Sometime in the later half of the 1810s, hunter, trapper, and hermit David Smith set up his camp on Beaver Lake, far from civilization of any kind. Beaver Lake is located deep in the wilderness near the western border of the Adirondacks, about half way between Lowville and Tupper Lake, inaccessible by any road.
Posts Tagged ‘Whitney Wilderness’
John Hendrickson, owner of the 36,000 Whitney Park estate outside of Long Lake, announced his intentions last month to sell the property, setting off speculations of who the next buyer could be — or should be.
Hendrickson, the widower of philanthropist, thoroughbred owner and Saratoga Springs socialite Marylou Whitney, told the Wall Street Journal at the end of July he was listing the property for $180 million — $5,000 an acre.
The news had environmentalists calling for the parcel, which includes 22 lakes and one of the great Adirondack camps called Deerlands, to be part of the Adirondack Park’s forest preserve.
The Adirondack Council expressed disappointment over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to withdraw the $3-billion environmental bond act from the 2020 ballot, saying the measure could have helped get New York residents back to work and would have provided significant tax relief to rural communities, while protecting clean water and wildlife.
“We are very disappointed that the bond act has been withdrawn,” said Adirondack Council Deputy Director Rocci Aguirre. “We believe it would have helped to spur economic growth while it benefited the environment.
Yesterday’s announcement by landowner John Hendrickson of his intent to sell the remaining 36,000 acres of Whitney Park in Long Lake ought to command the immediate attention of state and private land conservation and planning organizations, says the non-profit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.
In order to cut a lot more trees on the Forest Preserve for new snowmobile corridors, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General’s Office have announced that they will appeal July’s court ruling against the State and in favor of Protect the Adirondacks.
That ruling by a 4-1 court majority declared that the extent of tree cutting for snowmobile trail construction, when considered cumulatively, violated our state’s constitutional limit on destruction of timber on the Forest Preserve “to a material degree” (Article XIV, Section 1, NYS Constitution, and court interpretations). » Continue Reading.
The Little Charley Pond tract contains Snell, Bear and Little Charley ponds and five miles of undeveloped shoreline. A new owner, Charley Pond Preserve, has donated to the Adirondack Land Trust a perpetual conservation easement to keep the forest whole and safeguard a rare fish community. » Continue Reading.
It’s slow work for the forest to take back a road, but once the forest gets started, its work is relentless. The State of New York has owned the Burn Road on the north side of Little Tupper Lake (part of the William C. Whitney Wilderness area) since 1997 when it bought the 14,700-acre north end of the larger Whitney tract. It was classified as Wilderness soon thereafter, though the road remained open for several years to honor access agreements with neighboring landowners to haul out logs.
Fifteen years later, young maples, white pines, alders, white birch, and striped maples, among other trees, work daily to break apart the long-packed gravel road bed. Leaf litter and the detritus of perennial ferns, grasses, and sedges bury the road in many places. The thick forest edge grows inward to narrow the road corridor as trees unpruned and unfettered grow laterally as they grow higher. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency’s promise to consider allowing mountain biking in the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area has generated a broader discussion – with much disagreement – of the place of bikes in the Forest Preserve.
The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan allows bikes on trails in tracts classified as Wild Forest Areas but prohibits them in Wilderness Areas. They are allowed in Primitive Areas only on old roads used by state officials for managing natural resources. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) spokesperson Keith McKeever has confirmed that the agency will not make a decision at its September meeting on how former Finch Paper lands recently acquired by New York State will be managed.
The classification of the lands around the Essex Chain of Lakes and Hudson Gorge is one of the biggest Forest Preserve decisions the APA has faced in more than a decade, one that has recently dominated public discussion in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
On Saturday I went skiing on the Burn Road in the William C. Whitney Wilderness. It’s one of those ski routes that don’t require a lot of snow, ideal for early-season outings.
My ski trip was uneventful. I enjoyed a few glimpses of Little Tupper Lake through the trees, saw lots of snow fleas and several deer beds, and discovered an unusual outhouse decorated with paintings of evergreens. When the warming snow started clumping on my skis, I decided to turn around after three and a half miles.
The state bought Little Tupper Lake and surrounding lands—nearly fifteen thousand acres in all—from the Whitney family in 1997. After the purchase, there was a public debate over whether the tract should be classified as Wilderness or Wild Forest.
One of the arguments against designating the tract Wilderness—the strictest of the Forest Preserve land classifications—is that it just didn’t look like wilderness. The woods had been heavily logged and were crisscrossed with logging roads, of which the Burn Road is only one. And then there were the buildings on the shore of Little Tupper.
The anti-Wilderness folks had a point. Skiing the Burn Road is the not a breathtaking experience. The above photo of snowy evergreens shows one of the more attractive scenes from my trip. Most of the forest is skinny hardwoods. A wide road cut through a logged-over forest is a far cry from my idea of pristine wilderness.
But let’s face it: there is very little pristine wilderness in this part of world. The Forest Preserve is full of evidence of human history: abandoned woods roads, rusting logging machines, foundations of farmhouses, old orchards, even gravesites. If we were to require that Wilderness be free of all signs of the human past, we might end up with no Wilderness at all.
The aim of Wilderness regulations is not always to preserve wilderness; perhaps more often than not, it is to restore wilderness. In time, the trees will grow big, moss will cover the crumbling foundations, and nature will reclaim the old roads.
Skiing back to my car, I was cheered by the thought that in fifty or a hundred years, this wide road may be a narrow corridor passing through a forest of stately yellow birch and red spruce. Skiers of the future will thank us for restoring this place to its natural condition.
Photo of the Burn Road by Phil Brown
Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.
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