Posts Tagged ‘Forest Preserve’

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bauer: Checks And Balances Should Protect The Forest Preserve

DEC Headquarters in AlbanyWe’re moving into an era of one-agency rule in the Adirondack Park and that should be very troubling to everyone. For nearly 45 years, management of the public Forest Preserve has been based on checks and balances between the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The APA set management policy and the DEC administered the on-the-ground management of trails and other facilities. The APA created and updated the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, while DEC drafted individual Unit Management Plans (UMPs), which the APA reviewed for compliance. By and large this joint administration, which provided oversight, accountability, and public participation, worked well for the natural resource protection and public recreational use of the Forest Preserve.

All that is changing. There is little effective oversight by the APA and little accountability by the DEC. We’re in a new era of one-agency control. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pete Nelson: Close The Road Into The Boreas Ponds

Paddling on Boreas Ponds as guest of The Nature ConservancyThe State of New York has completed purchase of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the final stage of its acquisition of the former Finch Pruyn lands from the Nature Conservancy.  Now the classification process will begin.  As with the Essex Chain acquisition the debate will be over recreational access and protection of its biological assets and its aesthetic experience as a wild place.  As with the Essex Chain the debate will largely come down to roads, in this case Gulf Brook Road, a dirt and gravel road that provides access to the interior of the tract from Blue Ridge Road.

It’s obvious why arguments between wilderness protection and recreational access so often come down to roads, but I think that’s unfortunate.  I think it distracts us from the larger issues of land use and protection with which we should be more concerned.  The issue of Gulf Brook Road in the Boreas classification makes a perfect example.  So let’s look at it in a little more detail. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

State Buys Boreas Ponds, Completing Finch, Pruyn Deal

Boreas-600x343The state has purchased the 20,760-acre Boreas Ponds Tract on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness, the final phase in a multi-year deal to acquire 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.

One of the natural gems of the former Finch property, Boreas Ponds is expected to become a destination of paddlers, hikers, and backpackers. The waterway offers breathtaking views of the High Peaks, including Mount Marcy, the state’s tallest summit, and much of the Great Range.

The state paid $14.5 million for the tract, according to a deed filed April 5 in the Essex County clerk’s office.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Anne LaBastille’s Lands Donated To Forest Preserve

Anne LaBastille at Sagamore (courtesy Lorraine Duvall)The estate of author, conservationist, and former Adirondack Park Agency commissioner Anne LaBastille has donated her 32-acre “West of Wind” property on Twitchell Lake, north of Big Moose in the Western Adirondacks, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

LaBastille, the famed writer and conservationist who died on July 1, 2011, envisioned that her land be protected to “preserve the natural, ecological, and historical integrity of my 30 acres of North Country wilderness, where writers can find inspiration in the Adirondacks.”

Anne LaBastille inspired many through her writings and work to protect wildlife and wild lands. Her autobiographical Woodswoman (1978) chronicled her journey from urban New Jersey to cabin dweller on an Adirondack lake. She lived without electricity, running water, or even a road to her 12′ by 12′ “West of Wind” cabin she built with friends and neighbors in 1964. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pete Nelson: Slippery Slopes

Giant from Amy's Lookout. Many new Irene slides.Last weekend I did a traverse through the Giant Mountain Wilderness, from Chapel Pond over Giant, down to Hopkins and out to Keene Valley. The trail from Giant’s summit down to the col between Giant and Green Mountain is a favorite, a marvelous, unrelenting descent along a forested slope.

Last Sunday it was more entertaining than usual. Facing north and covered in trees, the slope had preserved a modest snowpack, but of course it had not escaped the cycle of thaws and freezes we have endured during this odd winter. The result was a mighty slippery hike. The Ridge Trail up Giant had its typical rivers of ice but the trail down to the col was considerably more treacherous, coated in a dull sheen, with long, icy slabs and bulwarks often lurking under less than an inch of crusty, fragile snow. Even with microspikes it was a dicey scramble requiring a special level of vigilance.

It occurred to me while I was making my way down Giant that this hike represented a pretty strong metaphor for the political shift that seems to be happening in State land use policy here in the Adirondacks. From my perspective we are positioned on a slippery slope and it is incumbent upon us as citizens of New York to raise our level of vigilance.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

DEC Issues Final Vienna Woods Unit Management Plan

DEC LogoThe final Vienna Woods Unit Management Plan (UMP) outlining the management of two state forests and 12 parcels of detached Forest Preserve in southwestern Oneida County has been issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The UMP addresses DEC’s management of 1,299 acres on Stone Barn State Forest and Fish Creek State Forest located in the Oneida County towns of Annsville, Camden and Vienna.

The UMP also covers 12 nearby parcels of detached Forest Preserve lands, ranging in size from 6 to 166 acres, located in the towns of Annsville and Vienna in Oneida County. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 5, 2016

APA Staff Finds Rail-Trail Proposal Conforms To Law

Train-300x241 Nancie BattagliaThe Adirondack Park Agency staff has concluded that a controversial proposal to replace the railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake with a recreational trail conforms to the Park’s State Land Master Plan.

The APA board is scheduled to vote next week on a resolution approving a plan to bifurcate the state-owned rail corridor into a rail segment and a trail segment.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation adopted the plan last year over the objections of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and its supporters.

The departments intend to remove 34 miles of track between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, in favor of a trail for bicycling, snowmobiling, and other activities, and refurbish 45 miles of track between Big Moose and Tupper Lake. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

DEC Seeks Enhanced Snowmobiling in Black River Wild Forest

BRWF mapThe state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comments on a proposal to create new snowmobile, hiking, and ski trails in the Black River Wild Forest.

The main goal is to improve snowmobile connections between communities in the southwestern Adirondacks by building new trails and reclassifying existing trails. At the same time, DEC plans to close to snowmobiling some trails in the interior of the Forest Preserve.

Overall, the mileage of snowmobile trails in the Black River Wild Forest would decrease to 60.1 from 67.5 miles—a net loss of 7.4 miles. Yet DEC says the plan will make it easier and safer for snowmobilers to travel from Woodgate to Old Forge and from McKeever to Nobleboro.

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

State Seeks Dismissal Of Old Mountain Road Lawsuit

mcculley-with-dogThe state attorney general is seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a long-running feud over the status of Old Mountain Road in the towns of North Elba and Keene.

The state is also seeking to transfer the case from State Supreme Court in Essex County to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Albany.

The Old Mountain Road is a dirt thoroughfare, often flooded by beavers, that runs through the Sentinel Range Wilderness. It is part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, which stretches from Keene to Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Pete Nelson: When “Balance” Becomes Rhetoric

IMG_1819Balance. The very definition of fairness, reason, harmony, and goodwill. Recently here in the Adirondacks, the word balance has been in the air – and why not? What’s not to love?   That’s the beautiful thing about rhetoric. And if I know anything, I know balance has entered the pantheon of Adirondack rhetoric.

A significant proportion of policy makers who talk about balance however, have an agenda that implies an imbalance in favor of Forest Preserve protection – a long-standing imbalance that needs to be corrected for the good of local communities. The debate underway now over how our Adirondack Park’s wildest places will be managed in the future offers a case in point.

Currently, the Adirondack Park Agency has a plan to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (they are accepting public comments through January 29). The SLMP governs how state land is classified, protected, and managed in the Adirondack Park.  The APA’s impetus to change the SLMP is tied to their plans for the newly acquired Essex Chain Lakes, where they seek to expand bicycling on existing road systems in two areas classified Primitive. The current Primitive classification does not allow bicycling so at least some at APA want to change the definition of a Primitive Area.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Legal Questions Swirl Around State’s Plan For Essex Chain

Polaris Bridge and the Upper Hudson (courtesy Protect the Adirodnacks)Two of the Adirondack Park’s four major environmental organizations filed a legal challenge to the Essex Chain management plan, but the two others have legal questions as well.

Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild filed a lawsuit today in State Supreme Court in Albany, claiming the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy.

Named as defendants are the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which drafted the management plan, and the Adirondack Park Agency, which approved it. Both agencies refused to comment on the suit.

Christopher Amato, a former assistant commissioner at DEC, told the Almanack that the Essex Chain plan is “blatantly illegal.” Amato is now an attorney at Earthjustice, a nonprofit organization that is representing Protect and Adirondack Wild in the lawsuit.

Amato said Earthjustice will file a motion to prevent DEC from implementing the management plan until the lawsuit is resolved.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, January 4, 2016

A Historic Defeat For Forest Preserve Exploiters

old white pine that would have been flooded by the Higley Mtn Dam. The tree, while dead, still stands today. It takes more than 4 people to put their arms around it.During his years as a senior advisor to many younger Adirondack conservationists, Paul Schaefer told some interesting stories. He witnessed the following incident in the New York State Legislature in 1953, when he was about 45-years-old, at the height of his effectiveness as a conservation organizer. The following story is about passage of what was called the Ostrander Amendment, an amendment to Article 14, Section 1 – the “forever wild clause” – of the New York State Constitution.

In 1953, the Ostrander Amendment had been twice passed by the State Assembly and the bill was on the floor of the State Senate, then being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Frank Moore. The Clerk of the Senate began to read the bill when a State Senator came up to the Lt. Governor’s desk, grabbed the bill from the Clerk, and quickly left the Senate Chamber. The Lt. Governor sent one of his aides after him and as the aide rushed out of the Senate chamber, he saw the Senator headed into a washroom. Following him, the aide found the State Senator about to flush the bill down the toilet. The aide, a big man, grabs the Senator by the collar, snatches the bill from his grasp and takes it back to the Senate Chamber and hands it back to the Lt. Governor, who said, according to Paul, “the next man who tries to take this bill I will personally hit with this gavel.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Does Boreas Ponds Dam Belong In A Wilderness Area?

Boreas Ponds aerial - Carl HeilmanWhy do they call it Boreas Ponds? After all, if you look at an aerial photograph, such as the one at left, taken by Carl Heilman II, it’s just one water body. This fact is also evident from the 1999 USGS map below.

The reason is not mysterious. Like many Adirondack lakes, the water level of Boreas Ponds has been raised by a dam. As an 1895 map indicates (it’s shown farther below), Boreas Ponds used to be three ponds connected by narrow channels.

When the state acquires Boreas Ponds from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, it must decide whether the concrete dam should be retained.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Forest Rangers And The ‘Christmas Detail’

Gib‘Tis the season for illegally cutting Christmas trees in the Adirondacks. That was the jingle, and it was followed by a stern warning from Conservation Department Commissioner Lithgow Osborne in December 1934 that his forest rangers would be on high alert for those attempting to steal their holiday cheer from the Forest Preserve:

“Forest Rangers are very much on guard this time of year because of the tendency of some persons to take trees from state land. Some of the newer forest plantations on state land offer a tempting array of Christmas trees and it is only by the exercise of constant vigilance on the part of the rangers that thefts can be prevented.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

APA, DEC Proposals Would Alter Wilderness Protection

Adirondack Park Open-for-Business VignetteThe 2015 report Adirondack Park at a Crossroad: A Road Map for Action begins this way:

“We document recent permit decisions and management practices by the NYS Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) which we believe are inconsistent with the constitutional and statutory requirements designed to ensure long term protection of the Park’s integrity and which are irreconcilable with the agencies’ obligations as the public’s trustees of the Adirondack Park…We illustrate how this significant shift in priorities at APA and DEC…are part of a larger pattern of allowing increasingly destructive development to proceed with little or no environmental baseline data, only cursory environmental review, and little in the way of avoidance or mitigation of negative impacts.”

As the year ends, we see the pattern described in our report of favoring recreational use over the State Land Master Plan’s “paramount” purpose of natural resource and wilderness protection continuing. Several of the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) amendment alternatives sent by the APA in December to public hearing in January would, if selected as the preferred alternative, fundamentally alter wilderness protection policies in place since 1972. » Continue Reading.


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