A lot of people in New York State, including the governor, are upset that Iowa Pacific Holdings is storing empty tank cars on tracks in the Adirondacks. But what, if anything, can be done about it?
Iowa Pacific says that railroads are overseen by the federal government and so the state doesn’t have legal grounds to stop the storage.
But Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, argues that storing rail cars has nothing to do with rail transportation and so the state can assert jurisdiction. And he believes the state can take steps now to force Iowa Pacific to remove the cars. » Continue Reading.
Some 25 more out-of-service oil tanker railcars were brought through North River, alongside the Hudson River in the Town of Johnsburg, Warren County en route to little used railroad track in Essex County Monday evening. This is the second shipment of out-of-service oil tanker cars delivered to the Adirondack Park. More than 50 tankers have arrived, some parked across ‘forever wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve land. The cars are being brought for indefinite storage by Iowa Pacific Holdings.
Despite strongly worded statements of opposition to this activity by Governor Andrew Cuomo, neither the Adirondack Park Agency nor Department of Environmental Conservation have acted. » Continue Reading.
Not everyone who visits Boreas Ponds goes there to paddle. Some people just want to see the ponds and walk in the woods. But since the state has yet to create or mark any trails, what are hikers to do once they get there?
Last Sunday, my girlfriend Carol and I scouted out the old logging roads in the vicinity in the ponds. The next day I went back alone and hiked a loop around the ponds with side trips to White Lily Pond and the headwater pond of the Boreas River.
I rode my mountain bike to the dam on Boreas Ponds, as allowed under the interim-access plan, so I’ll use that as my starting point in the description of my itinerary. If you start your hike from the parking area on Gulf Brook Road, you’ll need to add 3.6 miles to the distances.
In early June, I enjoyed one of my most memorable canoe trips in the Adirondacks: I spent the morning paddling around lovely Boreas Ponds, taking in breathtaking views of the High Peaks.
I had the place all to myself. This might seem surprising, given that the state had only recently purchased Boreas Ponds from the Nature Conservancy. Usually, such a magnificent acquisition to the Forest Preserve will attract curiosity seekers. Yes, it was a weekday, but my guess is that the explanation lies in the difficulty of getting there — especially with a canoe. » Continue Reading.
A draft amendment to the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest Unit Management Plan and a draft Unit Management Plan for the Horicon Boat Launch (known popularly as the Schroon Lake Boat Launch) are now available for public review and comment.
Both the draft UMP for the Horicon Boat Launch and the draft UMP amendment for the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest contain proposed management actions that are located within the Schroon Recreational River Area. Pursuant to Part 666 of Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York -also known as the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers regulations – a public hearing is required. » Continue Reading.
I noticed this in the June 29 edition of the Environmental Notice Bulletin, a weekly publication of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation:
“Newcomb to Minerva Multi-Use Trail; Application ID 5-1599-00019/00001; Permit(s) Applied for: Article 15 Title 27 Wild, Scenic & Recreational Rivers; Project is Located: Newcomb, Essex County;
Project Description: The Department of Environmental Conservation proposes to construct a multi-use recreational trail within one-half (1/2) mile of the Boreas River, which is designated as a Scenic River by Environmental Conservation Law Title 27, Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Systems. The total acreage of the trail within the River corridor is approximately 1.1 acres, or approximately one (1) mile of trail, located within the 92,000-acre Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.”
The notice is incomplete and misleading. Here we have the DEC applying for a permit from itself to build a 9-12 foot snowmobile route from Newcomb to Minerva through undeveloped forest preserve, a route which will intersect the Boreas River just upstream of the Route 28N bridge. At this location, the Boreas is a designated Scenic River under the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. The DEC’s route requires a new steel bridge over the river here to safely accommodate two-way snowmobile traffic. The route also requires cutting 1,676 trees on the Forest Preserve from the river to private land in Minerva. Cutting across private lands will require landowner agreements which may or may not be in hand or forthcoming.
An incomplete, misleading notice is not the greatest problem – the project is illegal. » Continue Reading.
My first reaction to the announcement of the state’s acquisition of magnificent Boreas Ponds for the Forest Preserve is to celebrate, and to recall how long the Adirondack Nature Conservancy has owned this 21,000 acre tract – the last of the big Finch Pruyn tracts which the state committed to purchase. It was April 2007 when Finch Pruyn employees, then Governor Spitzer, and the rest of the world learned that Finch was selling everything – all 161,000 acres – to the Conservancy, with help from the Open Space Institute. And in the same announcement, that the mill in Glens Falls would continue operations and employment.
This news that April day nine years ago was breathtaking. Adirondack Wild’s mentor Paul Schaefer had dreamed and worked for such a result from the early 1960s until his death in 1996. That was the significance of the Finch forests even fifty years ago. George Davis of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks (1968-70) put Boreas Ponds on the cover of the Commission’s final report. » Continue Reading.
The Iowa-Pacific rail company took state officials and environmental activists by surprise in July when it unveiled a plan to store hundreds of drained oil-tanker cars on its tracks near Tahawus on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness.
Ed Ellis, the president of Iowa Pacific, says revenue from storing the cars will help keep afloat its tourist train, the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, which has been losing money. Critics contend Iowa Pacific is creating a quasi-junkyard in the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
The contradictory, disconnected, segmented, illegal and impractical ways that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (with full cooperation from the Adirondack Park Agency so far and support from Governor Andrew Cuomo) is going about the business of planning and building community connector snowmobile routes in the Adirondack Park continues apace. Work planning for the just approved community connector between Newcomb and Minerva, for example, will prove very interesting indeed and will be challenged in every sense of that word. » Continue Reading.
A new 40-mile snowmobile thoroughfare will be built by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), mostly on “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands between the towns of Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson. Construction of the 9 to 11 feet wide route, which was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in July, is expected to begin immediately. » Continue Reading.
Owners of the Saratoga-North Creek Railway have big plans for a new use of the railroad line from North Creek into the High Peaks.
Last week, company President Ed Ellis made a presentation to the Warren County Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee about the company’s new plans. Ellis sees an exciting business opportunity for his rail lines with low traffic in the long-term storage of hundreds of oil-soaked tanker cars. » Continue Reading.
Like the Roman god Janus, the Boreas River has two faces. The lower part, from Lester Dam to its confluence with the Hudson, has some of the most exciting and difficult whitewater in the Adirondacks. During the spring runoff, when water levels are high, it provides a wild ride through Class 3 and 4 rapids while it makes its way to the Hudson.
But that’s not my destination for today. Instead, I’m headed for the Boreas’s other face: Lester Flow, the tranquil quietwater section that flows downstream of Cheney Pond. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Council is proposing a huge expansion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area once the state acquires lands formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company.
Under the council’s plan, the state would combine the High Peaks and Dix Mountain Wilderness Areas as well as twenty-three thousand acres of former Finch lands. If this were done, the High Peaks Wilderness—already the largest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park—would grow to 272,000 acres from 204,000 acres.
Council spokesman John Sheehan said enlarging the High Peaks Wilderness would simplify the state’s management and planning for the popular region.
The proposal also would require the state to close a long dirt road that leads to Boreas Ponds, which are among the former Finch holdings that the state intends purchase over the next five years. » Continue Reading.
Boreas Ponds lives up to expectations, but getting there is not easy, even by car. It would be much harder if the state decides to close the seven-and-a-half mile dirt road that leads to the mile-long lake, which affords stupendous views of the High Peaks.
This Sunday I visited Boreas Ponds for the first time as part of the band of reporters accompanying Governor Andrew Cuomo and other state officials. Boreas Ponds is not open to the public now, but it will be sometime in the next five years.
The state intends to buy Boreas Ponds and the surrounding timberlands—some twenty-two thousand acres in all—from the Nature Conservancy in the coming years. All told, the state will buy sixty-nine thousand acres from the conservancy, nearly all of it former Finch Pruyn land. » Continue Reading.
A June 14 decision by the federal Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Director of Proceedings awarding common carrier status to the Saratoga and North Creek Railway (SNCR), owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings, for freight operations on the 30-mile Tahawus industrial rail spur was appealed June 25 to the full Board by Charles C. Morrison, Project Coordinator for the Adirondack Committee, Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club and Samuel H. Sage, President and Senior Scientist of the Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF). » Continue Reading.
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