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.
Under current state rules, wetlands are only protected if they are included on official wetland maps – even if the parcels otherwise meet protection standards – but Hochul proposes scrapping that approach and ensuring wetlands of 12.4 acres or greater are automatically protected.
The proposal included $500 million for clean water infrastructure spent on local projects across the state. The funds will support improvements to wastewater treatment plants and drinking water systems.
The salt pollution challenge can be daunting: years and years of salt use have already penetrated surface and groundwater and will stick around for years to come. And salt is still the No. 1 way of keeping winter roads safe.
But the small highway crew in Hague, on the western shores of Lake George has started to show that if you use less salt on the roads, less salt will show up in the water. After the Hague crew reduced its salt use by nearly 70% over the last five years, researchers with RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute have found an average 4% annual reduction in chloride concentrations in Hague Brook. More study is needed but it’s a positive sign that Hague is reducing salt on the roads and in the waters.
The village of Lake George is days away from turning on its new wastewater treatment plant – a major overhaul years in the making.
I visited the new facility (located in the same place as the old plant) last week and got a tour from plant operator Tim Shudt, who is nearing 10 years in the position. Construction is basically complete, but they are still working out some final details before the new plant can be switched on.
Overdue panel charged with preventing further pollution
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday named the members of a promised state task force charged with studying road salt use in the Adirondacks.
The 10 overdue appointees announced by the governor will join representatives from the state Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Health and Adirondack Park Agency as they set out to review current salt use practices and make recommendations to minimize future use.
The governor’s direct nominees include former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens; Adirondack Watershed Institute Executive Director Dan Kelting; Megan Phillips, vice president of conservation at the Adirondack Council; and Kristine Stepeneck, a professor at the University of Vermont.
While visiting family in Oregon recently, I spent some time reflecting on what makes the Adirondacks special, while also enjoying some of the incredible nature that makes the Pacific Northwest special.
(Please forgive this small departure from water issues – though forests, as any Adirondack history will remind you, are crucial to water quality.)
I visited Oregon’s largest state park, Silver Falls, about 50 miles south of Portland, which includes a loop trail that passes by as many as 10 impressive waterfalls. While on the coast, I hiked through extraordinary, old-growth forest and across cliffs that opened to admittedly-clouded ocean views.
As water across the park starts to freeze, I thought I would share an interesting paper published this fall that I came across in the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, published at Union College.
The study outlines the potential impacts of climate change on elite hockey athlete development in the North Country, focusing on the potential outcomes of shrinking access to outdoor ice during warming winters.
Harmful algal blooms – or HABs – are formations of cyanobacteria, which can rise to the water’s surface under the right conditions. While HABs have the potential to turn toxic, toxins have not been detected in the Lake George HABs. The HABs on Lake George continued in the Harris Bay area and in November the confirmed blooms included some around Cotton near Bolton Landing, according to the DEC map.
Last week, I visited the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College. After talking with the institute’s staff about a litany of water-related issues the organization works on, I walked around the lakefront campus with AWI’s leaders.
The college, which unsurprisingly is well-regarded for its environmental science, forestry and hotel management programs, has less than 1,000 students, what must be some of the best views of any campus in the country and 14,000 acres of Adirondack land.
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