Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wilderness 50th Celebration in North Creek Wednesday

Wilderness 50thThe Wilderness 50th Steering Committee will sponsor a public event in North Creek to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The National Wilderness Preservation System Act of 1964.

The event will feature remarks by members of the Wilderness 50th committee, including but not limited to Adirondack Wild, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Chad Dawson, Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Professor Dawson is also the editor of the international Journal of Wilderness.

The event is also intended to recognize the legacies of Howard Zahniser and Paul Schaefer. The National Wilderness Act’s author and chief lobbyist Howard Zahniser took his inspiration from New York’s “forever wild” constitutional protection of the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. That constitutional protection also marks its 120th anniversary this year (1894-2014). Zahniser said many times that New York State set the example for the national Wilderness movement and for the legislation. His legislation was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Wilderness 50th:
Howard Zahniser And The Black River Wars

Howard Zahniser at Mataskared, Crane Mtn in backgroundHoward Zahniser knew he needed two things when he came to the Adirondacks in 1946. The two things could help him prove himself to his national wilderness mentors—now his new employers—at the Wilderness Society. They could also help him build the practical and functional organization needed to pursue a national wilderness preservation system. First, Zahnie, as he was known, needed honest-to-goodness wilderness in reasonable automobile vacation reach of Washington, D.C. for our family. Even this was a two-day car trip then, and we would camp overnight on the way. Second, he needed to leave his professional comfort zone of public relations and public information and journalism work. He needed to expand into grassroots political organizing and consensus building. That is, he needed to learn to operate in the larger world that would become the environmental movement twenty-five years later.

The Adirondacks and their Edwards Hill setting—soon to be Mateskared—met the first need. Paul Schaefer met the second. Paul was my father’s ticket out of his own comfort zone. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lost Brook Dispatches: Giants in the Mist

Magnificent giants - timeless and veiled.Last week we spent a few precious days at Lost Brook Tract. It was a cool, overcast stretch of weather that reminded me of the Adirondacks of my youth, when impending fall could at any time push and urge its way into lazy August days, into the fading summer.

During nearly all of the time we were on our land the cloud ceiling remained low and Keene Valley enjoyed gray days and rain. But at our lean- to at 3,300 feet we were immersed in the clouds themselves, the daylight hours gloaming, exalting the primeval feel of the forest.

We are accommodated to – though ever awed by – our cathedral of ancient forest giants: red spruces that lift from thick-barked trunks to as much as a hundred feet in the air. At Lost Brook Tract stands of old-growth trees tower and brood as in few other boreal forest communities in the park. To sit among them is for me to feel both old and ageless, all at once. These groves are for patience and contemplation. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

During A High Peaks Camping Trip, The Birth Of The National Wilderness Act

JohnsonOn a warm September day in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed what is now recognized as one of the most significant legislative acts in American environmental history. This was the national Wilderness Act. Before then, federal lands, even those protected as national parks or national forests were expected to serve a variety of functions. The national forests, for example, permitted logging, mining, and grazing. The national parks were often centered on opulent hotels and other all-too-civilized amenities. The idea of setting aside part of the public domain as wilderness, even though this word was and is difficult to define, was radical then, and it remains controversial today. It was a monumental step, and its roots lie in the Adirondacks.

How European-Americans have thought about this amorphous thing we call wilderness has been a complicated, often torturous story. (How Native Americans navigated these shoals is another story altogether, but their views have seldom if ever been consulted as this country has gone about the process of setting land-use policy.) If we go back far enough, we find a pervasive hostility to what many of us now treasure. In 1620, for example, the Pilgrim William Bradford contemplated the forests of eastern Massachusetts, which seemed to stand between his band of cold and hungry settlers and any sort of security, and declared despairingly that nothing lay before them other than “a hideous and desolate wilderness.” Wilderness, in other words, was the enemy. If these people expected to survive, let alone prosper, the wilderness had to be eliminated as soon as possible. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Groups File Legal Challenge In NYCO Wilderness Mining

View of NYCO from Mt FayFour environmental organizations filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the State’s approval of mineral exploration on 200-acres of publicly-owned Adirondack Forest Preserve Wilderness known as “Lot 8” in Essex County.

The organizations are Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Protect the Adirondacks! Inc., and Sierra Club, and they are represented by the non-profit law firm, Earthjustice, and pro bono co-counsel Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

According to a notice sent to the media the Article 78 lawsuit seeks to stop mineral exploration in the Jay Mountain Wilderness “until the State complies with all applicable laws.” It was filed in Albany County Supreme Court against the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and its Commissioner, the NYS Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and its Chairwoman, and NYCO Minerals, Inc. The groups contend that a constitutional amendment (Proposition 5) approved by the voters last November suspended one layer of protection for Lot 8, but all other legal requirements protective of Wilderness areas remain in full force and effect. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Great American Wilderness: Two Tragic Anniversaries

Snowy Mountain from the Jessup River Wild ForestI have noticed some opinions floating through the media lately calling into question the extent to which the Adirondacks really qualify as a wilderness.

As I write this, on July 10th, a sad and sobering anniversary has arrived. Then in September we will mark the seventieth anniversary of another tragedy, one of many plane crashes that have occurred in the park, this one remarkable for the longevity of its mystery. Both anniversaries remind me just how formidable a wilderness the Adirondack region really is. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Johnsburg: Where Wilderness Begins

DSCN1728My father and mother, Howard and Alice Zahniser, named our cabin Mateskared not long after they bought the place in August 1946 from Harold and Pansy Allen. It sits at the end of a road off Route 8 in Bakers Mills, Warren County.

The late  New York State conservationist Paul Schaefer partly owned the land to the west of our place. Paul served as middleman on the deal because our family lived in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. We were a two-day drive from the Adirondack State Park in those days. I was not yet one year old. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 16, 2014

NYCO Amendment Commentary:
We Need A Regional Memory

NYCO-Minerals-Wollastonite-Mine-Nancie-B-PhotoThis week has seen the most recent amendment to Article XIV of the NY State Constitution, known colloquially as the NYCO Amendment, return to front page news.

Just last Friday the Adirondack Park Agency approved an amendment to the Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP) to allow NYCO Minerals to conduct exploratory drilling on the 200 acre parcel known as Lot 8. This drilling will allow NYCO to determine whether they want to swap Lot 8 for other land to be given to the State, as authorized by the amendment. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Commentary: Adirondack Trail Etiquette

wall of moss on way up to the topLast week I wrote a column about dogs in the back country and the need to keep them leashed while on the trail. This led to the issue of trail etiquette in general, a topic I have decided to address.

I’m trying to think of an Adirondack subject that annoys me more than behavior on trails and it isn’t coming to me. My experience of various hikers on trails is one of the primary motivators in my ongoing quest to actively dislike the majority of humanity. Trail etiquette is more important than most people think and it less followed than most people think as well. Not only that, in my experience there is surprisingly little understanding about what proper trail etiquette is. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

APA Panel Votes To Allow NYCO Drilling In Wilderness

vernal poolThe Adirondack Park Agency’s State Land Committee voted unanimously today to allow NYCO Minerals to conduct exploratory drilling in the Jay Mountain Wilderness on a parcel known as Lot 8.

Dick Booth, the chairman of the committee, acknowledged that some green activists oppose the test drilling on legal and environmental grounds.

“This may well get litigated, but that’s not a surprise,” Booth said before the vote.

The committee voted to amend the Jay Mountain Wilderness management plan to allow the drilling. The full APA board is expected to approve the same amendment on Friday. (The board did indeed pass the amendment without further discussion.) » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Commentary: Dogs in the Adirondack Back Country

Henderson is sure he heard something he needs to chase.A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column asking which back country behavior readers most hated (my choice is trail eroders). I got a lot of comments, but most of them were participants in a major brouhaha over dogs in the back country: whether they should be on leash or off leash and when, or even if they should be allowed at all. This got me motivated to write a column, your average dog being one of my favorite and most admired features of all the universe.

My canine ruminations got caught up in a different thread that built up at the same time around a column about the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This comment thread was a debate about the meaning of wilderness and a challenge to our romanticized notion of wilderness as a pristine thing apart, a challenge that was most notably posed by William Cronon in his landmark essay The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.

The relevance to dogs is this: dogs are not “native” to the Adirondacks. They have no natural ecological place in pristine wilderness; they are highly bred constructs, walking four-legged artifices. But as Cronon famously asked, is the pristine notion of wilderness not itself an artificial construct, wrought of nineteenth century romantic idealism? Do we gain anything by considering wilderness apart from all things we deem not of the pure faith, dogs included? » Continue Reading.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Protect Calls For Wilderness Area In Southern Adirondacks

West Stony mapProtect the Adirondacks is urging the state to create a 12,850-acre West Stony Creek Wilderness Area in the southern Adirondacks.

The Wilderness Area would combine 3,925 acres of former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that the state recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy and 8,925 acres of existing Forest Preserve in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.

“The West Stony Creek area is rugged terrain dominated by low ridges and mountains and the meandering West Stony Creek and associated wetlands. The Forest Preserve sections have old-growth forest communities,” Protect Chairman Chuck Clusen said in a news release today.

Protect also says a Wilderness classification would offer stronger protection for a six-mile stretch of West Stony Creek that is designated a Scenic River within the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dave Gibson: Decision Time for Wilderness Mining

Canopy of large, sugar maples growing on Lot 8, Jay Mountain Wilderness. Photo by Dan Plumley, Adirondack WildIn April, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency issued draft permits and unit management plan amendments respectively that would allow NYCO Minerals to conduct mineral exploration this summer on Lot 8 in the  Jay Mountain Wilderness.

The State would authorize such activity with only the most rudimentary information about what’s currently living and growing on Lot 8, no standards by which to judge the impacts of drilling on Wilderness character and resources, and no information about potential direct and indirect impacts of mineral testing beyond Lot 8. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dan Crane On Backcountry Litter

Milky Way wrapper near Middle Branch Oswegatchie RiverThis scenario is familiar to any backcountry enthusiast, regardless of whether they prefer the well-worn trails of a popular area or the trailless expanses that see more moose and black bear than they do people. Surrounded by forest, a multitude of birds singing in the canopy, a frog’s occasional throaty call emerging from a nearby wetland, it is as if there is not another living soul within miles around, and there may not be. Just as this feeling of remoteness engulfs the mind completely, the unnatural color of something on the ground assaults your senses, dispelling any fanciful notion of being in the only person in an unbroken wilderness.

Whether it is a candy bar wrapper, an old glass bottle, or a Mylar balloon, it does not matter. It does not belong here. It is not natural. It is litter. And it just shattered a finely-honed illusion of wilderness.

What is litter anyway? Why does it anger many backcountry enthusiasts so?
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

150th Anniv. of George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature

410px-George_Perkins_MarshThis year, New Yorkers are rightly commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964. Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Rockefeller Institute of Government, NYS DEC, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry recently kicked off that anniversary with events in the Capital Region. More events and activities with students, faculty and college collaborators are planned.

2014 is also the 120th anniversary of our “forever wild” clause of the NYS Constitution protecting the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. It was that late 19th century constitutional protection which so inspired the 20th century’s Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society to undertake his 18-year campaign to both author and lobby for the National Wilderness Act. That’s one reason, and there are others, why wilderness preservation, in terms of designation and protection, began in New York State. Bob, George and Jim Marshall’s upbringing in the Adirondacks by noted forever wild advocate and attorney Louis and his wife Florence Marshall, and the later creation of The Wilderness Society by Bob and allies is another reason to make this claim.

But there’s an older 19th century anniversary this year that cannot be overlooked without missing what has influenced humanity around the globe to conserve since 1864, the year a Vermonter named George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882) wrote Man and Nature; or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. Woodstock and Burlington, respectively where Marsh was born and lived parts of his adult life and which influenced his book, could legitimately make the claim that Vermont is where wilderness preservation began in America and, indeed, in the world. » Continue Reading.



Wait, before you go,

sign up for news updates from the Adirondack Almanack!