Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

Friday, January 25, 2013

Protect’s Vision for Former Finch Pruyn Lands

Protect Upper Hudson mapProtect the Adirondacks has come up with a vision for the former Finch, Pruyn lands that is at odds with the management plan proposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Essentially, Protect wants more land classified as Wilderness.

The biggest difference is that Protect wants the Essex Chain of Lakes to be included in a 39,000-acre Upper Hudson Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area would encompass lands that the state owns or intends to acquire over the next several years, including OK Slip Falls and the Hudson Gorge.

As I reported here this week, DEC proposes to classify the Essex Chain Wild Forest. Given this classification, DEC intends to keep open several interior roads, permit floatplanes to land on Third Lake in the Essex Chain (only during mud season), and allow mountain bikers to ride on a network of dirt roads in the vicinity of the chain—all of which would be banned under a Wilderness designation. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dan Crane: Promoting the Adirondacks to Death

View from Cat MountainTourism in the Adirondack Park is all the rage today. From the approval of the Adirondack Club & Resort in Tupper Lake to the governor’s proposed Adirondack Challenge, there is no shortage of ideas to promote the Adirondacks. The ultimate hope presumably being that people will flock to the area to experience the unique opportunities the Adirondacks provides.

They had just better bring their wallets.

In the race for the almighty dollar, it appears few are stopping to ponder whether increased tourism is a good idea for the Adirondacks. How will increased tourism change the nature of the Park? Will more people turn off those who already loyally visit the Park and favor its plentiful opportunities for solitude? Are hikers prepared for crowded trailheads and busy trails, muddied by the increased traffic and littered with rubbish from uncaring or careless hikers?
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

DEC Plan for Former Finch Lands Unveiled

essex classification map - hi resThe state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to classify the Essex Chain of Lakes and the surrounding landscape Wild Forest, a designation that environmental activists contend will allow too much motorized access.

Under DEC’s proposal, 13,000 of the Essex Chain Tract’s 18,000 acres would be classified Wild Forest. It would be called the Essex Chain Canoe Recreation Area. The other 5,000 acres, in the vicinity of the Hudson River, would become part of a Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area would incorporate other lands that the state owns or intends to buy.

The Adirondack Council, Protect the Adirondacks, and the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) all want to see the bulk of the Essex Chain Tract classified Wilderness. (Click here to read about the council’s and Protect’s rival visions for the tract.) The major difference between Wilderness and Wild Forest is that motorized use is forbidden in Wilderness Areas. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Magic of Surveying

Surveying Tools, 1728Today I begin a series of Dispatches on surveying, one of the greatest and richest interactions between humans and their natural environment, rife with beauties,  drama and challenge.  And magic.

There are many perspectives from which to tell the story of the history of the Adirondacks.  Indeed the numerous Adirondack history books available to the curious reader feature a wide variety of approaches.  Some are essentially chronological in nature; some are cultural; some are political.  I especially enjoy the many historical writings about the region that are thematically organized around the personalities of the unequaled cast of characters whose fates were intertwined with the Adirondack Mountains.  From To Charles Herreshoff to John Brown to Ned Buntline to Thomas Clark Durant the variety of people and their various enterprises is remarkable.
» Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arthur Savage: An Adirondack Conservation Champion

Arthur-Savage-far-right-with-l-r-Wayne-Byrne-Paul-Schaefer-Paul-Jamieson-c.-1974-736x1024Arthur V. Savage of Elizabethtown, Keene, and points south died on December 26 and belongs in my pantheon of Adirondack conservation champions. Judging from the flow of email following his death, that also holds true for many others. He was a man of varied interests, commitments, and for all seasons. I am hoping this short post will stimulate others who knew Arthur better than I to share their thoughts.

Arthur’s obituary was in many regional papers as well as The New York Times. His importance as an early leader in environmental law circles can’t be overstated. I knew Arthur principally for his work on the boards of the not for profit Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) and NYS Adirondack Park Agency. When Arthur joined these boards, the former through the recruitment of AFPA’s long-time chairman Arthur Crocker in the 1960s, and the latter thanks to his nomination to the APA by Governor Hugh Carey in 1979, he gave a complete effort.
» Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: Promoting Wilderness

Looking up the cliffs to Adam's Ledge and the summit of Burton's PeakLike all who know and love the Adirondacks I have always felt a personal stake in the grand debate over private versus public land and the extent to which the state of New York should support and expand its wilderness holdings.   It’s no secret I firmly believe that the Adirondacks’ greatest asset is its mountainous wilderness character and that increasing this asset and leveraging the image of the Adirondacks as a wild place holds the key to gaining its best economic future.

Plenty of people disagree with me.  So I laid out my arguments in great detail in a series of Dispatches running from October through November of last year that promoted what I called a wild, mountainous Adirondack Image.  All told these Dispatches engendered more than a hundred and seventy comments, which is a wonderful.  Meanwhile the same debate raged on in columns ranging from the State’s acquisitions of the Nature Conservancy offering to tourism, Adirondack branding and others.  As I read various postings and comments I found myself thinking all too often that people still don’t get it, that so many of the viewpoints are myopic, embracing a very narrow focus at the expense of the bigger picture. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Study Favors Restoration of Cougars

A new study by wildlife biologist John Laundre concludes that the Adirondack Park has enough wild habitat and prey to support up to 350 cougars—a finding dismissed as “a fantasy” by another biologist who once investigated the feasibility of restoring cougars to the region.

“It’s a great idea. We looked at it thirty years ago,” said Rainer Brocke, a professor emeritus at the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry. “We found there wasn’t any chance for them.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Pleasures of Winter Camping

The family and I are just back from our annual winter trek to Lost Brook Tract and I have a joyful urge to write about how terrific winter camping is.  My timing is not intended to offer any sort of counterpoint to Dan Crane’s recent post; the last time I checked he and I don’t  coordinate our contributions.  But counterpoint it will be.

In fact, let me begin with Dan: Dan!  Dude!  Get back out there and pitch your tent, buddy.  There’s plenty of winter to go and I can vouch for the fact that there are perfect conditions in the back country right now – no doubt there will be for quite some time.

Why do we go backpacking in the Adirondacks?  I submit that if you were to make a list of the reasons you go into the wilderness for an extended period, you would find that almost all of them are more valid and better fulfilled in the winter (I know, I know… yeah, sure, but it’s cold Pete).  » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Snowmobile Trail Through The Forest Preserve

Late December snow makes it likely that a good base will develop for snowmobiling throughout this winter. A new 13-mile snowmobile (and hiking, possibly biking) trail has been established, a so-called community connector trail between the Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln-Cedar River Road) and Raquette Lake.

Nearly a dozen alternate locations for this trail were included in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan approved by the NYS DEC and APA in 2011. One was chosen as the preferred alternative, deemed most in compliance with the state’s Snowmobile Trail Guidance approved by DEC and APA in 2010. The new trail is nearly completed as it reaches the north end of Sagamore Road near Raquette Lake village, utilizing DEC operations and other staff pulled in from all over the state. Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve investigated the trail construction in mid-October. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Christmas Turkey, Part Two

When I was a  teenager I had a small streak of juvenile delinquency.  This is not uncommon in young men of course and it comes in different flavors.  Some do a little drinking or drugs.  Some do a little stealing.  Some  might commit minor vandalism.  I didn’t do any of that stuff.  I liked to set things on fire.

One March in Cleveland when I was fifteen or so, after a particularly long  and snowy winter the weekend broke into the sixties, setting me and two of my like-minded friends, who were possessed with acute cabin fever, into a manic tizzy to play basketball.  Sadly the driveway was covered in slush from the thaw, splattering us with every aborted dribble.  We tried shoveling, sweeping, even hosing it down, but to no avail. Then we came to another solution. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Christmas Turkey, Part One

Over the years I have been urged from time to time to write down stories from my family’s many journeys in the Adirondacks.  Frankly I was never sure I’d get around to it.  But along came Lost Brook Tract into my life, inspiring me to the point where I could no longer resist.

I have written a year’s worth of Dispatches now, many of them drawn from our experiences.  However there is one tale in particular that others who know our adventures have repeatedly urged me to tell.  As it happens, it is a Christmas story and I have waited eleven months to tell it. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Winter Perfection on Pitchoff

So far this season my home of Madison, Wisconsin has been bereft of any semblance of winter.  Last Monday it was 65 degrees and I got sweaty playing with my dog while dressed in a T-shirt.  Amy and I completed our circuit of holiday parades – we do maybe a dozen of them all over southern Wisconsin – without once seeing a snowflake or having stiff fingers from the cold as we prepped our equipment.  That kind of track record is without an analog in these parts.

Last week the NOAA announced that 2012 will finish as the warmest year in US history.  According to USA Today’s report, every state in the lower 48 was warmer than average and eighteen states set records for warmest year ever including New York and virtually the entire Northeast.  Many Midwestern cities will set records this week for longest stretch of consecutive days with no snow.  Climate change is upon us and both the accumulating data and trend models show that it is warming more rapidly and more severely than previously predicted. Yet most Americans still don’t seem to care all that much about it and plenty of ignoramuses still deny it, following an ugly and embarrassing American trend of belittling science and knowledge.  Even on the Almanack one suspects there are more than a few readers who are as likely to believe in Bigfoot as in human-made climate change.  In their case – in all our cases – ignorance will surely not be bliss. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Tree of Magic

During our time at Lost Brook Tract one of our great pleasures has been discovering and measuring larger examples of the old growth trees that cover most of the land.   There are four canonical species of tree in our boreal wonderland: red spruce, balsam, white birch and yellow birch, plus an occasional mountain ash.  Both the red spruce and yellow birch impress in old-growth form, the latter in girth more than height.

Our catalog of giants includes a yellow birch with a diameter over three feet and multiple red spruces with heights over eighty feet and diameters in the two-foot range.  One red spruce, just a little bit down slope from our property, exceeds a hundred feet by a good margin. At our elevation trees like these are impressive and very rare in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Council Proposes A Larger High Peaks Wilderness

Adirondack Council proposal for Boreas PondsThe Adirondack Council is proposing a huge expansion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area once the state acquires lands formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company.

Under the council’s plan, the state would combine the High Peaks and Dix Mountain Wilderness Areas as well as twenty-three thousand acres of former Finch lands. If this were done, the High Peaks Wilderness—already the largest Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park—would grow to 272,000 acres from 204,000 acres.

Council spokesman John Sheehan said enlarging the High Peaks Wilderness would simplify the state’s management and planning for the popular region.

The proposal also would require the state to close a long dirt road that leads to Boreas Ponds, which are among the former Finch holdings that the state intends purchase over the next five years. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Allure of Lost Brook

I grew up appreciating Adirondack water primarily in the form of its lakes and ponds.  Our family began vacationing at Blue Mountain Lake nearly sixty years ago and by now I feel as though I know every island and every inch of its depths and shoreline.

There are many other bodies of water that became at least somewhat familiar to me in my boyhood: Eagle and Utowana Lakes, Long Lake, Piseco Lake, parts of the Fulton chain, Minnow Pond, Stephens Pond, Cascade Pond, Rock Pond (one of the many), the Sargent Ponds, Lake Durant, Tirrell Pond, Indian Lake, Heart Lake.  As an adult I have come to even more intimate terms with many more, primarily in the High Peaks and Saint Regis areas. » Continue Reading.