Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Updated Guide To Good Development Design

Rural by DesignThis past week I received my copy of the updated guide for building and designing greener, everywhere from rural farms, to small villages, to the suburban fringe, to metro areas.  The second edition of Rural by Design (2015, published by American Planning Association) is out. Its author, Randall Arendt, is a landscape planner, site designer, author, lecturer, and advocate of conservation planning.

The first edition of Rural by Design came out in 1994 and changed many mindsets. Development after World War II had been left to “professionals” working in an orbit very distant from the rest of us. They mysteriously zoned our cities and towns, built our highways and streets and subdivided farms, fields and woods according to the dictates of the automobile.  Arendt and others helped others to understand what people intrinsically knew, that after 40 years “traditional” development was leaving community, neighborhood and nature, including our own, out in the cold. He and others have helped make planning ideas and tools accessible and understandable to anybody wishing to alter their hometown’s development practices. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Comments Sought On Fourth Lake Management

alger island campground dec photoChanges to public use facilities at the Fourth Lake Day-Use Area and enhancements to the Alger Island Campground are proposed under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) draft Alger Island Campground Unit Management Plan (UMP). The day-use area and campground are located in the Herkimer County Town of Webb.

The public is invited to comment on the draft plan by April 30th. The plan is expected to guide management of the campground and day-use area for the next five years. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lake George Effort To Reduce Permit Violations

Lake George DockCustomizing a dock on Lake George? There may be nothing in the Lake George Park Commission’s regulations explicitly allowing or prohibiting some modification or embellishment, but according Molly Gallagher, the Lake George Park Commission’s permit administrator, there are precedents.

“Some of these precedents for what is allowed or for what requires a permit were in my head, or in the head of the Commission’s first executive director, Mike White,” Gallagher told the Commissioners at a recent monthly meeting. “We also have Records of Decisions and individual resolutions. Now I’m putting some of these on paper in the form of a memorandum that will aid you in your deliberations and help guide administrators as well as dock builders and homeowners.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Saranac Lake E-mail Policy Limits Government Transparency

Clyde RabideauThe day after the Saranac Lake Village Board voted to approve a crucial zoning change for a proposed 90-room luxury hotel on Lake Flower, I filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for all correspondence between Mayor Clyde Rabideau and Chris LaBarge, the developer behind the project. I wanted to know more about the decision-making process that led to the mayor’s enthusiastic support of the hotel as well as any correspondence that might be of interest to the public. (The approval of the Planned Unit Development District or PUDD brings the project one step closer to reality, but it still awaits reviews by the village Planning Board and Adirondack Park Agency.)

The mayor provided me with all of the emails he had on file, which amounted to 11 pages of correspondence dating back to July 2013. They show a relatively friendly relationship between Rabideau and LaBarge. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Wood Pellet Boiler Project Expanded To Region

Adirondack Wood Boiler ProjectFinancial and technical assistance that has helped homeowners and businesses in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont switch to high-efficiency wood pellet heating is now available to Adirondack homeowners and businesses through the Adirondack Model Neighborhood Wood Heat Initiative. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Road Salt Use Wasteful, Damaging

TOS_SALT_BRINEAll of a sudden, sap season is here and winter’s on its way out. Chances are though, a few more snow or ice squalls are still to come. The next time you find yourself driving behind a big plow truck, take a look at what’s coming out of the spreader. What is used makes a difference for wildlife, especially as the snow melts. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Willie Janeway: NYS Budget Adirondack Impacts

nycapitolNegotiations over the NYS budget for fiscal year 2015-16 were messy and dominated by arguments over ethics reforms and education funding, but the final plan contained much-needed investments in clean water, wilderness, wildlife and communities of the Adirondack Park.

Foremost is a three-year, $200-million capital program to repair wastewater treatment and drinking water facilities. Under the program, the state would set aside $50 million this year and $75 million in each of the next two fiscal years to pay for matching grants to communities for up to 60 percent of upgrades for local drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DEC Environmental Awards Applications Sought

DEC LogoNYS DEC is now accepting applications for New York State’s annual Environmental Excellence Awards. Eligible applicants include businesses, educational institutions, not-for-profit organizations, facilities, government agencies and individuals implementing innovative, sustainable actions or working in creative partnership to improve and protect New York’s environmental resources and contribute to a viable economy. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Santanoni: Historic Preservation And Nature

Entering the Santanoni main compoundAs I skied south and uphill, away from Santanoni Great Camp, I was asked – “on the record” – for my reactions. It was family weekend recently at Santanoni, with plenty of skiers in family groups including dogs.  I said something like “this ski has become an annual ritual.” After all everyone knows that Newcomb has the best Adirondack snow come late winter. I looked forward to seeing and listening again to the camp’s master carpenter, Michael Frenette, over a hot drink.

The chance to see Santanoni and Moose Mountains rising into the blue sky above the winter glare of Newcomb Lake is also very attractive. The Japanese influence on the camp’s layout, the impact the architecture makes, the history there – it does set your mind going. After talking into the reporter’s microphone, I had to admit that my attitude towards the restoration of the Santanoni had changed over the years. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fund: Lake George Salt Levels Can Be Cut 40%

Snowplow (Lake George Mirror file photo)The salt in Lake George would decrease by 40% over a ten-year period if highway departments reduce its use now, by half, says Dr. Jeff Short, a science advisor to The Fund for Lake George.

“Any actions we take will be apparent almost immediately,” said Short.  “If we cap loading now and then dial down, the results will be clear. So the incentive for taking action is huge.”

The Fund for Lake George is crafting a strategy to achieve that goal, said Eric Siy, The Fund’s executive director. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Teen Aquatic Stewardship Program Announced

Ausable Image by Brendan WiltseThe Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and the Ausable River Association (AsRA) have announced a new aquatic stewardship program for teens this summer.

Discovering the Ausable: An Aquatic Stewardship Program is a free five-day, four-night adventure in camping and aquatic stewardship for teens age 14-17. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Forest Pest Surveying: The Next Generation

Tom and Lenny use binoculars to scan tree bark for invasive insect exit holes.  Emerald ash borer exit holes are shaped like a D while Asian longhorned beetle exit holes are round and the size of a dime.  Forests, the final frontier. These are the voyages of forest pest surveyors. They’re lifelong mission: to explore strange new woodlands, to seek out invasive insects and pests that harm trees, to boldly go where no pest surveyor has gone before.

Invasive insects are to conservationists like Romulans are to Vulcans. Emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock woolly adelgid, and balsam woolly adelgid threaten the economy with costly tree removal, environment with adverse impacts to forest health, and public safety with dead limbs that fall on cars and homes. They found their way from their Eurasian home range to the United States in nursery stock and wood packing materials. Without the natural checks and balances found on their home turf, they reproduce as fast as tribbles. Forest pest surveys are important because early detection leads to rapid response and better management options. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bolton Quick Launch’s Proposed Height Raises Concerns

Bolton Landing Marina from Bolton Bay with Architect rendering of marina with 20 foot height expansionA proposal by the owner of the Bolton Landing Marina to increase the quick launch facility’s height by twenty feet is drawing the scrutiny of Bolton’s Zoning and Planning Boards, both of which will have to approve the expansion before it can be sent to the Adirondack Park Agency for its review.

“No one, to my knowledge, has ever sought a variance to exceed Bolton’s 35-foot height limit,” said Henry Caldwell, a member of the Planning Board. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Divesting from Fossil Fuels

Global_Carbon_Emissions.svgIt’s official – 2014 was the hottest year on record. And most everyone I talk to is concerned about the threat that global warming and climate change, with their potentially devastating and possibly permanent consequences, pose to the lives and livelihoods of our children and grandchildren.

Scientists tell us that sea levels and water temperatures are rising, imperiling coastal populations, as well as regional environments and economies; that sea ice is being lost and glaciers receding at unprecedented rates or disappearing altogether; that seasons and plant and animal ranges are shifting and habitat vanishing, threatening to drive entire species of animals to extinction; that weather patterns are becoming more erratic and less predictable; and that worldwide, the number, intensity, and resilience of violent tropical storms is increasing. They warn that other potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, more severe heat waves, sustained periods of drought in certain regions, and unprecedented winter weather conditions in others; all of which jeopardize fresh water supplies, wildlife, and in some instances, indigenous people and their ways of life. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Avoiding A Return To The Era Of Ill Feelings

Anti APA activist Anthony D'Elia, State Senator Ron Stafford and Governor Mario Cuomo in Essex County in the 1980s - mirror file photoAfter former Governor Mario Cuomo’s death on January 1, a former colleague reminded  us that when Cuomo signed the legislation authorizing the creation of an Environmental Protection Fund on Lake Champlain in 1993, much of the tension that had on occasion erupted into violence as a result of the  restrictive recommendations of the 1990 Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century, was defused.

A compromise had been reached. Funds were awarded for land acquisition, but there was also money for local governments in the form of grants for infrastructure and hamlet re-development. Of greater importance, the self-appointed leaders of the so-called Property Rights movement lost their constituencies and many of them left the area. Reasonable, responsible people on both sides of the issue reasserted control of the conversation. That’s how things have stood, more or less, until recently. » Continue Reading.