Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Peter Bauer: Backroom Land Classification Decisions

Essex ChainThe current Forest Preserve classification process underway at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the new lands around the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson River is likely go down as the worst administered process in the 40-year history of the APA. Since the close of the public hearing in mid-July, the APA leadership has openly subverted state law and moved decision making from an open and transparent public forum to a smokeless backroom.

The process has gone awry. The train has run off the tracks. This is evidenced by four recent events: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Essex Chain Classification: Legal Memo Rejects Wild Forest

Essex ChainAn Adirondack Park Agency commissioner has written a twenty-one-page legal analysis that concludes that the Essex Chain Lakes cannot be classified Wild Forest under the State Land Master Plan.

Dick Booth, a lawyer who teaches at Cornell University, has distributed the memo to his ten fellow commissioners, but it has not been made public.

Booth declined to discuss the memo in detail, but he told Adirondack Almanack that it focuses on the Essex Chain, a string of seven linked lakes at the heart of a 17,320-acre tract that the state purchased from the Nature Conservancy, along with two smaller tracts.

Basically, he contends that the nearly pristine condition, remoteness, and interconnectivity of the lakes make the Essex Chain “a very, very special resource” where motorized use and motorized access would be inappropriate.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: To My Father

Near DadThis month is my father’s birthday.  We lost him to cancer sixteen years ago; he would have been 96.

I’ve been thinking about my father lately as my interest in Adirondack history has grown in its personal impact.  The palpable feel of the history in the park, the physical sense of it, is the result of a sensibility I owe my parents, especially my father.   His life and values tied me directly to a different time, to a different world that is always echoed in the wilderness, in places that connect all of us to a sense of the primitive and to bygone lives.

Ray Nelson lived part of his youth as a frontier man, literally, in the north woods of Wisconsin.  There he lumbered, built cabins and farmed on a homestead that had been carved out of the wilds.  There was no electricity on this farm, only kerosene.  Power was human and animal muscle, no engines.  Dad was proud into his late years that he still knew how to bridle a horse.  I was born many years after this era but it is moving to me how much I feel such a continuum to it and on through my own life, most of it channeled through the abiding permanence of the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dave Gibson:
Land Sought For Mining Company Is Hardly Ordinary

This Sugar Maple on Lot 8 may be 175 years old or moreBill Ingersoll’s recent post about the November 5 vote on the NYCO Minerals-State Land Exchange (Proposition 5 on the upcoming ballot) makes good reading – as do the comments.

His interpretation, that the land exchange stripped-down to its essence represents a straight commercial transaction that lacks any public need or benefit, is one Adirondack Wild shares, but Bill made an especially articulate case.

One of the interesting comments to Bill’s post comes from my colleague Dan Plumley. Dan notes that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s characterization of “Lot 8,” the 200-acre section of Jay Mountain Wilderness the company wants to mine for wollastonite, is plain wrong. Dan’s opinion is informed by observations he and I made during recent field visits to Lot 8. We were impressed by the forest environment there, which I will get to in a moment. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New State Lands: The Ecological Case for Wilderness

Essex ChainThe recent acquisition by the State of New York of the former Finch-Pruyn/Nature Conservancy lands means many things to many people. While economic, social, and political implications fuel many of the broader conversations occurring over these lands, these issues tend to drown out the quieter voice of the land itself.

Any visitor to the North Country knows that wild places are anything but silent, from the ever persistent hum of the mosquito, to the chittering call of the hunting kingfisher, to the push and pull of the wind through the forested hillsides. At the Adirondack Council we pay attention to these sounds, or more specifically, to the scientist and professionals who study how wild places and wild things are ecologically connected, and incorporate this critical input into our decision making process. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Commentary:
Preserving and Promoting Adirondac and the Upper Works

Signage at Blast FurnaceToday I conclude my series on Adirondac the the McIntyre Mines.  The deserted village of and the remains of the operation at Upper Works make for an evocative Adirondack destination.  Though this abandoned settlement’s historically significant mining heritage is known among locals, history buffs, and High Peaks backpackers who use the Upper Works trailhead, it is by no means widely known, or even somewhat known.   There are great benefits to be had if this fact changes.

When the Open Space Institute purchased the Tahawus Tract from NL Industries they put a terrific plan in place to designate the area containing Adirondac and the 1854 blast furnace as a historic district.  Work began some years ago to stabilize and preserve the furnace, the one original village building, McMartin House (or MacNaughton Cottage)  and the cemetery.  However the work has taken years and  I hear through the grapevine that funding is an obstacle.  As a result the implementation of the historic district has been slow.  » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

APA Member Opposes ‘Wild Forest’ For Essex Chain

Essex ChainThe Adirondack Park Agency commissioners have yet to vote on the classification of the Essex Chain Lakes, but one commissioner asserted Thursday that a Wild Forest designation would be inappropriate.

Richard Booth, one of eleven members of the APA board, said his reading of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan leads him to the conclusion that motorized access to, and motorized use of, the Essex Chain should be prohibited.

Under a Wild Forest classification, state officials would have the option of allowing people to drive all the way to the Essex Chain and to use motorboats. Thus, Booth favors a Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe designation, all of which prohibit motorized use. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

No Decision Yet On New State Lands: A Deliberations Update

Essex ChainAdirondack 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.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Adirondack Council’s Willie Janeway On His First 100 Days

Entering-Adirondack-ParkWhen I started as the Council’s executive director on May 1, friends in the Park said “welcome home.”  I had worked here for the Adirondack Mountain Club for close to 10 years after graduating from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Economics and Environmental studies back in 1985.

That led to work with The Nature Conservancy, the Hudson River Greenway Council and – for the past six years – as a Regional Director for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in the Hudson Valley/Catskills region. I continued to visit the park when time allowed and kept myself current on park issues, hoping that someday I would get a chance to return to this special place. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pete Nelson: An Open Letter to Governor Cuomo

Third Lake, Essex ChainDear Governor Cuomo:

I write today to urge you to support a Wilderness Classification for the former Finch Pruyn lands surrounding the Hudson River and the Essex Chain of Lakes.  After a comment period and series of public hearings that has given the citizens of New York an opportunity to voice their opinion, the decision lies in the hands of the Adirondack Park Agency.  But the final approval is yours alone.  More important, the chance to lead on an issue of national importance that lies at the heart of our journey into the future as New Yorkers and Americans is yours alone as well. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Students Consider Adirondack, Wilderness Act History

Research fellows, Toni-Marie with Becky, Dave and Lorie at Zahniser'sThis summer, Union College student research fellows and Union College staff involved with the College’s Kelly Adirondack Center in Schenectady County visited the Adirondack cabin of National Wilderness Act author and chief legislative advocate Howard Zahniser, and that of Paul Schaefer, foremost Adirondack Park campaigner for wilderness and wild rivers in the 20th century.

The two cabins, and the close friendship that developed between Schaefer and Zahniser help tell the story of where wilderness preservation began and how the Adirondack Park has served as a national and global model of wilderness history, preservation and active stewardship so proximate to villages, towns, residents and more than ten million annual visitors to the Adirondack Park. The cabins are located in Johnsburg, Warren County. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pete Nelson: Reflections on the Great Range

Elbrus MarcyLast week, I wrote about a recently completed backpacking trip with my brother-in-law Dan and my nephew Jonah over the Great Range.  This week I wanted to offer a few observations that did not fit into that narrative (aside to the editor: see John, I’m learning!).

Climbing High Peaks is not as common a pursuit for me as it once was.  Lost Brook Tract occupies my focus now, along with the Central and Western Adirondacks.  Indeed, although I am close to being a 46-er, I suspect I will never get there, as finishing a list just to say I did it lacks the allure it might have had when I was younger.  I will certainly do the Seward Range at some point, but the remaining four peaks – Street, Nye, Couch and Panther – do not call to me. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Visit to the Great Range

IMG_6635This July during our Adirondack residency I took some time away from Lost Brook Tract to accompany my brother-in-law Dan and his nine year old son Jonah on Jonah’s first hard-core backpacking trip, a two-day traverse of the Great Range followed by the McIntyre Range the next day.  I was filled with anticipation for the two-fold effect awaiting Jonah: the immediate joy and the lasting legacy.  At nine I would have passed out with excitement from such an adventure, from being on the grand and imposing rock of that range.  But then, as veteran hikers know, the hard work and toil attendant to scaling such rugged ups and downs, the persistence of the pack weight sinking into you, the slow, sustained rhythm that sees you steadily progress through high Adirondack forest, these things work deeply into your body, into your muscle memory and your larger psyche where they embed themselves and cure there, strengthening your experience to a level that leaves you changed forever.  To imagine these effects working on my young nephew brought me immense pleasure. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Merlin Ridge

Jill.  Gorgeous.The beginning of the trail to the summit of Burton’s Peak climbs steeply up through dense tree cover to the crest of a forested ridge where a short jog to the side gives the first lovely view.  From there it follows the ridge line more gradually upward, skirting mossy rock shelves before the final steep pitch to the top of the headwall.  Along the east-facing slope of this ridge the forest of spruce, balsam and birch is more open, hinting at a view of the valley far below and the distant profile of the Giant and Jay ranges.

This ridge walk, lovely as it is, was not an especially noteworthy part of our beautiful trail, at least not until now.  Now it has a name, Merlin Ridge, and a story to go with it. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

People Not Welcome: A New Land Classification?

Forest near Middle South PondSome recent events started me thinking about land classifications in the Adirondacks, and their possible inadequacy to preserve biological diversity in the future. With the twin threats of climate change and invasive exotic species, new strategies may be necessary. One such strategy is a new land classification, one where human beings will no longer be welcome.

I started thinking about the necessity of a new land classification when I read recent articles by Bill Ingersoll and Pete Nelson proposing their own new classification categories. Where their proposals were for a new category wedged between the current Wilderness and Wild Forest classes, mine would be the most restrictive land class in the Adirondacks, essentially preserving the land exclusively for the use of the other living organisms. » Continue Reading.