Almanack Contributor Zachary Matson

Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.


Thursday, April 18, 2024

To the bank

wastewater treatment plant operator

Money update, auditor’s take

Lawmakers in Albany appear close to finalizing the state’s $237 billion budget. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an agreement last night (April 15) — even as some lawmakers said they were surprised by the news. Policy reporter Gwen Craig in her newsletter noted the agreement included reinstating annual water infrastructure spending to $500 million, after Hochul had proposed slashing the annual investment in drinking water and wastewater funding to $250 million.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Our guideboat heritage

 

A man works at a museum

Digitizing a boat collection

Adirondack Experience museum in Blue Mountain Lake maintains one of the most expansive and important collections of Adirondack guideboats anywhere.

It is working to digitize that collection through a process of creating 3-D models called photogrammetry. The models will enable anyone to access more details about the boats and enable researchers to examine how the boats evolved over time. How did boats differ from the Long Lake to Saranac Lake region? The 3-D models may reveal hints.

“The guideboat is really a supreme example of lightweight boat construction—of all wooden boat construction, anywhere,” Hallie Bond, who wrote the book on Adirondack boating, told me during a recent tour of the museum.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 4, 2024

Sue for the study

Saranac Lakes Chain

Environmental groups and unhappy neighbors in recent years have challenged a pair of proposed marina expansion projects in the Saranac Lakes Chain by accusing the state of failing to uphold a decades-old requirement to study how much use forest preserve lakes can withstand.

The requirement (mandate? obligation? suggestion?) resides in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which controls how the 6-million acre park is managed. The master plan has called on the Department of Environmental Conservation to complete a “comprehensive study of Adirondack lakes and ponds” aimed at determining “each water body’s capacity to withstand various uses, particularly motorized uses, and to maintain and enhance its biological, natural and aesthetic qualities.”

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Go fishing (on April 1)!

A man presents at a meeting before a group of people

Fishing season begins

As the annual trout fishing season begins on April 1, state fisheries managers are seeking public input into a plan that could shape the trout seasons of the future. After a pair of well-attended information sessions on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s emerging new ponded brook trout plan, the agency scheduled a third one to be held virtually on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Register here.

I went to the one in Warrensburg, where a team of fisheries managers and biologists outlined the plan and answered questions from a crowd full of anglers. They covered a lot of interesting topics – including plans to stock heritage strains more broadly – and detailed a planned increase of waters where baitfish will be restricted.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 21, 2024

Lake Champlain clean up

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announces the release of a new Lake Champlain watershed plan at Ausable Point Campground on Monday.

Plans for Lake Champlain

A new state plan outlines priority projects in the Lake Champlain watershed to help control phosphorus pollution into the nation’s 13th-largest lake.

After soliciting public feedback last year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Monday released the final version of its Lake Champlain Watershed Implementation Plan.

The plan offers the latest assessment of conditions and pollution sources on Lake Champlain and outlines projects that could help reduce phosphorus loading into the lake, a key pollutant that contributes to increasing harmful algae growth and declining water clarity. A 2002 federal pollution control plan set phosphorus targets for both New York and Vermont.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 14, 2024

Brook trout plan

Trout Power volunteer holds a brook trout.

Planning for (lake-dwelling) brook trout

State fisheries managers are seeking input on a plan that will shape their approach to managing lake-dwelling brook trout for the next 15 years. They hosted their first public information session in Old Forge on Saturday and have another one scheduled this weekend in Warrensburg.

After adopting a new trout stream management plan and regulations in 2020, the Department of Environmental Conservation is now working on a similar plan for the unique brook trout that live out their lives in Adirondack ponds and lakes.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Herbicide season

Eurasian watermilfoil

Fighting invasive milfoil

The planned use of the herbicide ProcellaCOR in the region’s long fight against invasive Eurasian watermilfoil continues to grow as lake communities across the park seek permission to use the product this spring.

The Adirondack Park Agency board at its meeting next week will be considering a permit application from the Brant Lake Association to use the herbicide to treat its worst milfoil beds later this spring.

John Dunn, the lake association president, told me the goal is that the herbicide can rein in the lake’s worst infestations, leaving sparser areas for dive teams to harvest by hand.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How many lake trout in Follensby Pond?

Follensby Pond

A new Adirondack laboratory

Over a decade ago, The Nature Conservancy paid a team of lake ecologists to assess the fish population at Follensby Pond, especially its prized lake trout fishery.

TNC had acquired the 970-acre lake and the surrounding 14,600 acres and were in the slow process of working out the details of its future with the state

The scientists, led by Chris Solomon, now of the Cary Institute, estimated the lake trout population in the low thousands (with just over 100 trophy-sized individuals topping 30 inches) and found that Follensby lake trout appeared to grow more slowly than typical of the slow-growing species. They simulated how the lake trout would respond to a variety of different angling pressures.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Adirondack towns score state water $$$

The Lake George Land Trust received over $4 million in state grants this month to protect land in the Lake George watershed. Photo by Zachary Matson

Grant money to preserve land, upgrade treatment plants, extend trout habitat

From removing culverts and reducing roadside erosion to covering salt piles and improving wastewater treatment plants, the latest round of state water quality grants will fund projects across the Adirondack Park.

State officials last week announced over $166 million statewide to fund 187 projects, including more than $6.3 million in Adirondack communities.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Protecting land protects water

Aerial view of intact forests along the North Branch of the Boquet River on the Ben Wever Farm property

Land protecting water

Healthy and protected forests create healthy water resources. And now the Open Space Institute has data to back it up.

OSI, one of the Northeast’s leading conservation organizations, last week published a report outlining how land conservation can serve as a strategy to protect and clean water.

The report set out to “bridge the gap between the broad ecosystem benefits often measured by land trusts and the pollutant load measures that serve as the primary ‘currency’ of clean water programs.”

» Continue Reading.


Friday, February 9, 2024

Miracle Ice

Steps of Olympic Center in winter

Ice that melts ice

The new refrigeration system at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid hums away throughout the winter, cooling three indoor rinks and the massive outdoor skating oval.

Upgraded in 2021 for $11.5 million, the improved system does something visitors to the Olympic rinks may not realize: It helps keep the sidewalks clear of snow and ice.

The massive compressors generate waste heat as they chill glycol pumped underneath the rinks. That heat is then sent to pipes installed underneath some of the center’s sidewalks outside. That repurposed waste heat helps keep the facility’s walkways clear and dry.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 4, 2024

A look back at state water spending

Wastewater treatment plant worker

A look back at key water spending

New York has invested $5 billion over the last seven years into a clean water grant program bolstering drinking water, wastewater and other projects across the state.

But the governor’s administration has failed to keep pace with the investment, leaving around $1.6 billion unspent despite a growing list of shovel-ready projects across the state, a new analysis from Environmental Advocates of New York found.

The report examined spending under the state’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act first approved in 2017. It found that the bulk of the spending in that time has been used to support improvements to municipal wastewater and drinking water systems, supporting 2,100 projects in total.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 25, 2024

Feds cut lake monitoring money

small boat on a big lake as part of a lake monitoring program

About a year ago, researchers at the Adirondack Watershed Institute started work on the region’s longest-running lake monitoring project, the Adirondack Long Term Monitoring program.

Since the 1980s, scientists have collected water chemistry data from 58 lakes throughout the Adirondacks — initially on a monthly basis and now slightly less frequently.

The program, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, was set up to monitor the impacts and regional recovery from acid rain.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Salt solutions from outside New York

A highway truck heads along Route 9N in Upper Jay near the East Branch of the Ausable River.

Seeking solutions:

New York uses more road salt than any state in the country. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only state grappling with the perennial challenge of keeping roads safe while minimizing damage to critical water resources.

For our current issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine, I scoured midwestern states for lessons that could inform debates in the Adirondack Park about how best to control road salt pollution.

Here’s an overview of what I found:

  • Regulate: Despite a longstanding federal recommendation, New York has never adopted a chloride standard for aquatic environments. While many of the standards I found in other state were well above levels considered healthy for lake systems, those rules were driving more formalized adoption of best practices than we have seen in New York. State officials have suggested a chloride standards is in the works in New York.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 13, 2024

Let’s talk salt

State plow truck

Join Us!

The Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force in September released its long-awaited recommendations to rein in the region’s road salt use, but a central question remains. What next?

The Adirondack Explorer will be hosting a discussion on Feb. 15 at the Wild Center beginning at 10 a.m. to dive into that question and many others with a panel of government leaders, task force members and independent experts.

We hope you will join us to learn more about the report and the path forward. The Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation have scheduled officials to join and talk about how their agencies are working to implement the report’s proposals.

» Continue Reading.



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