The Adirondack Land Trust has announced that the F. M. Kirby Foundation has made a $2 million commitment to help fund perpetual care of working farms and forests under conservation easements. The foundation established the Fred M. and Walker D. Kirby Land Stewardship Endowment to provide and inspire greater support for stewardship in land conservation.
“Purchase of land, or protection by voluntary agreement with a private landowner, is just the beginning of conservation work,” president of the F. M. Kirby Foundation S. Dillard Kirby said in announcing the grant to the press.» Continue Reading.
The Pinnacle, the Bolton landmark visible from Lake George and the Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve, may be protected from development after all. More than five years after Ernest Oberer first proposed building houses on the ridgeline, the Lake George Land Conservancy intends to purchase the property, said Jamie Brown, the Conservancy’s new executive director. » Continue Reading.
National Grid has set aside five acres in Queensbury as a conservation easement for the rare Karner blue and frosted elfin butterflies.
The property is expected to support these butterflies by providing habitat for breeding, feeding, sheltering and range expansion. The land will serve as a dedicated butterfly preserve adjacent to an existing electric transmission line right-of-way owned and operated by National Grid, near Upper Sherman Avenue. » Continue Reading.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has opened new roads and facilities on nearly 25,000 acres of forest preserve and conservation easement lands in the Adirondacks.
New roads and facilities will allow motor vehicles to access the 18,000-acre Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands in Franklin County using the 3.3-mile Mountain Pond Road, and the 1,600-acre public use area of the Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands in Hamilton County using the 2.6 miles of O’Neil Flow Road and Barker Pond Road. In the Essex Chain Lakes Complex gates have been opened to allow increased access to Camp Six Road in Newcomb, which will allow access for hunting, along with limited camping at designated primitive tent sites. » Continue Reading.
It’s state budget time, and the members of regional advisory committees on open space conservation from the Adirondacks to Niagara and Long Island will be watching that fraction of one percent of the state budget called the Environmental Protection Fund. Will the EPF continue to recover from the recessionary influenza it caught in 2009?
New York State’s extraordinary three million acre Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and its extensive State Park and Historic area system (330,000 acres) outside of these Parks are two big reasons why the state has been a national leader in conserving forests and open space since the 19th century.
Another is nearly million acres conserved through the use of conservation easements on private lands. The EPF and spending from the 1996 $1.75 billion Clean Water/Air Bond Act (expended years ago) has funded this growth: 85% growth in conservation easements since 1992, 5% growth in the Forest Preserve during that time span. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is preparing a recreation management plan (RMP) for the 3,200-acre Sacandaga West Conservation Easement lands in Fulton County.
Public involvement is sought in the development of the recreation management plan. DEC is seeking information and ideas that will lead to clearly stated goals and objectives for the care and stewardship of these lands. Everyone with an interest in the area is encouraged to participate in the planning process by providing information and suggestions for its management. » Continue Reading.
Over the past two decades, the state has purchased conservation easements on some 750,000 acres in the Adirondack Park. These timberlands are protected from development, and many of them are open to the public for recreation.
In theory, at least. In reality, most visitors to the Adirondacks seldom, if ever, set foot on easement lands. Partly, that’s because they don’t know where they can go or what they can do. The cliffs on Silver Lake Mountain are an exception.
The state purchased easements on the cliffs as part of a massive deal with International Paper in 2004 that preserved some 260,000 acres. Now owned by Lyme Timber, the cliffs were opened to the public—i.e., rock climbers—in 2009. » Continue Reading.
In the Adirondacks, we often point with pride to the extraordinary oddness of the Adirondack Park. From Manhattan’s Central Park to California’s Yosemite, Americans have gotten used to parks with neat boundaries enclosing a domain wholly owned by the people. Because the land within the boundary is public and that outside private, when you walk or drive across that boundary, you’ve gone from one sort of place to another. You have certain expectations outside that boundary, which are different from those you have inside.
But as we like to say up here, the Adirondack Park is a park like no other. Aside from invoking this peculiarity as an interesting factoid, however, what do we do with it? What defines this Park? Is it something other than a collection of all the acres (almost 6 million of them, roughly half in the public Forest Preserve and half in private hands) inside a blue line on a map of New York State? » Continue Reading.
There has been some good writing on forestry issues in the Adirondack Park in the media recently, stimulated by the APA’s proposed, controversial General Permit for clear-cut logging. Adirondack Wild applauds the discussion and encourages more of it.
The APA held a stakeholder meeting recently of Agency staff, forest landowners and managers, scientists, and environmental groups where a conversation ensued about the difficulties that face forests and forest managers today in the Adirondack Park (and beyond). The dialogue needed to happen, and it should continue, but the General Permit (GP) does more than just get in the way of that discussion. It does little to solve the problems discussed, and cuts out the public’s involvement in these matters and, even worse, it subjects forest landowners who might apply for the GP to a perception of unfair dealings with the Agency in order to expedite the clear-cutting of their lands. That’s may be an unfair characterization, but that is the public’s perception. All in all, this General Permit is a just a bad idea. » Continue Reading.
The new draft General Permit for clearcutting being readied for approval this week by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is a flawed document for a number of reasons. It’s simply bad public policy, bad legal work done in the rush to get it approved, bad public process as it willfully ignores overwhelming public sentiment, and bad science as it seeks to dramatically expand the amount of clearcutting in heavily cut forests.
All of this, of course, will lead to a bad outcome for the APA and for the Adirondack Park.
But, there’s a better way. The APA could slow down this train. It should postpone action on the draft General Permit or deny it outright and then begin a better process towards a better outcome. The APA should fully investigate the legitimate issues facing large-scale forest managers across the Adirondacks. It’s important for the Adirondack Park to keep our working forests working well. » Continue Reading.
The Open Space Institute has announced that a private landowner has donated a conservation easement that will protect a nearly 1,400-acre forest in the northeast corner of the Adirondack Park. The property borders the western shore of Butternut Pond and is bisected by several brooks, most of which feed into Auger Lake, which in turn empties into the Ausable River and eventually into Lake Champlain.
The parcel, a largely wooded Essex County tract owned by the Johanson family, buffers state lands, including Pokamoonshine Mountain, and sits within the viewshed of the historic firetower on the summit of Pokamoonshine, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Land Trust has announced that it sold to a private buyer a 340-acre parcel for $1.3 million in the towns of Webb and Long Lake. As part of the transaction, the property, which borders the 50,000-acre Pigeon Lake Wilderness, is now protected by a conservation easement, a legally-binding, permanent land preservation agreement.
Known as the “Mays Pond tract” and offered for sale on the open market through real estate broker LandVest, the property includes a rustic cabin and will continue to be used as a private wilderness retreat, as it has for more than 70 years. » Continue Reading.
Conservation easements are real property arrangements designed for the insider. Specialists predominate before and after an easement is consummated in private, including the negotiators to the terms of the easement (the seller, donor, buyer, or grantor and grantee and their lawyers), the appraiser of the easement’s value, and an ecological specialist who conducts baseline surveys of the land in question. There is rarely, if ever, a public meeting to discuss the details of the easement. The public may learn about easements through after the fact press releases, but their specific provisions and public benefits may be unclear for years. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) will be holding the 4th Annual Adirondack Park Snowmobile Trail Conference at the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake on Sunday, April 10th From 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
This year conference will focus on the several new Unit Management Plans (UMP) that have been approved and those in the works. Once approved by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), plans for trail improvements can begin. Additional topics will be the status of Adirondack easements, Recreation Plans, and the new Trail Stewards program. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has issued its 2010 Annual Report. The report summarizes yearly accomplishments and includes links to key documents such as the Citizen Guide, Jurisdictional Form, telecommunication sites, broadband coverage and Unit Management Plans. In addition, embedded in this year’s report is a link to the 2010 Agency Board Highlights. The Board Highlights link details Board activity, projects approved and presentations received. The Annual Report is available from the Agency’s website [pdf]. Information about the 2009 Annual Report can be found here. During 2010, the Administration Division worked to meet budget mandates by reducing the work force. This was accomplished in part through retirements and the closure of both the Visitor Interpretive Centers.
The Economic Services Division participated in the review and approval of 42 projects which are believed to have retained or created jobs in the Park. In addition, staff coordinated with the Town of Brighton on reuse opportunities for the former Camp Gabriels prison site and provided guidance on the Lake Champlain Bridge project which expedited project approval.
Regulatory Programs staff issued 392 permits and processed 167 pre-application requests. 59 economic development and 28 cellular projects were approved. In addition, 73 general permits were issued. APA staff responded to the sudden closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge by issuing permits for bridge demolition, the development of a temporary ferry and the construction of the new tied-arch bridge. Regulatory Program staff helped develop new general permit applications for a change in use for existing commercial, public/semi-public or industrial buildings and the installation of new or replacement cellular equipment.
Planning staff worked with local governments such as the Towns of Westport and Tupper Lake which sought successfully sought planning map amendments. Planning staff also worked with the Towns of Crown Point, Essex and Bellmont on local planning and mapping initiatives. Staff prepared base maps for the Hamlets 3 Smart Growth project and assisted in the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between the APA and the Department of EEnvironmental Conservation (DEC) that defines a process for review of projects on lands in which the State owns a conservation easement.
Local Government Services staff responded to 570 inquiries from local officials on land use issues and participated in twenty-six meetings with town officials providing information on Agency jurisdiction and land use law. In addition, staff reviewed 99 variances from towns with approved local land use programs.
State land staff prepared four State land classification packages which were approved by the Governor in 2010. Actions included were the creation of a new Little Moose Mountain Wilderness Area, establishment of a new Intensive Use Camping Area in the Moose River Plains, and the reclassification of the fire towers on Hurricane and St. Regis Mountain to Historic. Staff also provided advice on five new unit management plans which were determined compliant with the SLMP by the Agency Board.
Resource Analysis and Scientific Services staff completed 271 wetland delineations, advised on 242 wetland jurisdictional determinations and evaluated 81 deep hole test pits. Staff conducted educational workshops on stormwater management and the impacts of invasive species.
Regulatory revision was a significant focus for Legal staff. During the year, staff implemented regulatory revisions related to boathouses. The Legal Division also continued to work on advancing three bills in the legislature: 1) to create a community housing incentive; 2) to create a local planning grant program; and 3) to streamline the Agency’s permit process and enable development rights transfer. Legal staff were also responsible for executing Executive Order 25, which required State agencies to conduct a review of their rules and regulations.
The Jurisdictional Inquiry Office wrote 856 jurisdictional determinations, (560 non-jurisdictional and 186 jurisdictional) handled 510 referrals from other agencies and answered nearly 4,820 general inquiry phone calls. The average response time for jurisdictional determinations was 16 days. In addition, staff processed 233 Freedom of Information requests.
Enforcement staff opened 380 cases and successfully closed 372 cases, including 189 signed settlement agreements and 112 cases closed with no violations. Ongoing outreach with code enforcement and local government officials has dramatically reduced the number of subdivision violations. In 2010, of the 98 subdivisions undertaken within the Park, only one resulted in a violation.
The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit www.apa.state.ny.us.
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