Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Final Papers Submitted In Adirondack Park Snowmobile Trail Trial

section of the Newcomb to Minerva trail built in 2015On July 31, 2017 final papers were submitted in the trial in state Supreme Court in Albany over management of the Forest Preserve. The trial ended in early April. The trial focused on management of the public “forever wild” Forest Preserve by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency.

These agencies are currently building a network of 9-12 foot wide class II community connector snowmobile trails (Class II trails) on the Adirondack Forest Preserve that require cutting thousands of trees, extensive grading.

The lawsuit was filed by Protect the Adirondacks (PROTECT) against the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency in 2013, and alleges that these trails violate Article XIV, Section 1, the forever wild provision of the NYS Constitution. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

APA Agenda: Building Bike Trails, Piseco Lake Campground, Hamilton Co Towers

APA Building in Ray Brook NYThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Ray Brook, NY on Thursday, August 10th, 2017.

The meeting will address the siting, construction and maintenance of bike trails on state land, the Piseco Lake Campground UMP, the appearance of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in Warren County, and consider two emergency communication towers in Hamilton County.

What follows is the agenda issued by the APA: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Adirondack High Peaks Management Plan Unmet, Outdated

There has been detailed documentation in the Adirondack Almanack about ongoing recreational pressures and resulting damage to parts of the High Peaks Wilderness Area, the largest Wilderness unit in the NYS Forest Preserve (and in most of the country).

Severe impacts have resulted to some adjacent trailheads, highways, roads, and parking areas, and certain areas of the interior. NYS DEC personnel, Summit Stewards, and town governments, indeed all of us, feel the pressure from large numbers of us enjoying the Eastern High Peaks, and in some cases requiring search and rescue. What to do about it all has been debated in this space by various stakeholders, including DEC Forest Rangers, with much good information exchanged and good comments and suggestions.

However, current comments and conditions feel like déjà vu all over again. I refer to the 17 year-old document that very specifically guides our public land manager, the NYS DEC, in addressing recreational user pressure on the High Peaks and how to keep the High Peaks as wilderness.

The 1999 High Peaks Wilderness Complex Unit Management Plan (UMP) is that guiding document. I propose that we spend more time addressing this plan, its management recommendations and actions to date, and how the UMP might be updated to reflect the era, conditions and user pressures we are now encountering. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Millennial Focus at Lake George Land Conservancy Meeting

lglc logoThe Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) will hold its Annual Meeting at the Bolton Conservation Park on Saturday, August 19, from 10 am to 12 pm, followed by a guided hike to The Pinnacle and picnic lunch.

Guest speaker Michelle Clement from the Regional Office Of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) will present a discussion on the economic benefits of conservation and recreation and the emerging relationship between the Adirondacks, nature and millennials. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Highly Invasive Hydrilla Intercepted At Upper Saranac Lake

Hydrilla in Cayuga Lake Inlet On July 29, watercraft inspectors inspected a pair of personal watercraft attempting to launch at the State boat launch on Upper Saranac Lake, subsequently detecting and removing a strand of hydrilla (water thyme, or Hydrilla verticillata), a fast-growing invasive aquatic plant currently established in several New York lakes.  This is the first confirmed instance of hydrilla detected in the history of the Adirondack Park’s aquatic invasive species prevention efforts.

According to lake stewards, the watercraft on the trailer carrying hydrilla had both been sealed by lake stewards from the Lake George Park Commission, indicating they had recently passed an invasive species inspection.

On some Adirondack lakes stewards perform boat and trailer inspections in an effort to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.  Many boat launches however, including those operated by the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC), remain largely un-staffed, or inadequately equipped, and often rely on poorly paid student labor.  Most DEC boat launches in the Adirondacks remain open when stewards are not present. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

NYS Plans Rebuild of 78 Miles of North Country Power Line

Moses Adirondack Power Line MapThe State of New York has announced plans to rebuild 78 miles of power transmission infrastructure in the North Country. The rebuilt transmission line, called the Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability Project, is expected to help the state meet its clean energy standard mandating 50 percent of New York’s consumed electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030 by providing better transmission through St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.

“Transmission projects like these can play a critical role in channeling power produced upstate – where increasing amounts of renewable energy is coming on line – to areas where it is needed downstate,” according to a press release issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.  Construction is estimated to take four years and is slated to begin in 2019. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pete Nelson: Norway has Lessons for High Peaks Overuse

Regular Almanack readers are used to hearing me stress the importance of perspectives from outside the Adirondack Park. Today I’ve got one from way outside the Adirondack Park, specifically Norway, where my wife Amy and I are traveling for two weeks. While here I have enjoyed the geologic kinship Norway shares with the Adirondacks. I have also enjoyed the fact that my experiences so far have reinforced the sentiments I expressed in my last Almanack column, namely that we should not overreact to busy trails in the High Peaks. If you think we have a problem in the Adirondacks, you should see the hiking traffic here. And if you think that pervasive cultural experiences of pristine, wild places can’t place their fragile value at the heart of an entire society, you should see this country.

Yesterday Amy and I climbed Preikestolen, one of Norway’s most popular hiking destinations and a national icon. In some ways Preikestolen is Norway’s answer to Indian Head: a massive, open rock slab with a spectacular view, positioned far above a narrow body of water that is set between mountain ridges. However the scale is far greater: Priekestolen’s height above the water is three times that of Indian Head and the body of water is a sizeable fjord, not a small lake. For the purposes of this article, a better comparison is our own infamous Cascade Mountain. Cascade’s trail involves several hundred feet more vertical ascent than Preikestolen, but both routes are 2.4 miles and, more important, both trails are crammed with people who want an accessible but authentic regional mountain experience. Like Cascade, Preikestolen is a challenge that a neophyte hiker or ambitious family might take, an intimidating but doable workout with major parking problems down below and a show-stopper payoff on top. The difference, once again, is scale: Preikestolen’s foot traffic makes Cascade look like Allen Mountain.   » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Regional Wildlife Refuge Areas Opened For 16-Days

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that several restricted Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) will be opened to the public in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties from Saturday, August 12, through Sunday, August 27, 2017.

Portions of these WMAs are marked as “Refuge” or “Wetlands Restricted Area” to allow waterfowl and other listed species to breed and raise young without interference from people. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Froehlich Foundation Continues Support of LGLC Efforts

lglc logoThe Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) has received a grant of $190,000 from the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation in continued support of focused conservation projects and initiatives to help protect the land that protects the lake forever.

The grant is expected to be used on priority projects, including $100,000 towards the LGLC’s Indian Brook/Northwest Bay Conservation Initiative, which includes focused land protection efforts in the Indian Brook and Northwest Bay watersheds in Bolton.

“Studies indicate that although Indian Brook is showing some impacts from development and other human activity, the watershed is still below the threshold of containing less than 10% of impervious surface, which is an indicator of overall health. Much of the watershed’s sensitive land is currently unprotected, however, leaving water quality vulnerable,” an LGLC press announcement said. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Eastern Forest Birds Face Wintering Grounds Habitat Loss

Rose-breasted GrosbeakWithin the next few decades, human-caused habitat loss looms as the greatest threat to some North American breeding birds and the problem will be most severe on their wintering grounds, according to a new study published  in the journal Global Change Biology. By the end of this century, the study’s authors say predicted changes in rainfall and temperature will compound the problem for birds that breed in eastern North America and winter in Central America. Migrant wintering grounds are important because the birds spend a greater proportion of the year in these places.

The scientists ran dozens of scenarios to predict what the future might look like for 21 species, most of them flycatchers, vireos, and warblers. They used observations that volunteers entered into the eBird database from 2004 through 2014 to establish where and in what density the species are found throughout the year. Then, they layered in modeled climate change projections (temperature and rainfall) and habitat data (land-use changes and the location of protected areas). » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Ticket Issued For Drone Usage In Adirondack Wilderness Area

A man who allegedly flew a drone in the High Peaks Wilderness in June is headed to court in Keene next month.

The man allegedly flew and landed a drone on June 17th near the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Johns Brook Outpost. The man was issued a ticket after the incident was observed by a forest ranger.

The ticket was first of its kind for operation of a drone on the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve. It alleges the individual operated motorized equipment within land classified as wilderness. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 24, 2017

An Environmental Salute to George Canon

The late Newcomb Town Supervisor George Canon did not concede anything to the environmental side, but in paying my respects to him I admit to admiration for what he accomplished for his town and county and for how, beneath a very tough exterior, George cared little about who he was seen with, who he would approach, talk with or share a drink with. Not that he wanted my organizations to publish pictures of us smiling before the camera. That would have gone too far.

Early on, when George and I met occasionally, our only common ground was to talk about a man we knew from very different points of view – Arthur Masten Crocker. Arthur was a patrician member of the Tahawus Club, so a part-time resident of Newcomb. He was also a leading environmentalist of his time, having grown to young manhood around Masten House, near the old village of Adirondac, and fished lakes Henderson and Colden.  Arthur also appreciated Adirondack history, local guides and men who worked for National Lead – men like George Canon. » Continue Reading.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Trailhead Porta-John Initiative Needs Your Help

New ADA-approved Porta-John and regular one at Cascade trailheadWhere people who are active outdoors in the Adirondack Park go to the bathroom is of concern to all of us. Human waste – and don’t think it doesn’t happen on mountaintops, lakeshores, and any peaceful wooded area — can pollute water bodies and ruin the nature experience for other hikers.

One way to solve the problem is better education about poop etiquette. Bury it or carry it out. Better yet, go before you enter the woods.

The Ausable River Porta-John project is making that easier. Started 10 years ago, it expanded to the High Peaks last year. It now has eleven Porta-Johns at popular locations throughout the region (See map here) and is seeing good results, as in fewer incidences of poop and toilet paper left behind. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kate Fish Joins NYSERDA Board Of Directors

Kate FishThe New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced that Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) Executive Director Kate Fish has joined its Board of Directors. Fish will serve six years on the NYSERDA board. Her new role coincides with the appointment of Alicia Barton as NYSERDA’s president and chief executive officer.

Kate Fish has served as Executive Director of ANCA since 2010. “Early in her tenure with the regional economic development nonprofit, she identified renewable energy as a critical path to more resilient local economies and focused ANCA’s strategies on creating stronger local economies, including a clean energy economy,” a statement to the press said. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

DEC Commissioner Eyes Major Changes to Forest Preserve

Hamlet to Hut demonstration project in Long LakeEarlier this year I wrote two articles in the Adirondack Almanack (here and here) about how state agencies had switched their focus from a classification of the Boreas Ponds with various Wilderness-Wild Forest options to a new option that included some form of public lodging facilities. My purpose in writing these pieces was to convey the fears of many at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and state government who were alarmed at these ideas cooked up by Governor Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. These articles in the Almanack triggered a round of press scrutiny and helped to inform the public about how state leaders had changed their focus on the Boreas classification (see some here, here, and here). These press reports also authenticated what I had written.

Last week, we saw an op-ed published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise by Commissioner Seggos making the case for building some kind of rental cabins, lodges, huts, or glamping-style tent platforms in the Forest Preserve. The op-ed talked about the possibility of “full service” and “self service” buildings. It was premised on the idea that the Forest Preserve needs to add a new and different type recreational amenity to facilitate broader public use. The Commissioner promoted the ideas of the hut-to-hut initiative from the Hamlets to Huts organization and listed the ways in which some kind of cabin on the Forest Preserve could provide different opportunities for public use. » Continue Reading.