Thank you readers! The results of my little poll exceeded my expectations. I received nearly 150 responses, a great number.
Let me remind you that this poll was intended to be neither scientific nor comprehensive. It was designed by me to see if the results would highlight what I think is a hidden issue concerning the future of the Adirondack Park. It did that for sure, but it also provided other insights.
Here is how the issues fell out, ranked by weighted average:
My off-grid, simple living, homesteading lifestyle can sometimes lead me and my thoughts down very different roads. For instance, if you had asked me five years ago, (heck, if you had asked me five months ago) what would be occupying my thoughts this winter, chicken diapers would not have entered my mind. But here I am, wondering if and where I can get myself some chicken diapers.
Now, I don’t just go around thinking about chicken diapers. I actually have a very good reason for shopping around for just such a thing. It turns out that one of my chickens is a rooster. Poor old Midget, who is no longer so little, started crowing the other day.
I had noticed some odd behavior a few days ago, but thought that maybe she was just being a jerk to Whitey. I was watching the chickens in their run through the window, and saw Midget jump right on Whitey’s back. Whitey is the one laying eggs, and maybe Midget was just a little jealous. Nope, (s)he was horny. » Continue Reading.
Brian Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council from 2002 to 2012, has been named Director of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb.
The appointment was announced Friday in an e-mail by Bruce C. Bongarten, SUNY-ESF’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Houseal’s appointment is expected to begin on January 2, 2014. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency board will vote today on a staff recommendation to create a 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area and a 9,894-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area, two motor-free tracts separated by a snowmobile corridor that will enable riders to travel between the hamlets of Indian Lake and Newcomb.
The indications are that the board will approve the recommendation. At public meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, none of the eleven board members raised serious objections to the proposal. Most of the discussion and questioning concerned details. Board members spent the last part of Thursday’s meeting refining the wording of the resolution they will vote on today.
Wilderness is the most restrictive and most protective of the Adirondack Park Agency’s seven classifications for Forest Preserve lands, so perhaps it’s no surprise that environmental groups pushed for a Wilderness designation for the Essex Chain Lakes.
The APA staff instead recommended a Primitive classification. Ordinarily, this might be seen as a slight downgrade in protection, but in this case an argument can be made that natural resources are actually better protected under the Primitive classification. » Continue Reading.
Someone I know gained some of his inspiration for helping to conserve the backwoods and wildlife in the Adirondack Park from an African who spoke admiringly of the Adirondack Park’s people and wilderness coexisting, and as one of the globe’s most important places. My friend has never forgotten this encounter with a man knowledgeable of the Adirondacks in East Africa. Perhaps it is necessary to travel purposefully in the world to more keenly appreciate how many from all walks of life pay attention to what goes on in our Park.
I don’t know if Nelson Mandela was another one of those on the African continent paying attention to the Adirondack Park, and it doesn’t matter. He paid attention to freedom and justice in South Africa and the world, and that attention encompasses the right to enjoy, appreciate and protect an unpolluted world from whence he and we come, and evolved. As he stated in the address copied below, “a sustainable future for humankind depends on a caring partnership with nature as much as anything else.” He clearly loved the land of his birth, and his body and spirit are returning to it this week. » Continue Reading.
Town leaders lobbied hard for a snowmobile trail through the Essex Chain Tract that would connect the hamlets of Indian Lake and Newcomb, and it appears they may get their wish.
Although the Adirondack Park Agency staff has recommended keeping most of the 18,230-acre tract motor-free, it would allow a snowmobile trail to traverse the property.
Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, praised the staff’s proposal. “It was an attempt to protect the natural resources and make some reasonable compromises for the economy and the local communities,” he said.
Monroe said the towns need the trail to spur the winter economy. “It’s one thing to have a business and survive in the summer, but it’s very different in winter, and snowmobiling is huge,” he said.
Yet the proposed trail raises a number of legal and policy issues that the APA board likely will grapple with this week as it deliberates on the classification of the Essex Chain Tract and three smaller parcels acquired by the state over the past year.
Local government leaders in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have tried for years to rapidly expand the use of public roads and public lands for All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) recreational use. This has been controversial and has resulted in a series of legal challenges. The most recent action was in the Town of Colton, where the Town just announced it plans to withdraw its local ATV law passed in August after a legal challenge by affected property owners was filed.
For more than a decade in the western Adirondacks and Tug Hill, local residents have repeatedly gone to court to stop aggressive local and county governments from illegally opening public roads to ATV riding. These same local governments also seek access to nearby Forest Preserve, state forests and conservation easement lands for ATV use. Three ATV law related lawsuits are currently pending in Lewis County. » Continue Reading.
This Thanksgiving unfolded for me in traditional and typical fashion, promising that the standard playbook would be executed all the way through: take the family to my in-laws, help cook a massive meal for twenty, monitor my Mother for too much wine or too much stimulation (Mom is 92 and can overload either way), overeat, get teary looking at my wife and drive seventy miles home while fighting indigestion and narcolepsy.
By early afternoon all was going to form. How could I possibly have known that an earth-shaking revelation was about to completely overwhelm me? How could I be prepared for the sheer jubilation, the exaltation this imminent moment was going to bring, this profound thunderclap completely sweeping away all the usual familial mediocrity?
But then it happened. The setting was innocent enough: I was in the snowy yard with my brother-in-law Dan, exercising Henderson with a stick, talking about our favorite mutual subject, the Adirondacks. Amy and I were planning to be at Lost Brook Tract just after Christmas and Dan, who had considered coming along and doing some skiing was telling me that his winter visit would have to wait until the following year. “We’re all coming next winter, he said. We’ll come up to your land for a couple days but we’ll get a place for a week. Shay’s a little worried about snowshoeing up there.”
After months of negotiations and deliberation, the Adirondack Park Agency staff has come up with a proposal to designate the Essex Chain Lakes a Primitive Area, a classification that would preclude the use of motorboats.
In addition, the APA staff recommends establishing a 23,774-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area, which would encompass about fifteen miles of the upper Hudson River.
The APA developed the proposal in collaboration with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The APA board is scheduled to vote on it next week. The final plan will require the approval of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Joe Martens, the head of DEC, described the proposal as an attempt to satisfy all stakeholders, including environmental activists and local officials.
“What it reflects to me is a universal desire to provide a high degree of protection to the Essex Chain itself—the lakes and ponds—and the potential for diverse recreational opportunities and to connect the towns around the tract,” Martens said. “I think the plan does this very well.”
The Adirondack Park Agency is weighing seven options for the classification of the 17,320-acre Essex Chain Tract. Perhaps they should consider an eighth.
Three college students have studied the various issues pertaining to classification and come up with their own recommendation: designate the tract Wild Forest with special restrictions.
The students—Azaria Bower, Kayla Bartheleme, and Erin Ulcickas—collaborated on the project this fall during their semester at the Newcomb campus of the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency says it won’t release a legal analysis by one of the agency’s commissioners who concluded that classifying the Essex Chain Lakes as Wild Forest would violate the State Land Master Plan.
The Adirondack Explorer had asked for the document under the state’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), but the request was denied.
In an email last week, Brian Ford, the APA’s records-access officer, described the twenty-one-page legal analysis, written by Commissioner Dick Booth, as an intra-agency document that is not subject to disclosure under FOIL. » Continue Reading.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute is inviting submissions for its third annual symposium of interdisciplinary scholarship in land use and ethics to be held in Newcomb June 6 – 8, 2014.
Submissions from a range of disciplines and professional fields are encouraged. Topics include a variety of approaches to land use, the moral implications of these approaches, and their impacts on social and environmental justice. See the 2013 program on their website. Submission deadline is December 16, 2013. More information can be found on their website.
My last column in this APA series was a proposed new land use policy organized around a consensus-driven process with a development plan and ecological assessment as the primary inputs and a design that maximizes both ecological protection and the profitability of the project as the desired output. I expected a number of less-than-receptive comments but instead I received a lot of good ones including some questions and challenges that I hope are at least partly answered this week. » Continue Reading.
Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and those fortunate enough are gathering with family and friends to gorge themselves on a hearty meal, giving thanks for the bounty enjoyed throughout the year. Tomorrow, many of us will turn around and venture into the shopping wilderness to forage for the best deal on things few of us need, in celebration of the birth of a man who lived over two thousand years ago when people got by with so little.
Just appreciating what we already have seems to be out of vogue these days. Our appetite for stuff appears more insatiable with each passing year. The simple things in life, such as family, friends, and the beauty of the great outdoors are no longer satisfying enough, and hardly a substitute for the newest smart phone, tablet, or new-fangled whatchamacallit. » Continue Reading.