Almanack Contributor Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Phil Brown is the former Editor of 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.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

NYS Doesn’t Own 4 Parcels In Adirondack Rail-Trail Corridor

Adirondack Scenic RailroadThe state has identified four parcels along the Adirondack Rail Corridor that it doesn’t own, but officials say that shouldn’t hold up plans to build a controversial 34-mile rail trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.

“As is often the case in projects like this, title questions arise that must be resolved. That is the case here,” Benning DeLaMater, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said in an email to the Almanack.

Three of the parcels are in Saranac Lake and together comprise a 3,000-foot stretch of the corridor. One is owned by North Country Community College, and the other two are jointly owned by Essex County and Franklin County.

The fourth parcel, in Lake Placid, is owned by the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society, which operates a museum at the Lake Placid depot, where the rail line ends.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mike Carr Discusses Leaving Nature Conservancy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter 16 years on the job, Mike Carr says the time is right for him to step down as the executive director of the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy and to work full time for its affiliate, the Adirondack Land Trust.

Carr was instrumental in negotiating the deal to acquire 161,000 acres of Finch, Pruyn timberland for $110 million in 2007. Over the ensuing years, it sold 65,000 acres to the state. Most of the rest were protected with conservation easements.

The state purchased the last Finch, Pruyn parcel – the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract – in April. Over the next few years, the Nature Conservancy will oversee the removal of hunting camps on the Finch lands, but its work on the blockbuster deal is largely done.

“It feels like the right time,” Carr said when asked why he chose to change jobs now.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

APA Fails To End Criticism Over Boreas Ponds Options

boreasalternative4In response to public criticism, the Adirondack Park Agency staff came up with a fourth option for classifying the Boreas Ponds Tract, but it hasn’t ended the controversy.

The APA board is expected to vote Friday to hold public hearings on the four options, despite complaints that the staff failed to present a full range of alternatives for the tract and failed to properly analyze the alternatives it did present.

On Thursday, the State Land Committee voted to approve the hearing schedule and the four options, setting the stage for a vote by the full board, which is expected to follow suit.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Perfect Day For Climbing Thanksgiving

Monday was beautiful and sunny, with leaves at peak color. It also was Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, dozens of cars lined the shoulders of Route 73 near the trailheads for Giant Mountain.

Cars also were parked along the highway near Chapel Pond Slab, one of the region’s most popular rock-climbing venues. When Philip Brittan and I arrived at the base of the slab, we saw a party halfway up Regular Route, the most climbed route on the slab. As we put on our climbing shoes and harnesses and tied into the rope, three other parties showed up, all intent on climbing Regular Route.

Fortunately, we were climbing Thanksgiving. Given the holiday, this seemed especially appropriate. Thanksgiving is one of two major routes on Chapel Pond Slab established by the Alpine Club of Canada. The other is Victoria. It, too, is named after a Canadian holiday: Victoria Day.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Green Groups Call On APA To Reject Boreas Proposals

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAdirondack Forest Preserve advocacy groups are calling on the Adirondack Park Agency’s board to reject at this week’s meeting all three staff proposals for classifying the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract.

The major objection is that under all three proposals, a 6.8-mile logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds would be designated Wild Forest, which could allow people to drive all the way to the ponds.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), said it’s even possible that motorboats could be allowed on the water. Under the APA’s first alternative, the ponds would be classified Wild Forest, which could allow motorboats. The other two alternatives are silent on the ponds’ classification.

Woodworth said the APA board should direct the staff to come up with new proposals, a step that would delay public hearings on the Boreas classification. “It’s more important to get this classification right than do it fast,” he said.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 10, 2016

APA Prepares To Classify 90 Parcels Of State Land

Lake Andrew, near the Santanoni Range, by Carl Heilman IIAt its meeting this Thursday, the Adirondack Park Agency board may discuss, in addition to the Boreas Ponds Tract, the classification of two other large parcels abutting the High Peaks Wilderness, known as MacIntyre West and MacIntyre East.

Like the Boreas tract, both MacIntyre tracts were acquired by the state from the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy. They formerly had been owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.

All told, the APA board will consider classifications for 90 parcels of state land scattered throughout the Park. At 20,758 acres, the Boreas tract is by far the largest. The other 89 parcels together add up to 32,053 acres. They include 32 parcels of newly acquired land (totaling 30,284 acres) and 56 corrections to the APA map (totaling 1,949 acres).

» Continue Reading.


Friday, October 7, 2016

APA Sets Forth Three Options For Boreas Ponds

map-4The staff of the Adirondack Park Agency has set forth three alternatives for classifying the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, none of which mirrors proposals backed by the Nature Conservancy, which sold the land to the state, and other environmental groups.

The APA board is expected to discuss the alternatives at its meeting next week and hold public hearings around the state in November and December.

All the proposals of the APA and the various stakeholder groups would divide the tract into Wilderness, where no motorized use is allowed, and Wild Forest, where some motorized use can be permitted.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

County Line Flow: A New Place to Paddle

fishing brookThe Adirondack Park has its share of uninspired names for lakes and ponds. Think of all the Mud Ponds, Grass Ponds, Deer Ponds, and Moose Ponds scattered over our topo maps.

Perhaps no toponym is more prosaic than County Line Flow. Yes, it’s accurate, more or less. County Line Flow lies in Hamilton County less than a mile from the Essex County border [map]. But the name hardly does justice to the charm of this small water body and its marshy inlet. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Nature Conservancy Favors Wilderness For Boreas Ponds

tnc-mapThe Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy has taken the unusual step of entering into the debate over the classification of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which it sold to the state this year.

In a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the conservancy recommends that 11,500 acres be classified Wilderness, the most restrictive designation, and 9,030 acres be classified Wild Forest, which allows some motorized use. The adjacent 1,587-acre Casey Brook Tract also would be classified Wilderness.

Among other things, the tract’s classification will determine how close visitors will be allowed to drive to Boreas Ponds and whether they will be allowed to ride mountain bikes on old logging roads around the ponds.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

APA Plans Hearings On Boreas Ponds Classification

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled tentative dates for hearings on the controversial classification of Boreas Ponds.

The APA staff is expected to present a classification proposal for Boreas Ponds and other newly acquired state lands at the APA’s next board meeting, on October 13.

After reviewing public input, the agency is expected to vote on the classifications of these lands early next year. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will then write a management plan based on the classifications.

The classification of the 20,578-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which the state acquired in April, has been an issue that has generated much discussion on the Almanack. Click here for a list of some of the stories.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Towns Campaign For Motorized, Bike Access At Boreas Ponds

North Hudson and four nearby towns have launched a website and petition drive to muster support for classifying Boreas Ponds as Wild Forest instead of Wilderness, the designation supported by Forest Preserve advocates.

Called Access the Adirondacks, the website says the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract has a network of former logging roads and is suitable for a variety of recreational uses, including mountain biking, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.

“While some would have you believe the Boreas Ponds Tract is a unique ecological jewel untouched my man, nothing could be further from the truth,” the site says.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

On Sighting My First Black-Crowned Night-Heron

I’ve canoed all over the Adirondacks without ever seeing a black-crowned night-heron. Last weekend, I finally got to see one. On the Bronx River.

We saw other birds as well, including great blue herons, mallards, gulls, and (I think) cormorants. This being the Bronx, we also saw a lot of trash: plastic bags, soda bottles, an electric fan, a sunken tire.

But the river is much cleaner and more loved than in the past, thanks to a nonprofit organization called the Bronx River Alliance.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

American Alpine Club Chronicles Climbing Accidents

2016-accidents-croppedFor those who climb, Accidents in North American Climbing, issued annually by the American Alpine Club, should be required reading—not because climbers are morbid, but because they can learn from others’ mistakes, too many of which are fatal.

The 2016 edition, which was published recently, describes dozens of rock-climbing and mountaineering accidents from the previous year. Most occurred out west or in Alaska. The only incident in the Adirondacks involved a climber who fell on Wallface, a large and remote cliff in the High Peaks Wilderness.

I wrote about the Wallface accident on the Almanack soon after it happened. The climber, a 23-year-old man from Carmel, NY, plummeted 60 to 80 feet after his protection failed to hold on a popular route known as the Diagonal. State forest rangers and volunteer climbers carried out a complicated rescue and managed to get the victim to a hospital that night. He was knocked unconscious in the fall and suffered a deep head gash, but he was able to leave the hospital early the next day.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boreas Ponds Interim Access Plan Criticized

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome Forest Preserve advocates are concerned that the state’s decision to allow people to ride mountain bikes to Boreas Ponds under an interim-access plan could become the permanent policy for the newly acquired Boreas Ponds Tract.

Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, and David Gibson, a partner in Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, criticized this and other aspects of the interim plan released by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in late August.

The interim plan allows the public to drive 3.2 miles up the dirt Gulf Brook Road. From there, people can hike or bicycle the remaining 3.6 miles to the ponds.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hiking The Logging Roads Near Boreas Ponds

Not everyone who visits Boreas Ponds goes there to paddle. Some people just want to see the ponds and walk in the woods. But since the state has yet to create or mark any trails, what are hikers to do once they get there?

Last Sunday, my girlfriend Carol and I scouted out the old logging roads in the vicinity in the ponds. The next day I went back alone and hiked a loop around the ponds with side trips to White Lily Pond and the headwater pond of the Boreas River.

I rode my mountain bike to the dam on Boreas Ponds, as allowed under the interim-access plan, so I’ll use that as my starting point in the description of my itinerary. If you start your hike from the parking area on Gulf Brook Road, you’ll need to add 3.6 miles to the distances.

» Continue Reading.