Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pete Nelson: Inclusion, Access and Wilderness

The recent news that the State of New York has acquired the 6,200 acre MacIntyre East property, which abuts the High Peaks Wilderness, has reignited the usual debate over classification: Wild Forest or Wilderness?

This debate, which has many layers and levels, often takes place around the notion of access: how can features of the parcel, including mountains, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, be accessed (presumably for recreation) and, via inference, by whom? Access to Wilderness is by foot or paddle only (and to a limited extent, horses). So what about those for whom access via a typical (read tough) Adirondack trail is difficult or impossible? Many people bring up the elderly as a class for whom a Wilderness designation would severely limit access. Others mention people who have disabilities. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

NYCO Finishes Test Drilling In Jay Mountain Wilderness

NYCO Minerals has finished test drilling in the Jay Mountain Wilderness and now plans to assess the quality of the wollastonite found on the site.

Brian Glackin, the mine manager, said the company ended up drilling at only eight sites, though it had originally been permitted to drill at twenty-one.

“At the first three holes there was nothing. That was a big gulp,” Glackin told me Tuesday when I visited Lot 8, the 200-acre parcel that NYCO hopes to acquire from the state.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DEC Proposes Trail, Lean-to In Pepperbox Wilderness

Pepperbox Wilderness by Dan CraneThe 22,560-acre Pepperbox Wilderness in the western Adirondacks is one of the smaller wilderness areas in the Park, but it also is one of the wildest. It has no lean-tos and only two miles of foot trails.

The State Land Master Plan observes that the lack of a trail system “offers an opportunity to retain a portion of the Adirondack landscape in a state that even a purist might call wilderness.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where is the Source of the Hudson?

Dan on descent on Skylight July '09Last week I was doing a little research for a book project when a web search returned an interesting line from a Wikipedia entry on the Hudson River. It piqued my curiosity, going as it did against conventional wisdom. Wikipedia being Wikipedia I wasn’t about to take it as gospel, but it provoked me to start digging around just for fun. After all, if one learns anything in research and the sciences it is that conventional wisdom or historical tradition are no sure bets.

In this case, both conventional wisdom and historical tradition say that Lake Tear of the Clouds, nestled between Mounts Marcy and Skylight in the Adirondack High Peaks, is the source of the Hudson River. Thus has it been generally accepted ever since Verplanck Colvin determined it to be so, on his second visit to Lake Tear in August of 1873. For generations of hikers Lake Tear has been a special destination, an upward trek to the ultimate source of one of America’s greatest rivers.  But is it? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nothing Rotten about Deadwood

TOS_WoodyDebrisA guy down the road has been working in his woods for the last couple of years. He’s cleaning them up. And I mean cleaning. He cuts the underbrush. Takes out the dead trees, the downed logs, the dead branches.

Okay, I confess. The neatnik in me is envious. Part of me would like my 70 acres of woods to look like a park. But that’s the problem. A park is not a forest and the forest is more than the trees. It’s an entire suite of complex systems, merging and interacting. An ecological orchestra in the woods.

Dead and dying wood, standing snags, rotting branches are more than Mother Nature’s litter. They’re an integral part of the forest symphony – what forestry types call “coarse woody debris,” or CWD for short. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Research Should Drive APA’s State Land Master Plan Reform

APSLMP - LogoThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is investigating potentially significant changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), which sets Forest Preserve management standards and guidelines. As part of the resolution passed by the APA in December 2013, two issues were identified for SLMP reform: 1) the requirement that bridges in Wild Forest areas be constructed with natural materials; 2) the prohibition of mountain biking on designated roads in Primitive Areas.

Last fall, the APA solicited public comments on these two items, as well as anything else members of the public want to see changed in the SLMP and afterward convened a group of stakeholders for a scoping meeting. Because APA staff has not yet released recommendations for SLMP changes and the APA Commissioners have not yet acted to start the public review process, we are still in the early stages of formulating a process and schedule for how to undertake SLMP reform and select issues.

As they move ahead, APA would be well-served to adhere to the adage that good science makes good policy. The APA needs to bring solid data to the public about the issues they select for SLMP reform. We live in an age of stunning research and science, yet this is also an age where politics rather than science drive public policy. SLMP reform by anecdote is unacceptable. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mountain Biking and Wilderness Survey Results

All_Mountain_Mountain_BikeA month ago I published a little survey on mountain biking in the Adirondacks. Since the issue of mountain biking is front and center in the ongoing discussion of land use and in potential amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), I was curious to take the pulse of Almanack Readers.

What were the prevailing opinions? Did they bear resemblance to the claims various interest groups put forth about public support for mountain biking in the Park? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Watching the Forest Preserve Reclaim an Old Road

Burn-Road-1It’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.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Major Changes Afoot For ‘Forever Wild’ Forest Preserve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome major changes are afoot for our “Forever Wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve. Last fall, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) held a series of “listening sessions” regarding possible amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP).

The APA sought ideas and comments at these meetings, which staff members dutifully recorded. The APA also solicited comments by mail, fax, or email. All told, the APA received over 1,600 pages of comments, which were distilled to a 15-page report that the APA produced in January. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Adirondack Mountain Biking: A Survey

All_Mountain_Mountain_BikeA month ago I published a little survey on mountain bikingOne of the focal points of recent efforts revise the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) has been where and how to allow mountain biking, specifically in the Essex Chain of Lakes. This has generated a lot of discussion about the appropriateness of mountain biking in the Forest Preserve.

New York State is clearly promoting it: the Adirondack Park Agency has signaled an interest in allowing mountain biking in the Essex Chain (which would require new policy, as currently mountain biking is prohibited in Wilderness and Primitive areas) and DEC is opening the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan to amendments that would support their conceptual mountain bike plan for a 100-mile single track trail system. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cuomo’s State Of State: Adirondack Priorities To Watch For

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park is a global treasure, with clean water, large unbroken forests, wildlife and 130 historic communities. All who care about the Park will be interested in what Governor Cuomo has to say in his first State of the State message and first budget proposal of his second term. Both are expected on January 21 in Albany.

As we pause this year to celebrate our 40th Anniversary, the Adirondack Council is hopeful that the Governor will continue to show a strong interest in the Park’s future. Through cooperation and partnership, the Governor’s team can achieve important environmental and community development goals for the Park. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Paul Schaefer: 1900s NYS Wilderness Advocacy

Paul SchaeferMy first childhood memories of Paul Schaefer are of his hands. They were huge to me. They seemed big enough to serve as lasts for making baseball gloves. I also remember Paul from my earliest Adirondack summers as a quality of expectancy.

On Wednesday nights we four kids used to sit on the big wood beam Paul had placed in front of our outdoor fireplace at our family cabin Mateskared and wait for his pickup truck headlights to turn off Route 8 onto Edwards Hill Road. Into the 1950s you could still see headlights on Route 8 two miles south of our cabin at Bakers Mills. Headlights heading up Edwards Hill Road generated immediate tension. Would they make it as far as the second bridge – about half of the two miles from Route 8 to Mateskared – without turning off into a driveway? » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 12, 2015

NYCO Begins Drilling In Jay Mt. Wilderness Area

plumley-lot-8-300x2051NYCO Minerals has begun cutting trees and drilling for wollastonite in the Jay Mountain Wilderness, actions that could render moot legal efforts to thwart the company’s plans.

NYCO spokesman John Brodt confirmed that the company began work in December after New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Buchanan dismissed a lawsuit challenging NYCO’s permit.

Last week, Earthjustice filed a notice of appeal with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, but it’s uncertain whether it will follow through. The nonprofit organization is representing Protect the Adirondacks, Adirondack Wild, the Sierra Club, and the Atlantic States Legal Foundation.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Push For Forest Preserve Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking by Nancie BattagliaThe 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.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Commentary: Should We Manage Wilderness?

Lost Brook Tract in WinterA couple of weeks ago my friend Dave Mason sent me an interesting article from the New York Review of Books. The article was “It’s Time to Live with the Birds”, a review of a book by Ecologist John M. Marzluff entitled Welcome to Subirdia: Sharing Our Neighborhoods with Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers, and Other Wildlife. Let me quote an excerpt from the review:

“Marzluff and other urban ecologists find a gradient in bird life. A few tough survivors hang on in the urban core; the open country outside has many birds. In between—in leafy, variegated suburbia—there is the richest mixture of bird species of all. This finding is counterintuitive. One would have imagined that what he calls the “urban tsunami,” the global shift of populations into cities, would result in homogenized biological deserts with only a few starlings, house sparrows, and pigeons for bird life. That fails to take into account many wild animals’ elemental will to survive, and their capacity to adapt rapidly to new opportunities.”

The book’s argument is that suburban environments constitute a new class of ecosystem that could be studied and leveraged for the benefit of many species. Despite that, I’m not likely to take my next hike in search of a wilderness experience in Barrington, Illinois. But Marzluff’s work reminds us to consider – from an admittedly odd context – that the best way to care for a wilderness might be to leave it alone. Whatever changes and challenges the area faces, Nature itself, with its relentless motive to adapt, will find a better way then well-intentioned human beings who try to manage it ever could. » Continue Reading.