From the Adirondack Council comes this update on environmental bills making their way through the New York State legislative process as the session draws to an end. The big news is in Net Metering, and Smart Growth.
Now awaiting Governor Paterson’s signature:
Smart Growth: This bill passed the Senate today. It passed in the Assembly yesterday. It requires state agencies to support the concepts of sound planning, energy conservation, open space conservation and shared services when doling out public money or supporting economic development projects. In other words, projects that create sprawl, that use too much water or energy, that intensify traffic congestion or cause pollution, would be unlikely to receive state assistance. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) will host a training session in invasive plant identification for volunteers who want to survey lakes and ponds for aquatic invaders such as Eurasian watermilfoil that are invading Adirondack waters. The session will be held in Old Forge on Thursday, June 26. The session is free and open to the public, but space is limited. To attend, RSVP to Hilary Oles at (518) 576-2082 x 131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Left to spread, invasive plants reach nuisance levels that degrade recreational and natural resources. Luckily, as the boating season begins, hundreds of citizens will keep watchful eyes for new infestations, which can lead to quick action to ensure the eradication of the invasives. » Continue Reading.
Last week John McCain changed a long-held position and endorsed lifting a 27-year moratorium on off-shore oil drilling, President Bush asked Congress to end the ban and arguing that it was one part of his plan to lower the price of gas (now $4.30 in Pottersville).
Democrats, including Barack Obama, are opposed to McCain and Bush’s plan, calling it a political ploy that will not lower prices, and instead another handout to Big Oil. Obama wants a windfall profits tax on oil companies with heavy investment in renewable energy.
Since there is little hope of passage of anyone’s plan, some see a meaningless political debate that is being used to sidetrack and divide voters much in the way the Gay Marriage Debate did in the 2004 Elections.
Let’s assume that the oil wasn’t located off-shore, but in the High Peaks. The New York Times reports that:
A 2007 Department of Energy study found that access to [High Peaks] energy deposits would not add to domestic crude oil and natural gas production before 2030 and that the impact on prices would be “insignificant.”
The National Petroleum Council estimates that beneath the [Au Sable River], there might be 36.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 5.2 billion barrels of oil — numbers that would require extensive exploration to verify. . . .
What would you want to do? I’d love to hear from the Adirondacks wind project supporters – oil or wind project – does it matter?
Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region. How to Salvage Old Barn Wood
The New York League of Conservation Voters reported on their blog a round-up of environmental bills on the table in the final rush to the end of the legislative session on Monday, June 23. Here are some of the highlights:
Net Metering / Alternative Energy This may finally be the year to end one of New York’s largest barriers to alternative energy, the state’s current net metering law. Also known as “turning the meter backwards,” net metering allows residential consumers to generate power and sell the excess energy back to utilities. But the existing New York law — one of the most restrictive in the nation — doesn’t allow commercial customers to do the same. That means the enormous potential of roofs (think malls, industrial parks and office buildings) to generate solar power is going untapped. Working with a broad coalition of labor, business and environmental groups, NYLCV is advocating for legislation that would allow commercial customers to sell up to 2 megawatts (2,000 kilowatts) back into the grid and expand the list of approved technologies.
Comprehensive State Energy Plan After New York’s power-plant siting law — known as Article X — expired on Jan. 1, 2003, the Legislature has been unable to agree on how to streamline the permitting and regulation of new plants. Right now, new plants can still be built, but the review process requires power developers to seek permits from multiple agencies and local jurisdictions — a lengthy and complicated process. With the formation of a new State Energy Planning Board by Gov. David Paterson, plus new leadership by Sen. George Mazairz (R-Newfane) and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston) in the Legislature’s Energy committees, there is renewed hope for Article X. Click here to join NYLCV’s call for a comprehensive state energy plan and ensure that renewable energy plays a big role.
Brownfields Redevelopment Law Reform The reform of the brownfields redevelopment law — which spurs the cleanup and revitalization of contaminated properties — is one of NYLCV’s top priorities. Due to flaws in the current legislation, the Brownfield Cleanup Program has yet to reach its full potential, and reform has stalled. That program, plus its accompanying tax credits, must be streamlined to allow for improved community planning through the principles of smart growth. Key members of the legislative and executive branches have indicated that brownfields reform will be a top priority for the end of the session. Click here to urge Albany to honor its word.
Lake Placid Skater, the blog of a figure skater/speed skater living and training in Lake Placid, will be covering the Skating Summer Camp at the Olympic Center (OC). Here are some of her “bits of info about the coming week”:
* Lake Placid’s resident Olympic Champions, Ludmila and Oleg Protopopov, are back! The Pairs champions will be available for lessons. See their signs in the OC for more information. * US National and International level ice dancers Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov will be hosting a seminar on Friday, from 6-7 pm in the 1980 rink. They are also available for private lessons. See their sign on the bulletin boards in the OC for more info.
* The first Freaky Friday of the summer will be held this Friday (of course). Check the schedule for exact time and location.
* There will be two Skating Shows on Saturday. The first will be the Adult Skating Exhibition, where the adult skaters get a chance to perform. Come support them! Check schedule for exact time and location!
* The second show is the famous Saturday Night Ice Show, in the 1932 rink! Almost every Saturday night in the summer there is a show in which campers can perform, along with a different guest skater every week. The Show is at 7:30 pm.
A short note from John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council:
The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee yesterday approved the Governor’s nomination of Richard Booth to a four-year term on the Adirondack Park Agency’s Board of Commissioners. If the nomination is approved by the Senate Finance Committee later this week or early next, the nomination would go to the full Senate for a final vote.
Booth was first appointed to the APA board by Governor Eliot Spitzer, to fill the unfinished term of Katherine Roberts, of Garrison, who stepped down before her term expired.
Booth is an environmental law professor at Cornell University. Before joining the APA board, he held elected office in the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County governments. He also spent 10 years as a trustee of the Adirondack Council, ending in 1992.
An Update from Sheehan:
Richard Booth Reappointed The NYS Senate on Wednesday (June 18) confirmed the Governor’s reappointment of Richard Booth to the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners.
Booth was first appointed to the APA board in 2007 by Governor Eliot Spitzer, to fill the unfinished term of Katherine Roberts, of Garrison, who stepped down before her term expired. Booth is a professor in the City and Regional Planning department at Cornell University. Before joining the APA board, he held elected office in the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County governments. He also spent 10 years as a trustee of the Adirondack Council, ending in 1992. Booth has served as a staff attorney for the APA and the Department of Environmental Conservation. He is considered one of New York’s leading environmental lawyers.
Lani Ulrich Nomination Proceeds The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee is expected to vote today in favor of the Governor’s renomination of Park-resident APA commissioner Lani Ulrich (Herkimer County). Ulrich’s nomination is expected to pass through the Finance Committee on to the full Senate later today, or on Monday. Ulrich has been a strong advocate for community development and smart growth planning in the Park. Her full name is Leilani C. Ulrich. She lives in Old Forge.
For more information on commissioners Booth or Ulrich, see the Adirondack Park Agency’s annual report, on its website at www.apa.state.ny.us.
While these two reappointments allow the 11-member APA Board of Commissioners to continue its work without vacancies on the board, the APA staff is still lacking an Executive Director. A senior staff member had taken the reins following the retirement of Richard Lefebvre in 2007, but is no longer able to fulfill the duties of Acting Executive Director in addition to his other staff position.
Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. — Take a naturalist’s tour of the exquisite bird life — from warblers to waxwings – found throughout the Adirondack Park.
Join Gerard “Gerry” Lemmo at the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York on Friday, June 20, 2008 for the popular program, “Songbirds of the Adirondacks,” featuring many of the area’s best-loved feeder birds as well as birds you might not guess live in the wilds of northern New York State. The slide-illustrated program will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will be held in the museum’s Auditorium. The presentation is free and open to the public. The “Songbirds of the Adirondacks” is offered in conjunction with the Fourth Annual Hamilton County Birding Festival sponsored by Hamilton County Tourism, and Audubon New York.
Gerry Lemmo is one of the Northeast’s most prolific wildlife and travel photographers. His images are sought by publishers, advertising agencies, and other clients, and regularly appear in national and international publications. Lemmo has traveled to five of the seven continents in pursuit of adventure and the thrill of capturing beautiful photos of elusive wild creatures, as well as the landscapes and cultures that surround them.
He continues to build his diverse collection of photographs from around the world. Within the photo library, now exceeding 70,000 images, are shots of birds, insects, mammals, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and a great variety of plant life and wildflowers.
Lemmo gives nearly one hundred slide-illustrated programs each year throughout northern New York State, and regularly publishes his photographs in calendars, magazines, and books.
One of the blogs we follow here at the Almanack is Mark Hobson’s The Landscapist in AuSable Forks. His blog is described as “intended to showcase the landscape photography of photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment.”
His latest post touches on just those points when he takes a fellow photographer to task for their fluffy, feel good, approach to nature photography. The unnamed photographer wrote:
I chose nature photography as a way of capturing and sharing the beauty, power, and fragility of wild places and the life that inhabits them, so that those who have become mired in the man-made chaos may open their eyes to the real world.
Hobson’s response was scathing.
What a bunch of unadulterated sentimental, romanticized, escapist crap – just like the pictures that pour from cameras in the hands of those who subscribe to such bunk…
The idea that the human race is “wasting the precious gift of thought and inspiration” by concerning themselves with “politics, economics, religious squabbles” and that those so-called “squabbles” constitute “man-made chaos” really is a notion that is thoroughly out of touch with the “real world.”
The entire piece is worth a read and necessary to really get where Hobson is going, but it sums with this gem:
IMO, making pretty pictures as a means to effect sound thinking regarding sustainability is akin to penning catchy popular ditties about the joys of firefighting as a means of effecting the dousing of the flames that are burning down the house.
On the heels of the lawsuit against DEC trying to force the state agency to uphold the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan by phasing out floatplane use on Lows Lake, and formation of a DEC and APA sponsored “Quiet Waters Working Group for the Adirondack Park” – comes the Adirondack Museum’s Second Annual No-Octane Regatta (Sat., June 14, Little Wolf Lake in Tupper Lake).
The No-Octane is an emerging annual event that celebrates the ideas behind the Adirondack Quiet Waters Movement to set aside a place for quite, old school paddling in canoes, guideboats, kayaks, and rowboats. Here are the details from the museum’s press release:
Races, demonstrations, workshops, and family activities will begin at 11:00 a.m. and continue until 5:00 p.m. Food, restrooms, changing areas, and ample parking are all available.
The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y., Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) in Canton, N.Y., the Town of Tupper Lake, and the Adirondack Watershed Alliance have jointly planned the No-Octane Regatta.
No-Octane Regatta races have intriguing names and are as much fun for spectators as participants. Look for the Hurry-Scurry Race, the Bang-and-Go-Back Race, and the Doggy Paddle Race. There will be separate races for kayaks, guideboats, canoes, war canoes and sailing craft. A total of seventeen races are planned for a variety of categories and distances. The on-the-water activities will end with a Grand Parade of Boats.
Demonstrations will include Seat Caning by Pauline Villeneuve of Tupper Lake, Paddle Making by Caleb Davis of Long Lake, N.Y., and Boatbuilding and Restoration by Chris Woodward of Saranac Lake, N.Y. and Rob Frenette, also of Tupper Lake. Guide Boat Realty of Saranac Lake, N.Y. will sponsor the demonstrations.
As part of the No-Octane Regatta, Wooden Canoe Heritage Association will sponsor a Youth Boating Workshop with Adirondack Connections Guide Service, a fully insured guide, trip planning & outdoor education service. The goal of the workshop is to get kids on the water and into canoes, kayaks, and guideboats.
Children ages 8 – 13 are invited to participate. Instruction will include boating safety before the young boaters learn basic paddling and rowing techniques. There will be opportunities for youngsters to try a variety of boats. All participants must wear personal floatation devices at all times during workshop. Three New York State licensed guides will provide boating instruction.
Youth Boating Workshops will be held at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Each session will be 45 minutes in length and is limited to ten participants per session. Please register on the beach at Little Wolf Lake the day of the No-Octane Regatta. Parental permission and signature are required.
In addition, the Regatta will feature activities just for younger children and “paddling primers” – paddling workshops for adults.
Also on June 14, 2008 – but not on the Little Wolf Lake Beach — the Adirondack Watershed Alliance has organized a “9-miler” race on the Raquette River. A great solo, family, and novice event, the race starts at 10:00 a.m. at the Route 30 fishing access site, “The Crusher.” Paddlers follow the Raquette River to Simond Pond. The finish line is at the Tupper Lake Rod & Gun Club. Paddle, race, finish, and head for the No-Octane Regatta for the rest of the day!
Received from the Adirondack Mountain Club and forwarded for your information, the following press release:
ALBANY, N.Y. — The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club and the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Albany on May 29. The suit asks the court to compel the state Department of Environmental Conservation to ban floatplanes on Lows Lake in the Adirondack Park.
The lawsuit was filed because DEC has failed to abide by legal commitments it made in 2003 to eliminate floatplanes on the wilderness lake. In January of that year, the DEC commissioner signed a unit management plan (UMP) for the area that committed DEC to phasing out floatplane use of Lows Lake over five years. The five-year window expired at the end of January, but DEC has not promulgated regulations to ban floatplanes. According to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which is part of the state Executive Law, “preservation of the wild character of this canoe route without motorboat or airplane usage … is the primary management goal for this primitive area.” “Lows Lake is a true wilderness within the ‘forever wild’ Forest Preserve,” said David H. Gibson, executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. “Eighty-five percent of its shoreline is bounded by designated wilderness. It is the true eastern border of the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. The public expects DEC to manage wilderness according to well established principles and legal guidelines, among which is the key provision that there shall be no public motorized use.”
“We take this action reluctantly and only after extensive discussions with DEC at the highest levels,” said Roger F. Downs, conservation associate for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “From the moment these lands and waters were acquired for the public in 1985, the state’s verbal and written intent was to treat this body of water as wilderness and to close Lows Lake to all public motorized use. Finally, in 2003, DEC committed in the UMP to doing just that over the ensuing five years, providing floatplane operators with a long time to adjust their business plans. Five years constitutes a very generous and lengthy public notice. We act today because DEC has failed to follow through on a very public commitment advertised far in advance and involving extensive public involvement and debate.”
At 3,122 acres, Lows Lake, which straddles the St. Lawrence-Hamilton county line, is one of the larger lakes in the Adirondack Park. The lake stretches about 10 miles east to west and is the centerpiece of a roughly 20-milelong wilderness canoe route. Floatplanes were rare on Lows Lake until recently. Sometime before 1990, non-native bass were illegally introduced into the lake, and as public awareness of the bass fishery grew, floatplanes and motorboat use increased. Motorboats, except those for personal use by the few private landowners on the lake, are now prohibited on Lows Lake.
A recent analysis by the Residents’ Committee shows that only 10 of the 100 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks are “motorless,” and three of these are in remote areas that are not easily accessible. The vast majority of lakes and ponds in the Adirondacks are overrun with floatplanes, motorboats and personal watercraft.
“Motorboats have already been prohibited on Lows Lake, making this decision by DEC inconsistent as well as illegal,” said Michael P. Washburn, executive director of the Residents’ Committee. “The park should be the place where people know they can find wilderness. That will only happen if New York state follows its own laws.”
DEC’s proposed permit system would limit flights into the lake and allow DEC to designate specific areas for take offs and landings, but the plan creates a number of problems. For one thing, floatplane operators would be allowed to store canoes for use by their clients on Forest Preserve land designated as wilderness, an inappropriate and unconstitutional commercial use of public land. Floatplanes would also have to beach on the wilderness shore to drop off and pick up clients at the canoe storage sites.
During the peak paddling season, July through September, floatplanes would be prohibited from landing on and taking off from Lows Lake on Fridays and Saturdays and on Sundays before 2 p.m. This would increase pressure on the area because visitors coming in by floatplane would have to camp for at least three nights on weekends during the busy season. Floatplane customers would also be coming in on Thursday, allowing them to quickly fill up camping sites before weekend paddlers have a chance to get there.
DEC attempts to justify the proposal by manipulating the results of a survey of paddlers who visited Lows Lake in 2007. Generally, the survey results do not support continued use of floatplanes on Lows Lake. For example, 68 percent of the paddlers surveyed said they believe it is inappropriate for floatplanes to use the lake and 85 percent said floatplanes diminished their wilderness experience. These figures are consistent with the hundreds of letters the state received in 2002 supporting a floatplane ban.
“Lows Lake provides a rare wilderness paddling experience, but that experience is greatly diminished by the intrusion of floatplanes,” said Neil F. Woodworth, executive director of ADK. “It’s frustrating, after a hard day canoeing or kayaking, to discover that your favorite campsite has already been grabbed by someone who can afford to hire a plane.”
The suit is returnable on July 11 in Albany. Attorney John W. Caffry of Caffry & Flower of Glens Falls is representing the coalition in the case.
This past month the Adirondack Council filmed a series of public service announcements on acid rain, climate change, the need for pure water, wilderness and wildlife habitat featuring Michael and Kevin Bacon, collectively known as the Bacon Brothers . [At right: L-R, Kevin Bacon, Adirondack Council Trustee Sarah Collum-Hatfield, Adirondack Council Communications Director John Sheehan, Michael Bacon].
Kevin is the famous movie actor (Animal House, A Few Good Men, JFK, Apollo 13, Sleepers, Wild Things, Friday the 13th, Mystic River, Footloose, etc.). Michael is an award-winning composer, with a long resume of stellar work with PBS films. Together, they formed a country/folk/rock band in 1997 whose first album “Forosoco” includes the song “Adirondack Blue.” Their sixth album is due out soon. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake will open for the season this Friday (May 23th) and then daily until October 19th from from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Except Sept. 5 and 19 when the museum prepares for special events.
This year they have renewed their commitment of free admission for year round residents of the Adirondack Park during May, June and October. Proof of residency is required. All regular paid admissions are valid for a second visit within a one-week period. New this year is a revised Woods and Waters: Outdoor Recreation in the Adirondacks exhibit that features new research by Adirondack Almanack regular reader and Adirondack historian Phil Terrie.
Also new will be Adirondack Voices, an interactive computer and web-based activity accessible in the Woods and Waters exhibit or on the museum web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.
We’ve already reported the premiere of the Rustic Tomorrow exhibit in which six modernist and post modernist architects or designers have been paired with prominent Adirondack rustic furniture makers.
Also new this year will be “Mildred Hooker’s Tent Platform” where visitors can experience camping in an 1880s platform tent, and “Mrs. Merwin’s Kitchen Garden” the replicated vegetable garden of Frances Merwin, wife of Blue Mountain House owner Miles Tyler Merwin. The garden will feature heirloom varieties of vegetables that were once common in Adirondack gardens.
The “Whimsy and Play Rustic Tot Lot” (opening in July) is a play area designed just for toddlers and pre-school age children. Pint-size visitors can romp and play on a wooden rocker, scamper up and down a rustic bridge, or swing from timbers rustically decorated with twigs, bark, and pinecones. Carved animals will be part of the fun, ready for giggles, hugs, and photo opportunities.
In addition, a child-sized log cabin set in the apple orchard near the schoolhouse will provide children (and their elders) with an opportunity to see cabin being constructed log-by-log. This will be an on-going demonstration during the summer, offering visitors the opportunity to talk to the builder as the cabin arises. In 2009 the fully furnished cabin will open to families for imaginative play.
The Adirondack Museum has planned a full schedule of lectures, demonstrations, field trips, special events, and activities for 2008 to delight and engage people of all ages. To learn more about all that the museum has to offer, please visit www.adirondackmuseum.org or call (518)352-7311.
5 – Over reliance on the automobile. Too often visitors spend hours driving around the Adirondacks from small town to small town (or big town to big town) without actually seeing anything. Stop. Get out of the car. Go hiking, take a train, boat, or ferry ride. Rent a boat, go swimming, ride a bike or rent a moped – even just getting out of the car at that scenic look-out will open new experiences.
4 – Expecting all the comforts of home. What’s the point of coming to the Adirondacks if you’re going to duplicate home life? Go camping, sleep outside in the yard of your mountain respite. Leave your cell phone home (or at least packed away for emergencies). If we had all the comforts of home you have, it would be your home, not ours. 3 – Not Getting beyond the big tourist traps. Leave Lake George, Lake Placid, Old Forge, and the other tourist trap towns and explore the wonders the Adirondacks has to offer. That doesn’t mean head to the High Peaks either – if you want to get away, ask a local about their favorite spot and you’ll be surprised what you discover. Some of the greatest places in the Adirondacks are virtually unknown to most travelers.
2 – Not learning about local history and ecology. You can’t possibly get a real sense of the Adirondacks without doing some homework. Pick up a guide book before you get here, take a guided tour with a naturalist, or at one of the area’s many museums. That thing you saw but wasn’t sure what it was? You’d have known if you spent some time understanding the history and ecology of the Adirondacks before you got here.
1 – Looking down on locals. Just because you come from a big city, have 24-hour convenience stores, fancy restaurants and hotels, you wear fashionable clothes, drive a cool car or SUV, doesn’t mean you are special. The odds are, you’d have just as tough a time dealing with living in the Adirondacks as we would living in yer big city suburbia. We are here because we want to be – don’t assume we’re some backwater hillbillies without a sense of culture, technology, or the latest celebrity gossip. Odds are, if we don’t know about it, that’s because we could care less.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
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