In mid-May I took a trip up to Willsboro to meet up with former Gov. George Pataki. I wanted to get his take on a few different things happening in the park, one of which you’ll read about in our July/August issue in a story about trash in the Adirondacks.
Posts Tagged ‘adirondack report’
The state legislative session is over. What a weird, hybrid year of remote meetings and some in-person, masked meetings. The Capitol remained closed to the public, but more lobbyists held press conferences outside these last few months. Some of my colleagues continued to work out of the Legislative Correspondents Association offices in the Capitol while others, such as myself, worked from home. Everyone adapts.
Now that the whirlwind is over, though, we can reflect on what was done and what wasn’t. In the last flurry of bills this week, lawmakers made an aquatic invasive species inspection law permanent for the Adirondack Park. The bill also gave more authority to the state Department of Environmental Conservation do require these inspections and boat washes. The bill received unanimous support in both houses–a perhaps rare example of an Adirondacks issue that rallied bipartisan support, environmental groups’ support and local governments’ support. Now the governor has to sign off and make it official.
I’ve had a few folks write me asking about the progress of the Adirondack Rail Trail.
Phil Brown actually rode some of it! In case you missed his story, take a look here.
The state legislative session is winding down, but that just means the work is ramping up. There are so many bills to keep track of, and I doubt legislators will get to all that were proposed this year. For example, I haven’t seen any movement around the conservation design bill. I also haven’t seen any movement on some of the constitutional amendments in the pipeline, such as Hamilton County’s request to put an emergency communications tower on Cathead Mountain.
I’ve had bugs on the brain the last couple of weeks.
That’s because the New York State Hemlock Initiative invited me out to the Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville to see the release of a predator fly that eats the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid — a forest pest that has afflicted the Lake George area of the Adirondacks. I went. About a week later, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plan Program held its annual partner meeting and guess what was a major highlight? Hemlock woolly adelgid. Check out adirondackexplorer.org for our coverage.
Of course, it was snowing when I went out to see these predator bugs released, so we missed the excitement of unscrewing a jar lid and sending them off. I confess that upon seeing these HWA predators in a jar, I was a bit underwhelmed by their size. They look more like fruit flies, hardly what one thinks when you hear the word “predator.” In my imagination, I whipped them up to look more like the size of house flies. I thought they’d be swarming in jars, thick and dense, so when they were let out, “release the flies!” would be a good thing to yell.
We 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
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.
Last Monday after this newsletter went out, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Ausable Club announced a new pilot reservation system at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The reserve, for those who may not know, is a gateway to nearly a dozen High Peaks and some very popular hikes like Indian Head and Rainbow Falls. It is also private property, accessible to the public through a foot traffic easement. The original press release left many questions, including whether or not this reservation system included a fee, or if it was free. The answer–it’s free to make a reservation.
It was also confusing because the state has called it a pilot parking reservation system, but it’s not. It is a full-on reservation system. You cannot be dropped off and walk in without a reservation. You cannot bike to the AMR and walk in without a reservation. The only way you are allowed to be on the AMR property without this permit is if you have a Greyhound or Trailways bus ticket from within 24 hours of your arrival to Keene Valley.
One of the stories I wrote for this past issue of Adirondack Explorer was about a “forever wild” case before the state Court of Appeals brought by Protect the Adirondacks against the state Department of Environmental Conservation. In case you missed it, last week the court heard oral arguments from both sides, which I wrote about here.
If you click on that link above, too, we embedded the YouTube clip of the hearing so you can watch it for yourself. No matter what side you might take, it is interesting to watch the judges ask so many good questions. This whole case can get very abstract when you’re looking at the question of what is a constitutionally protected tree. But I thought the judges also got to some very specific questions about constitutional amendments and work that has been impacted thus far from this litigation.
This week, I listened in on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s four State of the State presentations (click here for article about Monday’s address). Next week, we’ll get Cuomo’s budget presentation for 2022. That doesn’t get passed until April, but it will be interesting to see how the state fills this $15 billion hole.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a few stories posted online for you. In case you missed them, one was about a new connector trail between the Town of Newcomb’s beautiful High Peaks Overlook park and Goodnow Mountain. The trail isn’t 100% finished, but the hope is it will be next year. Read more about that here.
There’s more news, too, about the Town of Lake Luzerne’s request for a map amendment to the Adirondack Park Agency. Through the public comments that I filed a Freedom of Information Law request for, we found some preliminary information about a homeowner looking to develop his property in the area. We also found a number of neighbors against the map amendment, but a few local business owners in favor. Read more on that here.
Last week we had a couple of Lake George-area stories, in case you missed them.
One was about Dog Beach, a public area next to the state’s Million Dollar Beach at the southern end of the lake. If you’ve walked by there lately, you may have noticed the construction equipment. Dog Beach is getting turned into a stormwater filtration project. Some of it will go back to open, public space, but it will be smaller than before. The goal is to filter out nutrients, bacteria and sediment.
We also saw some benthic mats, once used to control Eurasian watermilfoil, removed from the lake. David Wick, director of the Lake George Park Commission, said this was the way the commission used to treat dense beds of milfoil, but these mats are now just trash sitting on the lake bottom. Divers helped remove them last month.