What follows is a guest essay by Frederick H. Monroe, Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board (LGRB). The LGRB was created by the Adirondack Park Agency Act “For the purpose of advising and assisting the Adirondack Park Agency in carrying out its functions, powers and duties.”
Through his vision and leadership, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to the communities of New York a major opportunity – with the potential for large rewards: The chance to set our own economic agendas, regionally, with the ten Regional Economic Councils. And, initially, a piece of the $200 million in state funding that goes along with them. » Continue Reading.
Fact: Google employees have mandatory snack time and a fleet of color-branded bicycles to get from building to building on their headquarters campus.
For two years in a row, my coworker and I have attended the eTourism Summit – a conference that brings travel industry experts together for presentations and networking to discuss cutting-edge online marketing issues and strategies – specifically for destinations. It’s a great opportunity to learn from, and with our peers from around the world, learning from experts on all things Internet, including representatives from the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn. This year, the conference began with a tour of Google headquarters – a rare chance (they don’t typically welcome groups) to see the work environment at the world’s largest search engine. We toured their pampered campus, and it was easy to see why their employees work 10-12-hour days. Sample of perks included in their salary: laundry service, beach volleyball courts, several fitness clubs (fully staffed with trainers), endless pools, a bowling alley, and regular visits from dignitaries like U.S. Presidents, Nobel prize winners and Lady Gaga, who was there a couple weeks before us. It is a world designed to encourage interaction, collaboration and creativity.
Our group was able to choose from any of the four gourmet, themed restaurants for lunch. We then were treated to an intimate presentation from Google’s travel team, complete with a panel of their experts for Q&A. Of course, they are privy to the ultimate Google Analytics; and took us through a few online travel research scenarios. There are tricks to influencing travelers, and as marketers, we must understand and capitalize on the search process, placing our destinations front and center at that “zero moment of truth”, when the traveler is on the cusp of making that booking decision.
As if we didn’t gain enough insight at the Google tour, we still had a couple days of information to absorb at the conference sessions. And this year, our very own VP of marketing, Carol Joannette, was chosen to be one of the esteemed presenters. As a relatively small Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) (there were many much larger in attendance, like Tourism Ireland, New Zealand and several U.S. States), it was quite an honor to be part of this mix of industry experts.
Carol was asked to present because we had recently launched our flagship destination’s brand new mobile web site: m.lakeplacid.com – and it was developed using HTML5. The panel discussion included the decision to launch a mobile site in general, implications of coding formats and mobile apps for destinations. By the end, Carol was signing autographs. (OK, she was distributing her business card- but that’s similar.)
What is a mobile site? Why develop a whole different interface for lakeplacid.com just for cell phone users?
First, mobile phones – or the kind specifically called SmartPhones (iPhone, Droid and the like) are becoming increasingly prevalent, and are dramatically changing the way that people access information.
Here are some stats: 35% of all cell phones currently in use are SmartPhones. 50.4% of new cell phones bought are SmartPhones. Of all U.S. Internet traffic, 4.5% is accessed by cell phone.
In the U.S., 8.4% of mobile cell phone browser activity is travel service (UP 42% from July 2010), and the number 1 browser activity is search at 44.6%, which underscores the need for search engine optimization in the mobile sector as well as desktop.
Why did we decide to invest in a mobile site? As an accredited DMO, everything we do is informed by research and statistics analysis. We carefully monitor analytics for all of our destination websites. And, we have seen a dramatic increase in mobile access to lakeplacid.com. A mobile phone, of course, has a smaller display area, so it is important to provide a page specifically designed for that small display, with simple navigation buttons to provide the most sought-out information with as few clicks as possible.
The new mobile site automatically loads on mobile devices that access lakeplacid.com. And as our site was designed in HTML5, the site loads consistently on any platform, whether it is an iPhone, Droid or Blackberry, etc. Alternatively, our coders (at local agency Adworkshop) would have to write code for every type of platform, and to update that code as new technology inevitably arrives in the marketplace. So the choice of HTML5 coding language represents a huge cost and time savings.
The mobile site looks a lot different than the browser interface for the desktop-accessed lakeplacid.com. There are quick links to Do, Events, Dining, Shopping, Contact, and Stay, with icons to easily call or email us with one click. And, users have easy access to all photo listings in our database.
Here’s an example: our staff has been diligently updating the hiking trails in our database, complete with descriptions and photos. When the mobile user clicks on Do, then selects Hiking, they are presented with a list of hikes and details, and can select “map this” to get directions from where they are standing directly to the trailhead.
We will continue to update the mobile sub-navigation topics based on the information for which our visitors are searching, and enhancing our database to ensure that we provide the most comprehensive content.
How’s the site traffic so far? The m.lakeplacid.com mobile site was launched on September 8, 2011. To date, mobile access currently represents about 9 percent of our overall site visits. And where are users accessing the mobile site from, geographically? The largest concentrations are in New York City, Boston, Washington D.C. Toronto, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Montreal. That’s good news – we’re providing a convenient access to our destination resources to mobile web surfers in important rubber-tire feeder markets!
The Internet is an ideal marketing mechanism – especially for the travel industry. It is imperative that we remain engaged in learning and implementing strategies to leverage the ever-changing online marketing landscape. I know that my communications priorities have completely changed over the past few years from traditional media engagement to online content development, and from what we’ve learned by “going mobile”, that’s the only strategy that will allow our destinations to compete.
Still, it might not hurt to get our own fleet of Lake Placid, Adirondacks USA bikes and fuel up on mandatory snacks.
Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.
In a recent editorial, the Glens Falls Post-Star stated “it’s time for officials to re-think the financial and ownership model” underlying the New York State-owned winter sports facilities managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), including the Gore and Whiteface Mountain ski centers.
The Post-Star argues that declining taxpayer support for these facilities (the state currently contributes $4.6 million dollars to ORDA’s $30 million annual budget, down from a $7 million contribution in 2008-09), jeopardizes their future viability. “For the sake of the Adirondack economy and for the towns and counties that thrive on the successful operation of these venues” the Post Star’s editorial staff suggests “a different approach is needed.” » Continue Reading.
With the budgets of villages, towns and municipalities being slashed across the country, two (and more in future) communities in the Adirondack Park are participating in a pilot program that will identify ways they can reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint, create or retain jobs and save money. The Community Energy Efficiency Management (CEEM) project will include the Towns of Moriah and Schroon Lake, and project managers are talking with other municipalities about participating in the two-year program. During the program the communities will inventory energy use of municipally-owned structures, transportation and residential buildings, make a plan to identify and prioritize energy saving opportunities, explore financing options, implement energy saving projects, and track energy savings. They will share their experiences with other communities throughout the process.
Rural communities, including the 103 towns and villages within the boundary of the Adirondack Park, suffer from a host of economic development problems. ADKCAP (the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan) developed a model to support such communities with comprehensive CEEM services to address economic needs through the “low-hanging fruit” afforded by energy efficiency incentives and programs. The CEEM project is funded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and co-implemented by The Wild Center in Tupper Lake and the Community Power Network of NYS, based in Olmstedville, in Essex County.
“Green is truly the road to the future,” said Cathy Moses, Town Supervisor of the Town of Schroon Lake. “Although some of the initial green changes are costly, there are several grants available if sought. The end result is saving the future for our children – it doesn’t get much better than that!”
“The Town of Moriah Town Board decided to participate in this project for possible savings of both energy and money for our constituents,” added Tom Scozzafava, Moriah’s Town Supervisor. “As we have progressed we have found that with very little up front expenditure, we can save not only energy but also dollars that will more than pay for the changes.”
Project advisors will support project progress, provide training, celebrate and publicize successes, and help build capacity needed to realize energy saving opportunities while guiding how to take advantage of state and federal energy and carbon reduction funds. They will also help communities invite businesses, nonprofits, schools, and residents to learn more about available energy efficiency programs.
“After my mother passed away I decided to replace the 1950s furnace in her old house,” said Cathy Robarts of Moriah, who attended a CEEM outreach meeting this summer. “I paid for a new high-efficiency boiler, which cost about $1000, and got my investment back in three years including $200 of repairs on fuel lines and related needs. The majority of the savings came in the form of oil costs.” This kind of experience will be captured and shared through the project.
“We know from energy audits and conversations with town and village elected officials that energy costs are often one of the most costly items in a budget year after year,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “This project is designed to assist the towns and villages to take advantage of grants and other incentive opportunities to improve energy efficiency and save money over time. We know the motivation is there, we are just trying to help bridge the gap with technical information, grant writing assistance and tracking.”
“The collaboration within and between communities is very important. By identifying and prioritizing energy saving opportunities, we can creatively develop opportunities for our economic development problems. Rural Development is committed to building a foundation for stronger rural communities, ones that are equipped with tools to succeed. Programs such as CEEM are an example of how the Obama Administration is committed to creating a more prosperous rural America,” said USDA NY Rural Development State Director Jill Harvey.
Despite the need for improvements, there are currently only 20 fully certified energy auditing businesses serving the 6 million acre Park – according to NYSERDA’s website – to help the businesses, municipalities, and residents who want to reduce energy expenditures on their buildings by an average 30 percent and invest savings in other economic opportunities. In addition, there is currently a 2-year backlog of low-income homeowners in the region requesting weatherization assistance. Small municipalities such as those throughout this region often operate with part-time staff and less capacity than urbanized areas and therefore can have difficulty taking advantage of incentives that exist.
Managers reason that each community’s investment in the project will pay for itself quickly through energy savings.
It is anticipated that the project will help to create or retain the equivalent of three to five stable, well-paying “green” clean energy jobs. Every job created in the Adirondacks means a family can stay where many generations have been before them. Jobs such as local energy auditors and insulation installers cannot be outsourced. The project will also help to create demand for more such skilled and trained workers. The Wild Center has modeled – through its “green” facilities, educational programming, and conferences – how science museums can help to disseminate environmental solutions.
For example, buildings use an estimated 30% of energy in the United States, thus increasing green building design and retrofits has huge potential for economic savings and job development. The Wild Center is Silver LEED certified for its green buildings and educates visitors through a tour of its green design on site and on-line through its website.
The Community Power Network of New York State, Inc. addresses the energy needs of families and communities throughout New York. CPN has worked extensively to improve energy efficiency and affordability for low-income households. Improving the ability of North Country communities to access New York’s energy programs and opportunities is also a focus for this private consulting corporation.
“We believe that the Community Energy Efficiency Management pilot provides an important new program model for rural areas like ours,” said Sue Montgomery Corey, President of CPN. She noted that every rural community is different and finding strategies to make state and federal resource programs meet the needs of individual communities is a critical part of implementing them successfully in rural areas.
ADKCAP is a partnership of The Wild Center and 30 other institutions in the region. ADKCAP works through existing organizations around the region to implement a proactive strategy to enable the Adirondacks, approximately 20% of the land area of New York State, to improve energy and cost savings within the region. To heat and power itself the region currently uses more than 46 million gallons of fuel oil and LPG, and 925 million kWh of electricity annually, draining $263 million a year from struggling economies of the region. Investing in local efficiency helps to keep that money in the region. The Adirondacks are nevertheless a model of conservation for the nation and are positioned to lead in establishing a “green” economy.
For more information visit www.adkcap.org and click on CEEM or contact Kara Page, [email protected] or Jennifer Monroe, [email protected]
Marty Podskoch’s newest book Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Its History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC, is now available. The 352-page large-format book contains 185 interviews, over 50 charts and maps, and over 500 pictures and illustrations.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began on March 31, 1933 under President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to relieve the poverty and unemployment of the Depression. Camps were set up in many New York towns, state parks, and forests. Workers built trails, roads, campsites and dams, stocked fish, built and maintained fire tower observer’s cabins and telephone lines, fought fires, and planted millions of trees. The CCC disbanded in 1942 due to the need for men in World War II. “My book is not a comprehensive history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but the history of the 26 Adirondack CCC camps and the stories of the young men who left their homes to earn $25 a month to help their families survive during the Great Depression,” Podskoch notes in the book’s preface. “The reader will see how these young men developed a sense of worth. Many had only an eighth grade education and were wandering the countryside and city streets in search of a job. Once in the CCC they felt important, learned how to take orders, developed a love of nature, and learned a trade, all of which gave them a sense of self-worth. They knew they were helping their country and their families.”
Podskoch is also the author of five other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, two volumes of Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore covering the Southern and Northern districts, and two other books, Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II: 101 More Historical Sketches from his weekly illustrated newspaper column.
You can by the book in local stores for $20.00. It can also be purchased by contacting the author at (860-267-2442) or at 43 O’Neill Lane, East Hampton, CT 06424. Include $3 for shipping.
If you have information or pictures of relatives or friends who worked at one of the CCC camps, contact Marty Podskoch at: 36 Waterhole Rd., Colchester, CT 06415 or 860-267-2442, or [email protected]
Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.
Over the past few weeks Adirondackers have gathered to hear about their economic situation and what we can do about it. North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann has been suggesting that the Adirondack Park Agency shift its focus toward economic development. Clarkson University’s Forever Wild initiative has brought forward plans to expand broadband services and connect local workers to new wired jobs. The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) provided its own twist on our economic situation, offering a panel that suggested we’re not as bad off as others around the nation.
Missing from these discussions has been the big picture thinking about our economic problems, namely the changes in our economic and democratic system that have endangered the ability of young people to control their economic destinies. At the ANCA meeting last week Jaison Abel, Senior Economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, reported that “The Upstate economy has generally proven to be more stable than average, and has performed relatively well through the recession and recovery to date” [Emphasis His]. His presentation (available as a pdf here), like most of the economic discussions in the Adirondacks lately, was misleading in its narrow scope.
Taking a wider view are the demonstrators that have been occupying cities and towns across America in recent weeks. The Occupy Wall Street movement began when a large group of people, calling themselves the 99%, established a modern day Hooverville at a privately owned park near Wall Street. Despite claims they are unorganized anarchists, they have met daily in a direct democratic assembly to make decisions and plan and prepare for what has become a nationwide movement to change the fundamental operation of our relatively recently failed economic and democratic systems.
In exchange for exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble for redress of grievances, they have been maced, beaten, and driven from the places where they have assembled for democratic change. News of police actions in New York City were widely circulated via social media (disturbing video 1, 2, and 3 for example) and served to grow the ranks of protesters exponentially.
In recent days there have been beatings, macings and arrests of many more in cities such as Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Albuquerque, Portland, San Francisco, and even in Des Moines, Iowa where a former Iowa state representative and a 14-year-old girl were arrested. Many of those arrests have included bystanders, independent media, legal observers, and medics caring for the injured. It appears that more than 2,000 have been arrested so far and with widespread demonstrations planned for Saturday that number is likely to rise. Demonstrations are expected to take place over the next week in Canton, Saranac Lake, Montreal, Plattsburg, Burlington, Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs, Albany, Utica, Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo.
Although the call for an end to corporate control of our economic and political systems is no more vague than the Tea Party’s call for an end to big government, the Occupy Wall Street movement has been characterized as unfocused and lacking concrete goals. Two videos that have gone viral in the movement serve to sum up most of the complaints being voiced, and counter the recent criticisms. The first, which has played frequently on the Occupy Wall Street livestream is an older video from George Carlin (warning: explicit language) who warns: “it’s a big club and you ain’t in it”. The second is the first cohesive response to the movement’s detractors from John Stewart.
It’s no surprise these videos come from comedians, a class of Americans who are often the only people who can be so direct in their critiques. They also reflect the nature of the movement itself, which is forced to use a kind of comic theater of the streets to be heard. There are more serious commentators as well. Bernie Sanders points out why he thinks protests are a necessary part of the process and even traditional conservatives have weighed in at The Atlantic. The Christian Science Monitor reminds us of the long history populists movements occupying Wall Street. The Nation published an Occupy Wall Street FAQ some weeks ago when the movement was small that explains in a serious way what it’s about.
This being a largely social media driven movement, videos and documents from the 1% have been used against them. Take for example this video of a Wall Street trader on BBC who defiantly claims “governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world,” or the page from JP Morgan Chase’s website which reminded protesters that they had given $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation, a gift they said (even while the NYPD was keeping protesters from protesting in front of their building) that “was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple.” Both links have gone viral among the Occupy Wall Street movement. Some of most interesting coverage of the movement is being written by a group of reporters with the Village Voice toting cameras and smart phones and posting to the #OccupyWallSt and #OccupyWallStreet hashtags on Twitter. There have been more than sixty 24-hour livestream channels set up from occupations around the world in the last 24 hours.
No doubt there will still be some who say they just don’t understand what it’s all about, so it’s probably fair to say that the movement’s goals are to roll back a number of economic trends which Adirondackers, like nearly all Americans, are experiencing. For those who like charts with facts and figures, Business Insider has a series of charts titled “Here’s What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About…“. Here are a few excerpts from the most salient:
Unemployment: Three years after the financial crisis, the unemployment rate is still at the highest level since the Great Depression (except for a brief blip in the early 1980s). A record percentage of unemployed people have been unemployed for longer than 6 months. The average duration of all unemployment remains at a near an all-time high. If people working part-time who want to work full-time and people who have given up finding a job through official means are included, the unemployment rate is at 17%. That is the lowest percentage of Americans with jobs since the early 1980s.
Corporate Profits: Corporate profits are at an all-time high. As a percentage of the economy, corporate profits are near a record all-time high. With the exception of a short period just before the 2007 crash, profits are higher than they’ve been since the 1950s, vastly higher than they’ve been for most of the last half-century.
Worker Pay: CEO pay is now 350 times the average worker’s pay, up from 50 times the average worker’s pay between 1960-1985. Adjusted for inflation, CEO pay has jumped 300% since 1990 alone and corporate profits have doubled. Average “production worker” pay has increased just 4% and the minimum wage has fallen. After adjusting for inflation, average hourly earnings haven’t increased in 50 years. While CEOs and shareholders have been cashing in, wages as a percent of the economy have dropped to an all-time low.
The 1%: The top 1% of American wage earners have the biggest percentage of the country’s total pre-tax income than any time since the late 1920s, almost 2 times the long-term average. Income inequality has gotten so extreme that the US now ranks 93rd in the world in “income equality” behind China, India, and Iran.
Social Mobility Through Hard Work: Social mobility in America is near an all-time low. The top 1% of Americans own 42% of American financial wealth; the top 5% own nearly 70%. 60% of the net worth of the country held by the top 5%. Taxes on the nation’s highest-earners are close to the lowest they’ve ever been. The aggregate tax rate for the top 1% is lower than for the next 9% — and not much higher than it is for almost everyone else.
Bank Theft: Despite bailing out the banks so that they could keep lending to American businesses, bank lending has dropped sharply except to the American Government, which has risen sharply. They’ve also been collecting interest on money they are not lending — the “excess reserves” at the Federal Reserve Bank. At the same time, because the Fed has slashed the prime rate to almost zero, the banks are able to borrow money for essentially free – as a result they have made $211 billion in the first six months of 2011. That’s one reason there is near-record financial sector profits while the rest of Americans have sunk to their economic lowest.
Check the facts for yourself, but one thing is clear – all the hand-wringing about our local economies in the local media has missed the point entirely.
Photo: Above, photo-shopped Occupy Saranac Lake illustration courtesy Aaron Hobson; Middle and below, two viral Occupy Wall Street photographs that have made the rounds in the past few weeks.
The first thing I noticed was how the light fidgeting on the water moved, like jazz. Usually, autumn Adirondack mornings have more of a classical come-on, in a way that brings Walt Whitman to mind with his longing recollections of halcyon seasons enough to conjure this jigsaw of ochre and red around the pond and up the mountains; this deep and satisfying breeze whispering shhhhhh.
Yet, this morning something about the landscape looked like Carl Sandburg’s poems feel when read aloud. Sandburg, with his 1916 Chicago cadence was on the wind making oozing trombones of those same trees, going husha-husha-hush. A subtle difference sure, but still enough to make me wonder at it. In a while I cracked on NCPR and let the world into my wood stove morning to shouts of “we are the 99 percent!” I listened, still looking out at the unsettled light and wondered at a world where a protest hundreds of miles away could change the rhythm of this morning, deep in the northern forest. Sandburg, indeed.
How many times have I read aloud in the voice of the “workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes?” With a soft slam down in emphasis right at the beginning as the subject reveals herself boldly, as if stepping out from the same morass of humanity now gathering on Wall Street “I am the people–the mob–the crowd–the mass.”
Further on gaining momentum in a kind of surrender with the repeated act of forgetting:
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget. Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. Then–I forget.
Then beyond forgetting, lifting the emphasis and re-placing it on a new narrative of resistance:
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool–then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision. The mob–the crowd–the mass–will arrive then.
In the lull between radio reports I realized that I had been quietly reciting this poem to the morning, keeping time with the rat-a-tat-tat of light off the pond and the staccato chanting of protesters. Sometime later, this morning’s tempo eased back into the familiar cadence of Whitman making sense of how each of these stories across hundreds of miles are one:
On solid land what is done in cities as the bells strike midnight together, In primitive woods the sounds there also sounding
Enrollment at the region’s educational institutions is growing. The number of new students at Paul Smith’s College gained for the second consecutive year toward a 30 year high set in 1981. SUNY ESF’s Ranger School in Wanakena saw a 50 percent enrollment increase, and Clarkson University welcomed the largest number of first-year students in the institution’s history this August, breaking a 1984 record. Plattsburgh State saw a rise this semester, especially among foreign students. Clinton County Community College enrollment went up almost 5 percent, 14 percent higher than 2008-09. SUNY Adirondack (formerly Adirondack Community College) saw a slight decrease in enrollment. Enrollment was expected to have risen slightly at North Country Community College. At Paul Smith’s College a new $8 million 93-bed residence hall designed to LEED standards is accommodating the growth. Enrollment at the Ranger School was given a boost by a new AAS-degree program in Environmental and Natural Resources Conservation, according to longtime professor and Almanack contributor Jamie Savage.
At Clarkson some of the rise is attributed to increased enrollment in pre-physical therapy and engineering programs, including environmental engineering which has seen growth of more than 100 percent.
Photo: Students walk by Bertrand H. Snell Hall at Clarkson University (Courtesy Clarkson University).
A plan to reinvent the Adirondack Park Agency and revitalize communities that appears in the October 2011 issue of Adirondack Life has generated discussions, letters to editors, blog posts and op-ed pieces. “The Other Endangered Species” by Brian Mann has sparked debate in all corners of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park and beyond.
To continue dialogue on political, economic and quality of life issues raised by Saranac Lake-based reporter Mann, Adirondack Life is sponsoring two panel discussions that are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by Kate Fish, Executive Director of the Adirondack North Country Association and a member of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
Recent news that the Lake Placid to Saranac Lake rail side recreation path project received a $1.2 million grant should put to rest any debate about what “should” be done with the northern portion of the 119-mile Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor.
The Federal Highway Administration grant has been awarded to the Adirondack North Country Association on behalf of New York State Department of Transportation through a very competitive process – 1,800 applications were submitted, requesting more than 30 times the funds available — for projects under the National Scenic Byways Program. This grant is one of the largest amounts received in this round of funding, indicating strong support at the national level to boost recreation and improve infrastructure simultaneously. » Continue Reading.
I just finished reading your latest editorial piece, “The Other Endangered Species,” in the September/October issue of Adirondack Life magazine. I’m writing to say that your premise is all wrong.
You wrote that it’s time to end the discussion of whether or not the Adirondack Park “as a conservation model” is a success or a failure. You say “the various factions in the Adirondacks need to accept that the human community is in peril.”
Brian, the Adirondack human community is not in peril, human communities in the Adirondacks are not endangered, and there is no chance, despite your claims, that the Adirondacks “will be reduced to a patchwork of ghost towns and hollow vacation resorts.” » Continue Reading.
In the many discussions concerning the present and future of the Adirondacks, one of the foundational assumptions is that the region is being held back by the controversial Adirondack Park Agency (APA). An analysis of population data shows something quite different: the Park’s population is growing at a significantly faster rate than the rest of New York since the creation of the APA.
At the suggestion of The Post-Star‘s Will Doolittle, a harsh critic of the APA, I analyzed population data from the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV)*, whose most recent numbers are from 2006. Mr. Doolittle also criticized previous analyses that he considered distorted by relatively populous towns like Queensbury and Plattsburgh that had land both inside and outside the Park, so I looked at numbers of municipalities that were entirely inside the Blue Line. I compared those figures to 1970 numbers, the last census before the establishment of the APA. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by John Danis, a member of a new organization (YESeleven) which hopes to put an end the long-standing proposal to build the Northern Tier Expressway (aka I-98 or the Rooftop Highway), a 175-mile four lane divided highway that would link I-81 in Watertown and I-87 in Champlain. The Almanack asked Danis to provide readers with some insight as to why they oppose the highway.
Several months ago, a group of concerned citizens began discussions aimed at forming YESeleven, an organization intended to educate the public in Northern New York about the misguided attempts by bureaucrats and politicians in the region to construct a 172 mile, limited access, high-speed interstate highway, from Watertown to Plattsburgh. For the past 3 years, proponents of this so-called, “Rooftop Highway”, have been quietly and methodically lining up political support across the region to try and force the hand of the state and federal governments to finance the estimated 4-billion, (their number!), or more dollar cost of constructing what we felt was a massively transformational, destructive and financially overreaching plan for the entire region.
The Rooftop Highway, or what proponents refer to as I-98, is an idea with a history going back fifty years or more, to the era of the construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Periodically over these fifty or more years the notion of connecting the Maine seacoast with the Great Lakes Basin has ebbed and surged. The “Rooftop” highway concept was to be part of this, “Can-Am” highway, particularly the part that would connect I-81 and I-87, across the northern tier of New York State. Adjacent highway development on both sides of the US-Canadian border, have dampened enthusiasm for this grand concept in many regions, with the notable exception of Northern New York.
In 2008, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), published a study, which had been three years in the making, called the “Northern Tier Expressway Corridor Study”. This study was an exhaustive and comprehensive view of the US Route 11 transportation corridor, the established and dominant corridor of economic activity across the region, (this study is available at our YESeleven website, yeseleven.org). The study looked at all aspects of life across the region and concluded that the vital Route 11 transportation corridor, with it’s myriad counties, towns, villages, businesses, farms and universities, as well as it’s environmental treasures, was best served by a plan that contemplated evolutionary and targeted upgrades and improvements to the existing corridor over twenty years. Moreover, it would be done at a tenth or less of the cost of what a new and competing economic development corridor could be built for. Further, the improvements would be made in the existing corridor, rather than destroying thousand of square miles of land, dividing the entire region, displacing hundreds of landowners, etc.
The DOT study was rejected out of hand by Rooftop Highway proponents and their political allies. Their rejection of the plan seemed to be based on the belief that the Route 11 upgrades were not good enough, that the region was owed and deserving of a full interstate highway, with four interstate connector spurs criss-crossing the St. Lawrence Valley.
YESeleven’s view is that their position is essentially creating, at phenomenal cost, what amounts to a 172 mile bypass of every economic center in the region. The development of an adjacent economic corridor can only serve to create winners and losers as interstate highways have done in so many other regions. The best argument that the Rooftoppers have put forth is that if we build it, surely, they will come. All other claims about job creation have been poorly documented, if at all.
One of our positions is that every time that this discussion has come up over the past fifty-plus years, it has sapped energy, focus and financial resources away from more immediate and essential maintenance and improvement needs to our existing highway infrastructure and economic activity.
In short, the Rooftop highway plan is an overreaching, pie-in-the-sky distraction and we need to set it aside, once and for all, and move on.
You can visit the YESeleven website to learn more about our positions on highway infrastructure needs and solutions in the Northern New York Region.
Congratulations to the Adirondack Community Trust (ACT), the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Towns of Inlet and Indian Lake, and the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, among others, for their work together to maintain facilities in the Moose River Plains.
The 85,000-acre wild forest area is, as DEC has long maintained, pretty unique within the Adirondack Forest Preserve because it is permeated by hardened dirt roads and resulting roadside camping that result from the area’s logging history under Gould Paper Company’s former ownership. » Continue Reading.
With the New York State Legislature wrapping up another session, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the bills making their way through the process. This list is not complete, but contains those items that are important in one way or another to the Adirondack Park.
There are two online systems that provide information about latest legislative actions and the status of bills. The NYS Senate’s Open Legislation system is still in Beta, but is apparently up to date, includes the latest Assembly info as well, and has the easiest user interface. The older system, the Legislative Research Service system, claims to offer “up to the minute” information.
Prohibiting NYS From Purchasing Land for Forest Preserve Betty Little’s bill to prohibit the state from purchasing forest land in fee title and to only allow purchases by conservation easement. Killed just after 4 p.m. today in the Senate Rules Committee, a final stop on the way to a floor vote. (S. 1501 Little)
National Grid Land Exchange This legislation will complete the Constitutional Amendment authorizing land swap that was approved by voters in 2009, allowing the New York Power Authority and National Grid to complete the Route 56 Tri-Lakes power line project. In exchange for receiving six acres of State Forest Preserve, National Grid is buying and giving to the public 20 acres that will be included in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The bill is in the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly and on the floor in the Senate. (A. 8214 Sweeney / S. 4861-A Griffo)
EPF Revenue Enhancer This bill would, over the next four years, add the unclaimed nickel deposits from “bottle bill” revenues as an additional source of money for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The EPF provides grants for land acquisition, invasive species control, smart growth projects and water quality improvements. This legislation is currently in the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly and Finance Committee in the Senate. (A. 7137 Latimer / S. 5403 Grisanti)
Defines Adirondack ‘Community Housing’ Defines “community housing” for purposes of the Adirondack Park to mean four dwelling units not exceeding 1500 square feet of floor space each, located on one contiguous parcel within a moderate intensity use or low intensity use land use area, and meeting certain other defined land use criteria. Advanced to Third Reading in both the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday; Senate vote expected today. (S. 4165-A LITTLE / A. 8303 Sweeney)
Restricting APA Powers Over Campgrounds Prohibits the Adirondack Park Agency from promulgating or implementing any rule, regulation or land use and development plan, related to campgrounds, which is inconsistent with the provisions of any rule or regulation of the department of health relating thereto. Third reading in the Senate; Environmental Conservation Committee in the the Assembly. (S. 343 LITTLE / A. 149 Sayward)
Re-defining ‘Campground’ in the Adirondack Park Redefines “campground” for the purposes of the Adirondack Park and regulation by the Adirondack Park Agency; defines such term as a parcel of land with 5 or more campsites, including buildings and accessory structures; provides that recreational vehicles may be kept at a campground or campsite, with the consent of the owner of the campground, during periods of time when they are not in use, so long as they are not used in a manner which violates the campground permit. Passed Senate, referred to Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee on Monday. (S.345 LITTLE / A. 151 Sayward)
Requiring APA Appointments from Approved List Requires the governor to appoint the five members of the Adirondack park agency who reside in the park, from a list established by the legislative bodies of the counties in the Adirondack park and the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages. Referred to Finance in Senate; Environmental Conservation in Assembly. (S.822 LITTLE / A. 511 Sayward)
Removing Land Use Planning Power of APA Makes state lands within the Adirondack Park subject to the local land use plan of the municipality in which the land is located. Betty Little Senate bill sent to Senate Finance Committee in May; there is no Assembly bill. (S. 5188 LITTLE)
10 Year APA Enforcement Statute of Limitations Establishes a ten year statute of limitations to enforce violations of rules and regulations of Adirondack Park Agency committed within the Adirondack park. senate bill moved to Finance committee in May; Assembly bill in Codes committee since January. (S. 823 LITTLE / A. 512 Sayward)
“Adirondack Sportsmen’s Club Preservation Act” Requires that state acquisition of open space shall remain subject to the leases of sportsmen’s clubs thereon. “Sportsmen’s clubs shall be deemed to retain exclusive access to and usage rights for hunting and fishing, while allowing public access to the land for other recreational activities.” In Senate Finance Committee. Betty Little bill in the Senate (S. 2487); no corresponding Assembly bill.
Opening Backcountry Waters to Disabled Veterans on Floatplanes Directs the development of a permit system to provide disabled veterans access to certain restricted bodies of water in the Adirondack park through the use of float planes. Passed the Senate; in Assembly Environmental Conservation committee (S.824 LITTLE / A. 518 Sayward).
Public Right of Passage on Navigable Waters Codifies the public right of passage upon navigable waterways of the state for purposes of commerce or recreation. Referred to the Assembly Codes Committee in May; no bill in the Senate since February, 2002 in deference to Senator Betty Little. (A370-2011 HOYT)
Boat Launch Preservation Act Requires that one percent of the 4 cents per gallon gasoline surcharge on gasoline which is used on waterways but not more than 5 million dollars per fiscal year is to be deposited in the dedicated boat launch site fund; moneys of such fund shall be disbursed for design, construction, maintenance and improvement of boat launches and boat access sites. Referred to Assembly Ways and Means Committee in February; no sponsor in the Senate. (A5546 ENGLEBRIGHT)
Requiring Large Water Withdrawal Permits Would grant DEC permitting abilities for withdrawals of large amounts of water (over 100,000 gallons per day) from lakes, rivers, streams or underground sources. Exemptions exist for agricultural water sources. The bill has passed the Assembly and is currently awaiting action on the Senate floor. (A. 5318-A Sweeney / S. 3798 Grisanti)
Creating ‘Non-Trail Snowmobile’ Registration Establishes a non-trail snowmobile registration for snowmobiles which shall be used solely for the purpose of gaining access to hunting and fishing areas. Referred to Transportation Committee in both the Senate and Assembly in January. (S1206 GRIFFO / A 1141 Magee)
Requiring A DEC Wildlife Economic Impact Report Requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to prepare a report on the economic impact of hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated activities in New York. In Senate Finance Committee since January; no Assembly sponsor. (S653 VALESKY)
Extending DEC Northern Zone Special Muzzle-Loading Powers This bill would extend DEC’s authority to establish, by regulation, management measures for muzzle-loading firearm big game special season in the Northern Zone until October 1, 2015. In the Adirondacks, concern about lower deer numbers might result in a short, early muzzle-loading season. Passed Assembly but modified in Senate; returned to Assembly June 6. (S4967 GRISANTI / A 6953 Gunther)
Allowing Fishing With Three Lines Environmental Conservation Law would authorize an individual to angle for fish with up to 3 lines in freshwater until December 31, 2013. Currently one person may operate not more than two lines on any waters. Passed by Senate, amended and now at Third Reading. Codes committee in the Assembly. (S.2462-B LIBOUS / A.3480-B Russell)
Gift Cards for Hunting and Fishing Licenses Directs the commissioner of environmental conservation to create gift cards for hunting and fishing licenses. Ordered to Third Reading in the Senate yesterday and on today’s Senate Floor calendar; Referred to Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee in May. (S. 5161 RITCHIE / A. 7576 Gunther)
Extending Coyote Season from March 28 to May 31 Establishes the open season for hunting coyotes as October 1 through May 31 (currently march 28). Sent to Environmental Conservation committee in January; currently no Assembly sponsor. (S2486 LITTLE)
Bear Gall Bladders Senate version at third reading: “Prohibits the possession, sale, barter, offer, purchase, transportation, delivery, or receipt of bear gallbladder, bile, or any product, item, or substance containing, or labeled or advertised as containing, bear gallbladders or bile; exempts federal and state government and individuals with a valid hunting license from transporting one bear gallbladder.” In several committees in the Assembly.
Sacandaga Inland Waterway This bill would add the Sacandaga River to a list of inland waterways which are eligible to receive funding through the Department of State’s Waterfront Revitalization Program (part of the Environmental Protection Fund). It was already passed in the Assembly and waiting for consideration on the Senate floor. (A. 7241 Sayward / S. 4763 Farley)
Commemorate Adirondack Medical Center 100th What is known today as the Adirondack Medical Center began as two separate hospitals, the General Hospital of Saranac Lake, and the Placid Memorial Hospital of Lake Placid. Built at the top of Winona Avenue, the General Hospital of Saranac Lake was founded in 1911; The Placid Memorial Hospital Fund, was organized in 1947, and plans for construction of a new hospital to be located on a Church Street parcel were developed. Doors were opened at the Placid Memorial Hospital of Lake Placid on February 4, 1951. Referred to Finance yesterday. (J. 2567 LITTLE)
Creates A Constitutional Right to Hunt, Fish, and Trap Prohibits counties and other local municipalities from regulating hunting, fishing, and trapping. Both referred to Attorney general for Opinion in May. (S2382-A SEWARD / A 6864-A Gunther)
Soil & Water Conserv Dist Invasive Species Program Authorizes a public information and education program for soil and water conservation districts and relates to the spread of invasive species. Passed Senate in May; Sent to Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee the same day. (S2839-A YOUNG / A 3555 Magee)
Establishes Invasive Species Stewards, Paddling Fee Establishes the aquatic invasive species volunteer steward program within the office of parks, recreation and historic preservation; such program shall use volunteers to collect information on alien plants and animals in state water, and educate boaters thereon; imposes an annual $6 permit fee upon non-motorized vessels and requires the revenue to be deposited into the I love NY waterways vessel access account. Referre to Senate Finance Committee in February; no assembly sponsor. (S3519 JOHNSON)
Repeals Defunct Water Quality Compacts Repeals the Champlain Basin Compact, the Mid-Atlantic States Air Pollution Control Compact and the Delaware River Basin Water Commission Compact. To clean up and clarify the Environmental Conservation Law by repealing certain outdated sections which relate to proposed interstate compacts that were never established. These include: a 1966 law which proposed a Champlain Basin Compact; a 1967 law which proposed a Mid-Atlantic States Air pollution Control Compact; and a 1952 law which proposed a Delaware River Basin Water Commission Compact (not to he confused with the existing Delaware River Basin Compact). Refereed to Senate Environmental Conservation Committee in May; no Assembly sponsor. (S5139 FARLEY)