Thursday, September 20, 2007

RCPA Has New Chair: John Collins of Blue Mountain Lake

A Press Release recieved from the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA):

RCPA Votes John Collins as the New Chair of the Board of Directors

Robert Harrison of Brant Lake selected as Vice-Chair

North Creek – The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) Board of Directors voted John Collins of Blue Mountain Lake as the new Board Chair. John Collins was a founding Board member and has served on the Board since 1997. Robert Harrison of Brant Lake was voted in as the new Vice-Chair. Harrison has served on the RCPA Board since 2005.

“The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks is a very important voice. The RCPA serves as the eyes and ears and especially the voice for those of us who live in the Park and recognize its value. We will continue to work to protect the natural resources and promote a sustainable economy throughout this remarkable place. The Board and staff of the RCPA are committed to preserving the Forest Preserve, the great open spaces and the rural communities that are the Adirondacks,” said John Collins, the new RCPA Chair. Collins has served on the Town of Indian Lake Planning Board, the Indian Lake Central School District Board of Education, as a Commissioner and Chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency, on the Board and as Executive Director of the Adirondack Museum, on also currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Crary Foundation and the Northern Forest Center.

Robert Harrison was voted in as the RCPA’s Vice-Chair. Harrison is a member of the Brant Lake Volunteer Fire Department, is a school bus driver for the North Warren School District, and is a member of the Town of Horicon Master Plan Steering Committee. “I’m very concerned about the Adirondack Club & Resort project proposed for the Big Tupper Ski Area. The RCPA has applied for party status and will continue to participate and monitor this project in the months and years ahead. As an FSC certified landowner in the RCPA’s sustainable forestry certification program, I will work diligently to grow this program and recruit new landowners and help get more businesses certified to use certified wood and sell certified projects. This program seeks to build the local economy and protect private forestlands,” said Bob Harrison.

In addition Joe Mahay of Paradox was voted as the Secretary/Treasurer.

“We’re all delighted with the new leadership that John Collins and Bob Harrison bring to the RCPA,” said Peter Bauer, RCPA Executive Director. “We face many challenges across the Adirondacks from over-development, poor state management of the Forest Preserve, declining water quality, a serious shortage of affordable housing, invasive species and land protection among other issues. Our challenges are huge so somebody who knows the Park well, who has a successful business here, and who cares deeply about both the future of the Park’s wild areas and residents is critical at this point in time to lead the RCPA to confront these challenges.”

The 14-member RCPA Board of Directors are all year-round residents of the Adirondack Park. The Board meets seven times a year and holds an annual members meeting each September. The Board approves all RCPA programs and positions (all RCPA positions since 2003 are posted on the RCPA website www.rcpa.org). The RCPA manages the largest water quality monitoring program in the Adirondacks, the Park’s only sustainable forestry FSC certification project for landowners and businesses, monitors development on a town-by-town basis annually, and has issued reports on development trends in the Adirondack Park, ATV abuse of Forest Preserve lands, need for improvements in state regulation of septic systems in New York, and the future of Fire Towers on the public Forest Preserve and private lands in the Adirondacks. The RCPA manages the Adirondack Park Land Protection Campaign and the Adirondack Park Clean Waters Project and works collaboratively on various community development projects. The RCPA formed in 1990. The previous RCPA Chairs were Joe Mahay of Paradox, Philip Hamel of Saranac, and Peter Hornbeck of Olmstedville.

The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks

The Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the stewardship and protection of the natural environment and human communities of the Adirondack Park for current and future generations. The RCPA pursues this mission through advocacy, education, legal action, sustainable forestry certification, research, water quality monitoring and grassroots organizing. The RCPA has 3,500 household members and maintains an office in North Creek.


Friday, September 7, 2007

RCPA Executive Director Peter Bauer Leaving

Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks today. Before his tenure with since 1994, will leave his position by the end of September according to a news release the Adirondack Almanack receivedRCPA Bauer worked for the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century, and at Adirondack Life. In his position with the RCPA, he worked on a variety of issues affecting the stewardship and environmental protection of the public and private lands of the Adirondack Park and was the target of much right-wing criticism. He is married to Cathleen Collins and has two children, Jake and Emma. He will be moving to a position as Executive Director for the Fund For Lake George. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 25, 2007

2007 NY Legislative Results: Adirondack Edition

John Sheehan, of The Adirondack Council sent a set of e-mails outlining bills in the final days of the the State Legislature’s 2007 session that will have an impact on the Adirondacks. We’ll reprint part of his e-mails here for your information:

Raquette Lake Water Supply: On Wednesday June 20, at about 9:30 pm, the Assembly granted final passage to a Constitutional Amendment to allow the hamlet of Raquette Lake to construct its drinking water supply system on the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve. Construction (aside from trailside lean-tos and ranger cabins) is currently banned on the Forest Preserve. This bill would give permission only to Raquette Lake, and requires the Town of Long Lake, in which the hamlet is located, to swap a similar tract of land to the state to make up for the lost acreage. The bill passed both houses in 2006 and now will be on the November 2007 statewide ballot. It does not require the Governor’s signature. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and Assem. Robert Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, the Assembly EnCon chairman.

Route 56 Power Line Construction: The New York Power Authority is seeking permission from the public to construct a power supply line from Stark Falls Reservoir power dam in Colton, St. Lawrence County, to Tupper Lake, Franklin County, where power outages have been severe and frequent. NYPA has agreed to build the line along the side of Route 56, crossing an area of Forest Preserve, rather than detouring the line through an environmentally sensitive area containing endangered species, wetlands and an ancient white pine forest. In this case, the private lands around the Forest Preserve are wilder and in greater need of protection that the area of Forest Preserve adjacent to the state highway.

The Route 56 constitutional amendment passed the legislature last year, but had to be retracted due to errors in the first version. The Assembly’s approval late last night now represents first passage of a new amendment, so it must be passed again by a separately elected legislature before it can go on the ballot. The soonest that can happen is January 2009. Given the need to construct the line as soon as possible, environmental organizations have agreed not to try to prevent NYPA from building the power line without the benefit of official permission, explaining that the alternate route would cause needless ecological degradation to remote, pristine areas. A new power line right-of-way would only add to the threat of all-terrain vehicle trespass into those areas and adjacent Forest Preserve.The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assemblyman Sweeney.

Fire Fighting Costs: Also late night on June 20th, the Assembly granted final passage to a bill repealing the requirement that the 12 Adirondack Park counties and 3 Catskill Park counties repay the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for the assistance of state forest rangers in fighting forest fires on state lands in the two wilderness parks. This arcane fee had so outraged local officials that DEC had been reluctant in recent years to even bill them. The fee was a thorn in the side of the late Sen. Ronald Stafford, who sponsored similar legislation to repeal it, but was stopped short by the Assembly’s objections. The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assem. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent. The 12 Adirondack Forest Preserve counties are Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren and Washington. The three Catskill Forest Preserve counties are Greene, Sullivan and Ulster.

Environmental Protection Fund Expander: A bill sponsored by both Houses’ EnCon Chairmen, Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, and Assemblyman Sweeney. It would increase the Environmental Protection Fund from its current level of $150 million per year to $300 million by FY2009-10. The EPF’s main capital projects funds are for landfill closure and recycling grants, parks and historic preservation and open space. This bill has passed the Assembly and is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee. Under this bill, the funds available for open space should increase from the current $50 million annually to about $100 million.

Lake Colby Horsepower Limit: This bill would limit the size of boat motors on Lake Colby, near Saranac Lake, to 10 HP. The lakeshore owners requested this for their own peace and to preserve a colony of nesting loons. It has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly Rules Comte. It is sponsored by Sen. Little and Assem. Janet DuPrey, R-Plattsburgh.

NYS Invasive Species Council: A bill creating one has passed the Senate and awaits action in Assembly Rules. Sweeney/Marcellino.

Climate Change Task Force: A bill creating one is out of committee and awaiting action in each house; ready to pass when taken up. Marcellino/Sweeney.

Mileage and CO2: A bill would require carbon dioxide emissions information to be posted on the same sticker as mileage ratings for cars sold in New York State. Sweeney/Marcellino.

NCPR has a full report on what was left undone by our increasingly disfunctional legislature, including the Senates failure to confirm Spitzer’s choices to head the Adirondack Park Agency, the Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors, and the Upstate Economic Development Corporation.


Saturday, June 2, 2007

Adirondack Events: Watershed Ecology Lecture Series

The Lake George Land Conservancy and the Lake George Association a presenting a series of lectures on natural features of the Lake George watershed this spring and summer. The series of speakers will address the ecology and natural history plants and animals found around Lake George.

The events are free and open to the public. they will be held on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. at either the Lake George Association or the Lake George Land Conservancy; light refreshments will be provided.

June 14, “Bats in your Backyard,” Al Hicks, NYSDEC Mammal Specialist, 7 p.m. at LGA office.

June 28, “Lake George Fish: Natural History and Ecology,” Emily Zollweg, NYSDEC Senior Aquatic Biologist, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

July 12: “Zebra Mussels in Lake George,” John Wimbush, Darrin Fresh Water Institute researcher, 7 p.m. at LGA office.

July 26: “Rattlesnakes at Lake George: What You Need to Know but Were Afraid to Ask,” Bill Brown, associate professor emeritus of Biology at Skidmore College, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

Aug. 9: “Mushrooms of the Adirondacks,” Nancy Scarzello, 7 pm at LGA office.

Aug. 23: “Exploring Pond Life: Turtles, Frogs and Pollywogs,” Emily DeBolt, LGA education and outreach coordinator, 7 p.m. at LGLC office.

For more information contact LGA’s Emily DeBolt 518-668-3558 or LGLC’s Sarah Hoffman at 518-644-9673.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Unique Fingerprints Of Adirondack Wildlife

An interesting press release from the Wildlife Conservation Society on fisher fingerprints and other unique patterns in Adirondack mammal tracks.

A new study in the May issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management reports that scientists from the New York State Museum, Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups have teamed up with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice to developed a new technique that uses fingerprints to track the fisher – an elusive member of the weasel family, and the only carnivore species known to have unique fingerprints.

Fingerprints left behind at special tracking-boxes allow field biologists to identify which individual fisher had come in for the bait and, therefore, count the exact number of animals using an area. Scientists teamed with fingerprint experts at the New York State Department of Criminal Justice (DCJS) to develop this method, which is far simpler and less expensive compared to alternatives such as DNA fingerprinting.

Fisher prints differ from human fingerprints because they are made up of patterns of dots rather than ridges, so standard criminology software did not work. “We tried submitting fisher prints to the state’s fingerprint database but it didn’t pair up the prints well,” says Richard Higgins, retired chief of the DCJS Bureau of Criminal Identification. “But looking at them side-by-side it was obvious when you had a match.”

The fisher, an eight-pound member of the weasel family, is the only carnivore known to have fingerprints, which are also known from primates and koalas. Other species may also have unique patterns in their tracks that would help in counting their numbers in the wild.

“The few porcupine and opossum tracks we got had incredible patterns and will probably turn out to be unique with more study.” says Dr. Roland Kays, curator of mammals at the State Museum, who co-authored the Journal article, along with Higgins and others.

“Identifying individuals allows us to actually count how many animals are in different areas, which is essential information for monitoring their conservation status,” says Justina Ray, director of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada. “My hope is that we can apply this kind of inexpensive, sure-fire technology to help conserve a wide range of species, especially those that are threatened with extinction.”

Scientists surveyed fishers from 2000-2002 as part of a carnivore survey across 54 sites in the Adirondack region of Northern New York. Fishers were the second most commonly detected carnivore species, behind coyotes.

“Our study suggests fisher populations are healthy throughout most of Northern New York,” said Ray. “Fisher populations are rising in most of the Northeastern United States, showing that wildlife can reclaim their turf if forests are allowed to recover.”

Fishers were nearly driven to extinction in the state by deforestation and over-trapping before receiving protection in the 1930s. This led to a slow recovery, and limited trapping was permitted again in the 1970s. Their recent population boom appears to have begun in the 1990s.

Fishers spread south out of the Adirondacks and Vermont and into the Hudson Valley. They are also spreading westward, with today’s leading edge around Syracuse. Fishers were first recorded in the suburbs of Albany and Boston in the last six years.

The other co-authors of the Journal study are Mike Tymeson and Richard Higgins, DCJS; Carl J. Herzog, state Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany; Dr. Matthew E. Gompper, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO and Dr. William J. Zielinski United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Redwood Sciences Laboratory in Arcata, CA.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Adirondackers, Global Warming, & The End Of The World

Carl Thomas of Stony Creek, like his neighbor and Warrensburg First Baptist Church preacher Roger Richards, are regular writers to the Adirondack Journal. There’s a sense that both men believe they have it all pretty-well figured out. They know that evolution and global warming are a bunch of bull and they have no trouble lecturing their neighbors as to why. They don’t use words like “I think” because they prefer “the bible says.”

This past week, as nearly 1,500 communities across the county are preparing to meet together to teach and learn from each other and to renew a call for our nation’s leaders to make some progress – in Bill McKibben’s words, “to Step It Up” – in reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases, Carl Thomas thought it important to write a letter to the editor to say that there was “one major problem with McKibben’s idea: God’s Word.” Then he cited his proof from Matthew, Luke, Mark, and Psalms.


Based on what he calls “simple math” Stony Creek Carl believes that about 2030 is when the world will end, and there is nothing we can do about it – reducing carbon emissions, conserving energy, protecting the environment – it’s all in vain. “To the believer this is what we have been waiting for through the years,” Thomas wrote this past week, saying that “all scholars agree” that 1948 signaled the re-establishment of Israel and, since Psalms it says that most people live to be 70 or 80, “simple math mean[s] by2028…this age will end.”

Stony Creek Carl is one in a long line of true believers with apocalyptic math-bible obsessions. William Miller, of Low Hampton in Washington County, was recently notable for his own widely adopted math-bible obsession.

Miller was one of the earliest and most renowned proponents of what is now called Adventism – a belief held by the present 7th Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others that the second advent (second coming) of Christ was imminent. Miller, and the Millerites who accepted his teachings, believed the world would end in 1843. This was based on Miller’s “simple math” and supported by Daniel 8:14, which notes that “it will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” You can figure out for yourself how that theory worked out.

Like Stony Creek Carl, William Miller did some figurin’ and decided that “2,300 evenings and mornings” actually meant 2,300 years. And since the 2,300 years started in 457 B.C. when Artxerxes I of Persia (that’s basically Iran/Iraq/Syria) allowed the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Miller’s “simple math” determined that Christ would return, and the world would end, in 1843. “I was thus brought” Miller wrote, “to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time 1818 all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.”

Among Millers earliest believers was a man who Miller described as his “best friend on earth,” Chester Baptist Church pastor Truman Hendryx. Letters between William Miller and Hendryx reveal a close friendship, and a firm belief the world would soon end with Christ’s arrival, albeit with some question as to whether they had the time of his arrival correctly calculated. When the first biography of the William Miller was written in the 1870s, it included reprints of the two men’s correspondence.

Hendryx, Miller, and Stony Creek Carl are united in the belief that the world is going end soon – unfortunately for them (or fortunately, depending on your view) they didn’t have the same bible-math teacher.

There are however, glaring difference in the beliefs of the three men. During Hendryx and Miller’s time a debate regularly raged in Warren County about whether something should be done about slavery. Hendryx and Miller believed that slavery was awful, that it didn’t matter much whether or not slaves were free or not because, well, the world was going to end anyway. Still, they opposed slavery, and spoke passionately about its evils. They did something about slavery because they believed it was wrong. They believed they and their neighbors to the south could do better. Better for the humans held in bondage, and better in terms of their own (and their neighbors) sense of right and wrong.

It’s too bad Stony Creek Carl (and others like him) don’t feel the same way about global warming, one of the more important debates of our own time.

On Saturday, there will be at least a dozen Step It Up events inside the Adirondack Park. We received a number of invitations to local events, but we hope to split our own time between the event at Garnet Hill Lodge near North Creek (with hopes of enjoying the “Adirondack vegetarian buffet lunch” from 12 to 1) and an evening at Bolton Landing where Big Tuna and Blues Highway will be playing at 5 pm, at The Conservation Club (on Edgecomb Pond Road).


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Adirondack Northway Cell Phone Controversy

When two men died on the Northway in late January and early February, right-wingers, downstaters, and anti-environmentalists offensively used their deaths to go on the attack. Never mind these unfortunate folks were traveling through isolated mountain passes in what was certainly the worst weather of the season, and in one case, the worst ice storm in at least several years – the wing-nuts raised their collective cane in disgust over those of us who they said cared more about the environment than people.

“But it should not have come to this. This could have been prevented,” our State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said. She failed to mention that she was one of those at the top of the list who could have prevented it. Little and our Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) failed to act decisively to force cell-phone companies to provide adequate cell-coverage, and more importantly, they spent more than four years pretending that having a cell phone on the Northway was a substitute for common sense in considering driving conditions before you set out to cross the largest wilderness in the east.

“You mean we can talk to people on the moon, but we can’t talk to people on Interstate 87?” Abraham Isaac, a Jewish community activist said. His Voz Iz Neias blog has become a center for New York City / New Jersey folks who just can’t seem to understand that the world is not made of high-rises, strip-malls, and unlimited cell service. Maybe they’ve spent too much time talking to people on the moon.

Assemblyman an opportunist Roy McDonald met with people at, get this, the Wilton Mall food court to call the lack of cell service “geographic discrimination” and to say that “people’s live should come first” – “There’s a substantial part and areas throughout New York that don’t have service, and I don’t want the upstate area to turn into a third world country,” he said. Gee Mr. McDonald, ever meet any of the rural poor in our area? Ever consider that South Korea has better broadband penetration than the Untied States?

Senator Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn) said “Shame on those that would get in the way of human life, to lose a life for something as simple as not having a cell phone tower … is very telling about priorities.” Now that’s someone with priorities. Forget war, lack of health care or living wages, failure to fund education to such an extent that the courts had to force the state to act, a state legislature that is a laughing stock of the nation and about as un-democratic as it gets – no, the real priorities are cell service. Now that’s telling about priorities, namely Mr. Golden’s re-election prospects.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise said we were being kept in a “dark ages” by “absolute lunacy.” Blog writer Shlomah Shamos exclaimed the following outright lie “The untimely deaths of two beloved family men are on the conscience of the Adirondack Park Agency, who has been ignoring this issue and blocking all efforts” and asked “how many people have to die due to the lack of cell service on the Northway?” We’ll guess that many more will die on the Northway with cell service or without and Shlomah probably won’t give a single sentence to their deaths.

A guy from Jersey calling himself ironically, Right, Wing Nut! made the following assumptions, apparently out of ignorance of the facts (surprise, surprise):

LET ’em die – just don’t mess with our perfect view. That’s the message from New York environmentalists who’ve prevented the construction of cell-phone towers along Interstate 87 in the Adirondacks.

They like to call themselves “progressives”, but the enviorn”mental”ists are hell-bent on sending society careening backwards. Cutting off humanity from help so that a view may be perfectly preserved? Perfectly logical to the Greenies; and the deaths that result from their actions are consequences that they feel are worth the cost. I wonder if anyone has asked the survivors of the deceased their opinions…

And in the meanwhile, the Killer Greens have their way in the Adirondacks, and while folks die all around them, they pat themselves on the back…can’t wait until they can foist their policies upon the rest of us!

Ahhhh… sure… we’re not sure how the quality of life in Old Bridge, NJ is treating the Jersey Wing Nut, but we’re pretty sure the vast majority of folks here in our region would laugh at the thought of living there and our environment is the reason, not their cell phone coverage.

Anyway, here are some things to consider:

The Adirondack Park Agency already approved 32 – count ’em – thirty-two towers along the Northway. Even though they make a mint on out-of-service-area calls, the cell phone companies couldn’t make ENOUGH profit to install the towers.

Economic disparity makes owning a cell phone in Adirondack counties a lot less likely, even if service was available. The cell tower solution leaves the working poor, the elderly, and others who likely don’t have cell phones out of luck. They rely on common sense and avoid making trips across mountain passes during blizzards and ice storms.

Complete cell-phone coverage in the Adirondacks is a pipe-dream, unless there are towers on nearly every mountain in the region. Anyone who lives in the mountains, or even in the hilly suburbs knows they lose service all the time, no matter how close the nearest tower is.

Dependence on cell-phones in the case of emergency is downright stupid. Survival in the wilderness in the depths of winter is not dependent on the battery in your cell-phone or the nearest tower, it depends on your emergency preparation and winter survival skills – a $2 emergency blanket in the glove box might have saved the life of the first stranded motorist. The second died of a heart-attack while tromping through three foot snows.

If lower income people in our region can’t afford their own cell-phone service why should they be required to subsidize the cell service of downstaters? In Saratoga County, there was the plan to spend $12 to $15 million to improve cell service. The first call from Little and Sayward was to demand the state step in and foot the bill. If they were concerned about saving lives (especially of locals), they would fund helicopter rescue services, signs for thin ice, free health screenings, additional health centers, and a thousand other things people in the mountains need. $10 million would save a lot more lives (lost to heart attacks and broken bones) if it were spent on shoveling old folks’ homes out during storms.

Lake George Fire Chief Bruce Kilburn got it right when he said, “Some good preparedness and some prevention can alleviate and prevent a lot.” He suggested:

Having an emergency kit in your car.
Wearing warm clothes in winter in case you break down.
Carrying extra clothes or extra blankets.
Keeping emergency flares in your car.
Carrying an air horn in car.

He forgot to add: don’t cross mountain passes in the depths of a blizzard or ice storm unless you are prepared for the worst.

If there is anyone to blame for these terrible tragedies it’s the cell companies who just couldn’t make enough money – the proof is in the fact that those companies, Verizon, Sprint-Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobil among them, have now (according to Sayward) “committed to engineering [a] plan for the Adirondacks for us.” Unfortunately, Sayward still doesn’t get it, she added “so if we can gather the information, [sic] see if we can get this done over time.”

You keep working on it Theresa, but the next time someone dies on I-87 – take a few minutes to think about why you didn’t demand the cell companies install those long-approved towers. In the meantime, we’ll accept the message of Saranac Lake resident Mark Wilson, who said this week, “Life within the blue line is not easy, and it’s not meant to be easy sometimes.”

True enough.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Commentary: Adirondack Winter Sports Under Threat

If it wasn’t painfully obvious before, weather for this early January week that stretched into the sunny 60’s at some Adirondack locations should serve as a reminder that global warming is going to have serious impacts on the Adirondack region. Unfortunately, few here in the mountains seem to understand the gravity of the situation for our local economies.

Our friends working at Gore Mountain Ski Resort have been hardly working at all and consequently spending a lot less on dinners out, winter gear, and even beer and other important winter supplies. The few trails open on Gore are so crowded (with even the small crowd that’s there) that the die-hards refuse to make runs for fear of being run-over. Whiteface in Lake Placid has been forced to cancel its annual World Cup Freestyle competition (now being held at Deer Valley, Utah) and has virtually no beginner trails open.

Meanwhile, two of the largest developments in Adirondack history are expected to be rammed through the Adirondack Park Agency by pro-development George Pataki appointees. The most bizarre part of these projects is that they, believe it or not, have relied on development of two area ski resorts to appease locals and persuade some that the good they’ll provide for the local economy by way of skiing will outweigh the damage to the park.

Fred LeBrun noted in his column today:

[Tupper Lake project] developer Michael Foxman’s mega-vision to create the high-end Adirondack Club and Resort, which would include 700 expensive units on 6,400 acres, much of it in back country, has been highly controversial since it was proposed three years ago. Part of the plan, a sop to the locals, is reopening Big Tupper Ski Center as an economic engine.

In North Creek (Warren County), local politicos and real estate agents are pushing (with the help of newly appointed APA member, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chair, and Johnsburg Town Supervisor Bill Thomas) a project called – get this – Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain that would include exclusive trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private ski lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, on 430 acres, some of which on what was a town-owned park and before that the historic North Creek Ski Bowl where downhill skiing an early start in New York State.

Folks – skiing in the Adirondacks in the future will be all but dead. If there hasn’t been a proper ski season for Adirondack resorts in at least four years, and the experts agree that the coming year will be the warmest on record (again), it’s time to see the forest for the trees – no project tied to the ski season has a hope of being successful on that basis in the long run.

A recent regional global warming meeting reported that:

In the Northeast, the climate may be changing even more rapidly, particularly in winter. Compared to 1970, there are now 15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground in the Northeast, one study found. Some regional models also show an increase in average temperatures of 1.4 degrees over 102 years, but a spike of 2 to 4 degrees over the past 30 years.

“Climate has always been changing, so we can’t talk about climate change as something new,” said Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Climate Data Center at Cornell University. “Clearly, the temperatures we’re seeing today … are much warmer than we’ve seen for the last 1,000 years. Clearly, there’s warming almost everywhere.

“Climate change is upon us,” he said. “Climate is going to warm, so we do have to act and we do have to prepare.”

If there are any segments of the Adirondack economy that you can count on to take a nose dive in the next 20 years it’s winter sports. It doesn’t take a genius to understand “15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground” means that investing hundreds of millions in Adirondack skiing and snowmobiling industries is not a good idea. Despite the ignorant claim by Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center that there is “No cause for alarm. Enjoy it while you have it,” you might also forget large investments in ice fishing shanties and winter carnival concessions in case you needed to be told.

So why – oh please tell us why – are state and local governments spending so much money on these debacles?

Let’s start with ballsy developers:

The [Tupper Lake] developer is calling for the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency to come up with $50 million to $60 million for infrastructure costs. In essence, that would require the county taxpayers to guarantee the bonds for his private venture. That is a stupefying request. Even more mind-boggling is that there are those in the town and county who are ready to go along with the developer.

And add a dose of misguided Republican cronyism:

Gov. George Pataki, down to his final weeks in office, announced plans Friday for a $7 million expansion of the state-run Gore Mountain Ski Center that will enable the Johnsburg attraction to boast having the eighth-largest vertical drop in the eastern United States.

The state will spend an additional $3 million to complete the railroad line connection between [Republican] Saratoga Springs and [Republican] North Creek.

Skiers from Saratoga Springs, as well as the Albany and New York City areas, will be able to take the train to North Creek and leave their personal vehicles at home, Pataki said.

“You’re not going to have the traffic; you’re not going to have the pollution, and you’re not going to have the congestion. But you are going to have the economic growth,” he said during a press conference at the North Creek train station.

Bill “Snow Is All We Have” Thomas:

When completed, skiers from New York City and elsewhere could take a train up to North Creek, delivered within a half-mile of the ski bowl area, Thomas said. “It’s very important to tourism in Johnsburg,” Thomas said of the resort plans. “I see it as a big catalyst for Main Street businesses.”

Betty “I’m Not Running For Congress” Little:

“Gore Mountain is a tremendous asset for the state and for our region. All of us here today share the desire and realize the importance of making an already great skiing experience at Gore Mountain even better. That requires sizable investments by New York State.”

Ahhh… Betty… New York State doesn’t make “sizable investments,” the people of New York State do.

Since 1995, the state has poured $70 million into the Olympic Regional Development Authority. If we assume about 100,000 year-round residents, that’s $700 per person! And that doesn’t count state and local tax discounts, increased costs of services for local communities serving ski resorts, the higher costs of goods and services priced for the tourist market, county funds (like the Tupper Lake 50 or 60 million), and who knows what else. According to NCPR, “This year, Lake Placid’s sports and tourism venues received more than $40 million in state subsidies. That’s roughly $15 thousand for every man, woman and child living inside the village limits.”

Developers, local politicians, ill-informing media – go outside! See, that there is no snow, and not likely to be regular snow at anything near historic levels in our lifetimes. Stop pushing fantasies that hide your real motive – unlimited development of the last great wilderness area east of the Rockies.

And while we’re at it – we received an e-mail from Bill McKibben today announcing a “a day of demonstrations for April 14” – a great idea (info at Stepitup2007.org).

It’s going to be an unusual day. People will be rallying in many of America’s most iconic places: on the levees in New Orleans, on top of the melting ice sheets on Mt. Hood and in Glacier National Park, even underwater on the endangered coral reefs off Key West and Hawaii. But we need hundreds of rallies outside churches, and in city parks, and in rural fields. It’s not a huge task — assemble as many folks as possible, hoist a banner, take a picture. We’ll link pictures of the protests together electronically via the web—before the day is out, we’ll have a cascade of images to show both local and national media that Americans don’t consider this a secondary issue. That instead they want serious action now.

If you are planning to organize an event, please let us know – we’ll list events as they’re organized – wouldn’t events at local closed ski resorts be something?

UPDATE: Pam Mandrel, over at BlogHer, has linked to this post and included some other posts about global warming’s impact on the American ski industry. Thanks Pam for a great follow-up.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Timing of Pataki’s APA Appoints Questioned

We just received this press release from the Adirondack Council and thought it was worth sharing, in light of our last post. Also, Adirondack Base camp has an interesting post on the APA and what needs to be done.

Timing of Pataki APA Appointments to Park Agency Could Boost Chances of 800-lot Tupper Lake Subdivision

Governor Pataki has appointed (and the Senate confirmed at 2:15 p.m. today) two Adirondack Town Supervisors to serve on the 11-member Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners. The board has regulatory authority over all major development projects in the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Council is disappointed by these two appointments at this time, for two related reasons. First, both gentlemen are being asked to serve two masters. Both are the chief financial officers for their towns, as well as being representatives of their towns on their respective County Board of Supervisors. How, then, can they be impartial judges of development projects that might bring needed revenue into their communities, but would also harm the environment?

Worse, the two are from Warren and Hamilton counties, which together comprise more than one-third of the entire Adirondack Park, making a conflict of interest more likely. The Park Agency has no formal rules or guidelines to clarify what commissioners should do when faced with such conflicts. In some cases, commissioners have recused themselves, while in others they have not.

More curious is the timing of the appointments, one day before the Adirondack Park Agency is set to rule on whether it will accept as complete the application of failed savings & loan executive Michael Foxman for a sprawling 800-lot subdivision on the slopes around Big Tupper Ski Center. We are very much opposed to the project. However, the co-applicant for the project is the Town of Tupper Lake, causing us some worry that the appointments were made to grease the skids for the Tupper mega-development.

The appointees are Frank Mezzano, Supervisor of the Town of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County, and Bill Thomas, Supervisor of the Town of Johnsburg (North Creek is the biggest community) in Warren County.

There are two more interesting twists here. One: We and many other environmental advocates think Bill Thomas will, over time, be a good commissioner. He’s a smart guy and a dedicated public servant. We had suggested his name to the next administration, but cautioned that they wait until his tenure as Town Supervisor had ended in January 2007 (to avoid pressure and conflicts as commissioner). His appointment fills the seat vacated by Deanne Rehm of Bolton, who resigned at the end of her term this summer. Thomas’s term will run until 2010.

Two: Frank Mezzano resigned from the APA Board of Commissioners in the summer of this year, stating he would not serve out his term. He said some bitter things about the APA and the way commissioners made decisions. Yet, here he is again. He has been appointed to fill the vacancy left by his own resignation. This appointment is good only until June.

Thus, our suspicion that the Pataki Administration is scrambling to pack the APA board of commissioners prior to the Thursday/Friday vote to determine the fate of the Tupper mega-development. If the APA says the application is complete and sets a date for the first public hearing, the entire project could be ready for a final decision on the permit before June.

Keep in mind that Governor-elect Spitzer will have the authority to appoint his own chairman of the APA board, but cannot remove a sitting commissioner without just cause (proof of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance). He will have to await new vacancies to appoint his own commissioners.

John F. Sheehan
Communications Director
The Adirondack Council


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Adirondack Council Releases "State of the Park" Report

From John Sheehan, Communications Director for The Adirondack Council, we recently recieved the Council’s 21st annual State of the Park Report. You can view and download a low-resolution version from their website at www.adirondackcouncil.org.

According to Sheehan:

State of the Park is a non-partisan report card on the political decisions and actions that had the greatest impact — good or bad — on the health and well-being of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park over the past 12 months. You will find that State of the Park is the most detailed and comprehensive annual environmental review produced for any park in the United States. However, it is written for a general audience, not scientists, making it a useful tool for environmentally minded voters.

The Adirondack Park comprises 20 percent of New York State’s total land area. It has only 130,000 permanent residents, but hosts nearly 10 million visitors a year. The park contains 90 percent of all roadless Wilderness from Maine to the Everglades.

In furtherance of the Adirondack Council’s goal of holding public officials accountable for their actions, the Council doesn’t accept public grants or taxpayer-funded donations of any kind.

We know the Council has had its absolutley crazy moments – like when it supported Bush’s “Clear Skies” b-shit early in his first term.

Remember this, from Bush’s visit to help clearcut Whiteface?

I also call for new clear skies legislation, to set new tough standards to reduce air pollution. For decades, New Yorkers have been fighting acid rain. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments helped reduce the problem. And now we should do more at the Federal level. Some of the biggest sources of air pollution are the powerplants, which send tons of emissions into our air. Therefore we have set a goal: With clear skies legislation, America will do more to reduce powerplant emissions than ever before in our Nation’s history.

Sure folks, clear [ahem] skies.

Anyway, while they certainly disappointed us then, the Adirondack Council actually spends time and energy trying to protect the Adirondacks – for that they deserve our thanks.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Adirondack Wal-Mart Moves On

An important regional blogger Adirondack Wal-Mart will be writing only occasionally until the retail giant returns for another attempt at turning the Adirondacks into a suburban strip mall. According to a recent post:

I’ve been lured over to The Writing on the Wal. Until Wal-Mart raises its ugly head in the area, I’ll probably be posting only occasionally. If you want to see how Wal-Mart pretends to sleep after a defeat, read this post. It’s a very persistent company.

The latest in Saranac Lake is the possibility of an Aldi Supermarket – but guess who won’t support it? That’s right, the big Wal-Mart supporters. Apparently it was more of a political issue for them as well and less of a matter of getting an affordable store in town. We still think a community co-op, something like Honest Weight down in Albany, is the best path for isolated communities to protect their economies and provide the goods we all need.

Thanks again Adirondack Wal-Mart for all the great posts and for keeping us informed in a far more in-depth way that any of our local newspapers could (or would).

Check out the Adirondack Almanack’s previous Wal-Mart posts.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Battenkill, Fish, Food, and a Field and Stream Blog

One of the sites we keep tabs on here at the Adirondack Almanack is Dave Hurteau’s blog Field Notes. He’s often got his huntin’ and fishin’ blinders on, but Hurteau (an editor at Field & Stream) lives in Upstate New York and many of his posts are about our region – last month he looked at the fish stocking controversy over at the Battenkill in Washington County.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife announced a plan to stock the Battenkill with non-native rainbow trout, the Orvis Company threatened to take back a promised $100,000 grant for the stream’s habitat restoration. Guess who won that battle.

Why you’re there, check out these two recent posts:

According to the latest study, 43 percent of the fish consumed by humans now come from aquaculture, compared to just 9 percent in 1980. That’s 45.5 million tons of farmed fish, worth $63 billion, eaten each year, according to this press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [Link]

and…

Malden Nesheim, a professor emeritus of nutrition at Cornell University and chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee, said the panel actually found slim evidence for many claims about the health benefits of fish as well as the dangers. “We were surprised at the lack of reliable data on the distribution of contaminants in our seafood supply or on how the benefits might counteract the risks,” he told reporters. [Link]


Suggested Reading

The Battenkill, by John Merwin

Mid-Atlantic Trout Streams and Their Hatches: Overlooked Angling in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Global Warming Fantasies Revisited: Adirondack Edition

Our last post concerning the impacts of global warming in our region drew a lot of comments and discussion – including a comment by the Engineer for the Barton / Gore Mountain Wind Project Jim McAndrew about our opposition to his project which we’ll address in a future post on wind power in our region.

One thing is for sure – the experts are warning. Sadly, as is that case with over-development of the Adirondack Park, expanded roads and trails, and lots of other issues which pose dangers to America’s largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi – many of our local commentators, local media, and local cit zens don’t seem to get it.

Take this tidbit from Ed Shamy at the Burlington Free Press:

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) warned last week that if we don’t take immediate steps to curb global warming, Vermont and the other Northeastern states could face dire consequences by the end of this century.

Our winters could warm by 8 to 12 degrees. The length of the winter snow season could be cut in half. Our growing season could be extended by up to four weeks. We could tack three new summer-like weeks onto May and another three onto September and October. And spring could arrive three weeks earlier than it does now.

Shamy claims he wants to be concerned about “our grotesque automobile and factory emissions,” but really he’s thinking more about himself:

But most of the “perils” seem awfully appealing. If we don’t change our ways, we in Vermont will have winters more like Virginia, you say?

Is that a threat or a promise?

Gee, Shamy, that’s a funny column, but the fact is the threat is a real promise and it’s time people with an “authorized” voice such as yourself started taking it a little more seriously.

Though come to think of it, we only had two 90-degree days this year, so multiply that by three and you have six, which doesn’t sound all that rugged. I could live without more summer heat, but I could live without being a better cribbage player, too. Life is a mixed bag that way.

What exactly is left in your mixed bag when the big lakes no longer freeze, the maple trees are dying, the ski areas are slowly being put out of business, and the tourists move on to more suitable climes?

Here’s a couple of other items:

Almanack Reader and Interim Director of the Center for Environmental Programs at Bowling Green State University Philip G. Terrie has pointed us to the UCS site on local Global Warming impacts – thank you Mr. Terrie.

Ever wonder why the Albany Times Union has such a poor record in elucidating our warmer future? Maybe it has something to do with the big-wigs there, like Associate Editor William M. Dowd, who harbors old right-wing fantasies about global warming. Here’s a gem from a guy who I would guess doesn’t hold a steady interest in, let alone an advanced degree in climatology or environmental science:

I am not a believer in the theory of global warming.

Not that it isn’t getting warmer in some parts of the globe. It is, despite record cold spells and hideous weather across Europe again this year. No, I speak here of the unfortunately widely-promulgated notion that we humans have something to do with climate changes and have the power to influence it to a large extent.

Unfortunately, he’ll probably be long gone when it comes time to eat those words.

And finally from the “just doesn’t get it department,” we have StrikeSlip busy attacking the minds in the country’s most environmentally conscious state for “grandstanding” on global warming.

We know how this ends for the folks who just can’t believe in progress – slavery ends, women get to vote, we stop turning our rivers into sewers, we ban stuff that causes cancer, and we start taking our impacts (personal and otherwise) seriously – at least that the way we hope it happens, old media loudmouths be damned.

Take the time to check out:

The Adirondack Almanack’s complete series of articles on the environment

Groovy Green a really great environmental blog from central new york


Thursday, October 5, 2006

How Much of the Earth’s Resources Do You Use?

Ever wonder how much productive land and water you need to support your lifestyle? The Earth Day Network offers 15 easy questions to compare your Ecological Footprint to what others use and how many planets we’d need if everyone lived the way we do. The results are amazing.


Tuesday, October 3, 2006

World Water Monitoring Day (October 4)

In honor of this week’s World Water Monitoring Day (October 4) take a look at Paul Smith College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute.

The AWI offers a range of services to the public, including invasive species management, water quality monitoring, public education, recreation use studies, fisheries management, ecological studies, forest management and educational publications. Additionally, the program hosts the annual Adirondack Water Quality Conference at Paul Smith’s College.

Water is one of our key Adirondack resources and it’s good news that students from the Earth and Environmental Science Department at SUNY Plattsburgh have recently finished a two year long baseline survey of the hydrology and invasive species in the the 280-square -mile Boquet River Watershed. This data will contribute immensely to our understanding of Adirondack waterways.

If you are interested in being involved in water monitoring day, you might ask the US Geological Survey scientists from the New York Water Science Center to take you along on their trip with students to visit a stream gauge station on Onondaga Creek in Syracuse where they will gather water samples and conduct water-quality tests. The event is sponsored by the Onondaga Environmental Institute and the Onondaga Lake Partnership, and scientists from the Upstate Freshwater Institute in Onondaga County. For more information contact William Kappela at (607) 266-0217, ext. 3013.