Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal for FY2017/18 includes a $300-million appropriation for the Environmental Protection Fund. This is complemented by a five-year, $2-billion dollar commitment to clean water infrastructure grants; a $50-million “AdventureNY” proposal for recreational infrastructure; $32 million in public and private funds to establish the former Frontier Town in North Hudson as a new High Peaks gateway; and, $153 million for an “Empire State Trail” that would include a leg through the Adirondacks, near Lake Champlain. The Adirondack Council and others have been enthusiastic about these proposals. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Forest Preserve advocacy groups are calling on the Adirondack Park Agency’s board to reject at this week’s meeting all three staff proposals for classifying the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract.
The major objection is that under all three proposals, a 6.8-mile logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds would be designated Wild Forest, which could allow people to drive all the way to the ponds.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), said it’s even possible that motorboats could be allowed on the water. Under the APA’s first alternative, the ponds would be classified Wild Forest, which could allow motorboats. The other two alternatives are silent on the ponds’ classification.
Woodworth said the APA board should direct the staff to come up with new proposals, a step that would delay public hearings on the Boreas classification. “It’s more important to get this classification right than do it fast,” he said.
The globally unique Adirondack Park is ready for new wilderness, according to the Adirondack Council’s State of the Park report for 2016.
The report concludes that the Adirondacks are ready for the largest expansion of motor-free wilderness in a generation. National media have been focusing attention on the upcoming Presidential election and on the hottest summer on record. But there is another story of national importance unfolding in the Adirondacks right now. » Continue Reading.
A coalition of environmental groups that includes the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and Adirondack Wild has significantly altered its proposal for the recently acquired Boreas Ponds Tract, calling for less of the region to be classified Wilderness.
Under the original proposal, about 15,000 of the tract’s 20,758 acres would have been added to the High Peaks Wilderness. This included land north and south of Gulf Brook Road, a durable logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds. The road itself would have been designated a Primitive Corridor, allowing visitors to drive as far as LaBier Flow, some six miles from County Route 2.
Under the new plan, Gulf Brook Road and the land south of it would be Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification that allows motorized use. Thus, it would not be necessary to designate Gulf Brook Road a Primitive Corridor to allow people to drive to LaBier Flow. Some 13,000 acres north of the road would be Wilderness.
Adirondack Council supporters are grateful to the Legislature for paying careful attention to the needs of Adirondack Park communities at the end of the 2016 session.
Some important community initiatives were addressed, with the help of thousands of letters from Council members and others who wrote to lawmakers in support of legislative initiatives proposed by local governments last week.
We are environmental advocates and we were pleased to help Adirondack communities achieve legislative successes this year. The park’s 130 rural communities are an important part of our globally unique park. » Continue Reading.
Former NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens will be awarded Conservationist of the Year at the Forever Wild Day celebration hosted by the Adirondack Council on July 9.
The event will be held at the Inn at the Bridge in Northville. The Adirondack Council’s annual Forever Wild Day celebration will include a luncheon, annual meeting and outdoor activities.
Martens’s first work in the Adirondack Park came as assistant secretary and deputy secretary for energy and the environment under Gov. Mario Cuomo. He later served as chair of the board of the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
Currently, Martens is a Senior Fellow at the Open Space Institute, where he is working on national climate change policy and new strategies for promoting smart and effective land conservation in combating climate change. » Continue Reading.
Dick Booth probably won’t be on the Adirondack Park Agency’s board when it decides how to classify the recently acquired Boreas Ponds Tract, but he is convinced that most of the 20,758 acres should be designated Wilderness, the strictest of the APA’s land-use categories.
“The great bulk of the lands, including the ponds, should be Wilderness,” Booth told Adirondack Almanack on Tuesday, a day after revealing he intends to retire from the APA.
Environmental groups concur that the three linked ponds — with their stupendous views of the High Peaks — should be classified Wilderness, but local towns are arguing for a less-restrictive Wild Forest classification for the ponds and nearby land. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency board will soon lose its strongest defender of wilderness: Dick Booth does not intend to serve another term.
Booth’s current four-year term expires June 30, but he said he will stay on awhile if a successor is not appointed by then.
A professor in Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning, Booth told Adirondack Almanack he is leaving partly out of frustration with decisions at the agency. He also said the long drive from Ithaca to Ray Brook for monthly meetings and poring over stacks of documents in preparation for those meetings proved draining over the years.
“I’ve been there eight and a half years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it, but at some point it’s time to step aside.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders deserve praise for approving a state budget that increases appropriations for the Environmental Protection Fund, enhances programs to fight invasive species and helps communities build needed clean water infrastructure.
The Adirondack Park is a national treasure and a global legacy for us and for future generations. This historic budget enhances that legacy with a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund, $350 million for clean water infrastructure grants, and more. It is a blueprint for how the nation should invest in water, wildlife, wilderness and communities. » Continue Reading.
It is pretty amazing how times have changed in the Adirondacks.
When the Governor announced this year’s budget proposals, environmental organizations applauded increasing investments in the park’s communities. At the same time, local government officials such as retiring Newcomb Town Supervisor George Canon praised the Governor’s plan to purchase important new Forest Preserve lands.
Yes, that was George in the Governor’s pre-State of the State Address video, smiling at the camera as he thanked the Governor for buying 69,000 acres of new Forest Preserve formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn & Co. Even the Essex County Board of Supervisors’ Ways and Means Committee passed a resolution praising the Governor’s plan to fully fund the Environmental Protection Fund.
These apparent role reversals are not really so surprising, however, when you delve into details. » Continue Reading.
In 1936, the conservationist Bob Marshall made a list of forty-eight forested areas in the United States that exceeded three hundred thousand acres and that remained roadless — that is, relatively pristine. Evidently, he considered three hundred thousand acres to be the minimal size of a true wilderness.
“We would like to point out that the 300,000 acres is not a roadless area in any pioneering sense,” Marshall wrote in the magazine Living Wilderness (with co-author Althea Dobbins). “Actually, a 300,000-acre tract is only about 21½ by 21½ miles, something which a reasonably good walker could traverse readily in a day if there were a trail.”
Although the Adirondack Park boasts more than a million acres of officially designated Wilderness, where motorized use is forbidden, no single Wilderness Area comes close to Marshall’s criterion. The High Peaks Wilderness — the largest in the Park — covers only 204,000 acres. » Continue Reading.
Two of the Adirondack Park’s four major environmental organizations filed a legal challenge to the Essex Chain management plan, but the two others have legal questions as well.
Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild filed a lawsuit today in State Supreme Court in Albany, claiming the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy.
Named as defendants are the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which drafted the management plan, and the Adirondack Park Agency, which approved it. Both agencies refused to comment on the suit.
Christopher Amato, a former assistant commissioner at DEC, told the Almanack that the Essex Chain plan is “blatantly illegal.” Amato is now an attorney at Earthjustice, a nonprofit organization that is representing Protect and Adirondack Wild in the lawsuit.
Amato said Earthjustice will file a motion to prevent DEC from implementing the management plan until the lawsuit is resolved.
Why do they call it Boreas Ponds? After all, if you look at an aerial photograph, such as the one at left, taken by Carl Heilman II, it’s just one water body. This fact is also evident from the 1999 USGS map below.
The reason is not mysterious. Like many Adirondack lakes, the water level of Boreas Ponds has been raised by a dam. As an 1895 map indicates (it’s shown farther below), Boreas Ponds used to be three ponds connected by narrow channels.
When the state acquires Boreas Ponds from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, it must decide whether the concrete dam should be retained.
Two environmental groups disagree on whether a state proposal to remove 34 miles of train tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid complies with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.
In a news release last week, the Adirondack Council praised the proposal, calling it “a good compromise” that protects natural resources and addresses the economic and cultural needs of the region.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, however, contends that the proposal violates the State Land Master Plan. The proposal would amend the corridor’s unit management plan (UMP) from 1996. » Continue Reading.
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