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.
The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society has asked a judge to prohibit the state from moving forward with a plan to remove 34 miles of railroad tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.
In a lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court, the nonprofit organization contends that the plan to divide a state-owned railroad corridor into a rail segment and trail segment violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and the state Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Law.
It names as defendants the Adirondack Park Agency, APA Chairwoman Lani Ulrich, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and Basil Seggos, the DEC acting commissioner.
Dick Booth probably won’t be on the Adirondack Park Agency’s board when it decides how to classify the recently acquired Boreas Ponds Tract, but he is convinced that most of the 20,758 acres should be designated Wilderness, the strictest of the APA’s land-use categories.
“The great bulk of the lands, including the ponds, should be Wilderness,” Booth told Adirondack Almanack on Tuesday, a day after revealing he intends to retire from the APA.
Environmental groups concur that the three linked ponds — with their stupendous views of the High Peaks — should be classified Wilderness, but local towns are arguing for a less-restrictive Wild Forest classification for the ponds and nearby land. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced approval of a controversial plan to remove state-owned railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a 34-mile multi-use trail. In addition, the state is committed to restoring 45 miles of tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.
The governor’s announcement is a victory for Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and a defeat for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates a tourist train on a 10-mile stretch of tracks that will be removed. Later in the day, ASR revealed that it recently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeking to save the tracks.
ARTA President Joe Mercurio, who lives in Saranac Lake, said he was thrilled by the governor’s announcement. “ARTA and a great many others have worked long and hard for this,” he said. “Governor Cuomo deserves a huge round of applause for his support. It was the right thing to do.”
The Adirondack Park Agency board will soon lose its strongest defender of wilderness: Dick Booth does not intend to serve another term.
Booth’s current four-year term expires June 30, but he said he will stay on awhile if a successor is not appointed by then.
A professor in Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning, Booth told Adirondack Almanack he is leaving partly out of frustration with decisions at the agency. He also said the long drive from Ithaca to Ray Brook for monthly meetings and poring over stacks of documents in preparation for those meetings proved draining over the years.
“I’ve been there eight and a half years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it, but at some point it’s time to step aside.”
Years ago I often saw a line of cars parked along McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake and wondered why they were there. There was no trailhead, no house, just nondescript woods.
Eventually, I learned that those woods harbored a collection of giant boulders and that people would drive for hours to climb them. Not just any people, but hard-core climbers willing to abrade their fingertips on tiny crimps, strain their biceps on overhanging rock, and curse the sky as they labored up routes that often are less than ten feet long. That is, boulderers. » Continue Reading.
Five local towns have set forth a land-use proposal for the newly acquired Boreas Ponds Tract that would allow mountain biking and “reasonable” motorized access — an alternative to plans supported by environmentalists.
Both the towns and environmental groups have proposed classification schemes that divide the 20,758-acre tract into Wilderness, where motors and bikes are prohibited, and Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification. The major difference is that the towns recommend that the Boreas Ponds themselves be designated Wild Forest.
Under all the plans, most people would be allowed to drive on the dirt Gulf Brook Road only as far as LaBier Flow, an impoundment on the Boreas River, the outlet of the ponds. From there, hikers would have to walk a mile or so to the ponds. Canoeists would have to paddle up the flow and then portage to the ponds.
Two of the Adirondack Park’s major environmental groups are suing the state over the management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes region—a large tract of forest, ponds, and streams that the state acquired from the Nature Conservancy as part of the blockbuster Finch, Pruyn deal.
Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Albany contending that the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy. » Continue Reading.
We have two milestones to report in the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer. The first is evident from the front cover: the state has purchased the spectacular Boreas Ponds, completing the acquisition of 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Nature Conservancy.
We broke the storyof the Boreas Ponds sale on Adirondack Almanack more than a week ago. It was later picked up by the Associated Press and other news outlets. In the Explorer, we expand on our initial story and discuss the major controversies regarding the management of the 20,760-acre tract. The magazine also includes a Viewpoint by Joe Martens, the state’s former environmental conservation commissioner, reflecting on the importance of Finch, Pruyn deal.
The second milestone also is evident from the cover — if you are holding a physical copy in your hands. The Explorer has switched to a higher-quality paper that better shows off the many beautiful photographs and other illustrations that appear in every issue. In addition, we have slightly reduced the page dimensions, making the newsmagazine more convenient to read, and improved our overall page design.
The state has purchased the 20,760-acre Boreas Ponds Tract on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness, the final phase in a multi-year deal to acquire 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.
One of the natural gems of the former Finch property, Boreas Ponds is expected to become a destination of paddlers, hikers, and backpackers. The waterway offers breathtaking views of the High Peaks, including Mount Marcy, the state’s tallest summit, and much of the Great Range.
The state paid $14.5 million for the tract, according to a deed filed April 5 in the Essex County clerk’s office.
Last month, the state’s top tribunal, the Court of Appeals, heard arguments in a legal dispute over the public’s right to paddle a two-mile stretch of water near Lake Lila. It is sometimes referred to as the Mud Pond Waterway.
I paddled the waterway in 2009 and was sued for trespass the following year. A state Supreme Court judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2013. The Appellate Division upheld the ruling in 2015, but the landowners appealed a second time.
Given that a ruling in the Court of Appeals could have statewide ramifications, there is a fair amount of interest in the case. Several reporters and photographers attended the oral arguments, and a number of newspapers around the state and outside the state ran stories.
Some news stories said the appellants — the Brandreth Park Association and the Friends of Thayer Lake — have owned the property since the mid-1800s. This is understandable, as a summary of the case on the Court of Appeals website stated that the land in question has been in the hands of the Brandreth family “since an ancestor bought it from the State in 1851.” » Continue Reading.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has concluded that an animal shown in a Crown Point video posted online last week is a house cat, not a mountain lion.
DEC placed a life-size cutout of a mountain lion in the area where the animal was filmed and determined that the animal was small enough that it could have passed under the belly of a mountain lion. (See photos below.)
DEC announced its findings in an email this morning, a week after the video had attracted attention online.
Three wildlife scientists from Panthera, a nonprofit organization that works to conserve the habitat of wild cats around the world, came to the same conclusion after reviewing the video, according to Christopher Spatz, president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation.
“They all suggested it was a house cat, judging by the gait,” said Spatz, whose organization favors restoring cougars to the East and other parts of the country.
The state hoped to buy the 20,760-acre Boreas Ponds Tract this fiscal year, which ended today (March 31). Although it didn’t happen, the acquisition is still in the works, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
“DEC remains committed to the purchase of the Boreas Ponds and is in the final stages of the acquisition,” said Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the agency.
The purchase will be the last phase in a multi-year deal to acquire 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.
A Franklin County angler died after his utility-task-vehicle broke through the ice on Union Falls Pond, according to state police.
Gregory N. Manchester, 59, of Franklin drove his vehicle onto the ice on Sunday to go fishing. He was reported missing the following morning.
A state police helicopter flew over the area and spotted his UTV partially submerged. State forest rangers followed footprints to a seasonal cabin and found Manchester lying on the floor, suffering from severe hypothermia. He was unresponsive.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
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