The management of historic buildings on the Forest Preserve has been a vexing issue for decades. State management has evolved over the years from a position of building removal to now accommodating historic buildings on the Forest Preserve through the creation of a “Historic” area classification.
The state has since built a policy of retaining buildings for public educational and historic preservation purposes. » Continue Reading.
The pressure by local governments and historic preservation groups on the state to keep the inner Gooley Club buildings shows some of the challenges the state has had in organizing a coherent management program for buildings on the Forest Preserve. This is not a new issue.
It’s been a struggle for decades. Different administrations have dealt with the issue in different ways over the decades; some making ad hoc choices with long-term implications for Forest Preserve law and policy, and others trying to sort out durable long-term solutions. This is the first of three articles that look in depth at the issue of buildings on the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has proposed an amendment to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) changing the Travel Corridors classification category definition, the guidelines for management and use, and amendments of related provisions. The APA will accept public comment until May 7, 2018. Three public hearing sessions will be held on April 11, 24 and 25, 2018.
What follows is an announcement sent to the press by the APA, Phil Brown has much more of the story here. » Continue Reading.
News of a helicopter sightseeing tour operating out of Lake Placid spawned much discussion this past summer. Unlike a traditional scenic airplane flight high above the landscape, this business promised ridge-running flights at low altitudes above protected Wilderness Areas, as well as aerial safaris in which backcountry wildlife would be buzzed in their natural habitats — all for the thrill of a few paying customers.
This was scary enough for those of us who routinely visit the Forest Preserve for our weekly dose of wildness. But then in the September/October 2017 issue of the Adirondack Explorer, John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council suggested that in the Wild Forest areas, “it may be appropriate to fly in some places at lower heights” — with the stipulation that “some sensitive areas” should be avoided “as much as they can.” » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Transportation and the State Department of Environmental Conservation have released a draft comprehensive plan for managing state highways in the Adirondack Park. Comments on the plan are now being sought.
An announcement sent to the media said The Draft Generic Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan for State Highway Corridors in the Adirondack Park (TCUMP), “is the result of collaboration between the New York State Department of Transportation, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Park Agency, the State Department of State, local government groups, and organizations that promote protecting the Adirondacks.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation are holding a joint public comment period to solicit comments regarding proposed management guidance for the siting, construction and maintenance of single-track bike trails on New York State ‘Forever Wild’ Forest Preserve land in the Adirondack Park.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation are holding a joint public comment period to solicit comments regarding proposed Minimum Requirements Approach Guidance.
The guidance pertains to the construction of trail bridges on State Land classified as Wild Forest Areas in the Adirondack Park.
The APA and DEC will accept comments on the Minimum Requirements Approach Guidance until April 14, 2017. » Continue Reading.
As I review notes from several public hearings on the State Land Classifications, including Boreas Ponds, the apparent gulf between voices to “keep it or make it wild” and “this isn’t wilderness anyway and we need motorized access” seem unbridgeable.
Well, perhaps not. More than one or two speaking out for “more access” to the Boreas Ponds (usually meaning motorized) also addressed how experiencing quiet, serenity and wildlife undisturbed moved them personally as much as any wilderness advocate. For their part, several wilderness advocates stressed that economic benefits of access (usually non-motorized) should interest local businesses and governments. The personal values expressed by all the speakers clearly demonstrated the common ground for all of us – a deep appreciation, even love for being in the out of doors Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
Alternatives analysis is at the very heart of the State Environmental Quality Review Act. A state or local government agency cannot claim to have rationally chosen a preferred alternative course of action if other alternative approaches to achieve the same project with fewer environmental impacts have not been evaluated with the same degree of rigor and detail. That’s the law.
The eight public hearings about classifying more than 50,000 acres of Adirondack Forest Preserve are winding down this week (final public hearings at Bear Mountain and Albany), and the Adirondack Park Agency, sponsor of these hearings, is not following the law in several crucial respects. These include the fact that APA has neither evaluated nor compared the four alternative ways to classify the Boreas Ponds tract, nor has it chosen at least one additional, reasonable alternative which has fewer environmental impacts than all the others: that being a classification alternative as Wilderness for all or most of the tract, necessitating the closure of all or most of the Gulf Brook Road to public motorized uses. » Continue Reading.
There are many ways to constrain the boundaries around public participation in decision-making. One way is to sidestep the law without amending it, thereby limiting public awareness and legislative debate of the issues. An example of this is occurring on the former Finch, Pruyn lands where the State wants to issue itself a permit or a variance to allow snowmobile connectors in river corridors when the law says that that motorized recreational activity is not permitted.
Under the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area Unit Management Plan, the State recently argued in Albany County Supreme Court that DEC regulations allow the agency to issue itself a permit or variance to do things that others could not do, like build a motorized bridge over a scenic Cedar River, or operate motor vehicles over a scenic river like the Hudson River. Other parts of these River regulations expressly disallow the State from issuing itself a permit or variance to undertake a project which the statute disallows. » Continue Reading.
The state’s newest piece of Adirondack Forest Preserve shelters rare plants, pure waters and sensitive wildlife species, while exhibiting high ecological integrity and wild character, according to two recently released scientific studies. The studies are being cited by advocates for expanding the High Peaks Wilderness to include the Boreas Ponds area between North Hudson and Newcomb, north of Blue Ridge-Boreas River Road.
The #BeWildNY alliance argues that the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds Tract should be shielded from automobiles, invasive species, and motorized or mechanized recreation and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Adirondack Park Agency to classify most of the new tract Wilderness, and add it to the High Peaks Wilderness. The studies were completed by Adirondack Research LLC and by the Wildlife Conservation Society. » Continue Reading.
We’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.
Two of the Adirondack Park’s major environmental groups are suing the state over the management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes region—a large tract of forest, ponds, and streams that the state acquired from the Nature Conservancy as part of the blockbuster Finch, Pruyn deal.
Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Albany contending that the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy. » Continue Reading.
My first reaction to the announcement of the state’s acquisition of magnificent Boreas Ponds for the Forest Preserve is to celebrate, and to recall how long the Adirondack Nature Conservancy has owned this 21,000 acre tract – the last of the big Finch Pruyn tracts which the state committed to purchase. It was April 2007 when Finch Pruyn employees, then Governor Spitzer, and the rest of the world learned that Finch was selling everything – all 161,000 acres – to the Conservancy, with help from the Open Space Institute. And in the same announcement, that the mill in Glens Falls would continue operations and employment.
This news that April day nine years ago was breathtaking. Adirondack Wild’s mentor Paul Schaefer had dreamed and worked for such a result from the early 1960s until his death in 1996. That was the significance of the Finch forests even fifty years ago. George Davis of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks (1968-70) put Boreas Ponds on the cover of the Commission’s final report. » Continue Reading.
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.
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