The COVD-19 Era is not the first time a large crisis spurred an affordable housing shortage in the North Country. From pandemics to terrorist attacks, communities across the Adirondack Park have felt the economic shockwaves of global events. As a region, as long as we remain passive towards the issue of accessible housing and the negative impacts it has on our workforce, we will always be one crisis away from crumbling our economy.
By Harsh Vaish, Skidmore College
The Department of Environmental Conservation – henceforth referred to as DEC – has been developing plans for major community connector snowmobile trails between Adirondack communities for a number of years. Protect the Adirondacks first sued the DEC in 2013, contending the trials cause significant environmental damage and violate the Constitutional clause for the ‘forever wild’.
Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, the environmental organization that sued to block the construction said the litigation is about Class 2 snowmobile trails and not hiking trails. He specifically called out the Adirondack Mountain Club and Open Space Institute’s concerns “specious claims.”
Recent DEC NYS Forest Ranger actions:
Town of Webb
Wilderness Search: On April 30 at 10:57 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance in locating a 66-year-old man from Erieville. The man’s vehicle was located by family and New York State Police at his camp earlier in the day, but the subject was nowhere to be found. Forest Rangers, along New York State Police using a drone, State Police K-9, Town of Webb Police Department, and Herkimer County agencies, searched the area during the night with negative results. At 9 a.m. on May 1, a State Police K-9 search team located the missing man near West Pond, a short distance from his camp. The subject had suffered an injury and was extremely cold. Search personnel immediately warmed and fed the man before transporting him out to Old Forge Ambulance where he was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment.
The second of three public meetings for the Upper Saranac watershed management planning effort is scheduled for Thursday, May 6 from 7pm-8:30pm.
The meeting is hosted by the Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) and the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI). The groups will present preliminary goals for the watershed plan and will facilitate discussions about the recommendations and the future of the watershed. The groups administered a public survey in the summer of 2020 and held the first public meeting in February of 2021.
Saw whet owls appear nearly as strange as their name sounds. At seven to nine inches long, weighing in at two to six ounces, with a stubby wingspan of sixteen to nineteen inches, saw whets are the smallest owl in the Adirondacks, though surprisingly not the smallest in the world, coming in at twice the weight of the insect eating elf owls of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts. As with other raptors, female saw whets are larger than males.
A timeline of events that lead to today’s court decision:
- Protect the Adirondacks launched this lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency in 2013 alleging that Class II trails violated Article 14, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution due to excessive tree cutting and terrain alterations.
- Protect the Adirondacks and its expert witnesses undertook extensive fieldwork in 2012-13 and in 2015-16 to document abuses to the Forest Preserve. Counts of over 16,000 tree stumps on Class II trails, with diameter measurements and GPS locations, including photographs of over 12,000 tree stumps, were made.
- In the summer of 2016 Protect the Adirondacks obtained a temporary restraining order that stopped all tree cutting by the state on Class II trails after the first 34 miles of trails were in various stages of development. The DEC and APA had approved plans for a network of hundreds of miles of Class II trails in the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks.
- In early 2017, a 13-day trial was held in state Supreme Court in Albany. In December 2017 the trial judge ruled against Protect the Adirondacks. In 2018, Protect the Adirondacks appealed to the Appellate Division, Third Department, which in a 4-1 decision overturned the lower court’s ruling in July 2019. In 2020, the DEC and APA appealed to the Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held in March 2021 at the Court of Appeals. Today, the Court of Appeals ruled 4 to 2 in favor of Protect the Adirondacks that the DEC and APA have violated the forever wild clause of the New York State Constitution.
- Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Protect the Adirondacks, Finds Cuomo Administration Violated Forever Wild Clause of State Constitution
- The Cuomo administration’s plan to expand motorized use on the public Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks by building hundreds of miles of wide Class II snowmobile trails was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s highest court.
- This historic decision will shape Forest Preserve management for decades to come.
Chronic Wasting Disease Risk is Real, No Evidence Currently in New York State
Hunters in New York harvested an estimated 253,990 deer during the 2020-21 hunting seasons, an increase of 13 percent from last year, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced.
“With a seven-percent increase in licensed deer hunters, a 30-percent increase in antlerless harvest, and two new record-breaking bucks taken by bowhunters, 2020 was a remarkable year despite pandemic-related challenges,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Regulated hunting benefits all New Yorkers by reducing the negative impacts of deer on forests, communities, and crop producers, while providing more than 10 million pounds of high quality, local protein to families and food pantries across the state annually.”
Until recently, ignoring problems in hopes they’ll go away hasn’t served me well. However, a decade-long study done by Cornell University researchers has clearly shown that avoidance is the best way to manage garlic mustard (Allaria petiolata), a pernicious exotic plant. Evidently I’ve been doing a great job in the fight against this aggressive and troublesome invader.
Native to most of Europe and parts of western Asia and northwestern Africa, garlic mustard is in the cabbage and broccoli family (Brassicaceae), and indeed was imported to North America as a culinary herb in the early 1800s. It’s not entirely evil, as it has the spicy tang of mustard with a hint of garlic, and can be used as a base for pesto and sauces, and to flavor salads, soups and other dishes. Unfortunately, eating it has not worked well as a control strategy.
Han Shan, Cold Mountain, that Zen sage
1200 years ago enjoyed a view from his cave
better than the Emperor saw when he
looked out his windows in the Forbidden City.
Han Shan also used–with the other monks
from the caves around his– a heated pool
at least four times a month.
Living in his own stench was not his style.
Join NYS ReLeaf’s Hudson Valley committee for a webinar on Climate and Community Forest programs. This lunchtime webinar on on May 6 from noon – 1:15 p.m. will introduce you to programs that can help your community get climate smart and prepare your community forest for the future.
Angelica Patterson (master science educator, Black Rock Forest and PhD candidate Columbia University) will talk about how plants are responding to warming climate and the factors driving climate-induced tree migrations, while Andy Hillman (arborist, urban forestry consultant, NYS Urban Forestry Council) will present a selection of trees from other regions evaluated for the northeast and the importance of considering hardy cultivars for future climates, and Dazzle Ekblad (Office of Climate Change, NYS DEC) will introduce the Climate Smart Communities program and how to get started with climate smart programs in your community.
Registration is free but required; register now via Webex.
What is Asparagus?
Garden asparagus, asparagus officinalis, is a perennial flowering plant. It belongs to the Asparagus genus, along with other perennial bushes and plants. Asparagus is dioecious, meaning some plants have flowers with a stamen and produce pollen, and other plants have flowers that have a pistil and make seeds. This means that a variety of plants are needed for reproduction. When you eat asparagus, you’re actually eating the immature stalk of the entire plant. Most asparagus is harvested when it is about six to ten inches long, but when left to mature, it grows into four-foot-tall plants with long fern-like branches.
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