Posts Tagged ‘Forest Preserve’

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.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Reverence for the Back Twenty

Lake Placid basin in the clouds, from Kuma's ViewIn mere days Amy and I will be be heading to Lost Brook Tract for an extended residence.  We will have many things on our agenda but the one to which I look forward the most is the exploration of the large part of our land that remains unknown to me.

As it always will be.

Lost Brook Tract is square in shape, encompassing an area of some forty acres.  Lost Brook itself cuts through the land for a few hundred feet near the lowest corner.  A short way up from this corner there is a patch of relatively level terrain where Hal Burton built his second lean-to, the one that constitutes our home base.  A half-mile from there and a good three hundred feet up a ridge sits Burton’s Peak, the high point of our land, positioned a little bit to the east of the opposite corner and quite close to the tract’s northern edge.  If you were to draw a diagonal line across the land starting at the southern boundary of Lost Brook Tract and far enough west of the lowest corner to encompass the stream and lean-to, then extended the line to the northern boundary far enough east of the opposite corner to just skirt the beginning of the promontory that defines Burton’s Peak, you would split the tract just about exactly in half. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 3, 2013

APA Schedules NYC Hearing On Finch Lands

Essex ChainThe Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled a hearing in New York City on various options for classifying of 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn land and up to 24,200 acres of adjacent Forest Preserve. The classification decision will determine whether motorized access and recreation will be allowed on the lands and waters in question.

The hearing will be in the Downtown Conference Center at Pace University on Wednesday, June 19, at 6 p.m. The center is located at 157 William Street, 18th Floor, in Manhattan.

The APA plans to hold eight hearings throughout the state on the Finch, Pruyn lands, which the state recently acquired from the Nature Conservancy. The agency had previously announced the dates and locations of the other seven. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

DEC: Skiers Face Uphill Battle For Glades In Preserve

Ron Konowitz skis on Lyon MountainBackcountry skiers who want the state to allow them to maintain ski glades on Lyon Mountain face an uphill battle, but it might be said that those who “earn their turns” are used to uphill battles.

At a public meeting in Saranac last week, several skiers said the glades on Lyon offer some of the best backcountry skiing in the Adirondack Park.

“We’re not looking to cut down mature forest; we’re looking to maintain what’s already there,” said Dean Schneller, a lawyer representing the Adirondack Powder Skier Association. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Do The Adirondacks Have Enough Wilderness?

Quinns-Cliff-300x294Dear readers:  due to a death in the family I was unable to work on this week’s missive.  In lieu of that I am editing and reposting part of a Dispatch from many months ago that is especially germane right now as debate over classification of the Finch Pruyn purchase rages on these pages.  I think it is important to once again make a point about Wilderness from a larger perspective.

Given the nature of the discussion over the Finch lands I need to make a prefatory comment.  I have ranged all over the Adirondacks and I reject the notion expressed by some that Wild Forest  = Wilderness.  While I will admit that solitude can often be as easily or even more easily found in under-used Wild Forest Areas than in over-used Wilderness areas, I do not find the two classifications equal either functionally or aesthetically (for one thing, solitude can be more easily wrecked during a visit to Wild Forest).   The two classification certainly are not equal conceptually – that’s why they exist – and even knowing that as one walks in the woods is valuable.  There are many places in the Unites States that one can have a woods experience roughly equivalent to a visit to Adirondack Wild Forest. There a far fewer places one can go that are as wild and well-protected as Wilderness. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Skiers Seek To Maintain Backcountry Glades On Lyon Mt.

Copy of phil2A band of Adirondack skiers is urging the state to allow them to maintain a glade for skiing on Lyon Mountain—a practice that has been done surreptitiously in the Forest Preserve, but something that authorities view as illegal.

Ron Konowitz, a spokesman for the Adirondack Powder Skier Association, contends that backcountry ski trails and glades do not harm the environment and should be permitted as facilitating a benign use of public lands.

The association is speaking up now because the state Department of Environmental Conservation is preparing a management plan for the 60,000-acre Chazy Highlands Complex, which includes Lyon Mountain. The state purchased Lyon Mountain from the Nature Conservancy in 2008. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Proposal for the High Peaks Wilderness

Marcy Dam 1Last week I set the table for a discussion on how better to manage and protect the High Peaks Wilderness, the centerpiece of the Adirondack Park.  My Dispatch offered no specifics; instead I asked readers for comments and ideas.  I got many good ones.  I paid attention to all of them and was influenced or informed by several.  Now it’s time to show my cards.

Allow me to preface my remarks by saying that while I think everyone who loves the park has a stake in the fate of the High Peaks area, I claim no definitive knowledge of what kinds of changes would be best.  We need to listen to experts in forestry, ecology, land use and the like and follow their lead. That said, I know the High Peaks better than most so I’m not merely being a provocateur here.  Additionally, I have a personal stake in this discussion that is shared by very few: a certain private parcel near and dear to my heart lies within this Wilderness.  » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Hearings On New State Lands to Begin June 12

Essex ChainThe Adirondack Park Agency will kick off on June 12 a series of public hearings on the use and management of 22,500 acres of new state land, including the Essex Chain Lakes and parts of the Hudson River.

After the hearings, the APA will decide how to classify the lands—a decision that will affect how people can recreate and how accessible the lands will be. The state recently bought the former Finch, Pruyn timberlands from the Nature Conservancy.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Improving The High Peaks Wilderness

Great Range from the First BrotherThis week I am getting my mountain fix in the Pacific Northwest, where Amy and I are attending a school in wilderness woodcraft.  That circumstance will make this week’s Dispatch mercifully short.  It will have to serve as a prelude to a more substantial missive I have been working on for a few weeks, one  which will offer suggestions – some of them certain to provoke disagreement – for improving the wilderness experience in the High Peaks, better protecting the Forest Preserve in general and sensitive high mountain terrain in particular.

Regular readers know that I am a proponent of expanding the State’s wilderness holdings.  I have written a number of Dispatches on this topic, so will not repeat my justification for this position here.  But equal to that desire is the desire to see existing wilderness holdings become wilder and healthier over time.  It should be said right at the forefront that the people of the State of New York have done extremely well with that.  Tony Goodwin, commenting to me this week on a number of topics that will be part of my coming Dispatch, gave me a useful and important perspective on this when he described the conditions when he first climbed Mount Marcy, in 1957: » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adirondack Wild Seeks ‘Wild Rivers Wilderness’

essexchainAdirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is proposing newly acquired Forest Preserve in Newcomb and Minerva to be classified Wilderness in honor of one of the Park’s most influential conservation leaders of the 20th century.

The group wants New York State to recognize Paul Schaefer’s historic legacy of protecting the Upper Hudson River by advocating for a Paul Schaefer Wild Rivers Wilderness that is inclusive of the recently acquired Essex Chain of Lakes-Cedar River tract (13,000 acres), Hudson River Stillwater tract (5,000 acres), the Indian River tract (1,400 acres), and the OK Slip Falls tract (2,800 acres).
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Commentary: NYCO’s Mining Amendment Is A Bad Idea

NYCO-Mines-APA-Map-2Legislation is pending in the State Legislature for “second passage” of a Constitutional Amendment to transfer 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands in the Jay Mountain Wilderness to NYCO Minerals, Inc. This legislation has strong support from North Country elected state representatives. The Governor supports it and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is taking an active role stalking for the bill.

There are two big problems with this effort. First, this land swap sets a terrible precedent for the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve. Second, the bill is riddled with inaccuracies, outright falsehoods, and misstatements. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Survey of Lost Brook Tract

Lost Brook Tract SurveyToday I bring to a close my long series on surveying.  In doing so I have the pleasure of returning to Lost Brook Tract and its abiding magic.

As I described four weeks ago, in 1812 Judge John Richards determined the northern boundary line of Lost Brook Tract as part of his survey of the Old Military Tract, when it and all its surroundings were unexplored wilderness.  Here’s the romantic part for me: history shows definitively that after Richards’ survey no one else mapped or explored any part of the tract for another hundred and thirty-six years.  That’s all the way until 1948. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Historian Philip Terrie On Fixing The APA

Keene Valley HomeIn the Adirondacks, we often point with pride to the extraordinary oddness of the Adirondack Park. From Manhattan’s Central Park to California’s Yosemite, Americans have gotten used to parks with neat boundaries enclosing a domain wholly owned by the people. Because the land within the boundary is public and that outside private, when you walk or drive across that boundary, you’ve gone from one sort of place to another. You have certain expectations outside that boundary, which are different from those you have inside.

But as we like to say up here, the Adirondack Park is a park like no other. Aside from invoking this peculiarity as an interesting factoid, however, what do we do with it? What defines this Park? Is it something other than a collection of all the acres (almost 6 million of them, roughly half in the public Forest Preserve and half in private hands) inside a blue line on a map of New York State? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches:
Is the Adirondack Futures Project Anti-Environment?

The title of this Dispatch has the question.  My answer?  Unequivocally no.  In fact from my point of view it is and ought to be the opposite.  As I write this we have just celebrated Earth Day.  What in the name of Gaylord Nelson is going on here?

One week ago I wrote a Dispatch supporting the Adirondack Futures Project.  Two days later, out came Peter Bauer’s column taking the project and its founders, Dave Mason and Jim Herman, to task for “taking cheap shots at environmentalists” and “ridicule of a single faction” in an article about the project for Adirondack Life. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ex-DEC Official Disagrees With Essex Chain Plan

Essex Chain and nearby ponds (Photo by Carl Heilman)A former top official in the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says the department’s proposal for managing the Essex Chain of Lakes will jeopardize the region’s natural resources.

In the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, Christopher Amato calls for classifying the Essex Chain as a Canoe Area, a designation that would prohibit the public use of motorboats, floatplanes, and motor vehicles. DEC has proposed classifying the area as Wild Forest, which would permit motorized access.

Amato’s proposal is closer in spirit to proposals by the Adirondack Council and Protect the Adirondacks to classify all or most of the tract as Wilderness. Motorized use is also prohibited in Wilderness Areas. But Amato, who served as DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources from 2007 to 2011, contends that the Canoe designation is a better fit.

» Continue Reading.



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