On January 20, 2023, Protect the Adirondacks filed a lawsuit challenging the reconstruction by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of a previously closed and reclaimed road in the High Peaks Wilderness Complex. DEC’s road construction activity in the High Peaks violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (Master Plan) which prohibits roads in Wilderness areas.
Posts Tagged ‘DEC’
Governor Kathy Hochul has signed the “30:30 by 2030” state legislation whose objective is, in line with national goals, to bring New York State’s percentage of protected lands and waters up to 30 percent by 2030.
The eminent, late biologist and ecologist E.O. Wilson urged that the nations of the world protect 50% of the lands, freshwaters and oceans under their jurisdiction in order to slow the loss of habitats and species dependent on them, including humans whose livelihoods completely depend on the health of fisheries, forest products and other natural ecosystems. At the same time, E.O. Wilson’s goal would accelerate carbon sequestration within the rich, but shrinking carbon sinks of coastal eelgrass beds, mangrove swamps, ocean surfaces and inland forests. Habitat protection and climate mitigation are inextricably linked, he taught us.
The Adirondack Park Agency gave its stamp of approval for an RV campground in the town of Mayfield at is monthly meeting last week. It also sent out to public comment plans for an expanded boat launch and a beach closure in Broadalbin, about seven miles from where the campground is planned.
The two projects brought up some interesting questions about the park’s boundary, which does not include the southern tip of Great Sacandaga Lake. You can read more about the projects and the Blue Line discussion here.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for development of a “Visitor Use Management” Plan for the Central High Peaks Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park and the Kaaterskill Clove/Route 23A corridor of the Catskill Park. The RFP marks a major step forward in DEC’s efforts to evaluate and address a series of impacts to the natural resources, the visitor experience, and public safety due to high recreational use in these two popular destinations on the Forest Preserve.
In anticipation of a busy hiking season, state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos took a trip up to the Adirondacks last week to recap all the visitor management initiatives DEC and partners have implemented.
“This is paradise,” Seggos said. “This is New York’s Yellowstone, and New Yorkers have discovered that.”
The HABs keep on happening on Lake George. Shortly after we reported on an early-October harmful algal bloom on Lake George, the state Department of Environmental Conservation updated its useful map of HABs across the state. And state officials confirmed yet more HABs on Lake George on Nov. 8-11.
Harmful algal blooms – or HABs – are formations of cyanobacteria, which can rise to the water’s surface under the right conditions. While HABs have the potential to turn toxic, toxins have not been detected in the Lake George HABs. The HABs on Lake George continued in the Harris Bay area and in November the confirmed blooms included some around Cotton near Bolton Landing, according to the DEC map.
Last week, we saw news that Governor Kathy Hochul instructed state agencies to develop and submit plans for greater transparency. This is good news and welcome news. I’ve watched over the decades as state agencies have restricted more and more of what was once basic and easily accessible public information.
The administration of former Governor Andrew Cuomo was the worst from a public information standpoint, and state agencies, which were often managed by his political appointees in the image and temperament of the former Governor, shared the former Governor’s desire to control all public information. Under Cuomo, state agencies required Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for just about everything, and then they dragged out the response time for these requests like no other.
DEC’s harmful algal bloom (HABs) notification season has begun. HABs notifications will be updated through the fall using an online reporting and notification system dubbed NYHABS. The system includes an interactive map that shows reports of freshwater HABs, as well as a public reporting system. Instructions on how to use NYHABS are on DEC’s HABs notification page.
Know it: If you see a HAB, please use the reporting form to submit a report to NYHABS.
Avoid it: Because waterbodies may have HABs that have not been reported to DEC, we recommend avoiding contact with floating mats, scums and discolored water.
Report it: If you, your family, or pet have been in contact with a HAB, please rinse with clean water and report any symptoms to your local health department.
By Brian Wells
This is a story that should have had a happy ending.
A story of five Adirondack towns working with state government and environmental non-profits on an agreement to expand the taxpayer-owned Forest Preserve, improve public recreation and bring new economic growth to the area.
The Community Connector Trails agreement would have helped turn the page on decades of Adirondack Region job losses brought on by industry disinvestment and Forest Preserve expansion, and established a model for the type of common-sense, compromise solutions needed for many problems confronting the Adirondack Park.
Instead, it’s a sad story of misplaced trust and lost opportunity, ending with the towns and the people who live there getting left out in the cold.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced the finalization of the Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Hinckley Reservoir Day Use Area. The DEC intends to transform the Hinckley Reservoir Day Use Area into a public campground, available for use in the southwestern Adirondacks.
The campground will be located on the southern shore of the Hinckley Reservoir in Herkimer County, and will include a beach, woods, a pavilion, a spacious lawn, a picnic area and a volleyball court. The UMP will call for the construction of 150 campsites, a boat launch, and miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as access and loop roads, and a comfort station.
“Hinckley Reservoir Day Use Area is already a popular spot providing access to outdoor recreation for many visitors,” said Randall C. Young, Region 6 Regional Director. “Enhancing the facilities at this location will increase opportunities for recreation at Hinckley and expand the number of people who can enjoy this beautiful location.”
Read more about the plans to enhance recreation at Hinckley Reservoir Day Use Area on DEC’s website.
I BIRD NY is one of the DEC’s many programs with the purpose of enabling entertaining ways to get the public to engage in nature, and outdoor activities. Bird watching is a generally low cost hobby and a great excuse to get the family together. Two levels of challenges provide kids experienced birders to take part in identifying birds, and to learn about bird life and offer a chance to win some new equipment.
To take part in the youth challenge (open to anyone 16 years of age or younger) check out the following link: I Bird NY Beginner’s Birding Challenge (PDF).
To complete the challenge, just ID 10 common NY species of birds, and submit the challenge sheet to the DEC either via mail or email. All participants will receive a certificate of participation and be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win birding accessories.
In addition to the Beginner’s Birding Challenge, DEC is offering the I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge (PDF). To complete the experienced birder challenge, birders of any age must identify at least 10 different bird species found across New York State. All participants in this challenge will also receive a certificate of participation and be entered into a drawing for birding accessories.
“I encourage all birders to contribute observations of breeding birds to the Atlas by creating a free eBird account,” said Julie Hart, Breeding Bird Atlas project coordinator for the Natural Heritage Program. “By doing so, birders will increase the value of their observations for conservation. The Breeding Bird Atlas is a valuable tool to help protect birds and their habitat.”
The Adirondack Forest Preserve is celebrated as one of the world’s best-protected wilderness reserves, but of course this is New York State, not the distant, untrodden surface of Venus; with precious few exceptions all of the lands that are now “forever wild” were once privately owned, and many parcels were developed to one degree or another before the state acquired them for the Forest Preserve. If you’ve enjoyed any of the Adirondack Park’s “blockbuster” purchases over the last quarter-century, such as Little Tupper Lake, Round Lake, the Essex Chain of Lakes, Boreas Ponds, or Madawaska Flow, you have explored land that was once populated by dozens of modest hunting camps.
I was an early visitor at all of these properties, exploring their secrets while the ink was still wet on the deeds. In 1998, just weeks after the “William C. Whitney Area” opened to the public, I found a small cabin on the north shore of Little Tupper Lake that even DEC staff didn’t seem to know about. At Madawaska Flow in 2004 and Round Lake in 2006, I ventured into recently abandoned cabins that stood on expired leases, quietly awaiting their demolition. These structures reminded me that what I had come to explore as “wilderness” had been perceived and used as something slightly different a few years earlier.
Because of these experiences, as well as my interest in Adirondack history, I have never been deluded into thinking our wilderness is a people-less place; it may be the natural landscape that attracts me and fills my daydreams, but I am also familiar with (and fascinated by) the human story that haunts the Forest Preserve.
This article concludes the series examining the ideas in the final report of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Group (HPAG) that provides ideas for building a new and improved management program for the High Peaks Wilderness Complex (HPWC). This article focuses on the realities of turning the ideas in the HPAG report, many of which have been around for years or are already in the works, into on-the-ground realities in the management of the HPWC. This piece looks at how to evaluate the success of the ideas enumerated in this report through adoption and implementation of leading ideas in the short-term and long-term.
The report was greeted warmly by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement “I commend the efforts of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group in developing this important report which provides solid recommendations to further enhance our ongoing efforts to manage use and protect our irreplaceable natural treasures.… With the growing uptick in visitors to the High Peaks region, compounded this past summer by New Yorkers desperate to get outside as a respite from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical that DEC and our partners work together to protect these irreplaceable lands for future generations by promoting sustainable recreation, supporting local communities, and improving the visitor experience, and we look forward to working with all partners to continue and expand our ongoing efforts.”
In 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.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that hunter education courses will be resuming their in-person format on April 1. The DEC will also continue to offer online hunter education courses.
In-person courses will be free and are taught by volunteer Hunter Education Program instructors. You may take a class in hunting, bowhunting, trapping, and waterfowl education. Registration is required for both online and in-person courses, and the in-person courses require mandatory homework which must be completed prior to the course.
For more information, or to register for a HEP course, visit the Hunter Education Program page on DEC’s website.
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