Posts Tagged ‘APA’

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, June 17, 2021

Historic Saranac Lake hosts book talk series

wild ideaJOIN OUR ONLINE BOOK TALKS ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE APA
  • June 18 at 2:00 pm — Rural Indigenousness with author, Melissa Otis. The discussion will be moderated by Iakonikonriiosta, Museum Manager of the Akwesasne Cultural Center.
  • June 30 at 6:00pm — Contested Terrain with author, Phil Terrie. The discussion will be moderated by Ann Norton Greene.
  • July 8 at 6:00pm — 50 Years of the APA: A Wild Idea with author Brad EdmondsonThe discussion will be moderated by Jim Hotaling. Register for the talk and receive a 30% discount to order and read the book in advance.
REGISTER HERE for any or all of these three presentations.
Please consider making a donation to help support these great presentations.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Albany session is winding down

lake champlainI’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.

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Monday, May 17, 2021

ADK applauds visitor use management proposal led by DEC, APA

Crowds of hikers in the high peaks of the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) presented a draft of their joint Visitor Use Management (VUM) and Wildlands Monitoring tool during the State Land Committee Report at the APA Meeting in Ray Brook.

ADK applauds the formation and release of this document, which is seen as a big step towards establishing a visitor use management framework consistent with standards set by the Federal Interagency Visitor Use Management Council (IVUMC), something ADK has routinely advocated for over the years.

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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


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Alone in the woods: A place of hermits and hermit thrushes

Noah RondeauThere’s an abundance of serendipity in these parts, and in our work.

Often, related themes and stories emerge like magic, to make it appear to readers that we had planned them to run side-by-side in our magazine. Sometimes we do that, but others, like in our upcoming May/June issue, the stars just align. And one of the stars of this issue is an old-time hermit named Noah John Rondeau. (The photo of him here is courtesy of the Adirondack Experience museum in Blue Mountain Lake.)

He lived in the same Adirondack woods where hermit thrushes are now returning for spring, and where hikers and backpackers will soon flock to seek refuge from another pandemic summer. If you’ve been following our online series about the struggle to form the Adirondack Park Agency 50 years ago, you’ve had a preview of the history story in which he’ll make an appearance in print. The writer, author Brad Edmondson, presents him as a sort of bridge from the old and truly wild North Country — squatting on public lands in a time when no one really cared — to the modern, regulated park. He died just as the Northway’s fresh pavement was about to deliver a surge of new visitors.

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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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Friday, April 9, 2021

At 50, how are APA and DEC Performing?

Report of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century April 1990In the just-approved 2021-22 state budget is a $3 billion-dollar environmental bond act, subject to voter approval in November 2022. If approved, it may make a small dent in the $60+ billion needed statewide to upgrade our state’s old water and sewage treatment systems. If approved, it may help to do even more than we are doing today to prepare and make more resilient New Yorkers and their villages, towns, counties and cities for the more frequent and more severe weather events that will continue during a warming climate. And it may help to create more incentives to protect intact forests in private ownership to offset our carbon emissions.

If approved, maybe a tiny amount, relatively speaking, perhaps as little as a few hundreds of thousands of dollars from the $3 billion could go towards an independent evaluation of how well the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation are fulfilling their respective, but also overlapping missions.

This also being the 50th anniversary of the Adirondack Park Agency, the question should be asked: has there ever been an evaluation of the agency’s current and past performance visa vi its legislated responsibilities and jurisdiction? The answer is a qualified no.

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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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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?