philip Terrie gives a favorable review to Svenson’s book in the November/December issue of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.
On July 15, 1932, two giants of wilderness preservation met on top of Mount Marcy: Bob Marshall and Paul Schaefer. Marshall was partway through a marathon hike that would take him to the summits of thirteen High Peaks. Schaefer was taking photos for a campaign against a proposal to allow cabins in the Forest Preserve.
Schaefer’s account of the chance meeting appears in an appendix to my book Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, a collection of Marshall’s writings. When told of the cabin proposal and various assaults on the Forest Preserve, Marshall became agitated and paced back and forth on the summit of the state’s highest mountain.
“We simply must band together — all of us who love the wilderness. We must fight together — wherever and whenever wilderness is attacked,” Marshall declared to Schaefer. A few years later, Marshall founded the Wilderness Society with some like-minded colleagues
Recently, I was returning from Nubble Cliff in the Giant Mountain Wilderness when I passed a tent on the southeast shore of the Giant’s Washbowl and heard someone breaking branches or dead trees, presumably gathering wood for a campfire.
Campfires are an Adirondack tradition. Who doesn’t like a fire when sleeping under the stars? Nevertheless, I couldn’t help thinking that this was not good for the environment. Rather, it was destructive. » Continue Reading.
The famed surveyor Verplanck Colvin built the first tower on Stillwater Mountain way back in 1882. The hole that once held his copper marker is still visible on the summit bedrock.
Colvin’s tower is long gone, but a steel tower built in 1919 still stands, and last week the state nominated the structure — along with the fire observer’s cabin and some other buildings — for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Click here to read the state’s application.» Continue Reading.
I took this photo of Big Brook early Friday evening while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Route 30. If you’ve driven that highway, you’ve probably admired this scene. And if you’re a canoeist, you’ve probably wondered if the brook can be paddled. It certainly looks inviting.
The legendary Fritz Wiessner established more than a dozen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks, according to the authors of Adirondack Rock. I’ve written about a few of the better ones, including Empress on Chapel Pond Slab, Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff, and Old Route on Rooster Comb Mountain.
One reason I’m drawn to Wiessner routes is their historical interest. Arguably, Wiessner was the strongest rock climber in the United States during the 1930s. Indeed, the authors of Yankee Rock and Ice suggest that the German immigrant “was so far ahead of what others were willing to try that he did not significantly improve the general standard.” In other words, few of his contemporaries could repeat his harder routes. » Continue Reading.
The state has reopened Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year.
As a result, the public can drive 3.2 miles up the dirt road. From there, hikers must walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds. Mountain bikers will once again be able to ride as far as the ponds, but no farther. » Continue Reading.
The Open Space Institute has purchased a 618-acre parcel along Lake Champlain, including 4,000 feet of shoreline, and plans to sell it to the state to be added to the forever-wild Forest Preserve.
The property lies across from Schuyler Island, an undeveloped island already in the Forest Preserve, according to the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.
OSI bought the land, which includes Trembleau Mountain, from the Gellert family for $500,000. It offers views of the High Peaks, Lake Champlain, and the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Department of Environmental Conservation plans to create trails after the state acquires the property.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the state has purchased 848 acres on Huckleberry Mountain in the town of Warrensburg from the Open Space Institute for $410,000, just a day after completing a deal to add the Marion Carry to the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
A news release says the views from Huckleberry include the Hudson River and nearby peaks. The property had been a large in-holding within the Lake George Wild Forest, complicating management and public access. » Continue Reading.
Environmental groups are alarmed by a conceptual proposal floated by the Cuomo administration to establish lodging facilities near Boreas Ponds — in an area they believe should be classified as “untrammeled” Wilderness.
The groups say they would fight any such proposal vigorously, contending that it would violate both the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Article 14, the section of the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest land.”
State officials have not released details of the proposal, but they have discussed it with the Park’s green groups. » Continue Reading.
Opponents of the state’s plan to remove 34 miles of tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake have questioned whether the state owns the rail corridor.
As it turns out, the state doesn’t own two parcels in the corridor: a half-mile stretch in Saranac Lake and a smaller parcel at the end of the line in Lake Placid. The state says it owns the rest of the corridor.
The Saranac Lake parcel is adjacent to North Country Community College and owned by Franklin and Essex counties. The Lake Placid parcel is owned by the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society, which operates a museum in the depot there. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates filed a friend-of-the-court brief this week in the lawsuit over the state’s plan to remove 34 miles of railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake and create a trail for bicycling, hiking, snowmobiling, and other pursuits.
ARTA joined the suit on the side of three state agencies being sued: the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Transportation, and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, based in Utica, contends the plan to divide the state-owned Adirondack Rail Corridor into an 85-mile rail segment and a 34-mile trail segment is illegal. DEC and DOT developed the plan, and the APA approved it. » Continue Reading.
The state is considering buying the only two parcels it doesn’t own in the 34-mile rail corridor between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, which would remove a legal impediment to replacing the train tracks with a recreational trail. Another option is to obtain an easement that would allow the public to use the parcels.
Evidently, though, some kind of agreement with the landowners needs to be reached for the state to go ahead with its controversial plan to remove the tracks.
The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which for years has operated a seasonal tourist train out of Lake Placid, has gone to court to block the removal of the rails.
After a hearing in late January, acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. asked the state to provide more information on the ownership of the corridor. Assistant Attorneys General Marie Chery-Sekhobo and Nicholas Buttino complied with the request in a memorandum of law sent to the judge last week. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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