Facts are stubborn things. So are traditions, and patterns of use. These all lay at the heart of the recent Lows Lake court decision in Albany County Supreme Court which upheld a Wilderness classification for Lows Lake and the Bog River Flow.
Verplanck Colvin, the great Adirondack explorer and surveyor, came to what is now Lows Lake in the late 1890s, just before inventor A.A. Low dammed the Bog River in two places as part of extensive industrial enterprises that lasted less than 15 years. Colvin’s survey of 1898-1899 was his last (published by the Adirondack Research Center of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks in 1989). » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay from the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).
The state owned lands of the Adirondacks are identified in the New York State Constitution as forest preserve lands and protected by the State constitution to “be forever kept as wild forest lands.” Currently, there are 2.7 million acres of forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks. The Department of Environmental Conservation, under State law, has “care, custody and control” of the forest preserve lands.
Further, the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, overseen by the Adirondack Park Agency, identifies the various management units of the forest preserve, assigns each of the units a land classification category and provides the guidelines for management and recreation for each classification. While there are nine lands classes, the majority of the state lands in the Adirondacks are included in one of the four classification categories below. Wilderness – 18 forest preserve units, containing approximately 1.1 million acres of land, are classified as “Wilderness”. Recreational activities on wilderness lands and waters is limited to non-motorized recreation such as hiking, hunting, fishing, primitive camping, rock climbing, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing and kayaking. Motorized vehicles, motorized boats and mountain biking are prohibited on wilderness lands. Except in very rare cases, the only structures or facilities permitted on these lands are leantos, primitive tent sites, trails, foot bridges and pit privies.
Wild Forest – 20 forest preserve units, containing approximately 1.3 million acres of land, are classified as “Wild Forest”. A wider variety of recreational activities are allowed on the lands and waters in wild forest areas. In addition to the recreational activities allowed on wilderness lands and waters, some forms of motorized recreation are allowed with restrictions. Cars and trucks may only drive on designated roads; snowmobiles may only use designated trails and roads; mountain bikes can use any trails or roads unless prohibited by signs and some specific waters have restrictions on the horsepower of a boat’s motor, allow the use of electric motors only or may be prohibit any motors. Drive up camp sites are provided along some roadways in wild forests areas.
Primitive Areas – 11 forest preserve units larger than 1000 acres, and more than 20 corridors or other small pieces, totaling approximately 66,000 acres, are classified as “Primitive”. Primitive areas are managed the same as wilderness areas and recreational activities are restricted to those allowed on lands and waters classified as wilderness. (The tracts classified “Primitive rather than “Wilderness” because of substantial privately owned “in-holdings” or structures that don’t conform with wilderness guidelines.) The primitive corridors are typically public or private roads within a wilderness area, if it is public road, cars and trucks are allowed on them.
Canoe Area – Only one forest preserve unit, the 18,000 acre St. Regis Canoe Area, is classified as a “Canoe Area”. Canoe areas are managed as wilderness areas, with a focus on non-motorized, water-based activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Primitive camping is allowed at sites accessible only by water. Mountain biking is allowed on the administrative roads.
Intensive Use Areas – These areas are limited in size but provide facilities such as bathrooms, developed beaches, boat launches, paved roadways, and other amenities for the recreating public. There are 42 campgrounds, 25 boat launches, 6 day use areas and 2 ski centers owned by the state in the Adirondack Park. These areas provide for recreational activities like group camping (though without utility hookups), swimming, boating, picnicking, and skiing.
Conservation Easement – Currently there are more than 580,000 acres of privately owned lands in the Adirondack Park which the State owns development rights, and often public recreation rights, called “Conservation Easement Lands”. Typically, these lands are owned and/or managed by timber companies, but the ability to subdivide and build structures on these lands are prohibited or severely limited. The public recreation rights on these lands range from no public access, to access limited to specific corridors or locations, to full public recreation rights. The recreation activities on these lands can be restricted by type, location and season. Check with the Department of Environmental Conservation to learn what recreational activities are allowed on specific parcels. DEC State land regulations apply on any conservation easement land that has public recreational rights.
Other than on intensive use areas, the forest preserve lands are designed and managed to emphasize the self-sufficiency of the recreational users. When recreating on the forest preserve you must assume a high degree of responsibility for environmentally-sound use of such areas and for your own health, safety and welfare.
Be sure to know the laws and regulations governing a recreational activity before participating in that activity.
Horseback riding is allowed on roads open for public use, trails that are marked for horse use, and trails marked for skiing or snowmobiling when there is no snow or ice on the ground.
All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are prohibited on all forest preserve lands.
Recreational activities on the approximately 2.4 million acres of private lands within the Adirondack Park, not under a conservation easement, are not restricted any more than activities on private lands throughout the rest of the state. The public is prohibited from entering private lands without permission of the landowner.
Contact the Department of Environmental Conservation Lands & Forests office for more information: Region 5 – 518-897-1291 or Region 6 – 315-785-2261
This guest essay was contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy. Their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy, share, and protect these unique lands. To learn more about AFPEP visit www.adirondackoutdoors.org.
Fifty people in a room can seem like a crowd. Not so in a great church full of pews, or when spread out on a slope or under trees in the Adirondacks the impression is of a small, intrepid band. One Adirondack celebration with 50 people stands out in my mind. Anne LaBastille helped organize it.
As Anne just passed away, she is much in the collective mind this summer. The year was 1992, the Adirondack Park’s Centennial Year. Anne’s co-conspirator was Norm Van Valkenburgh, the retired director of Lands and Forests with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and a surveyor from the Catskills. Both were keen admirers of the 19th century Adirondack surveyor Verplanck Colvin (1847-1920, and Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey, 1872-1899), who did so much to improve awareness, understanding, knowledge of the Adirondack mountains, and to inspire legislative action in the creation of the Park itself. » Continue Reading.
In recognition of the importance of forests to the health and well being of society, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced a contest to celebrate New York’s forests. The contest is designed to increase awareness of and appreciation for all types of forests, urban and rural, large and small, public and privately owned, across the state.
“The value of our forests cannot be underestimated,” Commissioner Joe Martens said in a prepared statement. “In addition to providing clean air, clean water and places for wildlife to live, thousands of people are employed in the forest products, outdoor recreation and tourism industries, thanks to New York’s wealth of forest.” In the 19th century conservationists recognized the importance of nature as a refuge from the noise and bustle of city life. Modern technology has disconnected many people from the outdoors. Virtual pastimes now rival natural, outdoor activities. Taking and sharing pictures is one of the most popular activities in this country. Through this contest, New Yorkers are encouraged to reconnect with the natural world.
Submitted photos should capture all aspects of forests and trees in five different categories:
Contest details, rules and necessary forms can be found on DEC’s website.
Photos must be taken in New York State. Photos will be accepted through November 1, 2011. A maximum of three photos may be submitted by a photographer, each with a submission form found on the DEC website, via e-mail or on a CD via regular mail. DEC has non-exclusive rights to use submitted photos on DEC’s website, in the Conservationist magazine, in brochures and in other publications promoting forests and DEC. The photographer will retain ownership of the photo.
The winner in each category will receive a framed print of their photo. Winning photos will be announced on or about December 1, 2011.
Photo: State Forest Boundary Sign Near Ticonderoga (John Warren Photo).
What follows is a talk given at the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks’s Arthur M. Crocker Lecture Series in 2006.
It somehow takes the pressure off public speaking to know that one stands up here, rather than sits out there only by accident of birth. That is to say: my father Howard Zahniser, who died four months before the 1964 Wilderness Act became law, was the chief architect of, and lobbyist for, this landmark Act that created the now 106-million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. I am up here because of his accomplishments. » Continue Reading.
Beginning today members of the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP) will contribute to the Adirondack Almanack about Adirondack outdoor recreation. AFPEP shares a vision with Almanack founder John Warren that outdoor recreationists will know, share, and protect the park and themselves. AFPEP hopes to provide Adirondack visitors and residents information about having safe and enjoyable recreational experiences, while protecting the Forest Preserve for future generations. With two and a half million acres of Forest Preserve public land and another three and a half million acres of private land, Adirondack Park recreational opportunities are available for everyone. These weekly essays will offer advice on the entire range of activities allowed on state land from paddling to motorboating, backcountry skiing to snowmobiling, to hunting, fishing, birding, and more.
AFPEP is a coalition created by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Invasive Plant Program, Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Leading E.D.G.E. Building on the Leave No Trace philosophy, their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy and protect these unique lands.
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.
In a letter today complaining to The New York Times about its coverage of a new Department of Environmental Conservation study on fracking, commissioner Joe Martens lists the Adirondack Mountain Club as one of three environmental groups who support its move toward partially ending the freeze on the controversial gas-drilling technique.
Except that’s not the case. In fact, the Mountain Club (ADK) supports only the DEC’s decision not to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing on state-owned forests, parks and wildlife reserves. “This is great news and a major victory for the 28,000 members of the Adirondack Mountain Club who use these lands for outdoor recreation,” ADK director Neil Woodworth said in a statement released Thursday.
“Like our many environmental allies, we share a deep concern about the potential environmental impacts of fracking on drinking water, rivers, streams and other natural resources,” ADK’s statement continued. ADK plans to read and analyze the DEC’s study before making further comment. The report is scheduled to be released at 5 p.m. today. (Happy Fourth of July weekend, reporters.)
Hydraulic fracturing would affect mainly the Southern Tier of New York State, which is underlain by a massive shale formation containing natural gas pockets. The Adirondack Park is not expected to be affected.
Phil Terrie’s essay in the current Adirondack Explorer, “forests don’t need our help,” rebuts those who claim that no further land acquisition is justified because the state “can’t take care of what it already has.” Phil is absolutely correct to call the list of unmet recreational maintenance projects on a given unit of Forest Preserve, such as a trail or lean-to in rough shape, as a lame excuse for not adding additional strategic lands to the Preserve.
He is incorrect, however, in asserting that the “forever wild provision of the state constitution provides a perfect management plan. It costs nothing and provides the best guarantee possible for healthy, aesthetically appealing, functional ecosystems.” Article 14, the forever wild clause of our Constitution, has never been self-executing. Its implementation requires both a vigilant defense to prevent bad amendments from being passed, as well as an offensive team of alert citizens and principled and funded state agencies to proactively carry out its mandate that the forest preserve is to be “forever kept as wild forest lands.” Call it field management, if you will. Over time, you can not preserve wilderness, or shall I say, Forest Preserve without actively managing ourselves, the recreational user. This prerequisite demands that we have management principles, plans and objectives in place, and that we oversee and measure the results.
I don’t mean a lean-to here, or a trail there that may be out of repair and needing maintenance, and not receiving it. What I mean is that the underlying philosophy, principles, plans and objectives for managing our uses of “forever wild” land are vitally important if you expect to still have wild, or natural conditions years hence. Remember that a part of the Wilderness definition in our State Land Master Plan (which echoes the national definition) is to “preserve, enhance and restore natural conditions.” Howard Zahniser, author of the National Wilderness Act, was inspired by New York’s Forever Wild history. He always maintained that our biggest challenge, once Wilderness was designated, was to keep wilderness wild, especially from all of us who could, and often do love wilderness to death. The same applies to the Forest Preserve. Of course, restoring “natural conditions” in a time of climate change is a significant challenge that wilderness managers are facing across the country.
Remember the way Marcy Dam used to look? Restoring that area from the impact of thousands of boot heels and lean-to campers took decades of effort. The High Peaks Wilderness Unit Management Plan established clear management objectives of, for example, restoring native vegetation at heavily used lean-to and trailhead sites, and redistributing and limiting the heavily concentrated camping pattern that once existed. It then took additional years to actively carry out those objectives, measure their progress, and achieve the desired results.
So did the efforts led by Edwin H. Ketchledge, ADK, DEC and Nature Conservancy to ecologically restore the High Peak alpine summits. In the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, the UMP is seeking to restore wilder conditions in the central core area, and move some of the dense snowmobile traffic to the perimeter of that unit.
In the Siamese Ponds Wilderness and Jessup River Wild Forest, it will take years of well directed management effort to restore parts of the western shoreline and islands of Indian Lake to achieve “natural conditions” after decades of uncertain management and overly intensive day and overnight use. Without a Siamese Ponds Wilderness UMP, there would be no clear wild land objectives, and no timetable to achieve them. Yes, those timetables are often exceeded, but these UMPs hold our public officials feet to the fire, and accountable to the State Land Master Plan and to Article 14 of the Constitution.
Our Constitution’s assertion that lands constituting the forest preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands” are, in these myriad and laborious ways, carried out for future generations. And yes, wild land management requires financial resources and devoted personnel. That is why it was so important a decade ago to establish a land stewardship account in the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. Yes, these funds are insufficient, so a stronger public-private partnership for Adirondack wild lands is needed.
Lost so far in the debate over whether and how to acquire some 65,000 acres of Finch, Pruyn lands for the Forest Preserve is the good thinking that should be underway about how to best manage these lands as wild lands, for their wild, ecological and recreational values. Assuming that some day these lands will be part of the Forest Preserve, time and effort needs to be devoted now to management planning that may help keep these lands as wild as possible, preserving their ecological integrity while planning for recreational uses that are compatible with the paramount need to care for these lands as part of the Forest Preserve.
For example, public access will need to be closely managed if wild land and natural conditions are to be preserved, enhanced or restored. During a visit sponsored by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, I was impressed, for example, with the extensive logging road network leading to the Essex Chain of Lakes south of Newcomb. This beautiful chain of lakes offers a fine future canoeing and kayaking attraction in the central Adirondacks, as well as an ecologically interesting and important aquatic resource.
State and private natural resource managers are giving quite a bit of thought, as they should, to how and where the paddling public might access the chain of lakes. Closing off some of the roads to motorized traffic, turning these into narrower trails, and requiring paddlers to carry or wheel their boats longer distances to enter or leave the lakes would create or restore wilder and more natural conditions along these sensitive shorelines, conditions which would appeal to paddlers from across the Northern Forest and Canada. Special fishing regulations may also be required to preserve the fishery long treasured by the private leaseholders here. The same level of planning thought will be needed to assure or restore both wild and natural conditions at Boreas Ponds, the Upper Hudson River and other former Finch lands and waters that merit Forest Preserve status.
Photo: Paddling on the Essex Chain of Lakes, south of Newcomb, NY, as guests of The Nature Conservancy.
One of the local officials who supported an investigation of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy’s sale of land to the state says he still thinks the state’s land-acquisition policy needs to be reformed–even though the probe found no wrongdoing.
Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, continues to question why the state paid $3.7 million more for the land in 2008 than the Nature Conservancy paid four years earlier. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by Ken Strike, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and member of the board of Protect the Adirondacks. Ken and Lorraine Duvall produced a demographic study of the Adirondacks following 2009’s Adirondack Park Regional Assessment (APRAP) report. The Almanack asked Ken, who lives in Thendara on the Moose River, to provide his perspective on the 2010 Census.
What does the 2010 census tell us about ourselves? The Adirondack population is basically flat with growth in some places and losses in others, and our population is aging. For some it has been easy to conclude that these demographics are the result of a poor economy and that this poor economy results from public ownership of land and the Park’s regulatory environment. However, a more careful reading of the 2010 census data tea leaves does not support these views. Rather, they suggest that we are much like other rural areas – in fact we’re better off than many. Our population dynamics also track the dynamics of the U.S. and NYS white population. No great surprise that. And they suggest that the Park is an asset, not a liability. » Continue Reading.
ADK’s 15th annual gala and auction will be held from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday, May 21, at the Hiland Park Country Club, 195 Haviland Road, Queensbury. The Black Fly Affair is ADK’s signature event and largest fund-raiser. Recommended attire is formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced.
“Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball” features one of the region’s largest benefit auctions – an opportunity to shop for bargains on original artwork, outdoor gear, jewelry, weekend getaways, tickets to cultural events and more. Proceeds from the event support the Adirondack Mountain Club’s conservation and outdoor education programs. Stan Hall, president of the Cooperstown Brewing Co., is the honorary chairperson. Radio personality Gregory McKnight will be master of ceremonies. There will be food, beverages and dancing to the music of Standing Room Only. Cooperstown Brewing Co. will provide samples of its premium ales, porters and stouts.
ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction. Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals will conduct the auction. A preview of auction items is available online.
Tickets are $45 per person until May 13, and $55 after May 13 and at the door. For reservations, call (800) 395-8080 Ext. 25 or register online. Discounted room rates for Black Fly attendees are available at Clarion Inn & Suites, 1454 Route 9, Lake George. Hiland Park Golf Club is offering Black Fly participants a special deal on a round of golf before the event. Call (518) 793-2000 for tee times.
Corporate sponsors of Black Fly Affair are the Times Union, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, TD Bank, Cool Insuring Agency, Price Chopper Golub Foundation and JBI Helicopter Services. To donate an auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at (800) 395-8080 Ext. 42.
The Adirondack Mountain Club is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of the New York Forest Preserve. ADK helps protect the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation. More information is available at www.adk.org.
The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume may seem like an unlikely lens through which to interrogate our Adirondack situation, except that all of our contemporary discord over public versus private land ownership and conflict over the need to manage natural resources in order to ensure human and other-than-human flourishing for generations to come, all sounds vaguely familiar.
Hume makes an impassioned argument for the commons when he writes of a world where resources “would be used freely, without regard to property; but cautiously too” after all he asks “why raise land-marks between my neighbor’s field and mine, when my heart has made no division between our interests” (Hume, 1777). » Continue Reading.
Conservation easements are real property arrangements designed for the insider. Specialists predominate before and after an easement is consummated in private, including the negotiators to the terms of the easement (the seller, donor, buyer, or grantor and grantee and their lawyers), the appraiser of the easement’s value, and an ecological specialist who conducts baseline surveys of the land in question. There is rarely, if ever, a public meeting to discuss the details of the easement. The public may learn about easements through after the fact press releases, but their specific provisions and public benefits may be unclear for years. » Continue Reading.
An ATV rally, SNIRT (Snow/Dirt), is coming under fire from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Council for apparent purposeful destruction of wetlands near Otter Creek and Brantingham Lake in the Southwest part of the Adirondack Park in Lewis County (the Eastern side of the Tug Hill Plateau).
The event drew attention after YouTube videos of the event from 2008 and 2010 surfaced showing ATV users riding through wetlands, past posted signs, and drinking at the event, and after the rally’s organizers sought to move the event onto some state lands. » Continue Reading.
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