Posts Tagged ‘adirondack report’

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Happy New Year!

total solar eclipse

Happy New Year!

I’m celebrating my fourth year at the Adirondack Explorer. Thank you for following along, reading and contributing. I have appreciated your story ideas, thoughtful comments and corrections. You don’t always know what news is around the corner. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy this job so much. But we also have plenty of stories we continue to follow for you.

Editor Jim Odato previews some of them we know will be on our dockets this year. Check it out by clicking here.

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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Recapping year’s top stories

These battery modules, supplied by the battery company BYD

Happy holidays! I hope you are all enjoying time with family and friends and getting out for some wonderful adventures in the Adirondacks.

This will be my last newsletter of 2023. On our website, we are recapping some of the top news stories of the year. Here, I’d like to share a few links to the stories I’m most proud of this year. We appreciate your readership and look forward to providing you with news and recreation coverage in the new year!

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Saturday, December 23, 2023

First bond act funds awarded

Paradox Lake as seen from Severance Mountain.

About a year after voters authorized the state to borrow $4.2 billion for environmental projects, we received word that the first tranche of it—$200 million, or just under 5% of the total—has been awarded. None of it is going to the Adirondacks.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the water infrastructure funding from the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act along with other state water infrastructure grant programs. In those, some Adirondack communities did see promises for water and wastewater funds.

The state’s advances in online data visualization make it much easier to see where across New York funds are going. Check out our story here.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

DEC admits to violation

West Canada Lake Wilderness

Over the summer Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve filed a complaint against the state Department of Environmental Conservation over motor vehicle use in wilderness. It was a rare test of how the Adirondack Park Agency, one of the state’s smallest entities, might reprimand one of the state’s largest, the DEC, for violating the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the leading policy document governing the park.

This December, a resolution appeared in the DEC’s environmental notice bulletin with little information. You had to request the document from the APA. Once we did, we found that the DEC admitted to illegally driving ATVs and other motor vehicles in wilderness areas. The APA and DEC came to a “compliance agreement” that included reeducating staff on state land master plan rules.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

What is whiskey fungus?

Whiskey fungus

Have you ever heard of whiskey fungus? I had not until working on this story about WhistlePig Whiskey’s storage facility in Mineville.

Check it out here.

Adirondack Park Agency

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/index.cfm.

  • Stony Creek Community Church is applying for a three-lot subdivision to create a 0.82-acre lot improved by an existing single family dwelling, a 0.58-acre lot containing an existing cemetery, and a 0.34-acre lot improved by a pre-existing church on Harrisburg Road in the town of Stony Creek. Comments are due by Dec. 21. To view site plans and submit comments, go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2023-0209.
  • Applicant John Morris is seeking to build a new 3,200-square-foot building for operation of a new commercial use heating and plumbing business on Cutting Road in the town of Lewis. Comments are due by Dec. 21. To view site plans and submit comments, go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2023-0208.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Funding news across the park

Route 9N

Funding opportunities and scrutiny

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $3.7 million in grant funding is available to Adirondack and Catskill park communities through the Environmental Protection Fund. The deadline to apply is 3 p.m. on Jan. 31. It is part of the Smart Growth Grants program, focused on “projects that will link environmental projection, economic development, and community livability in the forest preserve,” according to a newsletter. It’s an interesting way the governor’s office phrased that as you can’t live in the forest preserve proper.

The Adirondacks is specifically earmarked for $2.7 million, while the Catskill Park will get $1 million. The governor’s office listed eligible projects including bike-friendly routes; improving museums and theaters; improvements to downtowns; multi-use trail development; zoning updates; visitor center improvements; and adding sidewalks to hamlets and villages.

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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: https://www.commongroundadk.org/blueprints-for-the-blueline.

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.

» Continue Reading.


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.

» Continue Reading.


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.

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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.

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