The fight to embrace wilderness and to keep designated wilderness areas free from mechanized uses is a national fight. APA weakened the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan this month by carving out two exceptions in its Primitive Area guidelines for bicycling and motorized maintenance in the Essex Chain and Pine Lake Primitive Areas.
This reflects a lack of appreciation of how sophisticated, gear-leveraged muscle-powered recreation impacts areas where the law states humans must not dominate the landscape (and where human uses are restrained to preserve, enhance and restore natural conditions). » Continue Reading.
The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame has announced that it has inducted eight new members, including two posthumously.
The NYSOHOF is an organization dedicated to honoring those individuals who have spent many years preserving outdoor heritage, working for conservation, or enhancing outdoor sports for future generations. » Continue Reading.
During National Invasive Species Awareness Week, I had the good fortune to teach Indian Lake Central School’s 9th graders how to become beetle busters. On February 22, they discovered how invasive insects can cause economic, ecologic, and societal harm. For this lesson, we zeroed in on emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle.
The class already had a solid understanding of what invasive species are because their teacher Sandra Bureau had been incorporating invasive species curriculum into their studies since September. Hands shot up when I asked for a definition. I detailed that Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer probably hitched a ride from Asia to the United States in wood packing crates. Without the ecological checks and balances found on their home turf, they reproduce rapidly. » Continue Reading.
With warming temperatures and dry conditions, residential brush burning in towns with less than 20,000 residents is prohibited from March 16 through May 14. With the lack of snow cover over much of the state and unseasonably warm temperatures forecast, experts believe conditions for wild fires will be heightened in the coming weeks.
New York prohibits residential burning at this time of year to reduce wildfires and protect people, property and natural resources. Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in the state.
When temperatures are warmer and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation. » Continue Reading.
Last weekend I did a traverse through the Giant Mountain Wilderness, from Chapel Pond over Giant, down to Hopkins and out to Keene Valley. The trail from Giant’s summit down to the col between Giant and Green Mountain is a favorite, a marvelous, unrelenting descent along a forested slope.
Last Sunday it was more entertaining than usual. Facing north and covered in trees, the slope had preserved a modest snowpack, but of course it had not escaped the cycle of thaws and freezes we have endured during this odd winter. The result was a mighty slippery hike. The Ridge Trail up Giant had its typical rivers of ice but the trail down to the col was considerably more treacherous, coated in a dull sheen, with long, icy slabs and bulwarks often lurking under less than an inch of crusty, fragile snow. Even with microspikes it was a dicey scramble requiring a special level of vigilance.
It occurred to me while I was making my way down Giant that this hike represented a pretty strong metaphor for the political shift that seems to be happening in State land use policy here in the Adirondacks. From my perspective we are positioned on a slippery slope and it is incumbent upon us as citizens of New York to raise our level of vigilance.
At the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meeting on Friday March 11, 2016, the APA acted to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) to make a series of changes, the most controversial being changes to the Essex Chain Lakes and Pine Lake Primitive areas to allow public bicycle use and use of motor vehicles for management and maintenance by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
The APSLMP sets management policy for the 2.6-million acre Adirondack Forest Preserve. Since enactment in 1972, the APSLMP has managed Forest Preserve lands classified as Primitive Areas as essentially Wilderness areas. Many Primitive areas have ultimately been upgraded and reclassified to Wilderness. Bicycles and motorized use, even for state agencies, except in times of emergencies, are prohibited in Wilderness areas. » Continue Reading.
It was a riveting 90 minutes at the APA this week. In those 90 minutes, the NYS Adirondack Park Agency amended the State Land Master Plan. In doing so, the agency contradicted and violated basic definitions and guidelines that have been protective of wilderness values since 1972.
The Adirondack Park Agency board voted 9-1 on Friday to allow the use of mountain bikes in the Essex Chain region — a move that some wild-land advocates say weakens protections for the Forest Preserve.
With one dissent, the board agreed to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan to permit bicycling along nine miles of former logging roads in the Essex Chain Primitive Area and the nearby Pine Lake Primitive Area. (The two areas are expected to be combined in the future.)
The master plan will continue to prohibit bicycling in other Primitive Areas except on administrative roads.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing changes to the fishing regulations and is seeking public comments. Changes being considered to the current freshwater fishing regulations are now available here, and if approved, these regulation changes would take effect on April 1, 2017.
Regulation changes include adjusting creel and minimum size limits for walleye as part of DEC’s multi-year effort to establish walleye populations in candidate waters, as well as protecting walleye where they congregate during the spawning season. » Continue Reading.
At this time of year, many a gardener’s daydreams turn to the springtime promise of sprouting plants. Seed catalogs start arriving in the mail months before the soil will be thawed and drained enough for planting, and we use this downtime to plan for the coming season.
At Green Fire Farm in Peacham, Vermont, Michael Low is also planning, not only for this year’s crops, but for biochar to help those crops grow. He harvests about 50 cords of low-grade wood each year on his 67-acre homestead, and turns the wood into his own version of black gold. Biochar is charcoal used for agricultural purposes. Its advocates laud its potential to retain soil nutrients, sustain moisture levels in both drought and heavy rain conditions, and sequester carbon in the ground. For evidence of biochar’s usefulness, they point to the terra preta of the Amazon region, where biochar-enriched soils have maintained high fertility for thousands of years. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Forest Preserve has largely been divided between motorized and non-motorized lands, mechanized and non-mechanized areas. Primarily, these dividing lines separate where automobiles, snowmobiles, and bicycles are allowed and where they are prohibited. On one side, people walk, run, cross country ski or paddle a canoe. On the other side people can use motor vehicles and ride bikes. By and large, the separation of uses has worked well. It’s coherent and there’s virtue in its simplicity. As one long-time local government leader often quipped referring to Forest Preserve advocates, “Wilderness is yours and Wild Forest is ours.”
I feel a connection with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, albeit indirect. He had strengths, but an environmental and land ethic, because they were not enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, seemed irrelevant to the Justice. Just before he died, he joined the majority in putting a stay on the the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean power regulation and thus called into question American climate commitments made in Paris. But my story is local, not global.
Some years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) was involved in determining whether small, one-eighth acre, biologically active wetlands near our home that dry up in the summer, known as vernal pools, were worth protecting under the federal Clean Water Act’s Section 404 program. A developer wanted to build 18 homes – outside of the Adirondack Park – abutting ours that would directly impact the red maple swamp forest in which the pools lay. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) has announced that they are hiring up to ten seasonal Lake Champlain boat launch stewards to work at New York and Vermont public boat launch access areas this summer. This will be the tenth season of boat launch stewards on Lake Champlain.
In 2015, LCBP stewards surveyed 12,555 boats and offered courtesy boat inspection to remove and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Stewards spoke to 26,306 visitors about steps they could take to ensure their boats and equipment were clean, drained, and dry. » Continue Reading.
The unfortunate war over New York State’s plan to turn 34 miles of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor into an all-season recreational trail may not be entirely over; certainly no one has surrendered just yet. But for all intents and purposes, opponents of the State’s plan have had their Waterloo.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board has voted to affirm that the plan is consistent with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), clearing the way to proceed. Barring successful lawsuits or an unlikely turnaround, the Tri-Lakes region is going to get its Adirondack Recreational Trail. » Continue Reading.
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an injunction that delays implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan’s greenhouse-gas regulations. EPA’s plan must wait until after a legal challenge in a lower court, as well as an expected appeal to the Supreme Court, are decided. These events are expected to take a year or more. » Continue Reading.
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