Saturday, February 19, 2011

18th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Research Consortium (ARC) has announced that the 18th Annual Conference on the Adirondacks will be held May 18th and 19th, 2011 at the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid. The event will feature author, educator, and environmentalist Bill McKibben, and include presentations on the Adirondack Partnerships Project, Alternative Waste Water Treatment Technologies with Tom Ballestero of University of New Hampshire, Bioenergy, HydoPower, a North Creek case study, Hudson River collaborations, Birds of North America, and more. There will also be a graduate and undergraduate Juried Student Paper Program sponsored by the Pearsall Foundation.

ARC is dedicated to encouraging, facilitating, and disseminating scholarship that advances the quality and vitality of the Adirondack Park and related environs. For more information about their history, projects, annual conference, and the Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies, visit their web page at www.adkresearch.org.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Phil Brown: Aristotle and the Land Purchase Debate

Recently, Adirondack politicians have intensified their effort to block the state’s acquisition of Follensby Pond and some sixty-five thousand acres once owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company.

In the past two weeks, the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and the Franklin County legislature adopted resolutions opposing the purchases. The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages is expected to vote soon on a similar measure, and it stands an excellent chance of passing.

The opponents say the purchases would cost forestry jobs, force traditional hunting clubs to disband, and in general harm the local economy. But their ace in the hole is the claim that the state simply cannot afford to buy these properties. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 7, 2011

UN International Year of Forests 2011 Kicks Off

The U. S. Forest Service, with partner organizations the National Association of State Foresters and the American Forest Foundation, have announced the U.S. celebration of the official United Nations International Year of Forests 2011. The theme of the U.S. campaign is “Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life.”

Trees and forests provide a wealth of social, economic, environmental, aesthetic, cultural and health benefits. Because of forests, millions of Americans have access to clean drinking water, an abundance of recreational opportunities, cleaner air, and countless jobs. Urban trees and forests also make important contributions by enhancing neighborhood livability, increasing home prices, and reducing household energy use and the effects of climate change. In short, trees and forests improve the quality of life in urban and rural areas alike. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Build A Greener Adirondacks Expo Announced

The greatest change in homes since the invention of the chimney is underway, and for three days some of the biggest and smallest new ideas will be on center stage at The Wild Center’s second Build EXPO. Expert builders, interested home owners and people who want to see the absolute latest green building ideas can gather at the Center’s Build a Greener Adirondacks EXPO. Some of the nation’s leading practitioners will convene in the Adirondacks to demonstrate energy and money saving ideas and products.

The EXPO uses ski trail signs to distinguish between its expert and easier days. The three day EXPO starts April 29 with Black Diamond day for experts and builders. Day Two will be Blue Square day for residents who feel like they have a strong idea of Green Building and want to add to their knowledge. On the last day it’s Green day, when the public is invited to have a look at the latest ideas and meet the vendors and presenters.

Contractor Green Building Training – Black Diamond Day, April 29

This is a Green Building Training Day. A Fundamentals of Building Green course will be offered to those individuals interested in integrating green practices into the core knowledge of their building business. Once this four hour prerequisite course is successfully completed, participants may opt to take a certificate exam based on the Fundamentals material or select an additional trade specific 6 or 8 hour course offered elsewhere in the state and take a combined Fundamentals/Trade Specific certificate exam. Additional information can be found at www.gpro.org. The course costs $150, which entitles participants to admission on all three days.

Green Building Symposium & EXPO – Blue Square Day, April 30
The middle day of the EXPO will consist of a Green Building Symposium and EXPO with more than 30 building science, product and technology experts from around the northeast sharing information on the latest green building technologies. Presentation topics will include: high performing windows, alternative and unique green building construction techniques, green building science, effective building insulation, passive design considerations, reclaimed lumber, energy saving major building appliances and eco-design concepts (subject to change). The event will include a green building product trade show with numerous exhibitors displaying products and systems that have been recognized for their ability to contribute to safe, healthy, sustainable and/or highly energy efficient building environments. The day will be highlighted with a keynote address offered by Tedd Benson, called one of the most interesting builders in America by Treehugger.com and featured on This Old House, Good Morning America, and the Today Show, and recently recognized with a BuildingGreen.com award for his innovative design. (Day 2 sessions only will be $45 with advance online registration or $55 the day of the event. A combined Day 2 and Day 3 will be $55 with advance online registration and $65 the day of the event.)

EXPO and Community Energy Efficiency Forum “The Doctor is In” – Green Day, May 1

May 1 is The Wild Center’s official reopening day for the 2011 spring visitor season. On this final day the EXPO hall will be open to the public with paid general admission (free for Center members and Season Pass holders) and offer consumers the chance to ask questions and see what kinds of choices they have when they make building or renovation decisions. There will be special speakers and a “The Doctor is In” booth where you can talk about your home’s symptoms and find out if there’s a cure. This day will include a Community Energy Efficiency Forum. People interested in ways to make a greener Adirondack home will have the chance to ask experts on hand here in the Adirondacks thoughout the day.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Lake George Groups Praise Cuomo’s Choice to Head DEC

Joe Martens, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s choice to become the state’s new Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, was instrumental in protecting the 1,423-acre Berry Pond Tract on Prospect Mountain that includes the headwaters of West Brook.

Protecting the land was a crucial part of the West Brook Conservation Initiative, a $15 million project to restore the water quality of Lake George’s south basin; as president of the Open Space Institute, Martens arranged a $2.64 million loan to the Lake George Land Conservancy to buy the property.

“We wouldn’t have been able to protect the Berry Pomd Tract without OSI, and Joe Martens was instrumental in securing the OSI’s loan to the Conservancy,” said Nancy Williams, executive director of the Lake George Land Conservancy.

“Joe Martens understood the importance of the Berry Pond tract and the necessity to protect it from development if we are to protect the water quality of Lake George,” said Walt Lender, the executive director of the Lake George Association.

When Cuomo announced that he would nominate Martens to head the Department of Environmental Conservation on January 4, Lake George conservation groups were unanimous in their praise.

“Joe Martens has a strong grasp of the importance of Lake George to this area’s economy and way of life. We expect him to be an advocate for protecting the environment around the state and around Lake George; we all know that when we protect the lake, we protect this area’s most important economic asset,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George.

“It’s a positive sign that someone who’s already familiar with our issues, who has an intimate knowledge of Lake George and the Adirondacks, has been appointed to the position,” said Lender.

“We feel his experience and leadership on conservation issues will set a good precedent for the Department and hopefully sets a strong commitment for the new administration on environmental issues,”
said Chris Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper.

According to The Fund for Lake George, Martens brings a long resume in state government to the new position. In addition to serving as president of the Open Space Institute and president of ORDA, he worked in the State Legislature, as an administrator at the Adirondack Park Agency, and as a top environmental aide to Governor Mario Cuomo.

Martens studied Resource Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and received an M.S. in Resource Management from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University.

Photo: Tim Barnett, Adirondack Nature Conservancy; Dave Decker, Lake George Watershed Coalition; Peter Bauer, The Fund for Lake George; Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village; Walt Lender, Lake George Association; Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward; DEC Region 5 director Betsy Lowe; Nancy Williams, Lake George Land Conservancy; with Joe Martens in Lake George to announce the protection of the Berry Pond Tract, 2008.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It’s Sustainability Month at Paul Smith’s College

A reading from a nationally known author, a photo exhibit of eco-friendly houses and a lesson on how to breed cold-hardy plants highlight Sustainability Month at Paul Smith’s College. The events, to be held in February, are free and open to the public.

Kristin Kimball, author of 2010’s “The Dirty Life,” will speak on Wednesday, Feb. 9, from 10:10-11 a.m. in Adirondack Room of the Joan Weill Adirondack Library. Kimball’s critically acclaimed memoir relates her experiences as a farmer in the North Country after leaving behind a journalism career in New York City. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dave Gibson: Little’s Forest Preserve Logging Amendment

I’ll risk it and take the bait in responding to Senator Betty Little, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and others concerning a proposed constitutional amendment to permit logging and forest product utilization on newly acquired Forest Preserve.

Their simplistic ecological arguments for the amendment, such as wanting to see more rabbits on the Forest Preserve, or expecting that logging the Preserve would help the climate are being made up as they go along and will not withstand serious scrutiny. I prefer to focus more on their constitutional hurdles.

The Senator is clearly motivated to keep the Finch lands and Follensby Pond out of the Forest Preserve. Unstated may be a desire to maintain certain leaseholders occupying the Finch lands – such as the politically influential members of the Gooley Club west of the Upper Hudson. These are at least rational positions to take and, while I have a different viewpoint, I can respect theirs. They will also attempt to accomplish their objective of keeping the lands out of the Forest Preserve through legislation, and one would think that an easier step than a constitutional amendment. Perhaps they think not.

They apparently believe a good way to accomplish their objective is to create a separate class of Forest Preserve that on some date certain, after a constitutional amendment is approved by the voters some years hence, and after new Forest Preserve is acquired will permit the practice of forestry on the new land. They may feel that the public would accept this, knowing that the existing three million acres would still be “forever wild.” They may believe that all they need to do is neatly sidestep a sticky clause in Article 14, Section 1 of the Constitution, and exempt new lands from its provisions. That clause states: “nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”

But that’s not all they have to do. Theirs is no technical amendment. By attempting to exempt only new Forest Preserve from the strictures of Article 14, they must amend all 54 words of Section 1 of Article 14. They must roughshod over the very constitutional language which voters have refused to change – despite given numerous opportunities to do so – in 116 years.

Perhaps they are betting on a constitutional convention virtually doing away with Article 14 as we know it, and I’d say that’s a poor bet.

Section 1 unifies the Forest Preserve. Its first sentence states that “the lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” A simple exception clause for new acquisitions after some date would not do the trick. “Hereafter acquired” means just that. “Forever kept” means forever. The words pertain to any lands owned before, or acquired after the effective date of Section 1 of January 1, 1895. They were reaffirmed at the 1938 and 1967 constitutional conventions, and on many other occasions in the 20th and 21st centuries through passage of over 30 limited, site specific amendments which nonetheless preserve the overarching language of Section 1.

The second and final sentence of Section 1 is just as problematic for the Senator. “They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” Allowing DEC, a public corporation, to supervise and control logging on newly acquired Forest Preserve would constitute a clear taking of the lands. The legal agreements to permit logging activity by private parties on any parts of the Forest Preserve might likely constitute a lease, further violating that provision. The third and final clause of that sentence – the one that the Senator may think is the only hurdle – speaks for itself.

I conclude that pretty much all 54 words of Section 1 would need to be amended, rewritten and stripped of their present and historic meaning in order to achieve a separate class of Forest Preserve managed for forest products. The public may be willing to make occasional, limited, site specific amendments to Article 14 for worthy objectives that both meet a legitimate public purpose and enhance the Forest Preserve. However, the voters have demonstrated over a very long period that they are unwilling to make substantial changes to the “forever wild” policy because the Forest Preserve as now constituted provides such enormous benefits. It is the envy of the world. It distinguishes New York from all other states and from all other nations. It is woven into our social fabric, as well as our laws. It provides billions of dollars in ecological and recreational services. It pays taxes for all purposes. The voters would be especially unwilling when the reasons for doing so, on economic, ecological, social and public policy grounds, are so questionable.

Prior to 1983, Senator Little’s amendment might have a better public policy rationale and more public appeal. That was when the conservation easement legislation was approved that permits the State to acquire rights in land without the land becoming Forest Preserve, and which has been so effective in keeping forest management and forest employment alive in the Park, which are the stated objectives for the amendment. Putting more resources into effective programs like this would be the more realistic way to achieve them.

Photo: Article 14, Section 1, NYS Constitution.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dave Gibson: Wilderness is not a ‘Special Interest’

Ed Zahniser is the son of Howard and Alice Zahniser (Howard was chief author and lobbyist for the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964), and Ed’s essay “Wilderness and our Full Community of Life” is now on the Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve website. It was written as a public address, but also stands on its own as an exciting piece of writing.

Re-reading Ed’s presentation gives me goosebumps because it ties together so much of the human experience. As he makes clear, wilderness is not about natural resource management, ecology, or Adirondack State Land Master Plan guidelines, as important as those are to keeping and restoring of wild places through the management of human use. As Ed says, wildness causes us to think about right relationships with the broader community of life.

To see wilderness is to see ourselves, as his father Howard Zahniser described it, as “dependent members of an interdependent community which gains its energy from the sun.” It is “where we feel most keenly our interdependence with all life.” Most keenly. We can feel also this in our backyards, in our parks, in our guts after a rich meal. But wild places are set aside in law to help us to come face to face with this interdependence in a very real way.

Thinking about what that word interdependence means leads one to recognize how little we know about the land as a whole community of life, not dissected under the microscope, but connected to us. Ed compares the Hubble Space Telescope looking at galaxies spiraling outwards with soil layers and organisms spiraling downwards. If there was ever a “4 G network,” it is in the soil. It is even in the teaming mites and bacterial life on our heads! Towards the end of her life, my mother thought wildness was coming a bit too close to our house, as foxes and deer moved ever closer as the result of a kind of re-wilding going in the neighborhood. Well, it turns out wilderness was always that close – even closer.

Experience with the wild really is a humbling experience, and that humility is critical to our Christian traditions as well. Ed traces today’s wilderness ethic to many biblical stories and traditions, to Christ himself wandering in the desert, and the spiritual purification, and the finding of “right relationships” to man and the universe which many people have found there.

One of those humbling days for me was in the Split Rock Wild Forest near Essex and Lake Champlain. Gary Randorf led Ken Rimany and me on a ski trip there with six inches of powder on top of an icy crust. Gary flew uphill; we edged our way up, slipping constantly. From white and red pine plantations, we moved into mixed hardwood forest and occasional glades of hemlock, and then scrub oaks and red cedar near the cliff face above Champlain. Huffing and puffing (Gary was resting easy); we watched bald eagles circling, meeting in mid-air, their talons hooked together in an aerial spiral. A raven checked on the eagles. The sky above was a deep blue. Wow. What a wild moment.

We headed into a deep ravine, following the sun in its southern arc to Champlain’s Barn Rock Bay. Gary explained that here huge rock ballast was cut and slid on great bridges and docks into waiting ships. We tried to comprehend, and all we saw was thick hemlock above us. Here another of our great human enterprises was swallowed up by the unmoved, unimpressed earth organism. Knowing what was once here and how many people sweated, or bled to create this enterprise is an exercise in humility. Now, animal tracks, mouse, deer, bobcat accompanied our ski tracks up the ravine, as we scrambled after Gary, finding him again after a wonderful swoosh back to the parking lot.

Fundamental to Ed’s essay, then, is that wilderness is not a special interest, but part of a core interest in the human condition which is constantly seeking “right relationships” with others and with communities, human and more than human. Protection of wilderness is part of a broad movement which included women’s suffrage and civil rights, and today’s struggle to spread economic justice and opportunity and the search for spiritual meaning in our lives. Ed, like his parents, has read widely and thought laterally as well as deeply about these matters. His presentation connects us, lessens the divides between us and our worlds. Enjoy it.

Photo: Ed Zahniser


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dave Gibson: Park Partnerships

The South Downs emerged from under the weight of 1000 years of English history to gain National Park status in Great Britain in 2009. Never heard of it, you may say. Well, William the Conqueror came here one day in 1066, and changed our English and American history forever.

Nearly a millennium later, no one did more to achieve a National Park for the South Downs than Paul Millmore of Lewes, Sussex (Paul’s home is contained within the Park) who campaigned vigorously for the National Park for decades. He joined Adirondack Wild the last week of December, 2010 in Adirondack Park’s Keene Valley for part of our Dialogue for the Wild. In this case, it was community discussion about the South Downs, and to exchange notes about parks and protected areas on either side of the Atlantic.

First, a bit about Paul Millmore. He is a rural planner by trade, and a pioneering international conservation consultant. He is the author of the National Trail Guide to the South Downs Way. For over 20 years, Paul has consulted widely in North America and in the Adirondacks on a wide range of conservation topics, including planning, countryside management and tourism, heritage trails and walking paths, ranger services and stewardship, cultural and natural resource inventories, conservation record-keeping and more. He last spoke in Lake Placid in 2001 about “Citizen Lessons in Environmental Discovery.” As you can see, Paul can relate to the Adirondacks pretty easily.

As Paul’s slides of the South Downs moved along, the audience of about 25 in Keene Valley’s Congregational Church (Van Santvoord Room) received a crash course in South Downs ecology. On the Downs proper, there are rarities everywhere, rare butterflies, rare plants, all low to the ground, with the sky above, not trees or shrubs. These rarities are here because of sheep, and infertile soils. Remove 1000 years of sheep grazing, or unnaturally fertilize these great downs, and you lose biodiversity. This ecological wisdom requires a shift in our mindset, as we in northeastern North America might tend to view sheep, and infertile soils as bad for rare life forms. However, we might see a parallel in Adirondack low elevation boreal rivers. These low fertility boggy riverbanks, if allowed to gain nitrogen from a warming climate and hastened decomposition, would be overrun by shrubs and trees, shading out the rarities. Thus it is that on the South Downs, grazing keeps the land in ecological balance.

The Downs are often symbolized by the dramatic 30-miles of steep chalk cliffs facing the English Channel, symbolized by the “Seven Sisters” shown here. Created out of the calcium rich bodies of small sea creatures, this wave cut escarpment of chalk is, as Paul points out, the only true wilderness in the South Downs – indeed, in all of England. The Adirondacks may have far more wilderness, but far less human history! Along the escarpment is the South Downs Way, one of the great countryside walks in all of England.

Paul went on to describe Countryside, as defined in English law. By law (1948) and tradition, housing and industrial development is concentrated in Great Britain within hamlets, or towns or cities. The countryside outside of these zones is simply not available for such development. There is no private property right to develop it. Despite it being private land, there is a public right to access it, so long as that access is appropriate and does not harm the private owner. Here lies the great tradition, and burgeoning tourist attraction and economic benefit of countryside walking from inn to inn, from town to bed and breakfast, and back again. This business is critical to the life of the South Downs. It is also critical to know that these countryside “parks” are locally managed.

As for the culture and nature divide, Paul is a lumper, not a divider. From his viewpoint, all forms of culture and all forms of nature in the countryside (and the town) deserve our attention, our concern, our protection, our stewardship. He knows there are important lines not to cross, and knows that our wilderness has its own critical cultural, as well as legal and spiritual importance. Yet, he reminds us that we are part of nature, so our culture and its history are critically important. Paul views the Adirondack “debate” as pointless. Embrace wilderness and human cultural history together, he urged. Don’t forget the mining history and centers at Mineville, for example. Celebrate it, preserve it, just as you preserve the High Peaks Wilderness.

Remember, too, he reminded us, to measure the economic benefits of wilderness and cultural and historic centers throughout the Adirondacks. Measure and report these results to government on a regular basis. These may be the ultimate “received bits of wisdom” from our much older English cousins across the pond.

As for the South Downs National Park itself, Paul sees this is just the first and most logical victory. The Park is managed by local people, not by London, and Paul is one of the many locals who have moved from Park creation to Park stewardship. Stewardship money must be locally raised, he argues, and he has successfully raised a lot of it himself. In one example, he persuaded the reluctant local powers that be to screen with native vegetation an enormous parking lot built for Countryside walkers and sightseers. He did this by writing the first check to acquire the necessary tree seedlings, and by shaming hundreds of others to write their own checks. The trees are now mature and screen the sun’s reflection off hundreds of automobiles, which would otherwise have been visible from thirty miles away. Imagine the visual impact from Owls Head, Hurricane or Cascade Mountain of a 15-acre, unscreened parking lot at Rt. 9N and 73 in Keene!

Now, Paul has other campaigns in his sights, including the first marine sanctuary in Britain on and off the South Downs coast. Also, he will fight for ecological restoration of the only undisturbed estuary in all of England. The River Cuckmere forms a beautiful meandering floodwater through the Downs, cutting through the escarpment down to the sea. Yet 19th century Englishmen cut a straight channel before it reaches the sea to stop it from flooding. This cut has sealed the meander off from nutrients, and starved the floodplain of its potential richness. Bird life and all life forms suffer. These days, the economic value of biodiversity and birdwatching far exceeds losses from floodwaters, so don’t count Paul Millmore out. More ecological and cultural gains, on the South Downs and elsewhere, are within his determined reach.

Photos: Above, The Seven Sisters, coastline bordering the English Channel and part of the South Downs; Below, Paul Millmore, successful advocate for the South Downs National Park in Great Britain, and friend of the Adirondacks.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

DEC Summer Camps Prepare for 2011 Season

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that registration for the 2011 summer camp programs began this week. Applications from sponsors must be postmarked no earlier than Jan. 15. Parents may submit applications postmarked no earlier than Jan. 29.

The Summer Camp Program offers week‑long adventures in conservation education to children ages 12-17. DEC operates four residential camps for children ages 12-14: Camp Colby in Saranac Lake, Franklin County; Camp DeBruce in Livingston Manor, Sullivan County; Camp Rushford in Caneadea, Allegany County; and Pack Forest in Warrensburg, Warren County. Pack Forest also features Teenage Ecology Workshop, a three-week environmental studies program for 15-17 year old campers.

DEC is also encouraging sporting clubs, civic groups and environmental organizations to sponsor a child for a week at camp. Those groups who sponsor six paid campers will receive one free scholarship.

Campers participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities including fishing, bird watching, fly-tying, archery, canoeing, hiking, camping, orienteering and hunter safety education. Campers also learn about fields, forests, streams and ponds through fun, hands-on activities and outdoor exploration. DEC counselors teach youth conservation techniques used by natural resource professionals, such as measuring trees and estimating wildlife populations.

Changes for the 2011 camp season include:

* Camp fee for one week is $350.

* All four camps will run for seven weeks, beginning July 3.

* Children who have attended camp in the past may register for any of the seven weeks.

* Campers may attend for more than one week during the summer. The fee for the total number of weeks must be included with the application. Please note that campers will not be able to stay at camp on Saturday night, so parents should make alternative arrangements if two consecutive weeks are selected.

* Camp Rushford will no longer offer one week for 15 to 17 year olds. Older campers are encouraged to sign up for the Teenage Ecology Workshop at Pack Forest for one of the first three weeks of camp, beginning July 3.

For information and applications visit DEC’s website or call 518‑402‑8014.

Interested parents may also sign up for DEC’s camps listserve or contact DEC in writing at DEC Camps, 2nd Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233‑4500.

Photo: A fishing lesson at Camp Colby. Courtesy DEC.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Lake George Park Commission Supports NYS Invasives Law

The Lake George Park Commission has approved a resolution supporting legislation drafted by the state’s Invasive Species Council that would make it illegal to transport an invasive species from one water body to another.

The proposed law would create regulations stronger than any currently in place on Lake George, said Mike White, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dave Gibson: Common Road Salt is Toxic

Outside my house, and in the forest back beyond the land is carpeted with crystalline beauty, affording quietude, serenity, thermal shelter for critters, and some nice ski runs. Out on the county road, just two hours after the recent storm the pavement is bare – right on schedule with transportation departments’ standard for road maintenance and safety. To accomplish it, a corrosive pollutant will be laid down in quantity – 900,000 tons of road salt will be used across the state this winter according to the Department of Transportation (DOT) website. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DEC Seeks Comments on Temporary Revocable Permit Policy

The DEC is taking comments through January 14, 2011 on a proposed revision of the Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) Policy, which sets forth the procedure for issuing permits for the temporary use of DEC’s State lands, including, but not limited to DEC’s: Wildlife Management Areas, State Reforestation Areas, Forest Preserves, campgrounds, boat launches/waterway access sites, tidal wetlands, and conservation easements).

DEC issues TRPs for activities that are in compliance with all constitutional, statutory and regulatory requirements; the Adirondack and Catskill Park State Land Master Plans; adopted Unit Management Plans and Recreation Management Plans; and that have negligible or no permanent impact on the environment.

You can review the draft policy online [pdf]. You can find additional policy details and information on submitting comments here.


Monday, January 10, 2011

APA Critic Indicted on Felony Environmental Charges

A long-time critic of state environmental policies and enforcement has been indicted by a Clinton County grand jury on charges of violating several environmental conservation laws.

A Department of Environmental Conservation press release said Leroy Douglas of Ausable Forks, was charged for a 2008 incident with “Endangering Public Health, Safety, or the Environment in the third degree, a felony with a maximum fine of $150,000 and up to 4 years in prison” after allegedly improperly “disposing numerous 55-gallon drums containing a hazardous substance” onto property owned by his Douglas Corporation of Silver Lake.

Douglas was also charged with misdemeanors of Unlawful Disposal of Solid Waste, Disturbing the Bed/Banks of a Classified Trout Stream and Failure to Register a Petroleum Bulk Storage Facility, each of which could come with significant fines and up to a year in jail.

North Country Public Radio added that “a state investigator found a wide range of contamination on Douglas’s land, including a pile of lead acid batteries, dead animals and medical waste.”

Douglas told The Press-Republican that he believes the indictment is politically motivated. He claims the state wanted to buy his land but he refused to sell.

“DEC has had warrants to search my property twice since I wouldn’t sell,” Douglas said to the Plattsburgh daily. “If I’m such an environmental villain, what would they wait two and a half years for?”

The Press-Republican added that Douglas has filed suit in federal court against the Adirondack Park Agency in relation to a 2007 enforcement action against him.

“Douglas says the charges originated with his son, Michael, with whom he had a falling out a few years ago, and whose girlfriend, Elizabeth Vann, works for the DEC,” according to a report written by Post-Star Projects Editor Will Doolittle.

The Glens Falls daily, which has called for the APA’s abolition, has featured Douglas in several pieces (most notably here) written by Doolittle on alleged malfeasance by the Agency.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported that Douglas pleaded not guilty to this week’s charges.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

APA Meets Thursday: Warrensburg, Wells, Moriah, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, January 13 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The January meeting is one day only. Topics will include a variance for a sign at a new car dealership in Warrensburg, a shoreline structure setback and cutting variances for a proposed marina in Moriah, an enforcement action against an alleged wetland subdivision and substandard-sized lot subdivision in Wells, a presentation on Keene broadband project, military airspace and military aircraft use over the Adirondack Park, and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft policy for issuing Temporary Revocable Permits for State Lands and Conservation Easements.

The meeting will be webcast live online (choose Webcasting from the contents list). Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website. The full agenda follows:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will discuss current activities.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider two variance projects; a request for a variance from the Q-3 sign standards for placement of new car dealership sign in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County and shoreline structure setback and shoreline cutting variance variances for a proposed marina in the Town of Moriah, Essex County.

At 10:30, the Enforcement Committee will convene for an enforcement case involving alleged wetland subdivision and substandard-sized lot subdivision violations on private property in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County.

At 11:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation on the Town of Keene’s town-wide broadband project. Dave Mason and Jim Herman, project co-directors, will explain the project history, how it unfolded and detail project accomplishments.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will be briefed on Military Airspace and Military Aircraft use over the Adirondack Park. Lt. Col. Fred Tomasselli, NY Air National Guard’s Airspace Manager at Fort Drum, will overview military airspace use. Commander Charles Dorsey, NY Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing Vice-Commander at Fort Hancock, will detail the expected deployment of the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft for military training exercises over the Adirondack Park.

At 2:15, the State Land Committee will be updated by, Forest Preserve Management Bureau Chief Peter Frank, on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft policy for issuing Temporary Revocable Permits for State Lands and Conservation Easements. The draft policy proposes four types of revocable permits: Expedited, Routine, Non-Routine and Research.

At 3:00, the Park Ecology Committee will convene for a presentation from the Agency’s, Natural Resource Analysis Supervisor Daniel Spada, on his recent trip to China. The focus of the trip was the ongoing China Protected Areas Leadership Alliance Project. Mr. Spada will overview this project and describe his experiences with the various National Nature Reserve managers he visited with in Yunnan Province, China.

At 3:45, the Full Agency will convene will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

The February Agency is scheduled for February 10-11, 2011

March Agency Meeting: March 17-18 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.



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