Adirondack fiftieth anniversaries abound. While visiting the Adirondack Nature Conservancy website this week I am reminded of this chapter’s founding fifty years ago. Like the legislative formation of the NYS Adirondack Park Agency, an Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy was one of the 181 recommendations of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks, which reported to Governor Nelson Rockefeller and the public in 1970.
The commission’s final recommendation, #181, read: “an Adirondack Nature Conservancy to encourage gifts in the Adirondack Park should be established by private interests.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website reveals that 777,206 acres of private land in the Adirondack Park are protected by a state-owned conservation easement. During the Adirondack Park Centennial year of 1992 there were 93,000 acres of private lands under state-owned easement in the Park.
That number jumped to 250,000 acres early in this century as the former pulp and paper companies in the Park, such as International Paper, Champion International and Domtar, all negotiated easements under the state’s program. Lyme Timber acquired many of these eased holdings in the 21st century and is now the largest private forest landowner in the Park.
The Finch, Pruyn Company also sold just under 100,000 acres of private lands under conservation easement in 2007 (plus about 60,000-acres that has become Forest Preserve). The acreage under easement has steadily grown since then. And that doesn’t even count all of the private easements negotiated and acquired by groups such as the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Land Trust, Lake Placid Land Conservancy, Champlain Area Trails, and others.
The Ausable River Association (AsRA) and The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter, in partnership with the Town of Jay and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service), have right-sized two flood vulnerable and ecologically significant culverts in Jay, NY.
Work is complete on the Jay Mountain Road and Ausable Drive culvert projects. The new culverts will reduce flood risk and the town’s road maintenance costs and restore aquatic habitat connectivity.
Protect the Adirondacks is set to hold its annual membership meeting at The Grange in Whallonsburg on Saturday July 21st. The annual meeting includes the Conservation and Advocacy report, financial report, membership report, and election to the Board of Directors. » Continue Reading.
I have always admired turtles and their armored ways; how they bask in the sun and retreat when the world is too much. Last summer, through the perseverance of a nine-year-old boy, I found myself holding a small, golf-ball-sized turtle. It had a pointed snout that had two white lines stretching above and below its eye and an olive-brown carapace with a garden of algae growing on it.
Evan had captured this treasure from a local pond. We were using dip nets and strainers and our trays were already filled with dragonfly nymphs, aquatic snails, log cabin caddisfly larvae, and diving beetles. Intent on catching the silver-scaled minnows that schooled around our feet, Evan stalked the edge. He was like a great blue heron, his net like a bill, poised high and ready for a quick jab into the water. He caught two minnows and then made this lucky scoop, pulling up the small brown turtle. Our trays were forgotten as everyone crowded around. » Continue Reading.
The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter is making upgrades to its Boquet River Nature Preserve trail network in the town of Willsboro. This summer, professional trail builders have been constructing a 1.5-mile loop trail in the uplands portion of the 110-acre preserve. When completed, this multi-use trail is expected to be the longest accessible forest trail in the region designed and built to meet the Federal Trail Accessibility Guidelines under the Architectural Barriers Act.
The new trail will have a minimal slope and a crushed stone surface that can accommodate walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and wheelchairs. » Continue Reading.
Michael Carr has been named the full-time executive director of the Adirondack Land Trust and is stepping down as the director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Carr has played a leadership role in land conservation during his 26-year career with the Conservancy, which began with serving as director of the Lake George Land Conservancy, a local land trust the Conservancy helped to establish and has since fledged.
His efforts helped protect over half a million acres in the Adirondack Park, including the recently completed 161,000-acre Finch, Pruyn acquisition, which resulted in the largest addition of lands in over 100 years to the park’s publicly owned and constitutionally protected Forever Wild Forest Preserve.
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.
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.
Five local towns have set forth a land-use proposal for the newly acquired Boreas Ponds Tract that would allow mountain biking and “reasonable” motorized access — an alternative to plans supported by environmentalists.
Both the towns and environmental groups have proposed classification schemes that divide the 20,758-acre tract into Wilderness, where motors and bikes are prohibited, and Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification. The major difference is that the towns recommend that the Boreas Ponds themselves be designated Wild Forest.
Under all the plans, most people would be allowed to drive on the dirt Gulf Brook Road only as far as LaBier Flow, an impoundment on the Boreas River, the outlet of the ponds. From there, hikers would have to walk a mile or so to the ponds. Canoeists would have to paddle up the flow and then portage to the ponds.
The state has purchased the 20,760-acre Boreas Ponds Tract on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness, the final phase in a multi-year deal to acquire 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.
One of the natural gems of the former Finch property, Boreas Ponds is expected to become a destination of paddlers, hikers, and backpackers. The waterway offers breathtaking views of the High Peaks, including Mount Marcy, the state’s tallest summit, and much of the Great Range.
The state paid $14.5 million for the tract, according to a deed filed April 5 in the Essex County clerk’s office.
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.
A proposal to expand the High Peaks Wilderness has received the endorsement of two of the Adirondack Park Agency’s founding figures.
The High Peaks Wilderness already is by far the largest Wilderness Area in the Park, but the Adirondack Council and seven other environmental groups are urging the state to add 80,000 acres, expanding it to 284,000 acres.
Enlarging the Wilderness Area “will place New York State and the Adirondack Park in a position of national leadership for creation and maintenance of Wilderness lands equal to any in the Continental United States,” Peter Paine and William Kissel declared in a joint letter. The council intends to use the letter in its campaign for the Wilderness proposal and sent a copy to Adirondack Almanack on Friday.» Continue Reading.
Eight environmental groups are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to dramatically expand the High Peaks Wilderness once the state purchases Boreas Ponds from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.
At 203,526 acres, the High Peaks Wilderness already is by far the largest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park. Under the environmentalists’ proposal, it would grow to more than 280,000 acres, making it larger than Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado or Mount Rainer National Park in Washington.
The state has acquired a 6,200-acre tract next to the High Peaks Wilderness that includes long stretches of the Hudson and Opalescent rivers, making them easily accessible to flatwater paddlers.
The state bought the property for $4.24 million from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy as part of a multi-year agreement to acquire sixty-five thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands. It is now open to the public.
Known as MacIntyre East, the property lies between Mount Adams and Allen Mountain and just east of the road leading to the Upper Works Trailhead in Newcomb. Last year, the state bought a companion tract known as MacIntyre West, which lies on the other side of the road. » Continue Reading.
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