Thank you readers! The results of my little poll exceeded my expectations. I received nearly 150 responses, a great number.
Let me remind you that this poll was intended to be neither scientific nor comprehensive. It was designed by me to see if the results would highlight what I think is a hidden issue concerning the future of the Adirondack Park. It did that for sure, but it also provided other insights.
Here is how the issues fell out, ranked by weighted average:
When it comes to major issues that impact the future of the Adirondacks this year has been one of the most event-filled in decades. From the ongoing Adirondack Club and Resort debate and the orbiting cluster of questions related to private land use to the continuing economic wins for the North Country, the recent constitutional amendments and the classification of the Finch Pruyn lands, this has been a pivotal time.
My reading of recent events is that most of the news is good news for the park. It seems to me that stakeholders in the Adirondacks are responding to the challenges we face with concrete initiatives that are making a difference but also with a sense of intelligence: people are thinking a lot about matters in the park and there seems to be a higher level of general understanding of these challenges than in years past. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency voted unanimously today to approve a staff recommendation to create a 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area and a 9,940-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area on lands once owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
The vote climaxed a year of work that included public hearings, which elicited thousands of comments, and negotiations between state officials and various stakeholders.
Underscoring the importance of the decision was that Basil Seggos, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary for the environment, drove up from Albany to attend the APA’s meeting.
Someone I know gained some of his inspiration for helping to conserve the backwoods and wildlife in the Adirondack Park from an African who spoke admiringly of the Adirondack Park’s people and wilderness coexisting, and as one of the globe’s most important places. My friend has never forgotten this encounter with a man knowledgeable of the Adirondacks in East Africa. Perhaps it is necessary to travel purposefully in the world to more keenly appreciate how many from all walks of life pay attention to what goes on in our Park.
I don’t know if Nelson Mandela was another one of those on the African continent paying attention to the Adirondack Park, and it doesn’t matter. He paid attention to freedom and justice in South Africa and the world, and that attention encompasses the right to enjoy, appreciate and protect an unpolluted world from whence he and we come, and evolved. As he stated in the address copied below, “a sustainable future for humankind depends on a caring partnership with nature as much as anything else.” He clearly loved the land of his birth, and his body and spirit are returning to it this week. » Continue Reading.
Last month, voters in New York State approved Proposition 5, which amends Article 14 of the New York Constitution to potentially allow exploratory drilling and mining by a private mining company, NYCO, on two hundred acres of Forest Preserve lands (Lot 8) in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area. The amendment authorizes a potential land swap from NYCO that, in theory, will compensate the people of the state for the loss of two hundred wilderness acres, and further requires that Lot 8 ultimately be “remediated” and returned to state ownership.
In the months leading up to the vote and in the weeks since its passage, Prop 5 has stirred intense and at times acrimonious debate. Unfortunately, the debate has tended to obscure rather than shed light on what Prop 5 really authorizes and what this novel amendment might mean for the future of “forever wild.” Here is some fact and fiction about Prop 5: » Continue Reading.
Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and those fortunate enough are gathering with family and friends to gorge themselves on a hearty meal, giving thanks for the bounty enjoyed throughout the year. Tomorrow, many of us will turn around and venture into the shopping wilderness to forage for the best deal on things few of us need, in celebration of the birth of a man who lived over two thousand years ago when people got by with so little.
Just appreciating what we already have seems to be out of vogue these days. Our appetite for stuff appears more insatiable with each passing year. The simple things in life, such as family, friends, and the beauty of the great outdoors are no longer satisfying enough, and hardly a substitute for the newest smart phone, tablet, or new-fangled whatchamacallit. » Continue Reading.
Since November 5, when voters approved an amendment to the state constitution to permit a mining company to mine 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands, we have learned much more about the proposition than we knew before the vote. We always knew that the company proposed to mine the Forest Preserve, and everyone, proponents and opponents alike, thought it at least noteworthy that two environmental protection groups dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the constitutional clause that states that Forest Preserve lands will remain “Forever Wild,” supported the proposition.
But we did not know that the state officials who were lobbying the legislature to place the proposal on the ballot were unaware that the mining company already had access to a second mine on its own land, which it has not yet begun to utilize. We did not know that the company was spending at least half a million dollars to win passage of the proposition. And that’s not including the thousands of dollars it donated to the campaigns of Senator Betty Little, who sponsored the bill that put the proposition on the ballot. » Continue Reading.
I have been experiencing potent daydreams over the last week. Really they are little flashes of transference, brief moments where my conscious self is in a different place than I am. It is less than an out of body experience – a concept which my reason will not allow – but it is much more than simply thinking about or remembering or longing to be somewhere. Everyone has had similar experiences, when all of a sudden another place or time from memory, or even a fiction from imagination, floods into one’s head so strongly that the smell, sound and feel of it is palpable.
My daydream is no fiction: it is a small glade two thousand feet up and three miles in along the bushwhack route we take to Lost Brook Tract. Some disturbance created it many decades past, a long enough span of time so that almost no trace of downed trees remains. Since then the fortunes of wind and slope, of patterns of water running down the bedrock below the soil, have kept it from filling back in. Surrounded by a ring of birch, spruce and balsam, it is perhaps fifty feet by thirty feet in extent, carpeted in ferns and boreal undergrowth. » Continue Reading.
Now that NYCO Minerals has won the right to purchase a 200-acre parcel in the Jay Mountain Wilderness, the company must decide whether it wants the land.
Starting in January, NYCO will drill a series of test bores to determine whether the bedrock under the parcel, known as Lot 8, contains enough wollastonite to make mining worthwhile.
Mark Buckley, NYCO’s environmental manager, said the company expects to drill eight to twelve holes over a few months. Each hole will be two inches in diameter and perhaps 200 to 250 feet deep. » Continue Reading.
We talked for several minutes about the association’s campaign to maintain ski glades in the Forest Preserve. Adirondack Almanack reported on this initiative back in May. Since then, the association has been meeting with environmental activists and government officials to drum up support.
I’ve often heard people say that there’s either too much or not enough public land in the Adirondacks. I thought I’d crunch some numbers and let readers explore the data for themselves:
I put together a map visualization that shows the relative proportion of public land, trails and lean-to’s around the interior hamlets of the park. The land classification figures are probably very accurate, as they are derived from the Adirondack Park Agency’s Land Classification and Land Use map. If you notice some strange numbers for biking and horse trails its because these trail types have not been as diligently classified in the DEC trails database as hiking and snowmobile trails.
Much is already being made about the great victory in passing Proposition 5 – the controversial Constitutional Amendment known as Proposition 5 that was approved by New Yorkers on November 5, 2013 to sell 200 acres of forever wild Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness to NYCO Minerals, Inc., a mining company that plans to incorporate it into its adjacent open pit mine.
I believe that some who are jubilant now will come to rue this day. If Forever Wild can’t be saved from the jaws of a mining company to be clearcut, blasted and mined, then when can it be saved? » Continue Reading.
When Susan Bibeau and I paddled the Essex Chain Lakes on October 1, the day it opened to the public, we ran into a crew on the shore of Third Lake who were recording a video for the Nature Conservancy, which had sold the Essex Chain Tract to the state, making it part of the forever-wild Forest Preserve.
I asked Connie Prickett, the conservancy’s spokeswoman, to send me a link to the video when it was done, and now she has. » Continue Reading.
What follows is an open letter issued today to Adirondack Almanack readers.
Dear Adirondack Almanack Readers:
Voters reaffirmed that the Adirondack Park belongs to all New Yorkers. Proposition 4 (Township 40) was approved by a wide margin. Voters also approved Proposition 5 that expands the Jay Mountain Wilderness as part of a land swap with the NYCO mineral company. The approval of this constitutional amendment expands access to all sides of the Jay Mountain Wilderness and adds important new resources to the Forest Preserve.
Election results show that New Yorkers care deeply about the Adirondack Park. Clearly the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and the New York League of Conservation Voters’ collaboration with local governments, unions, and property owners can produce victories and results that benefit the Forest Preserve and communities. » Continue Reading.
I’ve been following the debate over the proposed amendment to the New York State Constitution to allow NYCO Minerals, Inc. to conduct exploratory drilling on 200 acres of Forest Preserve in the Jay Mountain Wilderness. The basic framework for this proposal is that whatever land NYCO disturbs by their drilling and mining must be exchanged for land of equal or greater value and acreage that NYCO donates to the Forest Preserve.
Please remember as you read this commentary that I have repeatedly and consistently positioned myself as an advocate for finding common ground and seeking consensus around the most controversial issues in the park. There are plenty of people who are wary of this approach because they fear that efforts to find “balance” or “compromise” will lead to the abandonment of principles that should never be compromised. That skepticism is unfortunate: negotiations to achieve consensus around common interests, when done correctly, are never about compromise of principles. Rather they are about avoiding black and white thinking, absolutist rhetoric and the disingenuous politics that so easily proceeds from strident declamations of rightness (for an object lesson, see the tragic rhetoric over this issue). » Continue Reading.
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