Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Adk Park Population Trends Track Those Of Rural America

AA-EmigrationCharts-National-MapsOne persistent myth in the Adirondack Park population debate is that environmental regulations and the Forest Preserve drive young people out of the Adirondack Park. In certain quarters this is considered gospel in the debate over the future of the Adirondack Park.

The reality is that this myth is a myth.

A great tool is being offered by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who put together a fascinating interactive website with U.S. population emigration data 1950-2010. It lets one explore various population migration trends across the U.S. post World War II. The UW-Madison site helps us in the Adirondacks see how our demographic trends track closely to the rest of rural America.

Population decline in rural America has been driven by the loss of the rural manufacturing base that could not compete with cheap overseas costs. It’s been driven by the vast mechanization and contraction of the farm and logging work forces. For example, Iowa State University reports the number of hog farmers in Iowa dropped from 65,000 in 1980 to 10,000 in 2002, while the number of hogs per farm increased from 200 to 1,400. It’s been driven by the massive growth of online shopping and services (remember in the days before NetFlix when there were video stores in several Park communities). Government austerity programs don’t help rural areas either as public sector employment is always higher in rural areas as a total percentage of the work force. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lake George Zipline Project Will Scar French Mountain

macchio 2.02-10-06The gap between legislative intent to protect the open space resources of the Adirondack Park and the APA’s analysis of project impacts in accordance with the law widened into a chasm in 2012 when the agency approved the Adirondack Club and Resort by a 10-1 vote.

Now, the Agency has also approved by 10-1 vote a Zipline thrill ride down scenic French Mountain above the Village of Lake George at the entrance to the Adirondack Park. That development will not engender statewide publicity nor, I suspect, a lawsuit. Nonetheless it requires the cutting of a 900-foot swath, 35-50 feet wide, down a steep and wild mountainside. According to Agency staff, the steel cables would be highly visible from many vantage points; in some views the cables would be silhouetted above the mountain, and the cut would resemble a utility line. The thrill ride benefits exactly one business in a resort community. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Students Exploring Local Climate Change Impacts

climate_class_at_TWCAs climate change comes to the Adirondacks, how will it change our lives?  A $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and a Pennsylvania-based science-education center will help Paul Smith’s College and The Wild Center answer that question by putting it to groups and individuals likely to see the change first.

Prof. Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s and Rob Carr of The Wild Center are collaborating on a new class this spring, Communicating Climate Science, that will ask members of fish and game clubs, medical experts, musicians and other North Country residents to project what current and future changes in local climate may mean to their communities. By the end of the project, students in the class will use that input to suggest how climate change may be most relevant to each group – the effort hopes to provide the tools to make informed decisions about handling climate changes. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame Honors Dr. Nina Schoch

2013-NS RTLO Rls-9412-tThe New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame has announced that its class of inductees for 2014 will include Dr. Nina Schoch of Ray Brook, NY.  Schoch will be honored at the annual banquet April 26 in Canastota, NY.

Nina Schoch is best known for her role in conservation of the Adirondack loon.  Under her leadership the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation (ACLP) has involved hundreds of volunteers, school children, and government agencies in protecting the iconic symbol of the Adirondack wilderness.  The loon census, banding, research on health issues, and public awareness programs of the ACLP have contributed to the dramatic increase in the loon population in the past three decades. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 10, 2014

APA Seeks Expedited Approvals For Some Wetland Activities

APA officeThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is seeking public comment on two new general permits related to wetlands in the Adirondack Park that would expedite APA approval for qualifying activities. One relates to the the management of invasive species within 100 feet of a wetland, the other to access and replacement of power poles in wetlands. Both General Permits will apply throughout the Adirondack Park and will be effective for three years unless revoked or modified by the Agency.

The APA will accept public comments until March 28, 2014. If there is significant concern with, or opposition to these General Permits, a public hearing may be required. Approval of a General Permit by the Agency is a SEQRA, Type 1 action. A negative declaration and Full Environmental Assessment Form has been prepared by the Agency and is on file at its offices in Ray Brook, New York. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

EPA Grant Will Expand Boat Inspections For Invasives

Michael Abrahamson, LGA lake steward, inspects boat at Dunham’s Bay in 2011The Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College has won a $500,000 federal grant to help protect lakes and rivers from invasive species. The grant, which was awarded from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, was announced last week. The program is directed by Dr. Eric Holmlund. The EPA has supported the program with two earlier grants.

As part of the program, the Watershed Stewardship Program is expected to expand its watercraft-inspection efforts for the 2015 season; as part of the work, seasonal inspectors are expected to perform 14,000 inspections at about 20 boat launches across the western Adirondacks to help prevent the spread of invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and spiny waterflea. The stewards hope to remove any invaders they find and educate boaters how they can help prevent the spread of invasives themselves. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Leadership at the Ausable River Association

ausable river watershedExecutive Director Corrie Miller, who led the Ausable River Association (AsRA) through the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene and has overseen the organization’s operations over the past two years, has announced her departure. Miller has accepted the position of Executive Director of Friends of the Mad River in central Vermont.

Replacing Miller as executive director is Kelley Tucker, long-time member of the AsRA board and co-author of the draft Ausable River Watershed Management Plan that is being prepared for public comment this year. “We took stock as a board and carefully reviewed our organizational needs, those of the community, and the watershed, and we decided we have the right person within our own ranks,” AsRA Board Chair Larry Master state in a statement to the press. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

130,659 Acres of Adirondack Forest Sold

100_1126Rayonier Forest Resources has sold 130,659 acres of forest located almost entirely in the Adirondack Park for $57.5 million to a client of the timberland investment management organization Molpus Woodlands Group. The land is located in St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin and Lewis Counties.

The land has traditionally been used for logging and some of the purchase is under New York State conservation easement which allows for fishing, private camp leases, and motorized recreation. Some of the state’s easement provides public access to a 200 feet corridor along more than 26 miles of the Grasse River’s north and middle branches, along with access to about 16 miles of Grasse River tributaries and local roads and snowmobile trails. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

$1M Campaign to Endow Paul Smith’s College Position

Paul Smiths CollegeA $1 million campaign to endow a position for an internationally recognized climate expert at Paul Smith’s College has been staked with a major matching gift according to an announcement made by the college Monday.

Caroline Lussi, a 1960 graduate of Paul Smith’s and a former college trustee, has offered a matching challenge of up to $500,000 to establish the college’s first Endowed Chair in Lake Ecology and Paleocology. The first recipient will be Curt Stager, a press release said.

Lussi has pledged $500,000 if the college can raise an additional $500,000. More than $250,000 has been contributed so far officials of the college said. Both Paul Smith’s College and the Adirondack Foundation are accepting donations. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Surplus State Budget, An Environmental Deficit

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens dedicates a new addition to the Forest Preserve above Lake George in 2013Given Governor Andrew Cuomo’s projected $2 billion surplus, his environmental agencies could have used a bit of a budgetary boost.

One can always hope. But readers already know this is not the case. Cuomo’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens, made it explicit when he testified recently to legislative committees “Basically, this is a flat budget staff-wise,” he told legislators who politely questioned why his DEC budget appeared to be cut $43 million.

“Those dollars were non-reoccurring federal pass-through funds,” the commissioner answered. “Those are not cuts to our operating funds.” When questioned about the apparent loss of staff, the commissioner answered that those were DEC information technology personnel moved to a central IT office in Albany. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Commentary: Statewide Action Needed for Invasives Control

invasive_curveMay 15, 2014 will see the beginning of a new mandatory boat inspection and decontamination program on Lake George designed to significantly reduce the risk of new aquatic invasive species (AIS) infestations. Each year, around 15,000 motorboats use Lake George, about 10,000 resident boats and around 5,000 transitory boats are trailered in from areas near and far.

Lake George is one of the most famous lakes in the eastern U.S., known internationally for its high water quality, clarity, and scenic beauty. This new mandatory boat control program will generate a lot of interest and help to raise the profile of bold, serious efforts to prevent the spread of AIS. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Best Vista in the Adirondacks

Wallface in SnowI’ve been preoccupied with Adirondack vistas of late.  Two recent copies of Adirondack Life had pictures with Burton’s Peak in them: one was a cover picture and the other placed in the 2014 Photo Contest (those of you who are savvy about my Lost Brook Dispatches and have followed the clues can see if you can identify it).

Like so many of us, I cherish beholding a corker Adirondack view perhaps more than any other experience in the park.  There is something magical about the combination of grandeur and intimacy in wild Adirondack vistas, studded with lakes, ponds and streams and infused with a dark, raw primeval power impossible to capture in words.  Quite frankly I have never experienced a stronger sense of wild harmony and beauty anywhere else I’ve been. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 14, 2014

DEC: No Reprieve For Marcy Dam

Marcy Dam aerialThe decision is final: Marcy Dam will be torn down.

As reported last month on the Almanack, the state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to dismantle the dam, which was damaged in Tropical Storm Irene, over the next five years. At the time, though, the department was waiting to hear from the public on the proposal.

Recently, I submitted a freedom-of-information request to review the public comments. Given the popularity of the dam, I was surprised to learn that DEC heard from only two people—and both agreed that the dam should be removed.

One of the writers, Wallace Elton, suggested that a dam failure would damage the environment downstream and put people at risk. “The expense of rebuilding the dam to today’s safety standards cannot be justified with current funding limitations,” he wrote. “Beyond that, this is an opportunity to re-wild a key area in the heart of the Forest Preserve.”

» Continue Reading.


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary

WildernessAct1Fifty years ago, the nation as a whole needed a diversion after the shocking assassination of President Kennedy, and all eyes were on the Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. President Johnson was hard at work persuading key congressmen to support the Civil Rights Act. The seedling that was to become the Vietnam War was growing. I knew little about any of this. I joined thousands my age trying to impersonate the Beatles with a mop on my head and a “plugged-in” broomstick.

And in Washington DC the final legislative compromises behind another civil right encompassed within the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 were agreed to. The legislated right to an enduring, living wilderness for every American was nearing. The labors of the Wilderness Society’s Howard Zahniser reflected in 18 years of his advocacy and 66 drafts of the bill had nearly reached an end.  On September 3, 1964 President Johnson signed the bill. Zahniser had died a few months earlier, just days after the bill’s final hearing. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thoughts on Climate Change Denial in 2014

global-warming-socialist-scamIn 2014, global climate change denial not only persists, but is politically powerful and has effectively prevented the large-scale changes we need to start now to drastically reduce use and reliance on fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. We need to make this transition to avoid enormous negative changes that will make living conditions much more difficult in the decades ahead on a warmer planet.

Recently, Donald Trump, who tweets to about 2.5 million twitter followers, sent a message about the “global warming hoax” after he watched an NBC News report about the wave of current subzero temperatures in the northeast U.S.

There are a couple of things to note in this episode. First, Trump tweets to 2.5 million people, while climate change activist and author Bill Mckibben tweets to 111,000. Second, Trump distorts reality in a lazy self-referential way without looking at any evidence. Had he bothered to look at any easily accessible long-term temperature data, he would have found that in the past decade far more records (they ran 2-1 in fact) were set across the U.S. for all-time-high temperatures rather than all-time-lows. » Continue Reading.


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