At Adirondack Wild’s October meeting at the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center, lakes and ponds came under the spotlight in a panel discussion about Cooperative Stewardship of Adirondack Lakes. Of particular interest was a given lake’s classification and subsequent comprehensive study, planning and management. If Adirondack waterbodies are considered part of the Forest Preserve, and for the last fifty years the State Land Master Plan talks about incorporating both land and water, then the law requires that lakes and ponds be classified, just as forests are. That raises important questions.
Classification leads to…If the lakes are classified, then they are subject to unit management planning, just as trails, trailheads and mountain summits are. The classification sets the basic guidelines and legally required outcomes. If lakes and ponds are subject to UMPs, then their carrying capacity, or ability of lakes and ponds in the Forest Preserve to withstand a variety of present and anticipated future uses, must be evaluated, like the requirement to measure and assess actual and projected public use on our forest’s trails and summits. I am not suggesting such assessments are an easy or inexpensive thing to do. Under the APA Act, however, it is a legal requirement, however often left untried or unfinished. And the state legislature just appropriated a lot more money than DEC has ever had before for wilderness protection and management.
I put some miles on the truck (and some on the ground) this week as I [traveled to] Paul Smith’s VIC three times, went brook trout fishing a couple times, and watched Loons on Lake Clear. [I also] photographed fall leaves, did some leaf blowing for several days, caught songbirds when the wind didn’t blow, and caught saw whet owls for four nights. Everyone asks [me] when I get the time to sleep and do all these things. I say, “I nap a lot.” I don’t know if I will get into all these [items in my column] as I must add a few politics this week, which I know you all like to hear just before Election Day.
The nonprofit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve presented its annual awards at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. The award ceremony was part of Adirondack Wild’s 12th Annual Members Meeting.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve conveyed its annual awards to five Adirondack residents on Friday, September 24, 2021, at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek.
The Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award was conveyed to recently retired Adirondack Park Agency natural resource planners and supervisors Walter (Walt) Linck and Richard (Rick) Weber. Both men are residents of Saranac Lake. For the past 20 years, Linck and Weber steered the APA in Ray Brook toward the protection and preservation of the natural resources of the Adirondack Park’s state lands, the Forest Preserve. Their high standards employed to enhance management plans, private land permits and wild land policies across the Park admirably reflected the legacy left by the 20th century’s foremost Adirondack wilderness coalition leader Paul Schaefer (1908-1996), Adirondack Wild’s award states.
North Creek, NY – Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve convenes its 11th Annual Membership Meeting on Friday, September 24, 2021, at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek. The meeting begins with Adirondack Wild’s program report at 1 PM.
The meeting is free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested. Tannery Pond Community Center, located at 228 Main Street, North Creek, requires that face masks must be worn and social distancing practiced during the meeting.
At 1:30 pm the meeting features guest speakers Chad Dawson, an Adirondack Wild board member and former APA Member, and Andrea Hogan (pictured here), current APA Member and Town Supervisor of Johnsburg. Their focus will be on the current state of the Adirondack Park Agency at 50 Years (1971-2021) and reimagining the APA in the Next 50 Years.
The non-profit Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve applauds the announcement by Commissioner Basil Seggos of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation of a pilot reservation system for accessing selected trails from the privately-owned Adirondack Mountain Reserve located off State Rte. 73 in the Town of Keene.
“This pilot program for the upcoming High Peaks Wilderness hiking season is part of a critically needed set of user management tools for both the DEC, the Town of Keene, and the adjacent, cooperating private landowner, the AMR,” said Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson.
“We have been calling for a pilot reservation system for a number of years to reduce Wilderness congestion, restore wilder conditions, and increase both hiker education and public safety. Now, we wish to thank the High Peaks Strategic Advisory Group, the DEC, the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, the Town of Keene, and other stakeholders involved for their study of the problems, and for their upcoming cooperation and commitment to initiate this pilot beginning on May 1.”
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has honored the work of Nicole “Nicky”’ Hylton-Patterson, the executive director of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, a project of the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA). The group presented her with Adirondack Wild’s 2020 Wild Stewardship Award in recognition of her initiating and elevating difficult conversations about race, shared power, and influence in the Adirondack region over the past year. Such conversations are integral to improved and shared stewardship of the Adirondack Park.
Nicky Hylton-Patterson, joined by the ADI’s core team of volunteers, leads this necessary educational work in all its complexity. Adirondack Wild’s award recognizes Ms. Hylton-Patterson’s intelligence, personality, and courage, in addition to her collaborative and educational talents, which have all been brought to bear on anti-racism progression in the Adirondack Park.
“Nicky’s ‘Anti-Racism 101’ and other seminars are breaking down barriers and opening eyes, minds, and hearts. In just one year, cooperators have learned from her how to become accomplices through the consequential work of learning to become an antiracist,” reads Adirondack Wild’s award letter.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has presented its 2020 Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award, the organization’s highest honor, to Kevin Chlad, Director of Government Relations for the Adirondack Council, with offices in Elizabethtown and in Albany.
Adirondack Wild has admired Kevin’s work for a number of years,” said Adirondack Wild’s managing partner David Gibson. “We’ve worked with him as part of a coalition of Adirondack groups and we’ve noticed how he steers citizen advocacy for the Adirondack Park in very productive directions, just as Paul Schaefer used to do. He puts himself in the shoes of others and lets them take the credit to advance Park goals. That was Paul Schaefer’s way of accomplishing great things for the Adirondacks.”
The stress of our sheer numbers on wild lands, other hikers, summit stewards, forest and assistant rangers and local communities and volunteers bordering Routes 73 and 86 this hiking season – and many before this – easily disconnects and untethers us from the historical and philosophical roots of wilderness preservation and management.
None of what gets debated weekly about the High Peaks is truly untethered from these historical roots. As Almanack contributor Ed Zahniser has written, “take courage for your own work for visitor use management in wilderness. It has a history, a history set in concern for the common good, a history stemming from the American people’s long-standing concern to protect some remnant of our public lands in their wild, natural state. “
On this 2020 Columbus Day weekend, peak use of parts of the High Peaks and Giant Mountain Wilderness areas in the Adirondack Park were again exceeded. Now is the time to consider a permit reservation or limited entry system for key points of entry into these wilderness areas as necessary, helpful, practical, and practicable.
Adirondack Wild is concerned with a spate of recent comments made to North Country Public Radio that our NYS DEC is not ready to launch a limited entry or permit reservation system. Of course, DEC is not ready right now. They have not been given any direction from the Governor and the DEC Commissioner to get and be ready. Given such a direction and expectation, DEC could be ready in summer and fall of 2021. DEC is fully capable of studying, gaining public input, designing, and implementing with partners a fair and effective limited entry pilot program next year.
Yesterday’s announcement by landowner John Hendrickson of his intent to sell the remaining 36,000 acres of Whitney Park in Long Lake ought to command the immediate attention of state and private land conservation and planning organizations, says the non-profit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.
The following is commentary from Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve
Recognizing the initial efforts of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group, which issued an interim report last week, Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson had this to say: “An advisory body of diverse stakeholders, all volunteers, has been meeting distantly during the pandemic but nonetheless has reached consensus on recommendations to address some key existing pressure points in the High Peaks Wilderness region. During these tough times, that is an impressive accomplishment.”
However, Adirondack Wild is concerned that the group’s recommendations should be connected to the 335-page, approved 1999 DEC High Peaks Wilderness Complex Unit Management Plan, or UMP. “Almost every one of the advisory group’s interim recommendations, including expanded use of Leave No Trace, Human Waste, Education and Messaging, Trail Inventory and Assessment, Data Collection and Visitor Information, and Limits on Use can be traced back to policies and actions in the adopted Wilderness UMP. Yet the interim report makes no mention of the UMP and that’s a worry,” Gibson added.
Adirondack Wild believes that ignoring the High Peaks Unit Management Plan invites management and user conflicts. “The UMP, which took years of stakeholder efforts and was adopted by the Adirondack Park Agency and DEC, is the coordinating document that ties otherwise disparate management activities together to benefit an enduring Wilderness resource. We know the UMP may need to be updated to meet current challenges. The Advisory Group ought to be devoting part of its time to recommend specific parts of the UMP that require updating,” he continued.
To quote from the DEC’s High Peaks UMP, “without a UMP, wilderness area management can easily become as series of uncoordinated reactions to immediate problems. When this happens, unplanned management actions often cause a shift in focus that is inconsistent and often in conflict with wilderness preservation goals and objectives. A prime objective of wilderness planning is to use environmental and social science to replace nostalgia and politics. Comprehensive planning allows for the exchange of ideas and information before actions, that can have long-term effects, are taken.”
“One concern we have is that the task force has recommended that the Limits On Use pilot study be conducted on private land adjacent to the High Peaks when, in fact, it is the overused eastern High Peaks Wilderness – public land – that is in need of a well-designed pilot program limiting use. The 1999 UMP called for a working group to develop a camping permit system, with any decision to implement based upon public input and UMP amendment. That was never done. A pilot program on private land over the next three years further deflects time and attention away from a critical High Peaks management tool that ought to be tested on public land.”
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not-for-profit, membership organization which acts on behalf of wilderness and wild land values and stewardship. More on the web at www.adirondackwild.org.
Photo: Crowding on Cascade Mountain, eastern High Peaks Wilderness by Dan Plumley/Almanack archive
At its May 2020 board meeting, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve elected Richard L. (Rick) Hoffman of Easton, Washington County, to join its board of directors and Sunita Halasz of Saranac Lake to join its advisory council.
The meeting was conducted via Zoom due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ravens, crows and jays make up the corvid family, arguably the most intelligent of birds. We may honor the bald eagle as our national symbol, but compared to any corvid, the eagle is definitely a bird brain. Ravens in particular, based on their omnivorous adaptability to almost any environment, their fascination with colorful toys and glittery objects, their use of natural tools, and their remarkably diverse repertoire of sounds and vocalizations, appear to be exceptionally intelligent. In fact, ravens remind me of us humans, with no formidable anatomical weapons, but large brains to help us figure out how to get whatever we need.
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