Wednesday, May 21, 2014

150th Anniv. of George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature

410px-George_Perkins_MarshThis year, New Yorkers are rightly commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964. Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Rockefeller Institute of Government, NYS DEC, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry recently kicked off that anniversary with events in the Capital Region. More events and activities with students, faculty and college collaborators are planned.

2014 is also the 120th anniversary of our “forever wild” clause of the NYS Constitution protecting the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. It was that late 19th century constitutional protection which so inspired the 20th century’s Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society to undertake his 18-year campaign to both author and lobby for the National Wilderness Act. That’s one reason, and there are others, why wilderness preservation, in terms of designation and protection, began in New York State. Bob, George and Jim Marshall’s upbringing in the Adirondacks by noted forever wild advocate and attorney Louis and his wife Florence Marshall, and the later creation of The Wilderness Society by Bob and allies is another reason to make this claim.

But there’s an older 19th century anniversary this year that cannot be overlooked without missing what has influenced humanity around the globe to conserve since 1864, the year a Vermonter named George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882) wrote Man and Nature; or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. Woodstock and Burlington, respectively where Marsh was born and lived parts of his adult life and which influenced his book, could legitimately make the claim that Vermont is where wilderness preservation began in America and, indeed, in the world. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ed Zahniser: The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

image003(5)My father Howard Zahniser, who died four months before the 1964 Wilderness Act became law 50 years ago this September 3, was the chief architect of, and lobbyist for, this landmark Act. The Act created our 109.5-million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

Had I another credential, it would be that Paul Schaefer—the indomitable Adirondack conservationist—was one of my chief mentors and outdoor role models. Paul helped me catch my first trout. I was seven years old. That life event took place in what is now the New York State-designated Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area in the Adirondacks. Izaak Walton should be so lucky. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

David Sommerstein: Trains Carry Oil And Risk

Rail accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013 (Wikimedia photo)On a summer night last July, the charming French-Canadian town of Lac Megantic literally exploded. A tanker train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire, incinerating much of the downtown and killing forty-seven people.

Other train explosions followed in Alabama and North Dakota. Now people are wondering if it could happen here in the Adirondacks.

Since the disaster in Lac Megantic—located 180 miles northeast of the Adirondack Park, in Quebec—officials in northern New York have taken notice that similar trains, up to a hundred tankers long and filled with eighty-five thousand barrels of oil, roar regularly through the Champlain Valley. Most of the oil is in tankers that federal regulators have deemed unsafe. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Timothy Duffy Named DEC Law Enforcement Director

DEC LogoNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the appointment of Timothy A. Duffy to the position of director of the Division of Law Enforcement.  As the new director, Duffy will oversee more than 330 sworn members of DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement.

The division focuses on enforcing the Environmental Conservation Law although they are empowered to enforce all laws of the state. Their mission encompasses two broad enforcement areas: fish and wildlife and environmental quality. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Climate Change: Woolf Evasive On Keystone XL

Aaron Woolf and Bill Owns April 2014If the existential issue of our time is climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline project is the decisive political issue of the day. As Bill McKibben has said, “If we’re trying to do something about climate change, which theoretically all our governments are committed to doing, then (Keystone) is a very big deal. It’s the equivalent of adding six million new cars to the road.”

Other analysts say the impacts would be even greater over an extended period of time – the equivalent of 1 billion vehicles or 1,400 coal-fired power plants in greenhouse gas emissions. Legislators’ position on the Keystone project, which would extract oil from Canadian tar sands and pipe it through midwestern states to the Gulf Coast, is then, an indication of how seriously they take the threat of climate change to the communities they represent. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Shoreline Landscaping Event in Lake George

plant_sale_3Vendors, exhibits, speakers and other activities to inspire attractive low impact shoreline landscaping will be featured at the “Stewardship with Style: A Lakescape Event” on Saturday May 10, 2014, from 9 am until 2 pm at Shepard Park in Lake George Village. Displays on rain gardens, shoreline buffers, permeable pavers, invasive species, and native plants, along with kids “make and take” crafts, and the Em2 River Model. There will also be prizes and giveaways. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Supreme Court Revives Cross-State Pollution Rule

acid rainA U.S. Supreme Court decision today has revived the Cross-State Pollution Rule that makes it illegal for states to cause air pollution that harms neighboring states. The rule was reinstated in a 6-2-1 ruling, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.  Justice Samuel Alito recused himself.

“The Cross-State Pollution Rule should never have been struck down in 2011 and we are thrilled that the Supreme Court has revived it,” William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, said in a statement to the press. “The Adirondack Park has suffered for decades from pollution drifting in from Midwest states.  Nearly all of our acid rain is created by smokestacks hundreds of miles away.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Warren County Conservation Celebration Planned

Hovey PondRecently the Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District received funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program for a program called “Soil Savers”. The program is starting with a Conservation Celebration educational event, open to all on Saturday, April 26th from 9 am to 1 pm at Hovey Pond Park, 25 Lafayette Street in Queensbury.

Many people do not realize that Hovey Pond Park is part of the Lake Champlain Watershed since it is so close to the Hudson River. However, Halfway Brook flows north alongside Glenwood Ave. on the eastern side of the park and eventually enters the Champlain Canal in Fort Ann. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Environmental Excellence Awards Applicants Sought

DEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is accepting applications for the 2014 Environmental Excellence Awards program. The Environmental Excellence Awards program recognizes and gives visibility to outstanding, innovative and sustainable projects or programs.

Eligible applicants include businesses of all sizes, not-for-profit organizations and education, health care and recreational facilities.  Individuals and local, state, federal or Indian Nation government agencies implementing innovative, sustainable actions or working in creative partnership to improve and protect New York’s environmental resources and contribute to a viable economy are also eligible. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wilderness 50th Anniversary Plans Move Forward

image003(5)Plans to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of The National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 are moving ahead.  A steering committee has been established and a new logo has been designed that will be used to help promote a variety of commemorative activities being planned later this year at college campuses and other venues across New York State this year.

The Wilderness Act’s chief author, Howard Zahniser, took his inspiration from New York’s “forever wild” constitutional protection of the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. That constitutional protection also has its 120th anniversary this year (1894-2014). Zahniser wrote that New York State set the example for the national Wilderness movement. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather

View from Bridge of HopeI attended a recent forum in Albany, Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather in Upstate New York, and wanted to pass along some of what I heard, or thought I heard. The event was sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

For a forum concerning the impacts of a changing climate the audience was unusually diverse in terms of backgrounds and professions. As a staff member for Adirondack Wild, I was sitting next to a firefighter from a village in Montgomery County. At the next table were other firefighters and emergency personnel in uniform.  Across from me were several members of the League of Women Voters.  Initially we all wondered if we were in the right meeting. I think by the end we realized what we all have in common. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DEC Streamlined Environmental Assessment Webinars

DEC LogoA series of webinars to instruct government agencies and the public on how to use the streamlined and revised Environmental Assessment Forms (EAF) will be held this spring according to a press release issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The revised EAFs are used primarily by state and local agencies to assess the potential environmental impact from proposed actions such as development projects requiring a discretionary approval by a state or local agency. Examples of such projects include residential subdivisions, solid waste management facilities and commercial developments. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Residential Brush Burning Prohibited Through May 14

DEC LogoBecause of increased fire risk typical during the spring months, residential brush burning in towns with less than 20,000 residents is prohibited in New York State from March 16 through May 14, 2014.

Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of wildfires in the state. As temperatures get warmer and grasses and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily. These fires can be further fueled by winds and the lack of green vegetation. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Lake George: ‘Frozen Boats’ Program Established For Locals

LGPC ED Dave Wick and LGA Educator Jill Trunko seal the FC as part of the Frozen Boats ProgramThe Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) has established a “Frozen Boats” Program that allows local residents to have their boats certified as invasive-free with a Vessel Inspection Control Seal (VICS) in advance of the 2014 boating season.

Walt Lender, the LGA’s Executive Director, said in a statement issued to the press that “the LGPC’s efforts to create a comprehensive mandatory inspection program to protect the Lake is no small task – and seemingly minor details, such as tagging frozen boats, can help decrease congestion at the inspection stations early on in the season, which will be important to the success of the program this first year. When folks arrive at the Lake this summer we want them to understand that lake protection and recreation can go hand in hand. It’s like a first impression – you want to get it right.”

Having a boat with an intact inspection seal acquired through the Frozen Boats Program removes the need for that boat to visit one of the six regional inspection stations for a ‘clean, drained, and dry’ inspection prior to its first launch of the year into Lake George. This local program will provide inspection seals for trailered boats that have been demonstrated to be exposed to the winter elements sufficiently long to kill aquatic invasive species. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ausable Flooding: Smarter Culvert Designs Benefit Fish And People

Tropical Storm Irene Runoff CulvertMost people don’t think about culverts, the large pipes that carry streams and runoff underneath our roads. Even with their essential role in our transportation infrastructure, culverts tend to be in the spotlight only when they fail. In dramatic ways, Hurricane Irene and other recent storms have put culverts (and bridges) to the test. Unfortunately, the high water from these storms overwhelmed many culverts, washing out roads, causing millions of dollars in damages across the Adirondacks, and disrupting life in many communities. For example, the town of Jay sustained about $400,000 in damage to its culverts and adjacent roads as a result of Irene. Across the Northeast, the story is much the same.

Following Tropical Storm Irene, I was part of a team of conservation professionals to assess the performance of road-stream crossings (i.e., culverts and bridges) in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest. The peer-reviewed study, published in the current issue of Fisheries, found that damage was largely avoided at crossings with a stream simulation design, an ecologically-based approach that creates a dynamic channel through the structure that is similar in dimensions and characteristics to the adjacent, natural channel. On the other hand, damages were extensive, costly, and inconvenient at sites with stream crossings following more traditional designs. » Continue Reading.