Saturday, July 23, 2011

Solar-Voltaic Boot Camp at the Wild Center

As the cost of home heating oil rises and oil reserves decline, the need for alternative renewable energy sources such as solar has never been greater. You can help kick the oil habit by learning to install solar photo-voltaic systems at The Wild Center, in Tupper Lake. From August 8 – 10, the HeatSpring Learning Institute will host a Solar Photo-Voltaic Installer Boot Camp Training course targeted for electrical contractors, general contractors, roofers, engineers and home installers.

This intensive solar training teaches you to design, install, and sell solar PV (electric) systems, plus helps you pass the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level Exam. The training combines 16 hours of online lessons including reading assignments, worksheets and other prep with a three-day classroom based boot camp including hands-on exercises and face to face time with an ISPQ Certified Master trainer. On the last day of the training students take the NABCEP Entry Level Exam. The blended format of this course is designed to keep time off-the-job to a minimum and present the material in a variety of formats to allow for a variety of student learning styles.

The three-day classroom based training follows 16 hours of online study beforehand when you review OSHA and solar safety, electricity basics, solar basics, solar components and solar integration. Learn to design and install solar electric systems from A to Z while earning 40 Board approved hours toward NABCEP certification, a key step to beginning or expanding your solar business.

Instructor Ken Thames is a master electrician, NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer, ISPQ Certified Master Trainer and founder of Thames Electric Co, in Denver, Colorado. Ken has installed more than 500 solar PV systems since 1994, has deep expertise in battery-backed systems, project management experience on megawatt-scale projects, and teaches courses on the NEC for inspectors.

Each day the course runs from 8 am until 5 pm. With early registration and The Wild Center coupon, the cost for the course is $1,195. The cost includes books, exam fees, field guides, as well as coffee, breakfast and lunch on all three days. Register online for the three-day comprehensive course, at www.wildcenter.org and go to Calendar of Events or contact Andrew Kitzenberg at 1-800-393-2044 x 22.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Invasives Program Named ‘Conservationist of the Year’

The Adirondack Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) received the Adirondack Council’s “2001 Conservationist of the Year” award in a ceremony at the historic Irondequoit Inn on July 9. APIPP is the 27th winner of the prestigious annual award. APIPP Director Hilary Smith accepted on the award on the organization’s behalf.

“APPIP has pioneered the effort to get control of the invasive, non-native plants that threaten to destroy and replace the healthy, native trees and plants of our vast Adirondack forests,” said Brian L. Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “Under Hilary Smith’s leadership, APPIP has identified the places that need immediate attention and has trained and organized an army of volunteers to take on the hard work. It is not easy to identify, and then properly remove and dispose of invaders so they don’t take root somewhere else. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dave Gibson: Building Rights for ACR?

Most American communities will ultimately develop according to how they are zoned. Absent state or federal regulatory protection of wetlands, for instance, or other legal protection or zoning overlays, land in R-1 or other residential zoning will ultimately, some day be valued, bought, sold, and developed consistent with the number of houses allowed there under the local zoning code.

Of course, towns are legally allowed to plan for their futures, and regulate development in a far more creative fashion, but few in my area seem to use that authority. I live outside the Adirondack Park in Saratoga County, and found out that the allowable density under the zoning law in my town far outweighed the presence of a lot of small (read unregulated) wetlands, wet soils, lots and lots of trees, and well adapted critters like hawks and owls.

An out of state developer was, therefore, “entitled” to 18 homes and 18 separate driveways on 18-wooded acres in this R-1 residential zone. Any questioning of this formula resulted in assertions by the town attorney that the applicant has vested rights in that number of lots. Lo and behold, the planning board actually asserted its authority and knocked out two lots, but I suspect that was only because a bunch of neighboring citizens, including my family, sued the town for failing to conduct a meaningful environmental review (the suit proved ultimately unsuccessful).

The neighbors walked and photographed the land in question in all seasons, and predicted that building over such a high water table would require expensive engineering vulnerable to failure, subjecting the neighbors to flooded cellars, and requiring sensitive wildlife “to move.” Any sympathy at town hall evaporated after the lawsuit. The board felt they had bent over backwards by knocking out two lots. Why this swampy land full of wood frogs was wrapped into the adjoining R-1 district was the town board’s, and not the planning board’s responsibility.

In contrast, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) must interpret development density in the context of complicated regional legislation called the APA Land Use and Development Plan whose purpose is to “insure optimum overall conservation, protection, preservation, development and use of the park’s unique resources.” Under the APA law, there are no land use zones. In fact, you can not even find the word “zoning,” or zone in the definitions section. There are, instead, “land use areas.” Each of these six areas is described as to their character, purposes, policies and objectives. Each has a different guideline for the overall intensity of development which, according to the law’s logic, is compatible with and help to perpetuate the existing character, purposes, and uses of the land.

For instance, under the Resource Management (RM) land use area (whose basic purpose, quoting from the Act, is “to protect the delicate physical and biological resources, encourage proper and economic management of forest, agricultural and recreational resources, and preserve the open spaces that are essential and basic to the unique character of the park”) the overall intensity of development “should not exceed approximately fifteen principal buildings per square mile.” Hence, the oft-used expression that in this largest and most protected of private land use areas there is “43-acre zoning,” or one principal building allowed per 42.6 acres.

“43-acre zoning” is a serious misreading and misapplication of the APA law. This is because mathematical achievement of the overall intensity guidelines should only be viewed in context with other criteria for determining project approvability, including whether or not a development project would be compatible with the purposes, policies and objectives of the land use area in question, or whether it would cause an “undue adverse impact” upon the resources of the park which, in turn, must be assessed according to numerous and defined development “considerations” for water, land, air, noise, critical resources, wildlife, aesthetics, historic factors, and lots more defined in regulation. Knowing this makes the “shall not exceed approximately” language of the overall intensity guidelines more understandable. The Act is clearly not like my town’s zoning law. 43-acres per principal building in RM are not a vested right, but a guideline judged in context with other equally weighted criteria needed to comprehensively assess a given project.

Some APA applicants, particularly if they have attorneys representing them, misread the APA Act purposefully and speak of these intensity guidelines as a legal, vested, valuable (in dollars) right. Even the APA can forget the context of its own law. For instance, as the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) hearing got underway in March, APA hearing staff issued a draft document attempting to stipulate how many mathematical “building rights” the applicant Michael Foxman had in the two affected land use areas, Resource Management and Moderate Intensity Use. This language was objected to by a variety of parties, and APA quickly conceded the point and from then on used the term “principal building opportunity.”

Foxman’s ACR attorney Tom Ulasewicz never conceded the point, and used the term “building rights” repeatedly, even at the last day of the hearing in late June. At no point do I recall APA staff correcting him, or objecting to his frequent assertion of “building rights” in the hearing record. This tolerance for language that so distorts the law’s purposes may be a pet peeve of mine, but I fear it’s a symptom of a lowering of standards for project review at the park agency.

Does the fact that ACR’s Michael Foxman proposes to build 82 new principal buildings on nearly 4800 acres of Resource Management mean he is in the clear as far as this aspect of the law goes? Applying the overall intensity guidelines math (“43-acre zoning”) means he could “potentially” build 111 new homes on RM. As ACR attorney Ulasewicz frequently pointed out, his client is far below the “legal threshold.” There are 29 “additional principal building opportunities” which ACR is “not using” he pointed out at frequent intervals.

The answer to such a distorted view of the law should be that after weighing the hearing evidence and its law, the APA would be completely within its legal rights to declare that, for instance, all or large portions of the RM land should remain as it is, undeveloped, so that this land use area can continue to serve its legally defined purposes, policies and objectives, and so that a variety of undue adverse impacts may be avoided.

Photo: APA Staff at a 2007 field trip to the ACR site.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Wilderness, Our Community of Life

What follows is a talk given at the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks’s Arthur M. Crocker Lecture Series in 2006.

It somehow takes the pressure off public speaking to know that one stands up here, rather than sits out there only by accident of birth. That is to say: my father Howard Zahniser, who died four months before the 1964 Wilderness Act became law, was the chief architect of, and lobbyist for, this landmark Act that created the now 106-million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. I am up here because of his accomplishments. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

LGLC Honors Margaret Darrin At ‘Peggy’s Point’

The Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) held a dedication ceremony recently in honor of Mrs. Margaret A. Darrin for the newly named Peggy’s Point in Hague. The dedication of Peggy’s Point was made in recognition of Mrs. Darrin’s contributions to the Lake George Land Conservancy, including her donation of the 1.9-acre park in 2005.

Nearly 100 people came to witness the celebration of Darrin at the Hague Community Center, including Peggy’s three sons and their wives, and six grandchildren. Among those who spoke during the ceremony were Hague Town Supervisor Dan Belden, historian Judy Shultz, LGLC Board President John Macionis, LGLC Executive Director Nancy Williams, and Peggy’s sons Drake and David and granddaughter, Hannah Darrin.

“Peggy is a great inspiration,” said Macionis, adding “I hope we can all follow her lead to find our own ways in which we as individuals can contribute to the protection of the lake.”

Drake Darrin read from a prepared speech of fond personal memories he shared with his mother, including the many swimming lessons from their dock. “Your love of the lake over the years is contagious.”

Williams spoke to the group of the park’s Friendship Garden, of which she said, “the rules of the garden are simple. It is here for you.” To Peggy, she added a personal thank you, sharing that the garden project was responsible for reconnecting her with her brother, to whom she hadn’t spoken in 30 years.

Williams also took several minutes to go through the many names of individuals and businesses that contributed to the park and its Friendship Garden, in materials, time or monetary donations. Among them were Dan Belden, the Town of Hague and staff, David and Joanne DeFranco and team at DeFranco Landscaping, Judy Shultz and the Hague Historical Society, the entire Darrin family, Julia Beaty, Mary Lou Doulin, Peter Foster, Doug Langdon, Rich Morgan, Ray Murray, Scott and Alice Patchett, Betty Hans Rettig and the Carillon Garden Club, Nancy Scarzello, CL Williams, and the LGLC Stewardship Assistants who worked for weeks to the fence, path and garden, Mike Cerasaro and Jack Willis. In addition, plants for the garden were provided by Emily DeBolt of Fiddlehead Creek Native Plant Nursery and Mark Perry of Sweet Pea Farm Perennials and Art Gallery.

The ceremony ended with a champaign toast and cake, after which those in attendance then visited the property and contributed plants to the Friendship Garden.

The public is invited to add to the Friendship Garden; it is intended to provide a location for local residents and other Lake George visitors to memorialize or honor a loved family member, friend, memory or event with the planting of a perennial or small shrub. Plants may also be marked with small identifying plaques. For more information see www.lglc.org/naturepreserves/peggyspoint or call Sarah at 518-644-9673.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jerry Jenkins to Receive Hochschild Award

The Board of Trustees of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York has announced the selection of Jerry Jenkins as the recipient of the 2011 Harold K. Hochschild Award.

The Harold K. Hochschild Award is dedicated to the memory of the museum’s founder, whose passion for the Adirondacks, its people, and environment inspired the creation of the Adirondack Museum. Since 1990 the museum has presented the award to a wide range of intellectual and community leaders throughout the Adirondack Park, highlighting their contributions to the region’s culture and quality of life.

The Adirondack Museum will formally present Jerry Jenkins with the Harold K. Hochschild Award on August 4, 2011.

Jerry Jenkins is an ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program (WCS). An accomplished botanist, naturalist and geographer, he has almost forty years of field experience working in the Northern Forest. Over the course of his career, his work has included conducting biological inventories for The Adirondack Chapter of the Nature
Conservancy, surveying rare plant occurrences for the State of Vermont, chronicling the environmental history of acid rain with the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation, and understanding and interpreting historical changes to boreal lowland areas in the Adirondacks with WCS. His enthusiasm for natural history has also led him to study plant diversity and distribution across various forest types – from the Champlain Hills to large working forest
easements, and from old growth forests to high elevation alpine communities.

His most recent and notable accomplishments with the Wildlife Conservation Society are his collection of Adirondack publications. Together with Andy Keal, Jerry Jenkins co-authored The The Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park, considered one of the most significant Adirondack book in a generation. Some 300 pages in length, the Adirondack Atlas contains 750
maps and graphics, and represents the most comprehensive collection of regional data brought together in a single source. The park’s geology, flora and fauna are featured, as well as the history and the dynamic nature of the park’s human communities. Bill McKibben describes the atlas as a “great gift…that marks a coming of age.”

In his newest book Climate Change in the Adirondacks the Path to Sustainability, Jenkins demonstrates how climate change is already shifting the region’s culture, biology and economy, and provides a road map towards a more responsible and sustainable future. He provides the first comprehensive look at both the impacts of, and the potential solutions to, climate change across the Adirondack region. This compilation, along with his other regional contributions, prompted Bill McKibben to offer that “Jerry Jenkins has emerged as the information source for our mountains…and we are all in his debt.”

Photo Courtesy Leslie Karasin, Wildlife Conservation Society.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Envisioning a Future for the Adirondack Park

The Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks will meet in Long Lake this Wednesday, July 20, for an interactive forum that will focus on future scenarios to assist the Park’s communities, their economies and the environment.

More than 100 participants are expected to attend the event, including local, state and federal officials, small business owners, non-profit leaders and citizens from across the Adirondack region.

Local businessmen and scenario experts Dave Mason and Jim Herman will present six possible scenarios for the future of the Park. Mason and Herman are the entrepreneurial team that brought affordable broadband telecommunications to Keene and Keene Valley. “We hope to stimulate people to think more strategically about the difficult and complex issues facing the Park”, Mason said. “We want people to think hard about what they want the Park to become in the future.” “Scenarios are a great way to expand the scope of ideas under consideration and improve the conversation” according to Jim Herman. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Something Slimy: Adirondack Algae

Have you ever wondered what that slimy green/ brown stuff covering rocks or floating in the water was? What you were looking at was algae. Algae, like plants, use the sun to make energy (photosynthetic organisms), and are food for a variety of animals including fish, bugs, and birds. Algae differ from plants by not having true roots and leaves.

Also like plants, algae need light and a food source to grow. Algae loves phosphorus and nitrogen that enter the water. If these nutrients enter the water excessively, algae can bloom and become a nuisance and potential health hazard. When algae blooms it can become toxic, clog intake pipes and discourage swimming and other recreational activities.

Algal blooms have been found in bodies of water throughout the Adirondacks, some of the most noted in Lake Champlain where blue/green algae or cyanobacteria can be found. These algae can form toxic blooms that can harm humans, pets and wildlife. Not all algae produces toxins, in fact most algae does not.

Lake George has been also been experiencing algal blooms. Algae there is found in the littoral zone, or near shore and is mostly green algae with very little blue/green. Generally algal blooms within Lake George are caused by lawn fertilizers washing into the lake, faulty septic systems, and storm water.

Excessive amounts of algae can also cause a dead-zone within a lake, an area of the water that has no oxygen and thus no fish. If you see an algal bloom in Lake Champlain contact the Lake Champlain Committee at (802) 658-1414 and report time of day, location and a description. Algal bloom in Lake George should be reported to the Lake George Waterkeeper.

While excessive amounts of algae are bad, it is a natural part of the aquatic environment. Algae can also be used by a trained scientist to determine if a body of water is healthy.

There are a variety of types of algae that can be seen in almost any body of water, including your fish tank. One of the more interesting types, looks like a ribbon twisting in a glass bottle. This form is often found in Lake George.

Photos: Above, spirogyra; Middle, cladophora; Below, mixed diatoms. Courtesy of Corrina Parnapy.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Almanack Welcomes the Forest Preserve Education Partnership

Beginning today members of the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP) will contribute to the Adirondack Almanack about Adirondack outdoor recreation. AFPEP shares a vision with Almanack founder John Warren that outdoor recreationists will know, share, and protect the park and themselves. AFPEP hopes to provide Adirondack visitors and residents information about having safe and enjoyable recreational experiences, while protecting the Forest Preserve for future generations.

With two and a half million acres of Forest Preserve public land and another three and a half million acres of private land, Adirondack Park recreational opportunities are available for everyone. These weekly essays will offer advice on the entire range of activities allowed on state land from paddling to motorboating, backcountry skiing to snowmobiling, to hunting, fishing, birding, and more.

AFPEP is a coalition created by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Invasive Plant Program, Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Leading E.D.G.E. Building on the Leave No Trace philosophy, their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy and protect these unique lands.


Friday, July 1, 2011

DEC Claims ADK Supports Frack Plan

In a letter today complaining to The New York Times about its coverage of a new Department of Environmental Conservation study on fracking, commissioner Joe Martens lists the Adirondack Mountain Club as one of three environmental groups who support its move toward partially ending the freeze on the controversial gas-drilling technique.

Except that’s not the case. In fact, the Mountain Club (ADK) supports only the DEC’s decision not to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing on state-owned forests, parks and wildlife reserves.

“This is great news and a major victory for the 28,000 members of the Adirondack Mountain Club who use these lands for outdoor recreation,” ADK director Neil Woodworth said in a statement released Thursday.

“Like our many environmental allies, we share a deep concern about the potential environmental impacts of fracking on drinking water, rivers, streams and other natural resources,” ADK’s statement continued. ADK plans to read and analyze the DEC’s study before making further comment. The report is scheduled to be released at 5 p.m. today. (Happy Fourth of July weekend, reporters.)

Hydraulic fracturing would affect mainly the Southern Tier of New York State, which is underlain by a massive shale formation containing natural gas pockets. The Adirondack Park is not expected to be affected.

Here is a link to the New York Times story


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Philosophy: Caring About Environmental Conservation

I recently gave a talk at a gathering of philosophical practitioners on making the transition from theory to praxis as it relates to environmental conservation. In other words, how do I make the shift from caring about a situation to doing something about that situation? At what point does sentiment or care become the behavior of care?

Incidentally, this question is subtly though importantly different from the one that those of us who advocate for a particular agenda generally ask namely: how can we get others to care about and participate in this initiative?
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Stewards; Assistant Forest Rangers Return

Adirondack backcountry users and the state’s natural resources will both receive a higher level of protection following the creation of a Backcountry Stewards Internship Program, a new partnership between New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and the reinstatement of the Assistant Forest Ranger program.

The Backcountry Stewardship Program expands on a long-running partnership between SCA and DEC that began more than a decade ago in the Hudson River Valley and the Adirondacks. Funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) will be matched by contributions from SCA to hire college-aged students to work on state lands. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Adirondack Legislative Watch List

With the New York State Legislature wrapping up another session, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the bills making their way through the process. This list is not complete, but contains those items that are important in one way or another to the Adirondack Park.

There are two online systems that provide information about latest legislative actions and the status of bills. The NYS Senate’s Open Legislation system is still in Beta, but is apparently up to date, includes the latest Assembly info as well, and has the easiest user interface. The older system, the Legislative Research Service system, claims to offer “up to the minute” information.

Prohibiting NYS From Purchasing Land for Forest Preserve
Betty Little’s bill to prohibit the state from purchasing forest land in fee title and to only allow purchases by conservation easement. Killed just after 4 p.m. today in the Senate Rules Committee, a final stop on the way to a floor vote. (S. 1501 Little)

National Grid Land Exchange
This legislation will complete the Constitutional Amendment authorizing land swap that was approved by voters in 2009, allowing the New York Power Authority and National Grid to complete the Route 56 Tri-Lakes power line project. In exchange for receiving six acres of State Forest Preserve, National Grid is buying and giving to the public 20 acres that will be included in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The bill is in the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly and on the floor in the Senate. (A. 8214 Sweeney / S. 4861-A Griffo)

EPF Revenue Enhancer
This bill would, over the next four years, add the unclaimed nickel deposits from “bottle bill” revenues as an additional source of money for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The EPF provides grants for land acquisition, invasive species control, smart growth projects and water quality improvements. This legislation is currently in the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly and Finance Committee in the Senate. (A. 7137 Latimer / S. 5403 Grisanti)

Defines Adirondack ‘Community Housing’
Defines “community housing” for purposes of the Adirondack Park to mean four dwelling units not exceeding 1500 square feet of floor space each, located on one contiguous parcel within a moderate intensity use or low intensity use land use area, and meeting certain other defined land use criteria. Advanced to Third Reading in both the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday; Senate vote expected today. (S. 4165-A LITTLE / A. 8303 Sweeney)

Restricting APA Powers Over Campgrounds
Prohibits the Adirondack Park Agency from promulgating or implementing any rule, regulation or land use and development plan, related to campgrounds, which is inconsistent with the provisions of any rule or regulation of the department of health relating thereto. Third reading in the Senate; Environmental Conservation Committee in the the Assembly. (S. 343 LITTLE / A. 149 Sayward)

Re-defining ‘Campground’ in the Adirondack Park
Redefines “campground” for the purposes of the Adirondack Park and regulation by the Adirondack Park Agency; defines such term as a parcel of land with 5 or more campsites, including buildings and accessory structures; provides that recreational vehicles may be kept at a campground or campsite, with the consent of the owner of the campground, during periods of time when they are not in use, so long as they are not used in a manner which violates the campground permit. Passed Senate, referred to Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee on Monday. (S.345 LITTLE / A. 151 Sayward)

Requiring APA Appointments from Approved List
Requires the governor to appoint the five members of the Adirondack park agency who reside in the park, from a list established by the legislative bodies of the counties in the Adirondack park and the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages. Referred to Finance in Senate; Environmental Conservation in Assembly. (S.822 LITTLE / A. 511 Sayward)

Removing Land Use Planning Power of APA
Makes state lands within the Adirondack Park subject to the local land use plan of the municipality in which the land is located. Betty Little Senate bill sent to Senate Finance Committee in May; there is no Assembly bill. (S. 5188 LITTLE)

10 Year APA Enforcement Statute of Limitations
Establishes a ten year statute of limitations to enforce violations of rules and regulations of Adirondack Park Agency committed within the Adirondack park. senate bill moved to Finance committee in May; Assembly bill in Codes committee since January. (S. 823 LITTLE / A. 512 Sayward)

“Adirondack Sportsmen’s Club Preservation Act”
Requires that state acquisition of open space shall remain subject to the leases of sportsmen’s clubs thereon. “Sportsmen’s clubs shall be deemed to retain exclusive access to and usage rights for hunting and fishing, while allowing public access to the land for other recreational activities.” In Senate Finance Committee. Betty Little bill in the Senate (S. 2487); no corresponding Assembly bill.

Opening Backcountry Waters to Disabled Veterans on Floatplanes
Directs the development of a permit system to provide disabled veterans access to certain restricted bodies of water in the Adirondack park through the use of float planes. Passed the Senate; in Assembly Environmental Conservation committee (S.824 LITTLE / A. 518 Sayward).

Public Right of Passage on Navigable Waters
Codifies the public right of passage upon navigable waterways of the state for purposes of commerce or recreation. Referred to the Assembly Codes Committee in May; no bill in the Senate since February, 2002 in deference to Senator Betty Little. (A370-2011 HOYT)

Boat Launch Preservation Act
Requires that one percent of the 4 cents per gallon gasoline surcharge on gasoline which is used on waterways but not more than 5 million dollars per fiscal year is to be deposited in the dedicated boat launch site fund; moneys of such fund shall be disbursed for design, construction, maintenance and improvement of boat launches and boat access sites. Referred to Assembly Ways and Means Committee in February; no sponsor in the Senate. (A5546 ENGLEBRIGHT)

Requiring Large Water Withdrawal Permits
Would grant DEC permitting abilities for withdrawals of large amounts of water (over 100,000 gallons per day) from lakes, rivers, streams or underground sources. Exemptions exist for agricultural water sources. The bill has passed the Assembly and is currently awaiting action on the Senate floor. (A. 5318-A Sweeney / S. 3798 Grisanti)

Creating ‘Non-Trail Snowmobile’ Registration
Establishes a non-trail snowmobile registration for snowmobiles which shall be used solely for the purpose of gaining access to hunting and fishing areas. Referred to Transportation Committee in both the Senate and Assembly in January. (S1206 GRIFFO / A 1141 Magee)

Requiring A DEC Wildlife Economic Impact Report
Requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to prepare a report on the economic impact of hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated activities in New York. In Senate Finance Committee since January; no Assembly sponsor. (S653 VALESKY)

Extending DEC Northern Zone Special Muzzle-Loading Powers
This bill would extend DEC’s authority to establish, by regulation, management measures for muzzle-loading firearm big game special season in the Northern Zone until October 1, 2015. In the Adirondacks, concern about lower deer numbers might result in a short, early muzzle-loading season. Passed Assembly but modified in Senate; returned to Assembly June 6. (S4967 GRISANTI / A 6953 Gunther)

Allowing Fishing With Three Lines
Environmental Conservation Law would authorize an individual to angle for fish with up to 3 lines in freshwater until December 31, 2013. Currently one person may operate not more than two lines on any waters. Passed by Senate, amended and now at Third Reading. Codes committee in the Assembly. (S.2462-B LIBOUS / A.3480-B Russell)

Gift Cards for Hunting and Fishing Licenses
Directs the commissioner of environmental conservation to create gift cards for hunting and fishing licenses. Ordered to Third Reading in the Senate yesterday and on today’s Senate Floor calendar; Referred to Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee in May. (S. 5161 RITCHIE / A. 7576 Gunther)

Extending Coyote Season from March 28 to May 31
Establishes the open season for hunting coyotes as October 1 through May 31 (currently march 28). Sent to Environmental Conservation committee in January; currently no Assembly sponsor. (S2486 LITTLE)

Bear Gall Bladders
Senate version at third reading: “Prohibits the possession, sale, barter, offer, purchase, transportation, delivery, or receipt of bear gallbladder, bile, or any product, item, or substance containing, or labeled or advertised as containing, bear gallbladders or bile; exempts federal and state government and individuals with a valid hunting license from transporting one bear gallbladder.” In several committees in the Assembly.

Sacandaga Inland Waterway
This bill would add the Sacandaga River to a list of inland waterways which are eligible to receive funding through the Department of State’s Waterfront Revitalization Program (part of the Environmental Protection Fund). It was already passed in the Assembly and waiting for consideration on the Senate floor. (A. 7241 Sayward / S. 4763 Farley)

Commemorate Adirondack Medical Center 100th
What is known today as the Adirondack Medical Center began as two separate hospitals, the General Hospital of Saranac Lake, and the Placid Memorial Hospital of Lake Placid. Built at the top of Winona Avenue, the General Hospital of Saranac Lake was founded in 1911; The Placid Memorial Hospital Fund, was organized in 1947, and plans for construction of a new hospital to be located on a Church Street parcel were developed. Doors were opened at the Placid Memorial Hospital of Lake Placid on February 4, 1951. Referred to Finance yesterday. (J. 2567 LITTLE)

Creates A Constitutional Right to Hunt, Fish, and Trap
Prohibits counties and other local municipalities from regulating hunting, fishing, and trapping. Both referred to Attorney general for Opinion in May. (S2382-A SEWARD / A 6864-A Gunther)

Soil & Water Conserv Dist Invasive Species Program
Authorizes a public information and education program for soil and water conservation districts and relates to the spread of invasive species. Passed Senate in May; Sent to Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee the same day. (S2839-A YOUNG / A 3555 Magee)

Establishes Invasive Species Stewards, Paddling Fee
Establishes the aquatic invasive species volunteer steward program within the office of parks, recreation and historic preservation; such program shall use volunteers to collect information on alien plants and animals in state water, and educate boaters thereon; imposes an annual $6 permit fee upon non-motorized vessels and requires the revenue to be deposited into the I love NY waterways vessel access account. Referre to Senate Finance Committee in February; no assembly sponsor. (S3519 JOHNSON)

Repeals Defunct Water Quality Compacts
Repeals the Champlain Basin Compact, the Mid-Atlantic States Air Pollution Control Compact and the Delaware River Basin Water Commission Compact. To clean up and clarify the Environmental Conservation Law by repealing certain outdated sections which relate to proposed interstate compacts that were never established. These include: a 1966 law which proposed a Champlain Basin Compact; a 1967 law which proposed a Mid-Atlantic States Air pollution Control Compact; and a 1952 law which proposed a Delaware River Basin Water Commission Compact (not to he confused with the existing Delaware River Basin Compact). Refereed to Senate Environmental Conservation Committee in May; no Assembly sponsor. (S5139 FARLEY)


Saturday, June 11, 2011

DEC Environmental Summer Camp Openings

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) four summer environmental education camps provide kids with opportunities to explore forests, swamps, lakes and fields and go fishing, hiking, canoeing, swimming, star gazing and meeting professionals in environmental fields.

DEC’s unique residential camp program currently has openings for youth ages 12 to 14. Each of the camps focuses on conservation education by immersing campers in outdoor activities and hands-on learning that teach the wise use of natural resources. Highly qualified staff ensure that campers enjoy their week-long outdoor adventure and help them develop outdoor skills such as hiking, fishing and canoeing that can last a lifetime. For those who are interested, hunter safety training is available from certified Sportsman Education instructors, with prior permission from parents/guardians.

All four camps — Colby and Pack Forest in the Adirondacks, DeBruce in the Catskills and Rushford in Western New York — have openings for some weeks during the seven weeks of camp, which run from July 3 through August 20. Campers arrive on Sunday afternoon and are picked up Saturday morning. A week at one of these exceptional camps costs just $350 per week. Local organizations such as civic groups, garden and sportsmen clubs can also sponsor a camper. Applications are still being accepted and registration will continue until all spaces are filled.

Full information, including registration forms, available weeks and detailed program descriptions is available online or by writing to NYSDEC Camps, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4500. You may also e-mail the camps at [email protected], sign up for DEC’s camps listserve at or call 518-402-8014.

Photo: Campfire at Camp Colby. Courtesy DEC.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Continued Impacts of Lake Champlain Flooding

Although water levels have finally dropped below flood stage on Lake Champlain this week, a Flood Warning remains in effect and facilities and businesses near low-lying shorelines continue to be heavily impacted by high waters.

The Ausable Point Campground remains closed, as is the campground access road. Many Valcour Island campsites and access points are still flooded and due to the high waters, floating docks have not been installed and bathrooms are closed at Peru Dock, Port Douglas, Willsboro Bay and other boat launches. Vermont closed all access to Lake Champlain except for Tabor Point, malletts Bay, Lamoille River, Converse Bay, and Larabee’s Point. Quebec closed all access and shut down boating to prevent further shoreline erosion due to wakes. » Continue Reading.



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