Posts Tagged ‘Adirondack Park Agency’

Friday, October 22, 2021

APA back to public comments and more updates

The Adirondack Park Agency met last week for the first time since July. Board members had quite a bit of business to attend to while back in virtual format due to increasing concerns over the coronavirus. They approved a 20-megawatt solar farm in Ticonderoga, approved updates to the management plan for Fish Creek Pond Campground and Day Use Area and heard a presentation from the Olympic Regional Development Authority on proposed updates to Whiteface Mountain.

To top it off, this was the first virtual meeting in the last year-and-a-half of the pandemic that the APA allowed for live, public comment. Dave Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, was the only person to make use of the comment period time afforded at the beginning and end of the meeting. In meetings prior, the agency collected public comments through an email address. It’s good to have the public be able to directly address board members again. This also coincided with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plans for all state agencies and departments to draft transparency guidelines, something the APA will have to do soon.

Fall hikes

On another note, I’ve received quite a few phone calls from folks asking me how to get a permit or reservation to hike in the Adirondacks. There is still clearly some confusion over the reservation system for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, a gateway to a number of popular hikes, but certainly not the only spot to see beautiful views. Most of the people who have called me say they have trouble using a computer and wish to book a reservation over the phone. I’ve also gotten quite a few phone calls asking about the status of our autumn foliage colors in the Adirondacks.

For those curious, we have a webpage with some answers on the reservation system for the Adirondack Mountain reserve here. You can also keep track of the fall colors through the I Love NY’s fall foliage reports, which we’ve been running on the Adirondack Almanack.

Photo from Rooster Comb in Keene on Oct. 11.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Adirondack Park Agency Should Allow Verbal Public Comments

adirondack wildThe nonprofit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has written to the NYS Adirondack Park Agency asking the agency to comply with its own public comment policy by inviting verbal public comment at the Agency’s remote October meeting. The webcast meeting takes place on Thursday Oct. 14.

The agency’s response to Adirondack Wild’s request, so far, has been that they would “take it into consideration.”

Governor Hochul has announced a Government Transparency Initiative which requires all New York State agencies to submit plans this month on how they will improve transparency. That order obviously includes the Adirondack Park Agency. Given that order, APA should be allowing the public to sign up and speak directly to the Adirondack Park Agency’s decision-makers during their regularly scheduled webcast meetings.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Adirondack Park Agency Should Embrace Transparency

Recently, we saw news that Governor Kathy Hochul has instructed state agencies to develop and submit plans for greater transparency. As I wrote in a related piece, this is good news and welcome news. I’ve watched over the decades as state agencies have restricted more and more of what was once basic and easily accessible public information.

In a related piece I wrote about how the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) could improve its work and embrace openness and transparency. I provided a list of suggestions for ways to change its Forest Preserve work and other items relating to the Adirondack Park. These ideas would make meaningful and important reforms and should be included in the DEC’s “Transparency Plan” that it is soon to submit to Governor Hochul.

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Monday, August 16, 2021

Lesson from Wetland Hydrology 101

Many, many years ago I entered graduate school at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT. My graduate interests lay primarily in water resources, so I searched that first semester for a lead professor/advisor in that vast field – and, due to recent retirements, found none.

As luck would have it, a Ph.D. candidate hosted a course in basic wetland hydrology 101 that fall. He was young, energetic, no nonsense kind of person, a stickler for getting out in the field and measuring things like water flow, water inputs, outputs and what was going on underneath our feet and the wet soils he was interested in. He took us to interesting places called bogs, fens, and cedar swamps requiring hip boots. We saw great swamp trees, like tupelos or black gum. We brought back funny looking, stained sketches of bogs and fens, with arrows showing what we thought was the direction of water flow pointing in various directions. I learned that a fen was a kind of boggy wetland where surface and/or ground water flowed through, introducing minerals and oxygenated conditions and thus making a fen somewhat less mineral impoverished than a bog lacking such through flow.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Was the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Duped?

upper saranac

APA mandate is to “ensure compliance with the laws the Agency administers” including the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Act. Instead, APA did the exact opposite with a recent decision permitting the virtual destruction of a Category 1 Wetland- the highest designation for a wetland – on Lot 9, Deerwood, Upper Saranac Lake (USL). For no apparent reason, other than convenience of the new landowner, APA issued an amended permit.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

[email protected] Symposium

wild idea [email protected] Symposium took place on on June 22 and the organizations were happy to host so many lively conversations on the legacy and future of the Adirondack Park Agency. We thank all who attended the live event for your thoughtful questions and input.

All three sessions of the symposium are now available for viewing on our Vimeo page. Links to each session as well as a link to the special preview of the upcoming Mountain Lake PBS documentary on the early years of the APA (based on Brad Edmondson’s new book, A Wild Idea) are below.

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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Upper Saranac coalition: APA ruling endangers wetlands

upper saranac In an unprecedented reversal of its prior position, the APA is amending a long-standing 1987 permit to allow a large private residential septic system to endanger to a rare bog and degrade Upper Saranac Lake water quality.  The APA has ignored their own 1987 permit requirements.

A coalition of conservationists, engineers, a wetland ecologist, and neighbors of a proposed development within the Class 1 wetlands on Upper Saranac Lake said today that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had, over the strong objections of environmentalists, engineers and local landowners, approved an amendment to an existing APA permit.  The amendment eases the restrictions normally required for wetlands, and for only the last lot of the Deerwood Subdivision. This amendment allows for an on-site septic system 100 feet from a stream that empties into the Upper Saranac Lake and from the rare Category 1 wetlands boundary.

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

This week’s APA meeting and the tree-cutting decision

fish creekWe have another jam-packed Adirondack Park Agency meeting to look forward to this week.

The board will hear from staff about solar projects in the park, upgrades to the Fish Creek Pond Campground and the long-awaited visitor use management and wildlands monitoring guidance that has been delayed the last couple of meetings. I have a preview of the meeting up on our website. I’ll be covering the meetings, too, for you.

If you’d like to listen in for yourself, go to apa.ny.gov for the agenda and the virtual meeting info.

It’s not on the agenda, but I’m also wondering if the Adirondack Park Agency will discuss the Court of Appeals ruling that was handed down Tuesday last week. The state’s highest court ruled that Class II community connector trails, which are trails big enough and graded to accommodate snowmobiles, were unconstitutional. The majority said the trails required cutting too many trees and violated the “forever wild” clause of the state constitution. The 4-2 decision was in favor of Protect the Adirondacks, which brought the suit against the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency.

What we don’t know yet is how far-reaching this decision is. Protect the Adirondacks and several environmental organizations in favor of its side have said they believe the decision only impacts these community connector trails. Others worry that the decision will impact more than that, including hiking trail maintenance, new hiking trails and campground maintenance. So far the APA and DEC are consulting with the state Attorney General’s Office to get guidance on that. As we learn more, we’ll have more information for you.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Fish Creek Pond Campground photo by Mike Lynch/Explorer


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Adirondack Report: Preview of this month’s APA meeting; state budget update

The state budget was late, but it finally passed both houses last week.

I had a quick overview on our website highlighting that the Adirondacks and Catskills are getting $1.55 million for visitor use management. Of that funding, up to $800,000 will go to Essex County to assist with its pilot shuttle system, front country stewards and infrastructure, like portable toilets. We also have a renewed $3 billion environmental bond act.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The ‘Forever Wild’ fight

Rockefeller

A couple of years ago we started kicking around some ideas for sharing with readers the story of the people who fought to create the Adirondack Park Agency: their fervor and idealism, their mapping and lobbying, and the pushback they encountered then and for years to come.

We had only started to discuss how we might go about assembling such a narrative, and who might be best to write it, when Ithaca journalist and author Brad Edmondson wrote us an unsolicited email suggesting that we might have a use for a bunch of interviews he had conducted with the same characters — both APA proponents and opponents — over the years. He had taped some of them with the understanding that he wouldn’t print anything until after they had died, and now that time had arrived.

 

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Monday, March 29, 2021

APA at 50: A daylong symposium

APA In June 1971, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed legislation creating the Adirondack Park Agency, and the modern era of Adirondack history began. All private land in the Park was zoned according to how densely it could be developed, and the state-owned Forest Preserve was divided into various categories, with Wilderness Areas designated as the most tightly regulated. No one was happy with the new agency. Local government and business interests predicted economic catastrophe, while conservationists felt the new regime didn’t adequately protect the Park.

The Adirondack Experience: The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake (ADKX) will host a daylong symposium, free and open to the public, on June 22, 2021. This will be a virtual symposium: all presentations will be online.

For more details and to register, go here.

Photo: Gov Rockefeller signs the APA Private Land Use Plan legislation. Richard W. Lawrence, first APA Chair, looks on at left. Photo by Paul Schaefer/Almanack archive

Editor’s note: Starting today, the Explorer is running a series about the formation of the APA. Click here for the first one.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Demystifying Wildlands Monitoring

Whitney WildernessThe long promised public unveiling of the Wildlands Monitoring Guidance by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), once again, did not occur. It was planned for the March APA Board meeting and was pulled from the agenda during that two-day meeting. What is so secret about it? Nothing, actually. So, why the repeated lack of transparency over multiple years?

It appears that APA and DEC administrators are not understanding that Wildlands Monitoring is a planning and management process and framework – it is NOT a final plan, so it will never be “finished for presentation.” A report would start a process. Or maybe the implied accountability of using monitoring is daunting to administrators? Let’s explore these issues.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Loss of Institutional Memory at the APA

acrInstitutional memory is important. It reminds folks who join an institution of any kind what the mission of that organization is, what has come before them, what was considered important then and why, what continues to be the mission today. It strengthens the links in a longer historical chain that can easily be weakened if there is no one left in the institution to remember, to teach and to motivate the newcomers.

Veterans should be empowered to help newer hires understand that they are part of an important historical legacy. This is not to say that the institution cannot adapt to new circumstances and improve. It must. It is to say that there ought to remain a commitment to always keep the legacy in view so that the compass points in the same direction.

Adirondack Park Agency staff are highly skilled resource professionals doing a difficult job on a huge scale, working under difficult legal timelines and, like the rest of us, isolated from their colleagues during the pandemic.  However, judging from comments some of them made last week during the permit issuance for the Woodward Lake major subdivision, I believe the Adirondack Park Agency has lost significant amounts of institutional memory. That can lead to mission creep.

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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Discussion time: the APA at 50

We’re gearing up at the Adirondack Explorer to run a series looking back over the formation of the Adirondack Park Agency 50 years ago, as well as looking into the future of the agency.

Here are a few recent posts that are critical of the APA:

Things fall apart at the APA

Local government club at the APA

Now it’s time to weigh in and share your thoughts: What role should the APA play in the next 50 years? What’s working, what’s not?


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Proposed campground for Hinckley and more from this month’s APA meeting

hinckley day use areaIn case you missed last week’s Adirondack Park Agency meeting, here are a few highlights.

The APA is collecting public comments on the Hinckley Day Use Area unit management plan proposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Specifically, the APA will look at how this plan meshes with the Adirondack State Park Master Plan. DEC is proposing a revamp of the area, including new multi-use trails, additional camping opportunities and a pavilion at Price’s Point. Click here for more info, including how to comment.

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