A reroute of the Northville Placid Trail has been completed by Adirondack Mountain Club professional trail crews (under contract with DEC) to move the trail off Cedar River Road and into the Blue Ridge Wilderness; the trail has been constructed, marked, and is now open for public use. Although others are planned, this is the first of the DEC’s road-to-trail projects to be implemented on the Northville-Placid Trail.
Previously, the trail followed the Cedar River Road for 6.6 miles between Wakely Dam and the former McCane’s Resort in the Town of Indian Lake, Hamilton County. The new trail section – eliminating all but 0.7 miles of road walking – passes through old growth forest of sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock and red spruce. » Continue Reading.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that Greenhouse gas emissions will be included in New York’s environmental review of large-scale projects under a new policy that becomes effective August 17th. The new policy will apply where DEC is the lead agency under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). SEQRA requires that a “lead agency” identify and assess actions for their potential adverse environmental impacts, and in certain cases, develop an environmental impact statement and propose mitigation strategies. “This initiative builds on Governor Paterson’s commitment to continuing New York’s fight against climate change,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a press release. “DEC anticipates that, more and more, the public will raise the issue of climate change in the SEQRA process, and this policy will ensure that climate change impacts are considered in a consistent and fair manner. It includes a menu of design measures that can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, such as energy-efficient construction, use of renewable energy technology and waste reduction. While helping guide DEC staff, the policy also will help raise awareness of all the actions that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
DEC has also started a process to redesign the environmental assessment forms which used in SEQRA reviews. The update of this form will include the addition of questions related to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, among other issues according to Grannis.
Today marks the anniversary of one of the worst storms in Upstate New York history. During the early morning hours of July 15, 1995 a series of severe thunderstorms crossed the Adirondacks and much of eastern New York. Meteorologists call the phenomena by the Spanish “Derecho” but locals often refer to the event as the Blowdown of 1995. A similar weather event / blowdown occurred in 1950. A Derecho is part of a larger family of storms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS), a complex of thunderstorms that becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms and which includes phenomenon like lake effect snow. An MCS can sometimes act in ways similar to a hurricane and can produce torrential downpours and high winds. Aside from the remarkable power of the weather event, another unique thing happened – a shift in public policy with regard to salvage logging of public lands. The State’s decision to forgo salvage logging was in stark contrast to federal policies at the time that allowed federal lands to be logged in similar salvage situations. » Continue Reading.
Shoreline property owners and contractors who plan to construct, replace or expand structures located within shoreline setback areas or repair or install seawalls, riprap, docks, cribs and/or boathouses on waters within the Adirondack Park, are advised to contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) before undertaking any work according to the following press release from the state agencies, published here for your information: Among the most valuable resources in the Park is the land along its thousands of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. The shoreline is an important ecological feature that defines the transition zone between land and water. All levels of the food chain – from forage fish to large mouth bass, shorebirds to waterfowl, and amphibians to mammals – benefit from a “healthy” shoreline.
DEC and APA staff can determine if permits or variances are required and provide information on ways to minimize environmental damage associated with construction in and around protected waterways. The laws the APA and DEC administers protect wildlife habitat, water quality and the scenic appeal of Adirondack shorelines by establishing setbacks, lot widths and cutting restrictions.
“Shorelines are a valuable natural feature of the Adirondacks. The application of appropriate standards for shoreline structures protects the aesthetic character of our landscape as well as associated habitats for a variety of wildlife.” said Betsy Lowe, Regional Director for DEC Region 5
“Every year, our law enforcement officers encounter project sites along the water where work is underway without proper permits,” said Judy Drabicki, Regional Director for DEC Region 6
“Due to the 2008 APA rule changes pertaining to shoreline structures within the Adirondack Park, the public is strongly encouraged to also contact APA staff for regulatory advice before constructing, replacing or expanding shoreline structures,” said Curt Stiles, Chairman of the APA.
DEC has recently identified “Preferred Methods” for shoreline stabilization. These include preserving as much natural shoreline as possible; use of vegetation plantings, where feasible, to stabilize the shoreline, create habitat and reduce pollution from stormwater; and bioengineering which utilizes a combination of natural materials (sticks, logs, root wads, etc.) and applied engineering to correct shoreline problems.
Summer has come to the Adirondacks, and with it the anticipated flotilla of recreational boaters and fishing fleet, accessing our waterways through a dense network of public and private boat launches.
Joining this annual cavalcade, a horde of invading plants and marine animals: organisms with a proven record of destroying the lakes, ponds and streams they infest. Lake associations and other private organizations across the park are once again gearing up for another season of defense against the introduction of these dangerous pests. » Continue Reading.
DEC’S Free Fishing Weekend this Saturday and Sunday is a great opportunity to introduce new anglers to the classic outdoor pastime of fishing. This weekend, June 27 and 28, anglers able to fish in New York’s lakes, rivers and streams without a state license. According to the DEC: “The annual free fishing weekend is the perfect time for residents and vistors to share the sport of fishing and create lasting memories with a friend or family member out fishing for the first time, or to reignite interest among those who may not have taken to the water in recent years. DEC first held the weekend in 1991 to allow all people the opportunity to sample the incredible fishing New York State has to offer.” While no DEC fishing license is required during free fishing weekend, other fishing rules and regulations remain in effect. To learn more about New York’s regulations and information on how and where to get a fishing license, visit this DEC website.
The Board of Trustees of the Lake Placid Shore Owners’ Association (LPSOA) today reported that a strain or strains of milfoil have been discovered at three sites on Lake Placid. Over the past week, two separate samples were removed from Paradox Bay and one from East Lake. Biologists working with the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) have tentatively identified two of the samples as Variable Leaf Milfoil (VLM).
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension describes Variable Leaf Milfoil as “an aggressive aquatic plant that can form dense mats that congest waterways and crowd out native aquatic plants. Thick growth of this plant can impair recreational uses of waterways including boating, swimming and fishing. Dense growth of variable-leaf milfoil degrades the native habitat of fish and other wildlife, and may also provide breeding areas for mosquitoes. The main method of dispersal of this plant appears to be fragmentation. Plant fragments are moved around by people, animals and water currents.” » Continue Reading.
Last week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a ceremony to honor William F. Fox, the “father” of the state’s modern-day forest rangers, on the 100th anniversary of his death.
Fox was born in 1840 in Ballston Spa, Saratoga County, and graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1860. He served in the Civil War as Captain, Major and then Lieutenant Colonel in the 107th New York Volunteers and later wrote a number of books on both the Civil War and forestry.
On National Trails Day, June 6, at an event in Wanakena, St. Lawrence County, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) presented its Adirondack Stewardship Award to Paul DeLucia of Baldwinsville, Onondaga County, and his organization, known as Lean2Rescue, for their work in restoring Adirondack lean-tos. Since 2004, Lean2Rescue has worked on more than 30 lean-tos in St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Hamilton Counties, primarily along the western edge of the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Stewardship Award is presented by DEC to groups or individuals who demonstrate outstanding stewardship of the natural resources of the Adirondacks. “With the state facing one of its most severe fiscal crises in history, partnerships with organizations such as Lean2Rescue are even more important in helping DEC protect and manage the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a press release. “DEC is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like Paul DeLucia and the members of Lean2Rescue who are willing to contribute their time, money, and sweat to ensure our recreational facilities are there for the public to use and enjoy. We are grateful for their hard work and are proud to present them with this prestigious award.”
DEC Region 6 staff from the Divisions of Land and Forests, Operations, and Forest Rangers, along with the volunteers of Lean2Rescue, have rebuilt and renovated a total of 33 different lean-tos in wilderness and wild forest areas within the past four years. Lean2Rescue, with a core group of 20 to 25 members and additional assistance of up to 50 more volunteers, carried in logs, beams, boards, cement, shingles and more by hand, cart, and canoe to reach remote wilderness areas. Facing mud, rain, cold, and bugs, rescuers not only complete their mission of rebuilding a leanto, but then turn around and carry out old materials and debris.
Previous Adirondack Stewardship Award recipients include Chad Dawson of SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry; Joe Martens of the Open Space Institute; Dave Gillespie of the Alpine Club of Canada and the New York State Ranger School; the Family of John E. Foley of St. Lawrence County and John Dent of St. Lawrence County; Friends of Mt. Arab and Mike Carr of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and Adirondack Land Trust; Sierra Club’s Northeast Outings Committee and St. Lawrence County YCC; Paul Smiths College; the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society; Ward Lumber Company of Essex County; Edwin Ketchledge of Clinton County and the Chris Behr family of Vermont; Clarence Petty of St. Lawrence County and the Warren County Board of Supervisors; the Bouquet River Association of Essex County; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association of Herkimer and Hamilton Counties.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is setting baited traps in ash trees across upstate New York in an effort to search for possible infestations of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a tree-killing beetle. You will soon be seeing the purple prism traps deployed in treelines throughout New York, with a concentration in areas adjacent to neighboring states and Canadian provinces that have already detected this potentially devastating invasive species, including several Adirondack counties. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has officially opened the Flume Trail System as the first trail system on forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks designed to allow mountain biking. Representatives and staff from DEC, the Town of Wilmington, the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers, Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Whiteface Mountain Ski Area and the members of the public attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the trailhead in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Earlier that morning volunteers spent time working on the trails. Afterward the Town of Wilmington and the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers hosted a barbecue. The Flume Trail System includes approximately eight miles of trails for four season recreational activities including mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trails were designed to meet the specifications of the International Mountain Bicycling Association and include trails rated as easy, moderate and hard. The system includes a trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River and a hiking only trail to Flume Knob.
The majority of the trails lie within the Wilmington Wild Forest unit of the forest preserve, however, approximately two miles of trail are located on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area, which is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
The Town of Wilmington strongly advocated for mountain bike trails during DEC’s development of the management plan for the Wilmington Wild Forest. In addition to the Flume Trail System, the management plan, which was approved in October 2005, also proposes a seven mile multi-use trail system in the Beaver Brook Tract, off of Hardy Road, designed to include mountain biking. The Town also appropriated funds to pay for the Adirondack Mountain Club’s professional trail crew to construct new trail segments at the Flume in 2007.
The Wilmington Mountain Peddlers have been involved from the early days of trail development at the Flume, and have also been strong advocates for mountain bike trails. The group has volunteered countless hours to construct and maintain the trails. They will continue to maintain the Flume Trail System under DEC’s Adopt-A- Natural-Resource program.
In addition to work by their professional crew, the Adirondack Mountain Club has organized numerous volunteer work projects to upgrade existing trails and construct new trail segments at the Flume. An ADK volunteer trail crew will be constructing a new trail to connect the Flume Trail System with the Whiteface Trail from the Wilmington reservoir this summer.
The Whiteface Mountain Ski Area has allowed some of their trails to be included in the Flume Trail network for the free use of the public. These include a scenic trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River, utilized by bikers, hikers, and anglers. Mountain bikers can pay a fee to access the ski areas other 25 trails and the gondola to the top of Little Whiteface. Crews from Whiteface also assisted in the construction of some of the initial trails in the trail system. A proposed hiking only trail to Bear Den Cliffs, will be constructed in the future on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area lands, and will be open to the public as part of the Flume Trail system.
The Flume Trail System can be accessed from trailhead on Route 86, approximately 2 miles west of the hamlet of Wilmington or from the Kid’s Campus parking lot at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding campers, hikers and homeowners to take precautions against unwanted encounters with black bears. There are approximately 4,000 – 5,000 bears in New York’s northern bear range, primarily in the Adirondacks. Bear populations have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade.
Black bears will become a nuisance and can cause significant damage if they believe they can obtain an easy meal from bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbecue grills, tents, vehicles, out-buildings or houses. When bears learn to obtain food from human sources, their natural foraging habits and behavior are changed. » Continue Reading.
In the closing stages of its efforts to strengthen dam safety across the state, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has posted for public comment amended regulations proposed following the failure of a southern Adirondack dam in 2005.
A week ago today, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis effectively reopened Old Mountain Road between North Elba (Route 73) and Keene (Shackett Road / Route 40) in Essex County. According to surveys made in 1893-1894 (here, and here), the road had been abandoned since the 19th century; it was believed to have been officially closed when the Sentinel Wilderness Area UMP was ratified in 1974. Beginning in 1986 part of the road has been maintained as the popular 35-mile long Jackrabbit Trail by the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The Grannis decision was forced by Lake Placid Snowmobile Club President James McCulley who drove his truck down the trail in May of 2005 and was ticketed (he previously beat a 2003 ticket for doing the same thing with his snowmobile). An agency administrative judge later found that the road had never been closed properly (it required public hearings). » Continue Reading.
Master Forest Owner volunteer training is now over, and I can say that if there is one thing I learned, it’s that forest owners need to be familiar with the resources available to them. A free visit from one of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Forest Owner (MFO) volunteers is a great place to start [a pdf list]. An MFO can sit down with landowners and help them consider the issues land owners face that might include agro-forestry, maple syrup production, logging and timber sales, pest and invasive species management, understanding wetlands, soil and water quality, developing a management plan, or just understanding a little more about the land they own. Those with a keener interest in their forested property should consider becoming a volunteer themselves. The next training will be held at the Arnot Teaching and Research Forest, September 9-13, 2009. Here is a list of the stories I wrote while taking part in the training. We covered a lot more, but these stories provide some information, and more importantly, links to resources:
An Introduction to SUNY-ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center at the Huntington Forest.
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