Posts Tagged ‘adirondack report’

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

APA develops battery storage application

Battery modules

We have quite a bit of news to share with you out of last week’s Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meeting.

In light of a proposed battery storage system in Raquette Lake and the state’s working group studying battery fires, the APA announced it is creating an application for such infrastructure when it falls under the APA’s jurisdiction. You can read more about that, and the state’s working group update here.


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Monday, November 20, 2023

Groups call for forest preserve funding

Potash Mountain in Lake Luzerne.

A widening number of organizations are banding together for funding requests for the Adirondack and Catskill Parks forest preserve. In a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, 41 groups called for a $10 million allocation for forest preserve stewardship in the 2024-2025 state budget’s Environmental Protection Fund. Last year’s budget allocated $8 million.

The groups also call for additional investment in affordable housing and cellular and broadband infrastructure. They also hope Hochul will maintain funding for forest preserve visitor centers, support additional research and monitoring programs, develop an accessibility policy for state lands, clear a backlog of conserved land under agreement for public acquisition and add additional staff supporting forest preserve-related state agencies.

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

New law protects against invasive species

A person holds invasive Asian clams

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed bipartisan legislation last month that allows town boards to stop the spread of invasive aquatic invertebrate species, such as Zebra mussels and Asian clams, instead of just aquatic invasive plants.

The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury and state Assemblymember Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake.

Stec said the law gives communities more flexibility to address invasive species. Woerner said invasive aquatic species harms the environment, health and recreational economy. Both lawmakers were grateful to Hochul for signing the legislation.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Finding Common Ground

a crowd of people standing at the base of a mountain on a fall day

I attended the Common Ground Alliance meeting on Friday at Gore Mountain in North Creek. Groups from across the Adirondack Park come together and talked about policy issues they care about and how to better be heard in Albany. Topics included housing, broadband and cell service, climate change, invasive species and bond act and environmental protection funding.

From these discussions, the alliance will create its annual “Blueprint for the Blue Line.” You can see past ones here:

We, too, are covering many of these issues in our print and web pages of the magazine and look forward to continuing our reporting. You’ll see some follow-up stories building on the conversations at the alliance.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Solar project seeks builder

aerial show of woods and road and developed area

A state initiative to get more renewable energy projects up and running is starting in the Adirondacks. Spearheaded by the New York State Research and Development Authority, the “Build-Ready” program collects all the leases, permits and other groundwork necessary to get a renewable energy project up and running. The state then auctions the project off to a developer in the hopes that it will be a turn-key build.

The tailings pile of Benson Mines in St. Lawrence County is hosting the first project under this program, and the state announced last week it was ready to find a developer.

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Monday, October 9, 2023

Debar Pond Lodge and the forest preserve

Debar Pond Lodge

In our deep-dive on Adirondack Park unit management plans (UMPs), we learned from the Adirondack Park Agency that Debar Mountain Wild Forest may soon be on the docket for another examination. In 2020, the agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation released a draft UMP that called for tearing down Debar Pond Lodge, a 1940s-era Great Camp in the town of Duane. It is an illegal structure on forest preserve lands.

But groups, particularly Adirondack Architectural Heritage, called for the building’s preservation. That would require a constitutional amendment, and though such a one has been introduced twice, it has not passed the state Legislature. Adirondack Architectural Heritage is hoping its third attempt will be successful this upcoming legislative session. Should it pass both houses, the earliest the amendment could be on a statewide ballot would be November 2025.

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Saturday, October 7, 2023

Local leaders voice support for proposed APA move

apa headquarters

More than 60 local leaders, many of whom are from Saranac Lake, sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul last week supporting the Adirondack Park Agency’s proposed move to the village. They highlighted benefits of relocating the agency’s headquarters including revitalizing the downtown, reusing and renovating an existing building, partnering with the village on a geothermal energy project, revitalizing an historic building, adding parking to the village and making the agency more accessible to the public.

The state allocated about $29 million for the agency’s headquarters. APA Executive Director Barbara Rice has spearheaded the proposed move, receiving backlash from current and former APA staff, who want the agency to remain in Ray Brook. The APA is conducting a feasibility study on moving to Saranac Lake, but it is not conducting a similar study of its existing headquarters.

The letter states that the proposal to renovate an existing building will “have fewer environmental impacts than constructing a new one,” but fails to mention that the APA would erect a second building into the hillside behind the former Paul Smith’s Power and Light building on Main Street.

Some of the signers include Saranac Lake Mayor Jimmy Williams, former Mayor Clyde Rabideau, Executive Director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage Erin Tobin and a number of Saranac Lake business owners.

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Monday, September 25, 2023

The wait for forest preserve plans

unit management plan map

A few newsletters ago I was talking about unit management plans and how difficult it is to make them sound interesting. We have since posted our September/October magazine piece about this online, with some special interactive elements we hope will better tell the story.

About 50 years ago, the state Department of Environmental Conservation was charged to create these physical and natural resource inventories and project lists for more than 50 chunks of forest preserve in the Adirondacks. Former Gov. George Pataki tried to kick start these plans back in 1999. He called for them all to be finished in five years. Nearly 25 years later, about 782,000 acres still don’t have plans.

Why is this important? Without a plan, no major projects can be done in a unit. For a place like Lake George Wild Forest, which has no plan, that means the DEC cannot build a marked trail up Rogers Rock. It cannot reroute the trail up Prospect Mountain, which DEC has already called “dangerous to hikers.” The William C. Whitney Wilderness has no plan, either. Campsites there cannot be moved, which some said needs to be done to protect sensitive shorelines and habitat.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Tree cutting policy 2.0 and more Adirondack policy news

Peter Bauer

In 2021, the state’s highest court ruled some snowmobile trails planned for Adirondack Park forest preserve violated the state constitution. While there were several facets to the decision, one of its cruxes was around the abstract question of what is a tree. Protect the Adirondacks, the group to bring the lawsuit, argued the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s definition of a tree was too small. The DEC was using 3 inches in diameter at breast height in its counts. Protect wanted the state to count trees 1 inch in diameter at breast height.

Last week, the DEC released a new forest preserve work plan policy that includes accounting for smaller trees. This policy will shape all projects on forest preserve—in the Adirondacks and Catskills—going forward. Read more on the policy here.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The case of the missing management plans

UMP map

The September/October issue of our magazine is out, and in it you can read about unit management plans. It is difficult to make any sentence sound exciting with the phrase “unit management plans” in it, but here’s why they are important. “UMP’s,” as they’re often called, are inventories of physical and natural resources in an area of the park. They also include a list of projects the state Department of Environmental Conservation wishes to accomplish. No UMP? No project. This includes hiking trails, campsites, water body studies, ski trails, parking lots—any variety of recreation or natural resource protection projects.

We found that hundreds of thousands of acres in the Adirondack Park are without UMPs. That includes Lake George Wild Forest, one of the most accessible places in the park. That means the eroded trail up Prospect Mountain cannot be rerouted. A designated trail up Rogers Rock cannot be made. The William C. Whitney Wilderness, dubbed by the state the “crown jewel of the Adirondacks,” is without a UMP, too. The state is relying on a stewardship management plan from the ‘90s, which some say isn’t protective enough.

If you aren’t already subscriber, you can sign up for our bimonthly magazine here: The article includes the map below, provided by the DEC, which shows the status of these plans across the park.

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


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Hiker surveys, small business loans and more

AMR lot

Remember those hiker surveys at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) in Keene? They were conducted by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and collected data about the three-year pilot reservation system there. The surveys aren’t happening this year, said Jill Weiss, assistant professor of environmental studies at the college. Her students are, however, in the process of collecting more data from focus groups. Weiss is also analyzing survey data from years one and two (we’re in year three currently).

The state Department of Environmental Conservation added that a final report on the surveys will be done by the end of the year. DEC will share it once it’s finalized.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Environmental notice bulletin: Comments due Aug. 2-3

Last week’s DEC environmental notice bulletin showed the following projects on the docket for public comment.

  • The Lodge at Schroon Lake is proposing to add 32 boat slips to a previously permitted dock. The DEC is reviewing a permit under Article 15 Title 27, Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers. The dock is under the jurisdiction of the state Office of General Services, according to the project notice. Public comments must be submitted by Aug. 3 to Benjamin M. Shubert, NYSDEC Region 5 Headquarters, 1115 State Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or emailed to
  • The new Lake George Visitor Information Center in the Lake George Beach and Battlefield Park, Town of Lake George is seeking to install a concrete accessible path. It will connect to the center and a network of existing paved paths. It will be 5-feet wide and a maximum of 220-feet long. To view the work plan, go to: Public comments will be accepted until Aug. 2. Comments may be sent to Mitchell Krah NYSDEC Region 5, Division of Lands and Forests, PO Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12983, or email
    » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Lawsuit updates and environmental notices

white lake quarry

Protect the Adirondacks and the Adirondack White Lake Association have filed an appeal after losing their case against the Adirondack Park Agency and Red Rock Quarry Associates in September in Oneida County Supreme Court. Protect and the lake association sued over a quarry permit the agency granted. The groups argued the APA should have held an adjudicatory hearing, a public hearing before an administrative law judge, before making a decision. The appeal was filed on July 7.

In another lawsuit brought by Protect against the DEC, it appears the parties are trying to settle. In January, Protect sued the DEC, arguing its maintenance of one mile of road in the western High Peaks Wilderness violated the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.  In a June 27 letter, the state Office of the Attorney General told the court, “(t)he parties have now reached a fifth agreement on scheduling intended to allow them additional time to explore settlement.”

A Freedom of Information Law lawsuit filed by former DEC Commissioner Tom Jorling against his old department also appears to be dropped. Jorling had contested the APA’s decision to withhold records involving agency communication with Saranac Lake Marina associates. The APA eventually released staff memos containing little information. Attorneys for the state and Jorling signed a “stipulation of discontinuance” at the end of June.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Attend the bond act listening tour; plus new Adirondack Council leader

rocci AguirreA listening session on the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act is coming to the Adirondacks next week. It will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on July 14 at the Sparks Athletic Complex Alumni Gymnasium at North Country Community College, 23 Santanoni Ave., Saranac Lake. If you’re interested in attending, you can register here:

Here is a refresher about how the state has divvied up the $4.2 billion:

  • “$1.5 billion for climate change mitigation;
  • $1.1 billion for restoration and flood risk reduction;
  • $650 million for water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure;
  • $650 million for open space land conservation and recreation; and
  • $300 million for other projects not specifically allocated in the act.”

What would you like to see funded in the Adirondacks?

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

APA meeting, state legislature recaps

saranac lake marina

At last week’s Adirondack Park Agency meeting, the board approved a variance to its shoreline restrictions for a marina project on Lower Saranac Lake. My colleague Zach Matson had the story here.

The board’s agenda originally suggested it might vote on changes to the Broadalbin Boat Launch unit management plan. If you remember earlier this spring, the state Department of Environmental Conservation had proposed closing a public beach there, causing much upset among residents. We learned last week that the DEC needs more time on its response to public comments.

Executive Director Barbara Rice noted the APA has hired six new staff members in the past six months. When Rice started about a year ago, the agency had 42 employees and it now has 48. The agency is considered full staff at 54 so there are still positions to fill.

» Continue Reading.

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