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Adirondack Explorer

January, 2015

OK to tweak Park Master Plan

In managing public lands within the Adirondack Park, the state constitution controls: they must remain forever wild. But in applying this principle to decisions about how to classify and manage particular areas within the Park, the state relies on the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. This forty-two-year-old document divides the Forest Preserve into different classifications by what can be seen as degrees of wildness. The classifications determine what activities can take place where. The SLMP, as it’s frequently known, is a critically important document. Its rules determine decisions that shape the very character of the Park, saying for instance >>More


November, 2014

A new vision for roadwork

The dilemma is clear: residents and visitors to the Adirondack Park rely on safe roads in winter, yet de-icing methods have caused a steady increase in sodium and chloride in the Park’s sensitive waterways. But do we really face a choice between pavement safe enough to send school buses over, on one hand, and protecting the environment from a growing threat, on the other? A series of reports and symposiums by AdkAction, Paul Smith’s College, and the Adirondack Council raises hope that changes in road management and driver attitudes could stem environmental degradation without sacrificing the mobility that our standard of living depends on. Maybe the biggest hopeful indicator is the roster of people >>More


September, 2014

Trail plan falls short

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New York State’s announcement that it will review the management plan for an underused rail line through the Adirondacks is very welcome. It’s a key step toward establishing a rail-to-trail recreation way that would be a major draw for visitors to the Adirondacks. In announcing the review, though, the state indicated a preference for a half measure that would fall short of the goal of a world-class trail for ninety miles through some of the most scenic wild country in the nation. As the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation complete their studies and public hearings they should be prepared to think beyond the partial trail that has been proposed. The best option >>More


July, 2014

Halt the oil trains

EVERY WEEK, reminders of the dangers of a failed energy policy rumble through the Adirondacks in the form of massive freight trains filled with oil. Carrying as much as eighty-five thousand barrels of crude in a hundred tanker cars, the trains embody a nation’s thirst for petroleum, a thirst that remains unslaked even in the face of dire consequences, including pollution and climate change. For the communities through which they pass, the trains pose risks that are even more immediate: accidents that could be catastrophic to both human life and sensitive ecosystems. For this reason, the federal government should impose >>More


May, 2014

Invest in our hamlets

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THE CENTRAL PRINCIPLE of the Adirondack Park is the balance of environmental protection and economic opportunity. Protected wild lands can co-exist with human communities. Environmentally wise use of private as well as public lands need not conflict with good jobs, smart growth, and a good quality of life for the Park’s residents. The key to making this balance work is to concentrate population and development in hamlets and villages, creating successful communities with jobs and services. At the same time that this focus strengthens the small-town lifestyle it protects the Park’s natural wonders by preserving backcountry and rural lands in >>More


March, 2014

Cuomo should back trail

  Governor Andrew Cuomo has demonstrated an appreciation for both the natural wonders of the Adirondack Park and for the economic potential of increased tourism in the region. From whitewater-rafting races, to funding for a refurbished Whiteface Memorial Highway, to his (unfortunate) support for a snowmobile connector trail through the newly acquired Essex Chain Lakes Tract, Cuomo has viewed the Adirondack experience from the point of view of economic opportunity. It’s surprising, then, that he has not championed one of the most exciting proposals under discussion in the Adirondacks in recent years: the conversion of an underused ninety-mile rail line >>More


January, 2014

APA finds right balance

AN ADIRONDACK PARK Agency decision on how to classify new state lands in the central Adirondacks in many ways represents stewardship at its best. It protects priceless natural features and ensures that the public can experience wild areas where the natural world dominates and people are the visitors. And it has created this legacy for generations to come. The agreement, being a compromise, has elements that we can’t applaud, though. In response to those who feel snowmobiles are essential to the Adirondack economy, the agency authorizes some regulatory contortions with the goal of creating a broad snowmobile trail through the >>More


November, 2013

A new era for the Adirondacks

FORTY YEARS after the signing of historic legislation protecting the Adirondacks from exploitation and over-development, we have arrived at another key moment for the Adirondack Park. Safeguards that once seemed to set the standard for progressive land-use planning must now be updated if we are to ensure that the natural character and viable human communities of the Park survive for future generations. A yearlong series of Explorer articles assessed the effectiveness of Park protections, particularly the role of the Adirondack Park Agency in overseeing development of the private lands that constitute more than half of the nearly six million acres >>More


September, 2013

Amendments benefit public

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THE CONSTITUTIONAL protection afforded the state-owned Adirondack Forest Preserve is not something to be taken lightly. It is ambitious in its scope and timeless in its intention: the lands “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” As important a protection as this is, though, it is not and should not be mindlessly absolute. There are unusual circumstances in which for the good of the Forest Preserve and the people of the state, >>More


July, 2013

Protection and access

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When New York State last year began its historic purchase of sixty-five thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands for the Adirondack Forest Preserve it posed a challenge to itself. How should it classify and manage the land, balancing protection of the natural environment with providing people access to this incomparable resource? The Adirondack Park Agency has begun the process of classifying the new Preserve lands and may reach a decision by early fall on the 21,200 acres purchased so far. The classifications will determine how the public may use the land, most notably, how much motorized use will be >>More