Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Is the Adirondack Park dying for recreational activities?

Class II Snowmobile connector trailBy Harsh Vaish, Skidmore College

The Department of Environmental Conservation – henceforth referred to as DEC – has been developing plans for major community connector snowmobile trails between Adirondack communities for a number of years. Protect the Adirondacks first sued the DEC in 2013, contending the trials cause significant environmental damage and violate the Constitutional clause for the ‘forever wild’.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, the environmental organization that sued to block the construction said the litigation is about Class 2 snowmobile trails and not hiking trails. He specifically called out the Adirondack Mountain Club and Open Space Institute’s concerns “specious claims.”

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Monday, May 3, 2021

When it comes to garlic mustard, doing less is more

Until recently, ignoring problems in hopes they’ll go away hasn’t served me well. However, a decade-long study done by Cornell University researchers has clearly shown that avoidance is the best way to manage garlic mustard (Allaria petiolata), a pernicious exotic plant. Evidently I’ve been doing a great job in the fight against this aggressive and troublesome invader.

Native to most of Europe and parts of western Asia and northwestern Africa, garlic mustard is in the cabbage and broccoli family (Brassicaceae), and indeed was imported to North America as a culinary herb in the early 1800s. It’s not entirely evil, as it has the spicy tang of mustard with a hint of garlic, and can be used as a base for pesto and sauces, and to flavor salads, soups and other dishes. Unfortunately, eating it has not worked well as a control strategy.

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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Northern New York: Don’t Trash It 

picking up litterNorthern New York is often recognized as a great place to live, work, and raise a family. We’re fortunate enough to call the Adirondack Park, Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the farms and forests of the northern tier home. World-class downhill and cross-country skiing, golf courses, camping, boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, and rock climbing; trails for hiking, jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding; tennis courts, and opportunities for outdoor and wildlife photography all contribute to the extremely appealing quality of life that many of us have come to take for granted.

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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Grow, Eat, Compost, Repeat! Compost Awareness Week

composting graphicInternational Compost Awareness Week is May 2-8

AdkAction’s Compost for Good project is joining environmental and recycling businesses, organizations, community groups and individuals around the globe in celebrating International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) during the first week of May. The theme of this year’s Compost Awareness Week is “Grow, Eat… COMPOST… Repeat.”

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

A lawsuit, a lake and a marina

marinaLast week, I looked at some broader issues raised by a lawsuit over a marina expansion on Lower Saranac Lake.

The dispute is often cast as one among a neighbor — Thomas Jorling, the former head of the state’s environmental conservation agency — and the marina owner and the agencies allowing the marina expansion. But the lawsuit touches on issues that have bedeviled the region for decades, including the amount of study that needs to be done before development can be allowed in the Adirondack Park.

You can read the full story here.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Microgrants boost farms’ sustainability efforts

North Country CreameryIn celebration of Earth Day 2021, the Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization awarded 21 micro-grants totaling $29,601 to local farmers and value-added food producers, in an effort to build a climate-friendly local economy in the Adirondack Park.

It was the sixth consecutive year that the Adirondack Council has awarded micro-grants to farmers and small business owners who want to reduce their environmental impact and adapt to a changing climate.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

DEC announces initiatives to boost recycling, prevent food waste


  • compostDEC Announces Additional $500,000 for Statewide Effort to Improve Food Scrap Recycling and Prevent Food Waste
  • $2 Million Total to Bolster New Regulations to Reduce Landfilling of Food Scraps and Connect Hungry New Yorkers with Edible Food
  • DEC Accepting Public Comments on Proposed Food Waste Regulations until April 27
  • The New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management Launches Recycling Website on Earth Day

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Go Fish: Stocking Saranac River Salmon

salmonRegional fishery folks are testing new ways of getting salmon ready for the Saranac River, a river salmon once thrived in but were blocked from 200 years ago by dams.

I explored the relationship among the river, the dams and the salmon in a series of stories last year. This spring, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation plans to stock salmon in the river, which it has done for years, but this time keep some in a pen for several weeks. In the pen, the fish, who were born in a hatchery, will be fed and cared for by Trout Unlimited. The idea is these fish will have a better chance to survive and learn the river before they leave it for Lake Champlain. That learning, called imprinting, might make it more likely for the salmon to return to the river to spawn in years to come.

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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Orgs Release “Toolkit” for New Yorkers Fighting Climate Change

solar panels stock photoFree, Easy-to-Use Guide Provides Resources to Build Support for Local Wind and Solar Projects to Reap Community Benefits

To help community members who want to build support for local clean energy projects, The Nature Conservancy in New York and New Yorkers for Clean Power have published a toolkit to support their efforts. Entitled Building Out a Clean Energy Future, the free, online toolkit provides background, strategies and resources for New Yorkers regardless of prior knowledge about clean energy.

Identifying common barriers and outlining actions to manage and overcome them, the toolkit shares steps that community members can take to support renewable energy projects in their city, town, or village and help bring about the many benefits of clean energy including cleaner air to breathe, a stronger economy with good-paying local jobs, and less carbon pollution, the driver of climate change.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Regulating road salt like acid rain

Several decades ago, acid rain in the Adirondacks helped direct the nation’s attention to new kinds of air pollution.

Despite the local environmental protections here, acids were being carried from coal-fired power plants elsewhere in the country by the atmosphere and falling into Adirondack lakes and streams, killing off fish. The regulatory boundary protecting the park’s forests and wetlands from development and logging weren’t going to stop that.

A national problem needed a national solution. So, in 1990, Congress updated the Clean Air Act to crack down on polluters.

A recent paper, authored by researchers at the University of Maryland, argues that salt pollution, including pollution from road salt, may be so ubiquitous that it now needs such a national solution. “Ultimately,” the paper says, “there may be a need for regulations similar to the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, which were enacted to address pollution from acid rain.”

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

NYS Climate Impact Assessments: Call for Experts and Stakeholders

NYSERDA logoNYSERDA is launching an ambitious effort to assess how climate change will affect New York’s communities, ecosystems, and economy. The New York State Climate Impacts Assessment: Understanding and Preparing for Our Changing Climate, will include updated climate projections, in-depth climate change impacts on New York State, adaptation strategies, and case studies. It is anticipated that this assessment may inform climate choices at all levels of decision making in the state.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

DEC Extends Gate Closure Season at Mossy Point and Roger’s Rock Boat Launches

Lake George Boat Launch photo by Ed BurkePilot Program to Run April 15 to Dec. 15
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will begin closing the gates at the Mossy Point and Rogers Rock boat launches on Lake George on April 15, as part of an ongoing pilot program to increase protections from aquatic invasive species, DEC Regional Director Joseph Zalewski announced today. The overnight closure will continue through Dec. 15.

“Lake George is one of the most beautiful and heavily recreated lakes in the Northeast. We believe the Commission’s mandatory boat inspection program provides a great balance in protecting Lake George from invasive species without impacting boating activities on the lake,” said Dave Wick, Executive Director of the Lake George Park Commission. “The state and local partnership that created this invasive species prevention initiative has been tremendously successful over its seven years of existence, and it continues to have strong public support.”

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Pledge to Reduce Pollution this Earth Day


smogEvery year on April 22, New Yorkers everywhere celebrate Earth Day to raise awareness about the importance of environmental protection. Since its inception in 1970, there have been many positive actions taken as a result, including improved air quality.

The first Earth Day encouraged Congress to pass the landmark Clean Air Act the same year, which over decades has led to enormous reductions in all categories of air pollutants. Vehicles in the US today are almost 99 percent cleaner than those from the 1970s, with reduced carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate emissions. Vehicle fuels are also much cleaner after the elimination of lead in gasoline and reductions of sulfur levels in fuel, resulting in clearer skies and healthier children.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Adirondack Report: Preview of this month’s APA meeting; state budget update

The state budget was late, but it finally passed both houses last week.

I had a quick overview on our website highlighting that the Adirondacks and Catskills are getting $1.55 million for visitor use management. Of that funding, up to $800,000 will go to Essex County to assist with its pilot shuttle system, front country stewards and infrastructure, like portable toilets. We also have a renewed $3 billion environmental bond act.

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Keeping an eye on dirt

fall salmon river anglersThere are a lot of rivers, streams and lakes to visit. For casual observers, it’s sometimes hard to tell how natural they are. Last year, I spent some time digging into all the ways that dams along the Saranac River change the flow of water and the life of fish.

But dams change something else, too: dirt.

Dams hold back and can suddenly release dirt, or they change the way water flows and those changes, in turn, change how sand and gravel build up both before and after dams’ spot in the river. Whole books, including the classic textbook Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology, have been written on these changes to dirt accumulation, usually known by the more technical word “sediment.”

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