Sunday, May 22, 2016

Peter Bauer: 7 Simple Rules For Classifying The Boreas Tract

Boreas-600x343The purchase of the Boreas Ponds tract is a major milestone in the history of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, a stellar accomplishment by the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and a feather in the cap of the Cuomo Administration. This marks the completion of the state’s purchase of 69,000 acres of new Forest Preserve announced in 2012. While over 95,000 acres of the former Finch, Pruyn and Company lands were protected as conservation easements, the 69,000 acres purchased for the Forest Preserve included natural gems like OK Slip Falls, the Blue Ledges of the Hudson Gorge, the Essex Chain Lakes, 15 miles of the Hudson River, the West Stony Creek river valley, five miles of the Cedar River, and much much more.

At the Governor’s announcement of the Boreas Ponds purchase last week at Elk Lake he said he wanted to see a speedy classification of the newly purchased lands. There are more than 35,000 acres of land to be classified, mostly bordering the High Peaks Wilderness, but also in scattered parcels in the southern Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Dealing With Adirondack Climate Change

ProSnowThe Adirondack Park is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Lakes and ponds are covered with ice for fewer days than they were a century ago; spring is starting earlier in the lower elevations; and storms are becoming more intense and frequent.

Scientists predict that in the future the Park will be a much different place. Wildlife species that can’t adapt to the warmer weather are expected to move northward or to higher elevations. Buildings that remain in floodplains are expected to be more vulnerable to flooding. Plant communities, especially those on high summits and boreal lowlands, could change significantly or even disappear.  » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Study: Wilderness Helps Adirondack Economy

Wilderness around Fulton Chain from Castle Rock above Blue Mountain LakeA new study conducted by Clarkson University argues that the Adirondack Park’s constitutionally protected Forest Preserve is an economic asset to the private lands and communities near it, and the wildest of those lands returns the greatest financial benefit.

Clarkson’s study showed that people seeking to purchase homes and businesses in northern New York paid more for the same property inside the Adirondack Park than they would have outside of it. Buyers paid up to 25 percent more if that property was close to a wilderness area. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dick Booth: Boreas Ponds Should Be Wilderness

Boreas Ponds aerialDick Booth probably won’t be on the Adirondack Park Agency’s board when it decides how to classify the recently acquired Boreas Ponds Tract, but he is convinced that most of the 20,758 acres should be designated Wilderness, the strictest of the APA’s land-use categories.

“The great bulk of the lands, including the ponds, should be Wilderness,” Booth told Adirondack Almanack on Tuesday, a day after revealing he intends to retire from the APA.

Environmental groups concur that the three linked ponds — with their stupendous views of the High Peaks — should be classified Wilderness, but local towns are arguing for a less-restrictive Wild Forest classification for the ponds and nearby land. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Volunteers Needed At Cook Mountain Near Ticonderoga

GF middle school vwdThe Lake George Land Conservancy is hosting a three-day effort to eradicate invasive shrubby honeysuckle from the Cook Mountain Preserve in Ticonderoga, June 7-9, 10 am to 6 pm.

The forest of the Cook Mountain Preserve has become overtaken by invasive shrubby honeysuckle, an aggressive non-native plant that overtakes forest understories, pushing out native plants that are needed to provide food and shelter for wildlife. Their growth is often so dense that no other plants grow beneath its branches, leaving the ground bare. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dick Booth To Step Down From APA Board

BoothThe Adirondack Park Agency board will soon lose its strongest defender of wilderness: Dick Booth does not intend to serve another term.

Booth’s current four-year term expires June 30, but he said he will stay on awhile if a successor is not appointed by then.

A professor in Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning, Booth told Adirondack Almanack he is leaving partly out of frustration with decisions at the agency. He also said the long drive from Ithaca to Ray Brook for monthly meetings and poring over stacks of documents in preparation for those meetings proved draining over the years.

“I’ve been there eight and a half years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it, but at some point it’s time to step aside.”

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dave Gibson: DEC’s Essex Chain Double Standards

_DSC0161DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos signed the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) in late March, and issued a Findings Statement required by law.

The final UMP and the Findings do not appear to alter the basic management decisions ratified by the Adirondack Park Agency last November as being in compliance with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Those management decisions include creation of motorized corridors within Wild and Scenic River areas and other matters which the nonprofits Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and Protect the Adirondacks considered in serious violation of existing law and regulation. Two members of the APA voted against the UMP compliance determination because of the Environmental Conservation Department’s apparent disregard for provisions in the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act and regulations. The nonprofit organizations consequently filed a lawsuit in January. The legal matters are pending in court.

DEC has asserted from the beginning and continues to assert that as a matter of law prior uses by the private owner Finch,Pruyn and Company and its private lessees and guests, uses ending when Finch, Pruyn sold the property in 2007, justify continued uses by the public today after the land reverted to publicly- owned Forest Preserve in 2012. This is one of the several contested issues before the court. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Towns Favor Wild Forest Designation For Boreas Ponds

Boreas_Ponds Map_20160401Five local towns have set forth a land-use proposal for the newly acquired Boreas Ponds Tract that would allow mountain biking and “reasonable” motorized access — an alternative to plans supported by environmentalists.

Both the towns and environmental groups have proposed classification schemes that divide the 20,758-acre tract into Wilderness, where motors and bikes are prohibited, and Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification. The major difference is that the towns recommend that the Boreas Ponds themselves be designated Wild Forest.

Under all the plans, most people would be allowed to drive on the dirt Gulf Brook Road only as far as LaBier Flow, an impoundment on the Boreas River, the outlet of the ponds. From there, hikers would have to walk a mile or so to the ponds. Canoeists would have to paddle up the flow and then portage to the ponds.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Adirondack Winter That Wasn’t

Whiteface Mountain with little snow 2016 Mike Lynch PhotoSnow-sport events are a staple of winter tourism in the Adirondacks, drawing participants and spectators into small villages where they eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, and spend money in stores. This winter, many events had to be canceled because of frequent thaws and a dearth of snow.

Among the canceled events were the Lake Placid Loppet, a cross-country-ski race, and a World Cup skiing competition in the Lake Placid region; the annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival, sponsored by the Mountaineer in Keene Valley; and Dewey Mountain Days in Saranac Lake. Dangerous ice conditions led to the cancellation of ice-fishing contests around the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Questions About The Light Usage Of The Essex Chain Lakes

Photo of Sue Bibeau on Third Lake by Phil BrownI have heard from many who have gone into the Essex Chain Lakes area and encountered relatively few other people. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has stated that public use has been very high but provided no numbers. When I rode my bicycle from Newcomb to Blue Mountain Lake on a beautiful 75 degree Saturday of Labor Day weekend last year there were two cars at the Deer Pond parking lot to the Essex Chain Lakes area. This contrasted with the fairly heavy use of people hiking into OK Slip Falls, which is part of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness area.

Through a freedom of Information letter, I requested trailhead logbooks from the DEC to look at the use of other flatwater canoeing locations in the Adirondack Forest Preserve – Little Tupper Lake, Low’s Lake and Lake Lila. These are all wonderful motorless areas that provide incredible flatwater canoeing and overnight opportunities. I had certainly envisioned that the Essex Chain Lakes would become another such vaunted Wilderness destination where visitors were guaranteed a wild experience, away from motor vehicles.

Here’s what I found. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 9, 2016

APA Promoting Lake George Economic Development Plan

Dan at APA (2)The Town and Village of Lake George, in collaboration with The Adirondack Park Agency (APA), will prepare an economic development plan for the Hamlet areas and commercial centers of the communities of Lake George. The APA is working in partnership with the municipalities through its Hamlet Economic Planning and Assistance (HEPA) initiative.

The planning process is expected to involve public outreach to local stakeholders, identify a vision for the communities, and formulate plan components. An initial kickoff meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18th at 6 pm. The public is encouraged to attend.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

#BeWildNY Alliance Cites Science In Call For Wilderness At Boreas Ponds

boreas pondsThe state’s newest piece of Adirondack Forest Preserve shelters rare plants, pure waters and sensitive wildlife species, while exhibiting high ecological integrity and wild character, according to two recently released scientific studies. The studies are being cited by advocates for expanding the High Peaks Wilderness to include the Boreas Ponds area between North Hudson and Newcomb, north of Blue Ridge-Boreas River Road.

The #BeWildNY alliance argues that the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds Tract should be shielded from automobiles, invasive species, and motorized or mechanized recreation and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Adirondack Park Agency to classify most of the new tract Wilderness, and add it to the High Peaks Wilderness. The studies were completed by Adirondack Research LLC and by the Wildlife Conservation Society. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Planting Trees Along The Hudson With YENN, Adirondack Wild, And Forest Rangers

DEC Forest Rangers working with YENN and Adirondack Wild“I never thought I’d be getting my hands dirty and planting trees in such a big forest,” said Jody last Saturday.

She had joined others from the Youth Ed-Venture and Nature Network, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for a day of hard work along the Hudson River.  YENN volunteers from tye Capital District met me at the Adirondack Mountain Club Headquarters off of Northway Exit 21 (thanks to Danielle for hosting us).  After a brief orientation to the Adirondack Park, we drove to Luzerne and then up River Road into the Town of Warrensburg. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Bauer: Checks And Balances Should Protect The Forest Preserve

DEC Headquarters in AlbanyWe’re moving into an era of one-agency rule in the Adirondack Park and that should be very troubling to everyone. For nearly 45 years, management of the public Forest Preserve has been based on checks and balances between the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The APA set management policy and the DEC administered the on-the-ground management of trails and other facilities. The APA created and updated the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, while DEC drafted individual Unit Management Plans (UMPs), which the APA reviewed for compliance. By and large this joint administration, which provided oversight, accountability, and public participation, worked well for the natural resource protection and public recreational use of the Forest Preserve.

All that is changing. There is little effective oversight by the APA and little accountability by the DEC. We’re in a new era of one-agency control. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pete Nelson: Close The Road Into The Boreas Ponds

Paddling on Boreas Ponds as guest of The Nature ConservancyThe State of New York has completed purchase of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the final stage of its acquisition of the former Finch Pruyn lands from the Nature Conservancy.  Now the classification process will begin.  As with the Essex Chain acquisition the debate will be over recreational access and protection of its biological assets and its aesthetic experience as a wild place.  As with the Essex Chain the debate will largely come down to roads, in this case Gulf Brook Road, a dirt and gravel road that provides access to the interior of the tract from Blue Ridge Road.

It’s obvious why arguments between wilderness protection and recreational access so often come down to roads, but I think that’s unfortunate.  I think it distracts us from the larger issues of land use and protection with which we should be more concerned.  The issue of Gulf Brook Road in the Boreas classification makes a perfect example.  So let’s look at it in a little more detail. » Continue Reading.


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