Monday, December 8, 2014

Commentary: Should We Manage Wilderness?

Lost Brook Tract in WinterA couple of weeks ago my friend Dave Mason sent me an interesting article from the New York Review of Books. The article was “It’s Time to Live with the Birds”, a review of a book by Ecologist John M. Marzluff entitled Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife. Let me quote an excerpt from the review:

“Marzluff and other urban ecologists find a gradient in bird life. A few tough survivors hang on in the urban core; the open country outside has many birds. In between—in leafy, variegated suburbia—there is the richest mixture of bird species of all. This finding is counterintuitive. One would have imagined that what he calls the “urban tsunami,” the global shift of populations into cities, would result in homogenized biological deserts with only a few starlings, house sparrows, and pigeons for bird life. That fails to take into account many wild animals’ elemental will to survive, and their capacity to adapt rapidly to new opportunities.”

The book’s argument is that suburban environments constitute a new class of ecosystem that could be studied and leveraged for the benefit of many species. Despite that, I’m not likely to take my next hike in search of a wilderness experience in Barrington, Illinois. But Marzluff’s work reminds us to consider – from an admittedly odd context – that the best way to care for a wilderness might be to leave it alone. Whatever changes and challenges the area faces, Nature itself, with its relentless motive to adapt, will find a better way then well-intentioned human beings who try to manage it ever could. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Economic Potential of Rewilding the Adirondacks

almanack-julie-Clark-111613-Zeebie1Tourism is a key business in the Adirondacks. About 12.4 % of local employment is tourism related, but only $2 out of every hundred spent on tourism in New York State ends up in the Adirondacks.

It’s often argued that Adirondack towns and villages, particularly those outside the High Peaks, Lake George and Old Forge areas, present a challenging environment in which to make a living.

Some folks say we should attract manufacturing, others see building more resorts or recreation facilities as the answer, but what about tapping into one of our most important natural resources: wildlife? » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Cutting Road Salt On Adirondack Roads

Plow-600x382Standing next to a small, unnamed stream near where it empties into Mountain Pond on a cool September day, scientist Dan Kelting reads a sensor he just dipped in the water to measure electrical conductivity, which is used to gauge road-salt concentrations.

Pure water is a poor conductor of electricity, but road salt, or sodium chloride, increases conductivity. Based on the conductivity reading (285 microsiemens per centimeter), Kelting calculates that the water contains 80 milligrams of chloride per liter. This means the stream contains roughly 160 times more chloride than a similar size stream a few miles away.

Why the difference? The stream near Mountain Pond, north of Paul Smith’s College, is downstream from Route 30, a state highway that is heavily salted in the winter. The other stream, which Kelting refers to as Smitty Brook, runs through the Forest Preserve and is upstream of roads. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Story Behind The Attempt To Oust Dave Wick

davidwickb_250It looks like Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) did not want a mandatory invasive species boat inspection and control program on Lake George. Governor Cuomo and the DEC tried to fire Dave Wick, the executive director of the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC), and on both accounts, Cuomo and the DEC seem to have lost.

On Tuesday evening, November 25th, news broke that the Cuomo Administration had backed down and agreed to suspend Wick without pay for two weeks and then let him return to his job. It apparently had nothing to do with a gas spill – the original pretense for Wick’s firing. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Monroe, Siy Push Mandatory Park-wide Boat Inspections

5a4Local governments, lake and landowners associations, sportsmen and environmental protection organizations want to see Lake George’s program of mandatory inspections of trailered boats adopted throughout the Adirondack Park.

According to Fred Monroe, a Warren County Supervisor, and Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, who convened a meeting of Adirondack Park stakeholders in Chestertown earlier this month, prevention is the only way to protect Adirondack lakes from invasive species and preserve an economy based on recreation.

“What were once the mainstays of the Adirondack economy, such as forestry and mining, are either gone or disappearing,” said Monroe.  “What’s left is tourism, which is so clearly tied to the health of the waters. If we lose the waters, we have nothing.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tick Talk: Lyme Disease in the Adirondack Park

#3 - HarringtonTicks carrying Lyme Disease are in the Adirondacks. Join The Wild Center and Paul Smith’s College at 1 pm on Saturday, December 6th, for a forum on Lyme Disease featuring five regional scientists and health professionals who will share their professional knowledge and expertise.

The presenters will include Brian Leydet from Trudeau Institute, Jennifer Gallagher from High Peaks Animal Hospital, Jonathan Krant from Adirondack Health, Tim Sellati from Trudeau Institute and David Patrick from the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Adirondack Landowners Meeting In Old Forge

Adirondack Landowners AssociationThe Adirondack Landowners Association (ALA) will host its annual Winter Membership Meeting on December 5th and 6th at the Adirondack League Club in Old Forge.

This year’s meeting will feature a special presentation of the ALA Stewardship Award to NYS Senator Betty Little.  Friday night activities will include a social reception, dinner, additional tributes and a live and silent auction.  On Saturday morning a member meeting will feature a presentation by NYS DEC Senior Wildlife Biologist Paul Jensen on the department’s Pine Marten program.

The ALA was founded to “encourage continued stewardship and sound resource management of the land; to promote public awareness of the valuable role played by private landowners in the Park; to advocate laws, regulations and governmental policies that promote and facilitate good stewardship by private landowners and recognize and preserve their rights in the land.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

#507 Fund Honors Ketch, Protects Summits

Ketch with diapensia trainingIn August of 1968, Edwin Ketchledge finished climbing the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks and received his 46er number, #507. Dr. Ketchledge (“Ketch”) was no ordinary peak-bagger. He was a professor of botany at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, an active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), later a President of the 46ers, and a researcher very much interested in the fragile ecosystem found on the Adirondack High Peaks.

Dr. Ketchledge began experimenting ways to help the alpine ecosystem recover from trampling caused by hikers in 1967. His research began on the summits of Dix Mt. and Mt. Colden. He began by transplanting Deer’s hair sedge, one of the rare alpine species, to see if it could successfully colonize impacted areas. It could not. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

No Action On Closing Silver Lake Wilderness Road

WestRiverRoad-5The West River Road ends with a football-field size turnaround. At this point it’s 0.7 miles inside the Silver Lake Wilderness area. ATVs use this as a launching pad to trespass even further into Wilderness area, where they get close to the Northville Placid trail.

The management of this illegal road is a mess. In 2006, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) stated in its approval of the Silver Lake Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan that it would work with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Town of Wells to fix this non-complying road. As 2014 winds down, there has been zero action at the APA to close this illegal road. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Comments Sought On DEC Aquatic Invasives Plan

Number of known aquatic non-native and invasive speciesThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released its Draft Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) strategy to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS in New York State for public comment. Comments will be accepted through December 15.

Aquatic Invasive Species threaten the ecology of New York waters and can harm water-based recreational opportunities and economies critical to the Adirondack region. New York is particularly vulnerable to AIS due to its vast marine and fresh water resources, major commercial ports and the easy access that ocean-going vessels have to the Great Lakes via the State’s canal system. Managing an infestation is extremely costly, so prevention is the most cost-effective strategy. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Don’t Mine the Lichen: A Tourist Defends Her Adirondacks

Canopy of large, sugar maples growing on Lot 8, Jay Mountain Wilderness. Photo by Dan Plumley, Adirondack WildWhenever I think of the summers I spent as a kid, scrambling around the Adirondack’s High Peaks, I always remember my grandfather’s constant refrain: “Don’t step on the lichen!” A boisterous group of four kids from Long Island, we were, ascending those rugged mountains in tow behind our parents and grandparents throughout our childhood in the 70s and 80s.

There were times, especially on the cold rainy days, we kids would probably have preferred to watch television, but our daily routine during those summer visits was all nature, all the time – including bushwhacking excursions in search of historic landmarks and the legend of Verplanck Colvin, the 19th century surveyor whose work helped lead to the creation of Adirondack State Park. Oh those days, and what they taught us – to respect and love the fragile Adirondack eco-system, to cherish New York’s wildest region. These lessons have stayed with me throughout my life. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

PROTECT Faults DEC For Rebuilding Road in Preserve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few years ago I wrote a story for the Adirondack Explorer about a trail run to Gull Lake in the Black River Wild Forest near Woodgate. My outing began on a muddy mess of a road passable only by jeeps and pickup trucks.

This year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation repaired two miles of the road, smoothing it out, laying down gravel, and installing new culverts. I was able to drive my Honda Fit (not a high-clearance vehicle) the full two miles with no problem.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hilary Smith Awarded Hamilton County Appreciation Award

Hilary Smith (center) received the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2014 Partnership Appreciation Award from Manager Elizabeth Mangle (left) and Educator Caitlin Stewart (right).  Hilary Smith, former Director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, has been awarded the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2014 Partnership Appreciation Award.  Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Elizabeth Mangle and Educator Caitlin Stewart presented Smith with a framed certificate during a surprise going-away party on September 15th.  “Her partnership with the District has protected Hamilton County’s lands and waters from invasive species that can harm the environment, public health, and economy,” Stewart  told the Adirondack Almanack.

“For 13 years, Hilary assisted our staff members with invasive species initiatives including spread prevention, early detection and rapid response, and educational outreach,” Stewart said.  “She hosted many APIPP volunteer survey workshops for aquatic invasive plants in Hamilton County. Fifth and sixth grade students learned about invasive species from her presentations at Conservation Field Day events.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Peter Bauer: Crane Pond Road is a Mess

CranePondRoad-11For nearly 25 years the Crane Pond Road has existed as an illegal and controversial 2-mile-long road in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area. This summer, there were regular reports about cars and trucks getting stuck in a mud wallow at a degraded point where the Crane Pond Road cuts through a wetland. In August, I encountered a group stuck there with their jeep when I walked the road.

In September, state agencies celebrated 50 years of the National Wilderness Act. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had presentations about the Wilderness Act and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) attended various ceremonies to pay homage to Wilderness. Both agencies elegized the importance of Wilderness.

The failure to close the Crane Pond Road belies their pretty words about Wilderness. Natural resource degradation has reached a point where the Crane Pond Road is now a public safety hazard. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

What Would an Adirondack National Park Look Like?

1967 National Park Proposal An interesting discussion developed this week in the comment sections of several Almanack articles related to the APA’s review of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP). The discussion was spurred by DEC Forest Ranger Scott van Laer. His contribution: why not consider an Adirondack National Park? So I thought I’d have a little fun and explore what one might look like.

Those who know their history or have read Bill Ingersoll’s two-part series covering the history that led to the SLMP know that this is not a new idea. In 1967 Laurance Rockefeller proposed that a National Park be established in the heart of the Adirondacks. It was a non-starter – overwhelmingly opposed – but spurred changes in thinking that were critical to all that followed. » Continue Reading.



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