Posts Tagged ‘Forest Preserve’

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: To My Father

Near DadThis month is my father’s birthday.  We lost him to cancer sixteen years ago; he would have been 96.

I’ve been thinking about my father lately as my interest in Adirondack history has grown in its personal impact.  The palpable feel of the history in the park, the physical sense of it, is the result of a sensibility I owe my parents, especially my father.   His life and values tied me directly to a different time, to a different world that is always echoed in the wilderness, in places that connect all of us to a sense of the primitive and to bygone lives.

Ray Nelson lived part of his youth as a frontier man, literally, in the north woods of Wisconsin.  There he lumbered, built cabins and farmed on a homestead that had been carved out of the wilds.  There was no electricity on this farm, only kerosene.  Power was human and animal muscle, no engines.  Dad was proud into his late years that he still knew how to bridle a horse.  I was born many years after this era but it is moving to me how much I feel such a continuum to it and on through my own life, most of it channeled through the abiding permanence of the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dave Gibson:
Land Sought For Mining Company Is Hardly Ordinary

This Sugar Maple on Lot 8 may be 175 years old or moreBill Ingersoll’s recent post about the November 5 vote on the NYCO Minerals-State Land Exchange (Proposition 5 on the upcoming ballot) makes good reading – as do the comments.

His interpretation, that the land exchange stripped-down to its essence represents a straight commercial transaction that lacks any public need or benefit, is one Adirondack Wild shares, but Bill made an especially articulate case.

One of the interesting comments to Bill’s post comes from my colleague Dan Plumley. Dan notes that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s characterization of “Lot 8,” the 200-acre section of Jay Mountain Wilderness the company wants to mine for wollastonite, is plain wrong. Dan’s opinion is informed by observations he and I made during recent field visits to Lot 8. We were impressed by the forest environment there, which I will get to in a moment. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Commentary: Vote Yes on the Township 40 Amendment

Township 40 (Totten and Crossfield, 1900)On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 New York State voters will have an opportunity to vote on several state-wide propositions.  Proposition #4 (Prop 4), is one of two Constitutional Amendments affecting the Adirondacks.  It’s the result of long-standing title disputes between the State of New York and property owners on Raquette Lake in the old Township 40 of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase.

A positive vote will correct an injustice that has been perpetuated for over 100 years.

I write as an interested party, but I’m not directly involved in any aspect of the controversy that gives rise to Prop 4.  I don’t own property on or near Raquette Lake.  I’m not one of the contested property holders.  But, for nearly 35 years I have paddled the waters of this lake starting with a group of high school students, canoeing, camping, and learning about the outdoors.  I’ve paddled the lake with my wife, with friends, and with clients as an Adirondack guide.  In 2005, I paddled Raquette Lake  recreating the 1883 paddle of George Washington Sears (a.k.a. Nessmuk) and many times since as a trail steward for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

High Peaks History: The 1913 Fire at Chapel Pond

Putnam Camp 1913 Fire AftermathOne hundred years ago this September the Keene Valley faced the second massive fire to threaten it from the south since the dawn of the young century.  The irrepressible artist Harold Weston, then a young man of nineteen, was on the front lines along with his family; his father, secretary of Adirondack Trail Improvement Society (ATIS) at the time, was chief adviser to the Army platoon that President Woodrow Wilson had sent to help fight the fires.

In his collection Freedom in the Wilds Weston recounts the progress of the fire up the ridge of Noonmark and over the southern part of Round Mountain to Chapel Pond as crews of men, pressed beyond the point of exhaustion, tried to stop it with fire lines and back fires set at the edges of the 1903 fire’s advance. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Waterway Navigation:
The Moose River Lumber Company Cases

Moose River Logging Navigation CaseThe books of Henry Harter and Harold Hochschild discuss the building of the short-lived Raquette Lake Railway, its millionaire owners and probable origins.  These include Mrs. Huntington threatening not to visit Collis Huntington’s Pine Knot Camp if she had to continue using the Fulton Chain steamers, riding on buckboard and boat carries beyond Fourth Lake.

Maybe Mr. Huntington, not finding an empty seat, got the idea after sitting on a keg of nails on one steamer ride. No doubt tycoons as Durant, Morgan, Vanderbilt and Whitney envied Dr. Webb’s ability to ride a private train to his Nehasane Preserve from New York. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Peter Bauer: Homage to the 1924 Sign Law

billboards-AAThe 1924 sign law that effectively banned billboards throughout the Adirondack Park shows how our forbearers were braver, wiser, and more prescient than we are today.

It was a bold decision that resulted, by some accounts, in the removal of over 1,400 billboards. In the Adirondack Park this law largely prevented an assault of rooftop and roadside billboards that dominate broad stretches of the U.S. – the cluttered strips of Anywhere USA. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Two Fiery September Anniversaries

1913 Army Tents at the Foot of GiantA year ago last April I wrote about the Spring 1903 fire season during which nearly half a million acres burned in multiple fires throughout the Adirondacks.  The largest fires were in Keene and North Elba; these had a personal relevance to me as they ringed Lost Brook Tract.  The one sweeping into the heart of the High Peaks from the north came within six minutes of consuming the entire tract before drenching rains stopped it.

Thanks to meteorological luck as much as the brave and exhausting work by men and women fighting their advance, the 1903 fires did not result in major losses to towns or settlements.  But there were incredibly close calls: the same drenching rains that saved Lost Brook Tract also saved Keene and Keene Valley from certain destruction: so imminent were the blazes in at least two directions that their heat could be felt and ash blanketed the hamlets.  Residents had buried their belongings and fled; only fate gave them homes to which to return » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Founding Moment of the Adirondack Park:
The 1894 Constitutional Convention

Log sluice and stripped mountainside, near Elizabethtown, 1880s1894 had been a hot summer. 119 years ago this week the most important question before the Constitutional Convention of 1894 came to a head. What, if any, amendments to the State Constitution should be adopted for the preservation of the State forests?

The scene was the Assembly chamber in the Capitol at Albany, the date was Saturday, September 8, 1894, and the speaker was a New York City lawyer by the name of David McClure, the chairman of the convention’s five-man special committee on forest preservation. The topic was, according to the man with the gavel, Convention Chairman Joseph Choate, “further consideration of a general order relating to the forest preserves.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Adirondack Council’s Willie Janeway On His First 100 Days

Entering-Adirondack-ParkWhen I started as the Council’s executive director on May 1, friends in the Park said “welcome home.”  I had worked here for the Adirondack Mountain Club for close to 10 years after graduating from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Economics and Environmental studies back in 1985.

That led to work with The Nature Conservancy, the Hudson River Greenway Council and – for the past six years – as a Regional Director for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in the Hudson Valley/Catskills region. I continued to visit the park when time allowed and kept myself current on park issues, hoping that someday I would get a chance to return to this special place. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pete Nelson: An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo

Third Lake, Essex ChainDear Governor Cuomo:

I write today to urge you to support a Wilderness Classification for the former Finch Pruyn lands surrounding the Hudson River and the Essex Chain of Lakes.  After a comment period and series of public hearings that has given the citizens of New York an opportunity to voice their opinion, the decision lies in the hands of the Adirondack Park Agency.  But the final approval is yours alone.  More important, the chance to lead on an issue of national importance that lies at the heart of our journey into the future as New Yorkers and Americans is yours alone as well. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Largest NYS Land Purchase in Forest Preserve History

Four-Flight_Lock_in_Black_River_Canal,_New_YorkThe state’s ongoing purchase of some 65,000 acres from the Nature Conservancy brings to mind the largest land purchase for the Forest Preserve in history.  In 1896, the needs of the Erie Canal resulted in the state’s purchase from Dr. William Seward Webb of 74,584 acres.

The story begins with the Black River, which starts primarily at North Lake reservoir and travels in a route that begins southwesterly then turns northwesterly around Forestport to ultimately end at Lake Ontario.  At 115 miles, it is the longest river running completely within New York’s borders. Bodies of water adding to the Black River’s water volume include Otter and Woodhull Creeks, and the Independence, Moose and Beaver Rivers.  In the 19th century, Watertown and other river towns grew from villages to industrial centers with factories and mills relying heavily on water power. » Continue Reading.


Friday, August 2, 2013

State May Acquire Marion River Carry

Marion_RiverA historic carry trail between Utowana Lake and the Marion River likely will be added to the Forest Preserve if the public approves an amendment to the state constitution to resolve a longstanding dispute over the ownership of more than two hundred parcels on Raquette Lake.

Under this scenario, the state would give up title to the disputed lands in exchange for the 295-acre Marion River parcel, which the Open Space Institute purchased this year for $2 million from Dean Pohl, who operates a cruise boat on Raquette Lake.

The deal is not set in stone. If the amendment passes in November, the state legislature will have to determine that the swap would provide a net benefit to the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Most Written Comments Support Wilderness Classification

Essex ChainAlmost 5,000 pages of written public comments, most supporting Wilderness classification, were submitted as part of the recent public hearing concerning some 46,000 acres of newly purchased and existing Forest Preserve lands around the Essex Chain Lakes area and 22 miles of the Hudson River. The carefully argued and highly emotional comments, were acquired  from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The comments were emailed, faxed and mailed; some were handwritten or sent from iPads and smartphones. They included a variety of form letters and petitions.

The nearly 5,000 pages were part of some 3,600 written comments submitted in total. Only the written comments were included in the FOIA request. An analysis of testimony from the eight public hearings; five held in the Adirondacks, three outside the Park, was not included. Around 200 total speakers made statements at those hearings, many speaking more than once. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Economic Value of Protected Land

Ashokan Reservoir, Catskill MountainsThe Catskill Park and Forest Preserve may be smaller in size than our Adirondack Park but, like Avis in relation to Hertz, Catskill residents may feel the need to try harder.

One senses some good energy in the Catskill Mountains these days, and interesting initiatives are underway there, including an attempt to quantify visitation to the Catskill’s protected public and private lands and waters, and resulting economic value added to the Catskill economy.

It would make sense if the same evaluation study method were applied to the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Understanding NYS Tax Payments On State Lands

Historic Forest Preserve LandsThe idea that the State of New York does not pay taxes on state lands is an enduring myth in the Adirondack Park. At the June-July 2013 APA Forest Preserve classification hearings some speakers erroneously made this charge. Different state laws require property tax payments by the state for both Forest Preserve and conservation easements. The NYS Real Property Tax Law defines most categories of state tax payments.

The State of New York pays local property taxes on Forest Preserve lands it owns just like any other taxpayer. In 2011, it was estimated that combined town, county, school and special district taxes topped $75 million from the state for over 3.4 million acres of Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands in the Adirondack Park. Here is information from NYS Real Property Services organized by town-level data and county-level data. » Continue Reading.



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