Posts Tagged ‘DEC’

Sunday, October 24, 2010

DEC Submits Reg for New Wood Boilers

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the submission of a regulation to the state Environmental Board for consideration at its October 25 meeting that will set stringent performance standards for new outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) sold in New York State. If approved, the regulation would go into effect 30 days after its filing with the state Secretary of State. The stricter guidelines are designed to ensure that new OWBs burn at least 90% cleaner than older models.

“This is a positive and necessary step in our goal to improve air quality in New York State and protect the health of our residents,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said before being fired by New York Governor David Paterson, explaining that DEC limited an earlier proposal in response to comments received during an extensive public outreach effort. “DEC staff carefully reviewed and took into account all the concerns that were expressed during the rulemaking process and has developed this regulation to ensure that new outdoor wood boilers are cleaner and that existing boilers have a reduced impact on air quality.”

The regulation before the Environmental Board also includes fuel restrictions and stack height standards for existing as well as new OWBs which will reduce the impact of their emission plumes on neighboring property owners. New OWBs will be required to be set back a minimum of 100 feet from neighboring properties. A provision in an earlier proposal to phase out the use of older OWBs has been removed and will be addressed through a new public stakeholder process to develop a revised regulatory framework to address concerns of residents impacted by the operation of such units.

The rule shortens the period when OWBs cannot be used in the Northern Heating Zone – which includes all counties north and west of Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties — to the period from June 1 through August 31. The seasonal restriction for all other areas of the state will run from May 15 to September 30.

The text of the final rule before the Environmental Board is available at on the DEC website. The complete rule package will be available on the DEC website after the Environmental Board meets on October 25.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

DEC Re-Opens More Forest Preserve Roads

Four additional Forest Preserve roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season.

Hamilton County and the Towns of Inlet and Indian Lake had partnered with DEC earlier to reopen and maintain roads and nearby recreational facilities in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest including Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge, and Rock Dam Road.

“Big game hunting brings much needed economic activity to Hamilton County during the fall,” said William Farber, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors. “We
appreciate DEC’s willingness to work with us to reopen the roads in the Moose River Plains. “Commissioner Grannis deserves praise for his determination to open the roads despite the significant reduction in resources DEC has for maintaining roads and other recreational facilities in the Adirondacks,” he said.

DEC also utilized $250,000 of Environmental Protection Fund monies to replace
inadequate culverts on the main Moose River Plains Road with bridges over Sumner Stream and Bradley Brook this past summer. This is continuation of major rehabilitation work in the Moose River Plains over the past several years. Over one million dollars has been invested in roadway improvements based on the findings of an engineering study of the Moose River Plains road system.

The additional newly reopened roads include:

Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Horicon, Warren County. The Town of Horicon Highway Department provided assistance with grading and fill
material and the Town will continue to provide assistance with garbage removal, cleanup and inspection for the remainder of the year.

Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River
Recreation Area) in the Lake George Wild Forest in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County. The South Warren Snowmobile Club covered the cost of several new culverts to
replace ones that had failed and been crushed under the road. DEC staff is undertaking the work to replace the culverts and to provide fill and grade the road, with completion expected by this weekend.

Indian Lake Road and Otter Brook Road (between the Otter Brook Bridge and the Otter
Brook Gate) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest in the Town of Inlet, Hamilton County opened last week. The highway departments from Hamilton County and the towns of Indian Lake and Inlet replaced culverts, filled holes and graded the road.

Barry Hutchins, Supervisor of the Town of Indian Lake, praised DEC saying that “The Town looks forward to continuing the great working relationship we have developed with DEC and make the Moose River Plains a premiere Adirondack recreational destination for campers, hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, mountain bikers and others.”

The Adirondack Almanack monitors and reports road and trail closings, along with other backcountry conditions, in its weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report.

Photo: The new Sumner Stream crossing on the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest (courtesy DEC). Additional photos of work done to the road are available online.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Breaking: DEC Defending Paddlers’ Rights

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways.

In a letter to the landowners, DEC asks them to remove cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras meant to deter the public from using the canoe route. If they fail to comply, the department warns, the matter could be referred to the state attorney general for legal action.

Christopher Amato, DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources, wrote the letter in September after negotiations with the owners failed to reach an agreement.

“The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” Amato said in the letter, dated September 24.

Amato told the Adirondack Explorer that DEC won’t take action right away. He hopes that the owners—the Brandreth Park Association and its affiliate, the Friends of Thayer Lake—will reconsider their position over the winter. Spokesmen for the owners declined to comment.

The Explorer will carry a full report in its November/December issue. The story is online now and can be read here.

The Explorer touched off the dispute last year by publishing my account of a canoe trip from Little Tupper Lake to Lake Lila. Instead of portaging around private land, I paddled down the three waterways. After that article appeared, the Sierra Club asked DEC to force the landowners to remove a cable and no-trespassing signs along the route. The landowners, however, put up a second cable and installed motion-activated cameras.

DEC contends that the public has a common-law right to paddle the waterways. The owners argue that the common law applies only to water bodies that have a history of commercial use (and the three waterways in question do not).

If the landowners stick to their guns, it’s likely that the dispute will end up in the courts.

Past posts to the Almanack on this topic, both by Mary Thill and myself, have generated much discussion. It will be interesting to see what readers on both sides of the debate have to say about this latest development.

Illustrations: Phil Brown on Shingle Shanty Brook by Susan Bibeau; a map of the Lila Traverse is online.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Friday, October 15, 2010

DEC Drops Plan to End Lake George Garbage Collection

When campers return to the New York State-owned Lake George Islands next spring, the garbage barges will be there to remove trash from three transfer stations.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis has agreed to to raise camping fees by $3 per night to cover the costs of garbage collection, which the DEC had announced that it would suspend because of budget cuts.

The alternative to the proposed “Carry In – Carry Out” policy was submitted to DEC officials by state legislators, municipal officials and lake protection organizations at a meeting in Bolton Landing on September 17.

“The decision is based on discussions and feedback from local Lake George officials and organizations, area state legislators and campers,” said David Winchell, a regional spokesman for DEC.

“Clearly, the DEC got the message. The message from around the lake was the same, whether campers or environmental groups or local or state government officials, everybody asked that the state deal with this problem not by weakening a successful program, but rather by increasing fees. The camping public is supportive of higher fees to maintain a level of service that will protect both the lake and the treasured Lake George island camping experience. Many families have been using these islands for generations” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George.

The $3 surcharge, which will raise the cost of a camping permit to $28 for New York State residents, will generate at least $90,000 in new revenues, enough to cover the costs of garbage collection, said State Senator Betty Little.

“The goal is to keep these sites clean, to ensure garbage doesn’t end up in the water and to prevent surrounding municipal trash systems from being overwhelmed,” said Little.

According to David Winchell, the surcharge will be collected by Reserve America, which administers public campsite reservation systems.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Onion River Lesson: DEC Needs Our Help

Onion River by Phil BrownPeople who oppose the state’s acquisition of land in the Adirondacks often complain that the state can’t manage the forest it already owns. So, the thinking goes, why buy more?

That argument always struck me as risible. Forests can manage quite well without our help. They did so for eons before homo sapiens existed.

I assume, then, the critics mean that the state has done a less-than-superb job creating and maintaining recreational facilities on the public Forest Preserve—trails, parking lots, signs, and the like. In this, they have a point. It was driven home to me last weekend when I paddled the little-known Onion River.
» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adirondack 46er Trailmaster Wins DEC Award

Len Grubbs, a Trailmaster with the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, has received the Adirondack Stewardship Award from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), for his two decades and thousands of hours of time working on trails, organizing volunteers and planning trail work.

DEC Region 5 Director Betsy Lowe presented the award to Grubbs on Oct. 2 at the fall business meeting of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers at the Keene Central School in Keene Valley. The Adirondack Forty-Sixers Inc. consists of hikers who have climbed the summits of the 46 major peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.

“Stewardship is one of our most important tools in managing and preserving the beautiful lands and waters of the Adirondacks,” Director Lowe said. “It is truly gratifying to recognize Len Grubbs for the tremendous contributions he has made to protecting Forest Preserve lands, while ensuring the comfort and safety of hikers.”

The Adirondack Stewardship Award is presented by DEC to groups or individuals who demonstrate outstanding stewardship to the natural resources of the Adirondack Park.

DEC presented a certificate to Grubbs in recognition of his “two decades and thousands of hours of hard work maintaining trails and facilities on the Adirondack Forest Preserve, coordinating the work of others to the benefit and safety of those that use the trails, and conserving the natural resources of the Adirondacks.”

Grubbs began maintaining trails in 1989 as a volunteer with the Adirondack Forty-Sixers. In 1994, he became co-trailmaster a position he has held for 15 years, the longest anyone has held the post in the history of the group.

Grubbs has a total of 2,336 hours of service, which is 500 hours more than other “46er,” — and that does not include the time spent planning work, holding meetings, and writing reports. He has performed a wide array tasks, including: clearing blowdown, hardening trails, seeding summits, installing erosion control devices and building, repairing and moving lean-tos, foot bridges and pit privies. He also has spent time scouting and refurbishing “herd paths” on the trailless peaks.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Draft Statewide Trails Plan Available for Review

State Parks has released a draft New York Statewide Trails Plan, which sets out to provide the policy direction for the planning, development and management of a statewide trail system.

A public hearing on the Draft Plan/Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement will be held Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 at 7:00 pm in the Gideon Putnam Room, Administration Building, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, NY. State Parks’ staff will make a brief presentation about the plan and receive public comments.

Plans are available for review on the agency’s website at as well as at OPRHP Regional Offices, DEC Regional Offices, and OPRHP, Agency Building 1, 17th Floor, Albany.

Pre-hearing webinars will be offered on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm and Thursday, October 14, 2010 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. The webinars will include a presentation of the draft plan and offer an opportunity for questions and answers. People wishing to participate should email notification of interest to: StatewideTrailsPlan@oprhp.state.ny.us or call 518-474-5578. Instructions for access to the webinar will be emailed shortly before the webinar dates. Participation requires telephone and Internet access.

Written comments on the Draft Statewide Trails Plan will be accepted until November 1, 2010 and can be submitted to the agency contact below or emailed to StatewideTrailsPlan@oprhp.state.ny.us.

Agency Contact:

Nancy Stoner
Bureau of Resource and Facility Planning
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
Agency Building 1, 17th Floor
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12238
518-474-5578
518-474-7013 (Fax)


Sunday, October 3, 2010

DEC Asks Hunters to Help Monitor Small Game Species

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging hunters to participate in two surveys for popular game species during this fall’s hunting seasons. The DEC’s Citizen Science Programs provide wildlife managers with important data, particularly as the state’s forests mature, and we lose the early successional habitats many species depend upon. Tracking grouse and cottontail populations will helps wildlife professionals understand how New York’s changing landscape affects these and other species.

New England Cottontail Survey:

The New England cottontail is the only native cottontail rabbit east of the Hudson River in New York. However, its range has been greatly reduced due to habitat loss and competition with the more abundant Eastern cottontail.

New England cottontails look nearly identical to Eastern cottontails and are only reliably identified by genetic testing of tissue, by fecal samples, or by examining morphological skull characteristics.

DEC is requesting that rabbit hunters in Wildlife Management Units in Rensselaer, Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties contact the department to learn how they can submit the heads of rabbits they harvest (a map of the survey area can be seen at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/67017.html). The skulls will be used for identification to assist the department in determining the distribution of the New England Cottontail.

Hunters interested in participating or looking for more information, can contact DEC by calling (518) 402-8870 or by e-mailing fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us (please type “NE Cottontail” in the subject line). Participating hunters will receive instructions and a postage-paid envelope they can use to submit heads from harvested rabbits. Results of these efforts will be available after the close of the hunting season.

Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log:

The ruffed grouse is one of New York’s most popular native game birds. Annually, around 75,000 grouse hunters harvest 150,000 grouse. The ruffed grouse is a forest species that is widely distributed across New York State. While some grouse are found in more mature forests, the greatest population densities are in younger forests. These preferred habitats are declining as most of New York State’s forests grow older, resulting in a decline in grouse numbers since the 1960s.

This survey asks hunters to record their daily grouse hunting activities on a “Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log.” The hunting log requests information such as the number of hours hunted, number of grouse flushed, and the number of birds killed. Starting this fall, hunters are also asked to record the number of woodcock they flush while afield. Grouse and woodcock share many of the same habitats, so the information will help monitor populations of both of these great game birds as habitats change both locally and on a landscape scale.

Hunters interested in participating can download a Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log from the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9351.html to record their observations. Detailed instructions can be found with the form. Survey forms can also be obtained by calling (518) 402-8886 or by e-mailing fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us (please type “Grouse Log” in the subject line).

All outdoor enthusiasts should consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, an optional stamp that helps support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. The new 2010-2011 stamp features a drawing of a pair of Common Loons. Buying a $5 stamp is a way to help conserve New York’s fabulous wildlife heritage. More information about purchasing a Habitat Stamp is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/329.html.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

State Expanding Efforts Against Asian Longhorn Beetle

This fall, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will use a new tool to expand survey efforts for the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). High-risk campgrounds throughout the state have been identified for the survey work, including 13 DEC campgrounds and four state parks under the jurisdiction of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP).

The invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle feeds on and kills several species of hardwoods, including ash, maple, birch, elm, and willow trees. “If ALB becomes established in the forests of the Northeast, it could become one of the most economically and ecologically costly invasive species ever introduced to the United States,” according to Emily DeBolt, the Lake George Association’s director of education. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

DEC Reminder About Regulation Changes

Hunters and other users of state lands in the Adirondacks are reminded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of recent changes to state land use regulations. Using motorized equipment is now prohibited on lands classified Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe. Also placing structures and storing personal property is prohibited on all state lands, unless authorized by DEC.

The prohibition on use of motorized equipment on lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe in the Adirondack Forest Preserve became effective March 10, 2010. The prohibition includes, but it is not limited to, chainsaws and generators. The use of motorized vehicles and vessels is already prohibited on these lands.

The use of chainsaws, generators and other motorized equipment may still be used on the approximately 1.3 million acres of forest preserve lands classified as Wild Forest, provided the user complies with all other applicable provisions of state land use regulation. Also, the use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected by this new regulation.

The prohibition on placing structures and storing personal property on all state lands without authorization from DEC became effective in May 2009. The regulation does allow for the following exceptions:

* a camping structure or equipment that is placed and used legally pursuant to the provisions of the state land use regulation;

* a tree stand or hunting blind that does not injure a tree, is properly marked or tagged with the owner’s name and address or valid hunting or fishing license number, and is placed and used during big game season, migratory game bird season, or turkey season;

* a legally placed trap that is placed and used during trapping season;

* a wildlife viewing blind or stand that is placed for a duration not to exceed thirty (30) days in one location per calendar year, does not injure a tree, and is properly marked or tagged with the owner’s name and address or valid hunting or fishing license number; or

* a geocache, except in the High Peaks Wilderness, that is labeled with the owner’s name and address and installed in a manner that does not disturb the natural conditions of the site or injure a tree.

The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands (Section 196.8) may be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4075.html and the full regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property (Subsection 190.8(w) may be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4081.html

A map of the Adirondacks showing the state lands and their classifications may be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/adk012209.pdf (3.93 MB) or contact the local DEC Lands and Forests office. For a list of DEC Lands & Forests Office see http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/27790.html


Friday, September 24, 2010

Fee Hikes to Pay for LG Island Trash Collection

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation appears willing to give way on its plan to discontinue the collection of campers’ garbage from the islands of Lake George.

After meeting on September 17 in Bolton Landing with state legislators, county supervisors, the Lake George Park Commission and the heads of lake protection organizations, DEC staff agreed to seek an increase in camping fees large enough to cover the costs of collecting garbage from three locations and transporting it to Glen Island.

State Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who proposed the alternative to the state’s planned “Carry in/Carry Out” policy at the meeting in Bolton, said they would sponsor an item in next year’s state budget designating the new revenues as fees for removing garbage from the Lake George islands.

The agreement, however, must win the endorsement of DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.
According to Doug Bernhard, DEC”s general manager of Forest Parks, approximately $50,000 would need to be raised every year to maintain the policy of picking up garbage and recycleables from three locations in the Lake George Narrows, Glen Island and Long Island campsite groups.

Last year, DEC issued 6,680 permits for 387 campsites on 44 islands, said Gary West of DEC’s Warrensburg office. By raising the fee for a daily camping permit by as much as $5, Senator Little said, enough funds would be raised to pay for garbage collection. “It will be understood that it is an increase in fees to keep the lake beautiful,” said Little.

If the fee hike is approved, the cost of a permit could rise to $30 for New York State residents and $35 for non-residents. “These campers have expensive boats; they won’t object to a few extra dollars for a permit, and it’s still an incredible deal,” said Bill Van Ness, a Warren County supervisor and a Lake George Park Commission marine patrol officer.

“There’s broad support from business owners, environmentalists and local governments for this fee hike,” said Peter Bauer, the excutive director of the Fund for Lake George.

The decision to abandon the policy of collecting garbage and to rely instead upon campers to carry their garbage with them when they leave was made after the DEC’s budget for non-personnel expenses was cut by 40%, said Bernhard.

“Asking campers to take their garbage to the recycling centers was a highly successful program, winning 90% compliance, but we no longer have the resources to support it,” said Bernhard, who added that other popular campground programs, such as nature education activities, had also been abolished.

Opposition to the plan to terminate garbage collection services, however, surfaced almost as soon as it was announced. The Towns of Bolton, Hague and Lake George, as well as the Warren County Board of Supervisors, adopted resolutions opposing the plan. “The end result will be garbage in the roadway and in the lake,” said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover, who organized the meeting. “If we fail the lake, we fail ourselves.”

Members of the Lake George Park Commission also opposed the plan, said chairman Bruce Young, who argued that discontinuing the collection service would diminish the experience of camping on the islands, thus costing the state in revenues and harming the local economy. “This is the goose that lays the golden egg,” said Young. “The Lake George Island campsites generate $700,000 a year in revenues to DEC. I hate to see you shortchange this asset in order to take care of others.”

While a carry in/carry out policy is used at other island campsites in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, Young and others argued that it could not be successfully applied to Lake George. “Not picking it up is not an option, it won’t work,” said Young. “Lake George island campers are not backpackers.”

The Lake George Association’s executive director, Walt Lender, said, “While we agree the campers should be responsible for their own garbage, we know that island camping is not wilderness camping; these boats are floating Winnebagos.”

“Their coolers, their children, their barbecues, they boat it in as though they were going to a land-based campsite,” said Ron Conover. According to DEC officials, 231 tons of garbage was removed from the islands last year.

The Lake George Island Campers Association supports the recommendation, with some reservations, said Cindy Baxter, a New Hampshire resident who helped establish the advocacy group. “We would prefer to see all the funds generated by the Lake George islands be returned to Lake George for the care and maintenance of the campsites. But if that’s not possible, a fee increase is a price we’re willing to bear if that’s what it takes to protect Lake George,” said Baxter.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Norm Van Valkenburgh: Conservation Hero and Sleuth

I was watching a Sherlock Holmes mystery the other day titled The Second Stain. Holmes’ deductive reasoning solves the theft of a letter that, if placed into the wrong hands, would result in a diplomatic and military crisis. The bumbling Inspector LeStrade provides the critical clue when he asks Holmes to inspect a “mere trifle,” the blood-soaked carpet which lacked any corresponding stain on the floor immediately beneath. “There is nothing more important in solving crime than attention to mere trifles,” one can hear Holmes’aside to Watson.

So, I am thinking this weekend of a great fan of Sherlock Holmes, an author of mysteries in his own right, and one of the State’s most important conservationists and public servants, Norman J. Van Valkenburgh. Norm acquired for us all magnificent tracts, both large and smaller, of wilderness placed on the market in the Adirondacks and in his beloved Catskills during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Just as important, Norm has written numerous histories about the Forest Preserve and how its tracts of land came into public ownership. In many cases, he was directly responsible. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Phil Brown: Objections to Car-Camping

Earlier this year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation proposed reclassifying the main road in the Moose River Plains as an Intensive Use Area to permit roadside campsites to remain.

In doing so, DEC recognized that the proximity of many of the campsites to each other violated the rules governing primitive tent sites set forth in Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Those rules require that primitive sites be at least a quarter-mile apart. Many of the sites in the Plains also have fireplaces and picnic tables, both of which are not allowed at primitive tent sites.

But the campsites in the Plains are just the tip of the iceberg. A new study [pdf] by the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has found that there are 508 roadside campsites on Forest Preserve lands throughout the Park.

Under DEC regulations, a primitive tent site must be at least 150 feet from roads, trails, and water bodies unless DEC has designated the site (with a yellow disk) as an official campsite. The study found that at least 149 of the roadside campsites on the Forest Preserve lack a DEC disk. Presumably, most of these are illegal.

There are other problems as well. Some sites are denuded from overuse. Some are situated close to the road, the water, or other tent sites. They often lack screening. And many have amenities such as fireplaces and picnic tables that are not allowed at primitive tent sites.

Jim Connolly, deputy director of the Adirondack Park Agency, said at last week’s APA meeting that the agency faces some hard choices regarding roadside sites.

Some argue that roadside sites should be brought into compliance with the primitive-site guidelines — a policy that would require closing or moving sites or taking away amenities. Others argue that the State Land Master Plan should be amended to recognize roadside camping as its own activity, with its own set of regultions.

Closing roadside campsites would be controversial. Chad Dawson, the main author of the ESF study, said roadside camping has evolved into an Adirondack tradition—a free, more rustic alternative to DEC campgrounds. Some families return to the same sites year after year.

“People love their roadside camping,” Dawson told the APA board. Yet most people probably don’t know about the opportunities for road-side camping. “It’s one of those well-kept secrets of the Adirondacks,” Dawson said. “You get initiated into it, but you can’t find a brochure about it.”

Dawson said the great majority of roadside sites—459 out of 508—are located in Wild Forest Areas. They include 163 in the Moose River Plains region. Other Wild Forest sites can be found, among other places, on Floodwood Road, on the Powley-Piseco Road, and along the shores of North Lake and Horseshoe Lake.

The other forty-nine sites are in Wilderness, Canoe, and Primitive Areas, where motorized access is generally prohibited. These include eight sites along Coreys Road in the High Peaks Wilderness and thirteen sites along West River Road in the Silver Lake Wilderness.

Connolly said roadside camping evolved from the 1920s, when DEC began establishing formal campgrounds. Some people question the legality of the campgrounds. How do you square the crowds and noise at Fish Creek with the forever-wild mandate of the state constitution? Legal objections aside, the campgrounds are recognized by the State Land Master Plan. Roadside campsites are not.

The car-camping tradition may be well-established, but it often appears to flout the law. Should it be more tightly regulated?

Photo: A well-used roadside campsite. From the ESF report.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dave Gibson: On Common Ground

The political reality in America today is certainly distressing. We elect too many Republicans and Democrats who feel unable to reach across the party aisle towards each other, or to be even seen with one another for fear of being unelectable in their primaries. The same polarization can be found dividing environmental and conservation circles. Fortunately, I’ve known quite a few Adirondackers who relate to the person, not the label, and who share the Adirondack woods and waters as common ground. I wanted to write about two of them.

Last night I read an entry in my journal about DEC Regional Director Tom Monroe’s retirement dinner in Lake Placid in early 1994. Tom had been Regional Director since the 1970s, still a time when DEC Regional Directors rose to that position through the civil service ranks, and who had considerable autonomy as a result. Put another way, these Regional Directors were forces unto themselves. That all ended by the time Tom Monroe retired. For good or ill, his able successors have been appointed by Commissioners, and ultimately answer to Governors, and enjoy far less autonomy.

I had gone to the dinner with my friend and associate Tom Cobb, who at the time was Park Manager with the State’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and Trustee of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, and who is now a Director of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. Both Tom and I – and many others from all ends of the conservation spectrum – respected Tom Monroe. Environmental leaders sometimes had their reasons to distrust him. I remember an environmental colleague advising me “just make sure he is truly retired”! However, the respect came from the fact that Tom Monroe was completely his own person, and was seen to treat people equally, without favoritism. Tom did not suffer bullies easily, and there are many interesting stories about his time at DEC. This quality of perceived even-handedness brought a diverse crowd to his dinner. In my journal, I write: “I feel pretty good about going to a farewell dinner that brought together the likes of Bob Purdy (Supervisor of Keene), Peter Paine (member of the APA), Roger Dziengeleski (Woodlands Manager of Finch, Pruyn and Co.), Senator Ron Stafford and Tom (Cobb) and I in one place.”

These qualities of Tom Monroe reminded me of a woman attending his dinner who was beloved by sportsmen and women, and respected by elected leaders. She died late last year. Nellie Staves of Tupper Lake was a deeply rooted Adirondack conservationist who made friends and influenced people wherever she went. Elegant at an evening dinner one day, warmly clad to inspect her traps the next, she was comfortable being Nellie Staves. Like Tom Monroe, Nellie didn’t mind in the least whom she was seen with. I first met her in 1988 when, in a memorable few words to the Adirondack Park Agency, she made the case why wildlife mounts deserved to be a part of the soon- to- be opened Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s. Her presentation earned her an audience with Governor Mario Cuomo at the dedication of the VIC the next year. Years later another Governor, George Pataki, would dedicate the Wild Center (Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks) with its founding director, Nellie, at his side. In 2007, I was so grateful to Nellie for coming up to me after a fractious meeting about the Adirondack Club and Resort at the high school. “Good to see you in Tupper Lake, Dave,” she beamed.

One day at an Adirondack conference on Upper Saranac Lake, Nellie opened the back of her car and she invited our staff member and photographer Ken Rimany to look in: there were some of the world’s most beautiful depictions of wildlife drawn not on canvas, but on bracket fungi (“toadstools,” she said) once growing on great, craggy Adirondack trees. Ken was overwhelmed with her artistry. From that time on, their friendship grew and he was introduced to members of her family. With Ken’s encouragement and help, her artwork came to be featured in The Conservationist magazine – not once but several times.

Thanks to Nellie, we were introduced to some fine Adirondack people from diverse perspectives whom we learned to respect, people who shared Nellie’s sense of humor and gift for storytelling. What hearty laughter she induced in all who knew her. Thanks to Nellie, we learned not to take ourselves too seriously, to observe closely and be receptive to the unexpected. From her, we learned that those who know the most about the Adirondack woods, from its wilderness to its wildlife, to those who work in those woods also care very deeply about the future. Nellie helped us remember that those who log, fish, hunt, trap, create or teach in the Adirondacks have one great legacy to pass on: caring, understanding, knowledgeable, talented kids growing up on these lakes, or on the trails.

Photo:(Nellie Staves outside Tupper Lake High School


Sunday, September 5, 2010

APA, DEC Extend Moose River Plains Comment Period

The New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have extended the public comment period for the comprehensive, integrated management actions proposed for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.

The agencies recently held three public hearings on these actions and determined, based on public input, that additional time is warranted for public comment. The public comment period is now extended to September 17, 2010. » Continue Reading.