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Adirondack Explorer

January, 2011

New twist in McCulley case

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has granted a request by its own staff to clarify an agency decision that the Old Mountain Road in Keene—now part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail—had never been legally abandoned and therefore could be open to motorized use. The decision by DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis in 2009 raised questions about the status of other old woods roads in the Forest Preserve.  Many such roads are now foot trails and closed to vehicles. DEC attorney Randall Young had filed a motion for clarification, contending that Grannis misinterpreted the law and that the decision could lead >>More


December, 2010

Martens next DEC chief?

Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute, may be the state’s next environmental conservation commissioner, according to the Albany Times Union. The newspaper reported on its Capitol Confidential blog that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is looking at Martens, who in the early 1990s served as an environmental adviser to then-Governor Mario Cuomo, the incoming governor’s father. Asked to confirm the report, Martens told the Explorer today: “I’m being considered, that’s about all I can tell can tell you.” Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto could not be reached for comment. Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said he is not >>More


November, 2010

ADK objects to Moose River Plains plan

The Adirondack Mountain Club is objecting to the state’s recommendation to allow mountain biking on an old road in a portion of the Moose River Plains that has been proposed to be designated Wilderness. ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth said the mountain-bike corridor would set a bad precedent and could open the door for other uses, such as snowmobiling, normally prohibited in Wilderness Areas. “The harder it is to get into the Wilderness, the more protected it is,” Woodworth said. The state Department of Environmental Conservation proposes to establish the biking corridor in the latest version of its draft management >>More


October, 2010

Reaction to Grannis ouster

The ouster of Pete Grannis as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner has shocked and outraged green groups. A former Manhattan assemblyman, Grannis was seen as a friend of the environment long before he was appointed by Governor Eliot Spitzer to head the Department of Environmental Conservation. Grannis’s biography and photo were removed from DEC’s website this morning. The Albany Times Union reported that Grannis was fired Thursday after the leak of a DEC memo protesting Governor David Paterson’s demand that the department lay off 209 employees by the end of the year. In the memo, DEC says the department has >>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

Rafting guides accused of reckless endangerment

The owner of the Hudson River Rafting Company and one of his guides face charges of reckless endangerment for allegedly sending customers on whitewater trips without licensed guides. Patrick Cunningham, the company’s owner, and Heath Bromley, the guide, pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges in Indian Lake Town Court, according to the Hamilton County district attorney’s office. The charges of second-degree reckless endangerment stem from two separate incidents last month. Details of the charges are contained in court documents filed by Forest Ranger Steven Ovitt. On August 10, Bromley “falsely” stated to Greg Kaasman, an employee of Longacre Expeditions, >>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


July, 2010

DEC: Don’t climb Stillwater tower

In the July/August issue of the Explorer, I describe a short hike to the Stillwater Mountain fire tower. Once the tower is rehabilitated, this will be a nice outing for the general public, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation warns that the tower should not be climbed in the meantime. DEC spokesman Stephen Litwhiler said the department is unsure of the soundness of the wooden steps leading to the tower’s cab. The tower’s first two sections of stairs are missing, but on the day of our hike, Sue Bibeau and I used a ladder to reach the stairs that >>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


May, 2010

Moose River Plains roads to open

Under pressure from local officials, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced today that it will open the roads in the Moose River Plains.   Earlier this month, DEC angered local officials when it said state budget cuts would keep it from opening the forty-mile system of dirt roads. Local towns rely on the Moose River Plains for tourism. Following is the full text of DEC’s news release: Thanks to a creative state-local partnership, the Moose River Plains Road — which provides access to one of the largest blocks of remote lands in the Adirondack Park — will be open >>More