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Adirondack Explorer

September, 2010

The debate that won’t die

The Adirondack Park Agency’s recommendation to keep the fire towers on St. Regis and Hurricane mountains but prohibit volunteer groups from fixing them up is unlikely to please either side in this long-running debate. Dan Plumley of Adirondack Wild, a new environmental organization, argues that it merely ensures that the debate will continue indefinitely. “The agency is taking a weak, muddling position,” Plumley said. “For the most part they’re choosing to punt the question.” Plumley argues that the towers should be moved from the mountaintops to locations within nearby communities. He said the towers could become a tourist attraction. “Many >>More


September, 2010

The case against cairns

Earlier this week, I wrote a short item for Adirondack Almanack on cairns. Many people are fascinated by these heaps of stone often found on bare ridges and summits. Tom Woodman, our publisher, wrote about cairns in a column in the Explorer last year. Adirondack Life ran a photo feature on cairns last year. And Mary Thill wrote about cairns in an earlier Adirondack Almanack piece. Not everyone, though, likes cairns. I discovered this after posting my piece. As one reader commented, “The last thing I want to see on public land is someone else’s form of personal expression, whether >>More


September, 2010

Davis leaving council

John Davis is stepping down as conservation director of the Adirondack Council to work for the Wildlands Network, a nonprofit organization working to preserve natural corridors for wildlife migration. “It has been a great five years working on conservation strategies inside the Park,” Davis said in a news release today.  “Now, I get to think about how the Adirondacks can remain connected, or reconnect, to other major conservation areas on the East Coast.” Besides working for the council for the past five years, Davis has been a proponent of the Split Rock Wildway, a wildlife corridor that would connect the Champlain >>More


September, 2010

Fire tower’s outlook improves

The fire tower on Mount Adams offers one of the most breathtaking vistas in the Adirondacks, as can be seen in the above photo by Carl Heilman II. It shows the view to the northeast, including Algonquin, Colden, Marcy, and many other High Peaks. Unfortunately, the tower has been closed to the public since a wind storm blew off the cab’s roof a few years ago. With some luck and hard work, though, the tower may soon be reopened. The AdirondackHighpeaks Foundation has raised $5,000 to rehabilitate the tower. Besides replacing the roof, the nonprofit organization plans to install new >>More


September, 2010

Council loses snowmobile decision

A state judge has dismissed the Adirondack Council’s complaint that guidelines for snowmobile trails, adopted last year, violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and the forever-wild clause of the state constitution. The guidelines authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation to construct extra-wide “community connector” trails between hamlets and allow tractor groomers to maintain them. The Adirondack Park Agency approved the guidelines in November, saying they complied with the State Land Master Plan. Brian Houseal, the council’s executive director, said the council will decide whether to appeal after reviewing the judge’s opinion. Houseal said the council recognizes the >>More


August, 2010

Disabled sue for wilderness access

Six men filed suit in federal court this week to force the state to allow the disabled to fly into wild lakes by floatplane or helicopter. The plaintiffs contend that banning aircraft from tracts of Forest Preserve classified as Wilderness, Primitive or Canoe violates the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. Before the adoption of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan in the early 1970s, floatplanes regularly flew in and out of lakes where they are now banned. The plan prohibits nearly all motorized use in Wilderness, Primitive, and Canoe Areas. The Explorer will run a story on the lawsuit >>More


August, 2010

McKibben is hotter than hell

Bill McKibben wrote much of his pathbreaking book The End of Nature from his home in the Adirondacks, so even though he now lives in Vermont, we like to think of him as an Adirondacker. In truth, though, McKibben is a citizen of the world, a guy who has been fighting to save the planet from climate change for more than two decades. But he hasn’t succeeded. McKibben says it’s now time to take off the gloves. In an online article, he vents his anger against politicians who fiddle while the earth burns. He’s not happy with environmentalists, either. Here’s >>More


June, 2010

Peter Borrelli to head Protect the Adirondacks

Protect the Adirondacks has hired Peter Borrelli, a longtime environmental activist, as its first president and chief executive officer. “I’ve known Peter for almost forty years, going back to when we both served together at the Sierra Club, and I have followed his career closely ever since,” said Chuck Clusen, chairman of the Protect board.  “Peter brings a unique set of skills in communications, advocacy, and management never applied before in the Adirondacks.” Protect was formed last year by the merger of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. The Protect >>More


June, 2010

Gibson may form new group

David Gibson and Dan Plumley, both of whom resigned this month from Protect the Adirondacks, are thinking about forming a new environmental organization. “We’re talking a lot about the possibility. Nothing’s crystallized,” said Gibson, who once served as Protect’s executive director. Meanwhile, Charles Clusen, the chairman of the Protect board, said Protect expects to hire a new staff director in late June. The person will be given the title of president. “This person lives in the Park, and he’s known the Adirondacks for a long time,” Clusen said. He said the person has “vast experience” in land-conservation issues and has >>More


June, 2010

Changes planned for Moose River Plains

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has two interesting proposals for the Moose River Plains. One should make local officials happy. The other should make environmentalists happy. The Moose River Plains is now classified as Wild Forest. DEC wants to reclassify twenty miles of dirt road as an “Intensive Use Area,” a designation usually reserved for state campgrounds. The department does not intend to create a full-out campground, with showers, bathrooms, paved roads, and other modern amenities, but it expects to maintain up to 150 roadside campsites with fireplaces or fire rings, picnic tables, and outhouses. The Intensive Use classification will >>More