There is an interesting story over at WNBZ updating the more then 100-year-old dispute between owners of about 1,000 acres in the Hamlet of Raquette Lake, once a part of Township 40, and the State of New York. The dispute is a confusing mess of claims and counter claims, but it looks like there may be a resolution in the works. Of course any deal will require another Forest Preserve land swap and associated Constitutional Amendment. There is a nice recounting of the history of the dispute here.
Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Town of Long Lake, Raquette Lake residents, state legislators and several environmental groups are back at the negotiation table in an attempt to end the land dispute once and for all. » Continue Reading.
The Herkimer County Progressive blog’s post A Local Stimulus Wish List got me wondering what folks in the Adirondacks would want to do with stimulus money. It’s a question our politicians didn’t bother to really ask – so here’s your opportunity to sound off. New or improved trails? Light rail? Sewer system installations or upgrades? Educational upgrades? Rooftop highway? Invasive eradication? Property tax relief? Additions to the Forest Preserve? Energy projects?
The question is basically if you had unlimited money, but had to prioritize, where would you put it?
Today marks the anniversary of one of the worst storms in Upstate New York history. During the early morning hours of July 15, 1995 a series of severe thunderstorms crossed the Adirondacks and much of eastern New York. Meteorologists call the phenomena by the Spanish “Derecho” but locals often refer to the event as the Blowdown of 1995. A similar weather event / blowdown occurred in 1950.
A Derecho is part of a larger family of storms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS), a complex of thunderstorms that becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms and which includes phenomenon like lake effect snow. An MCS can sometimes act in ways similar to a hurricane and can produce torrential downpours and high winds. Aside from the remarkable power of the weather event, another unique thing happened – a shift in public policy with regard to salvage logging of public lands. The State’s decision to forgo salvage logging was in stark contrast to federal policies at the time that allowed federal lands to be logged in similar salvage situations. » Continue Reading.
After months of discussion and evaluation, the decision was made on Saturday to formally consolidate the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) with the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) and to form a new organization called Protect the Adirondacks. The new organization will continue a better than 100-year history of protecting the Adirondacks so I thought I’d take a moment to take a look at the new group and how it developed historically.
At their annual meeting last Saturday at Heaven Hill Farm outside the Village of Lake Placid, the memberships of both organizations voted in favor of consolidation, which enables the process to move through the final legal steps of incorporation. The membership of the Residents’ Committee voted 83-0 in favor of the consolidation. The membership of the Association voted 111-2 in favor. » Continue Reading.
One story has been lost in the drama coming out of the New York State Legislature lately: the Constitutional amendment. In May, before it became completely dysfunctional, the NYS Senate passed a bill that would give after-the-fact permission for a new power line from Stark Falls Reservoir to the Village of Tupper Lake. The Constitutional Amendment is necessary to provide an exception to the Forever Wild clause of the Constitution (Article 14, Section 1). The Forever Wild clause forbids logging or development on the Adirondack Forest Preserve, and that includes power lines. The Amendment requires passage by two separately elected legislatures, which is now complete, and then approval by voters on a statewide ballot this fall. » Continue Reading.
We’ve moved one step closer to having a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in November that affects a corner of the Adirondack Park in Colton in St. Lawrence County. Monday the NYS Senate passed (62-0) a bill that would allow the construction of a power line from Stark Falls Reservoir to the Village of Tupper Lake. The supplemental line would pass through a section of Route 56 roadside within the Adirondack Forest Preserve between Seveys Corners (near the Carry and Starks Falls reservoirs) and the hamlet of South Colton. The line is part of a project to improve power reliability for the Tri-Lakes communities of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. » Continue Reading.
I received this week from John Sheehan, Director of Communications for The Adirondack Council, the following interesting history and analysis of the recent Nature Conservancy sale and what it means to the history of logging in the backcountry. I’m reprinting it here in its entirety for the information of Adirondack Almanack readers:
When the ATP Group, a private investment company that handles pension funds for the Danish government, made its first major investment in the United States Monday, its purchase of 92,000 acres of commercial forestlands from The Nature Conservancy brought to an end the era of the industrial ownership of the Adirondack Park’s vast, private backcountry. » Continue Reading.
The following press release, presented here in its entirety, comes from the John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council:
Proposed Cap on State’s Tax Payments to Localities Undercuts 122-Year-Old Compact Between State & Adirondack/Catskill Park Towns, Counties and School Districts
As the deadline nears for Gov. David Paterson to make last-minute changes to his 2009-10 budget plan, more than 100 government and civic leaders from the Adirondack and Catskill parks are urging the governor to discard his plan to cap the state’s property tax payments to local towns, counties and school districts that host state Forest Preserve lands. » Continue Reading.
Carter Bales, Co-Chair of the American Response to Climate Change National Conference, just gave a talk on what a national approach to greenhouse gas reductions might look like. “It’s difficult to be optimistic,” Bales said, noting also that it would require “a mobilization of the nation not seen since World War Two.” He said that provided the misinformation campaign of the Exxons and the coal producers fails, and the new Obama administration is serious, there “could be legislation may by 2011″ and it may become effective by 2015.” “There is hope” he said, “but time is not our friend.” Generally speaking Bales said a four pronged action plan was necessary:
1 – a cap on carbon emissions 2 – raising efficiencies 3 – supporting deployment of new technologies and solutions 4 – addressing sections of the economy not included in the carbon cap (like ag and forestry)
Bales laid out five areas where differences could be made:
Building and Appliances (advanced lighting, electronic equipment, building shell / green building improvements). He called for a “new generation of appliances using half the energy of today.”
Transportation (biofuels, fuel economy improvements, advanced propulsion systems). Bales said gas would be $14 gallon if not for “peace keeping” and subsidies.
Industry (recovery of non CO2 green house gases from industrial processes, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency). Bales said that carbon capture and storage is “a complete nightmare, it either isn’t going to happen or it isn’t going to happen for a long time.”
Carbon Sinks (Afforestation of underutilized pasture and crop land, better forest management, alternative agricultural practices such as winter cover crops, conservation tillage). Bales noted that our carbon emissions in the US average about 20 tons per person; in India, it’s 1.5 tons per person. He also noted the important role of forested areas as carbon sinks. Guyana, he pointed out, has negative carbon emissions per person thanks to their large rainforest. “We should be paying Guyana to keep its rainforest standing,” he said adding that it would cost less than $5 a per ton of carbon emissions.
Power (expanding low carbon generation including carbon capture and storage for coal, developing wind and solar, and improving power plant efficiencies). “Natural gas is at best a transitional strategy,” he said, adding that “without fixing our power generation you’re not going to fix the problem.”
Bales also suggested a number of economic benefits from the transition to a low carbon economy:
1 – many existing industries (such as energy services) will boom especially as off-shoring is reduced and local production and servicing comes to the fore.
2 – new industries and businesses will form (particularly around efficiency retooling and green technologies).
3 – energy efficiency will save money for consumers directly.
4 – “peaking power” used at times of peak power demand will be reduced (“peaking power” is dirtier and more expensive)
5 – economies in rural areas (!!) will benefit from renewable energy technologies including wind and biomass.
One important thing for our region that Bales said was that there needs to be discussions on putting a value on standing carbon sinks like the Adirondack forests.
So far the conference is going well and putting together an Adirondack Climate Action Plan looks closer to reality then ever before. This afternoon smaller groups will meet and workshop over the following topics:
Energy Efficient Buildings & Contractor Preparedness Alternative Fuels & Biofuels, Small Scale Power Generation Local ‘Green’ Economic Development and The role of Government Natural Ecosystems and The Role of Adirondack Lands and Forests in Carbon Mitigation
So many questions are going through my mind that it’s difficult to decide on which session.
What are the plans for getting the big real estate developers on board? After all, construction is a huge segment of our economy.
Does small scale power generation mean a distributed network? Small scale solar, water, and wind everywhere? Does it mean the kind of industrialization of our mountaintops and ridges like that proposed for the wind project in Johnsburg?
How does the tourism industry get on board? Does green economic development mean finally capitalizing on the Adirondacks potential as a green tourism destination?
Does the Adirondack sink mean that money will flow from government and industry coffers into the region in the future? Aren’t we in the Adirondacks like Guyana, at least a little bit?
So many questions, and I can only get to one workshop.
The arrival of the shiny, emerald green beetle, about 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide, in the U.S. may be as serious a threat to white, green, and black ash trees as Dutch elm disease was to the American elm.
Ash trees are a common species; green and black ash grow in wet swampy areas and along streams and rivers; white ash is common in drier, upland soils. Many species of wildlife, including some waterfowl and game birds, feed on ash seeds. Ash is used as a source for hardwood timber, firewood, and for the manufacturing of baseball bats and hockey sticks. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets estimates the total economic value of New York’s white ash to be $1.9 billion dollars. » Continue Reading.
On Friday, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, 4th Department, ruled in the Dillenburg Case that the state may continue to make tax payments on state-owned land. The ruling will ultimately protect the Forest Preserve, local schools and governments, and the local economy.
In December of last year New York State Supreme Court Judge Timothy Walker issued an order throwing out payments in lieu of taxes for state lands. The move threatened to have a huge impact on towns, schools, and taxpayers in the region. Town of Inlet Supervisor J.R. Risley, said his town has about 400 year-round residents, 10,000 summer residents, and that 93 percent of the land is state-owned. The ruling was expected to double the town’s tax rate. Twenty-two percent of the Saranac Lake Central School District tax levy comes from taxes on state land – the number is fourteen percent in Tupper Lake. The ruling had been stayed while awaiting appeal – it was #2 on Adirondack Almanack’s Top Stories of 2007. » Continue Reading.
This post has been cross-posted to New York History, the blog of Historical News and Views From The Empire State.
In the heart of the Adirondacks is the Town of Newcomb, population about 500. The town was developed as a lumbering and mining community – today tourism and forest and wood products are the dominate way locals make a living. As a result the Essex County town is one of the Adirondacks’ poorer communities ($32,639 median income in 2000). » Continue Reading.
A regular reader of the Almanack sent us this article from the Chronicle writer Gordon Woodsworth with the following note:
Although I suppose I agree w/ the rational for the charge – it saves innocent victims trouble, time and expense,and I assume he’s guilty of breaking and entry and burglary. There is something a bit dark and sinister that he’s charged with the felony of cutting the State’s trees and brush to make himself a shelter in the wild. Sounds like Robin Hood’s Merry Men who were mostly criminalized for “hunting the King’s Deer.”
We couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the heavy hand of our new-found police state isn’t above charging people for unrelated crimes to save a DA’s time. Four years is in no way an appropriate sentence for cutting $250 worth of trees.
It should be noted by the way, that no one even considered a jail sentence for whoever at DOT was responsible for cutting some 5,000 trees in the State Forest Preserve along Route 3 between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in the summer of 2005. Our guess is no one even got a reprimand in that case.
We’re certainly not condoning a hermit’s theft of minor items from isolated camps. That’s a crime that should be punished. But the Beaver Pond Hermit case is a clear signal that if you choose to live outside the boundaries of mainstream society, you may find yourself a target for the police state.
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