May, 2017

Investing in a shared future

By Tracy Ormsbee In early April, twelve more businesses in the vicinity of the former Finch, Pruyn lands received a total of $500,000 in Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Microenterprise grants backed by the Nature Conservancy. The money pays for businesses to capitalize on recreational opportunities, such as hiking, rafting, canoeing, and fishing, on the newly protected lands, including the Essex Chain Lakes, Boreas Ponds, stretches of the upper Hudson River, and the two MacIntyre Tracts near Tahawus. The state acquired the Finch, Pruyn lands—sixty-five thousand acres, in all—from the conservancy over the past several years. There is a long history >>More

January, 2017

Now what?

What to do when as a nation we are preparing to inaugurate as president a divisive figure whose campaign behavior has invigorated the kind of bigotry and intolerance that we should have put to rest long ago? Whose policies are hard to discern amid a torrent of tweets, threats, and campaign-promise reversals?

November, 2016

APA stumbles on Boreas Ponds

When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s purchase of Boreas Ponds and the surrounding land for the Forest Preserve it was an occasion for lofty rhetoric.

“Once in a rare while,” he said, “. . . you get a chance to do something that makes a difference forever. Forever. That literally leaves our children a place that is a better place than we inherited.”

As stirring as those words were, they will sound empty if the state doesn’t rise to the occasion and commit to using these lands in a way that truly preserves their natural wonder for the next generations.

September, 2016

More money, more partners for DEC

By Tom Woodman Reporting in this edition of the Explorer shows the challenges facing the state as it tries to keep up with recreational pressures in parts of the Adirondacks. It also points to strategies that can help us preserve the natural character of the region and still serve the hundreds of thousands of visitors the Park attracts each year. Driving both the problems and the innovative responses are financial constraints. Overall, the story is at once disheartening and encouraging. Staffing at the state Department of Environmental Conservation has not recovered to adequate levels following cutbacks from 2008 through 2010. >>More

July, 2016

A defining moment for APA

Since its creation in 1971 the Adirondack Park Agency has borne the responsibility of shaping the character of the Adirondack Park. Its decisions on how to manage state Forest Preserve and regulate the use of private lands set priorities and chart a future course. Its actions provide the answers to big questions: Will we value our critical natural areas? Will we respect a legal framework that consistently applies principles of preservation across the Park? Or will we substitute political opportunism and expedience and weaken laws designed to safeguard a vulnerable region for generations to come? Too often in recent years the APA has failed to take the firm, politically courageous stands that effective stewardship demands. >>More

May, 2016

Ramp up climate response

By Tom Woodman With this issue, Explorer writer Mike Lynch completes a yearlong series on the impact of climate change on the Adirondacks—its wildlife and ecosystems as well as its human communities. One of the lessons we can draw from his work is that when we study climate change in a particular region like the Adirondacks we find great complexity. The intricate interaction of species and ecosystems requires extensive research to understand and is affected by numerous factors. One inquiry leads to another; historical data can be in short supply; and particularly when it comes to forecasting the future there >>More

March, 2016

End piecemeal management

By Tom Woodman The Adirondack Park is a vast area, and proper stewardship of its sensitive and interconnected regions—from High Peaks to wild rivers to boreal wetlands—requires us to think and act on a landscape scale. If regulators approach important Park management questions on a piecemeal, case-by-case basis, they abandon the broad perspective and bedrock principles that should govern their actions. Instead, they favor opportunism and convenience. Sadly, shortsighted maneuvering by state officials has too often taken the place of big-picture wisdom in recent years. As a result the legal protections created to preserve the Park for future generations have >>More

January, 2016

A grand vision comes to life

If all goes as expected, sometime in the next three months New York State will complete a historic improvement to the Adirondack Park. With the anticipated purchase of Boreas Ponds and the surrounding area the state will complete a four-year process of acquiring sixtyfive thousand acres of priceless land from the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy. This land, which goes into the forever-wild Forest Preserve, is part of a larger acquisition by the conservancy of timberland from the paper company Finch, Pruyn & Company. Most of that 161,000-acre Finch purchase remains as working forest in private hands but with >>More

November, 2015

Go the distance with rail trails

After five years of public debate the Adirondacks are on the verge of seeing a new rail trail that should prove to be an important tourist draw and a recreational opportunity in keeping with the natural beauty it will traverse. But at the same time, the state government may settle for a compromise that will keep the recreational trail from becoming the truly exceptional resource that it could be. And as we near decisions about what to do with that rail line between Lake Placid and Big Moose, another proposed rail trail deserves serious consideration, this one stretching from Saratoga >>More

September, 2015

Stop the junkyard express

A railroad company that three years ago won permission to haul stone from a former mine at the base of the High Peaks has changed course and come up with a breathtakingly bad idea for use of that line. The Saratoga & North Creek Railway says it plans to haul out-of-service oil tanker cars through the Forest Preserve and store them on the rails leading to an abandoned mine in Tahawaus. They would build a stockpile of hazardous, industrial junk in the heart of the Adirondack Park. The cars are the DOT-111 tankers that the federal government has declared unsafe >>More

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