Posts Tagged ‘Forest Preserve’

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.


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.



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