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Adirondack Explorer

February, 2012

Cold night on Marcy: a survivor’s tale

Jane and Steve Mastaitis at Adirondack Medical Center. Photo by Phil Brown.

  He had a watch but was afraid to look at it. Instead he tried to gauge time by the slow movement of the stars across the sky. Alas, he forgot that he set his watch alarm for 4 a.m. “When it went off, I was disappointed,” he said. “I knew I had to wait some more.” By then, Steve Mastaitis had been curled up inside a snow hole near the summit of Mount Marcy for more than nine hours, shivering uncontrollably, suffering from frostbite, fearing the worst. The temperature fell to near zero during the night, with a wind-chill factor of >>More


January, 2012

DEC wants to expand bobcat harvest

The state Department of Environmental Conservation wants to allow more hunting and/or trapping of bobcats in many parts of the state, including the Adirondacks. In a draft five-year management plan, DEC reports that the state’s bobcat population—now estimated to be five thousand—has been growing, especially in the Southern Tier. Roughly twice the size of housecats, bobcats prey on a variety of species, from small voles to white-tailed deer. DEC says up to 20 percent of the state’s bobcats (i.e., a thousand animals) could be killed by hunters and trappers each year without hurting the population. In recent years, sportsmen have >>More


December, 2011

Kathleen Moser named assistant DEC commissioner

A longtime conservationist has been named assistant commissioner for natural resources at the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Kathleen Moser was picked to replace Christopher Amato, who left the post earlier this month after four and a half years on the job. Moser’s new responsibilities include oversight of the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills. Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan applauded the appointment. “She’s a capable person and has a good knowledge of the Forest Preserve, especially in the Adirondacks,” he said. Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, got to know Moser when she was head >>More


December, 2011

Ex-IP official to head DEC Region 5

A former International Paper official has been named director of the Region 5 office of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. In his new post, Robert Stegemann will oversee an office that, among other things, manages the eastern two-thirds of the Adirondack Park. He begins on Monday, replacing Betsy Lowe, who  resigned last month. “Bob’s impressive record in working to create a sustainable society and to preserve New York’s resources make him a natural fit for DEC,” said state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens. “In both professional and volunteer capacities, Bob has proven to be an exceptional environmental steward. Bob >>More


December, 2011

Adirondack Council: Protect Poke-o tract

The Adirondack Council wants the state to purchase or otherwise protect a 2,257-acre parcel near Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain that is on the market for $2,275,000. Dubbed Burnt Pond Forest, the tract lies just southwest of Poke-o-Moonshine, bordering state Forest Preserve. It is being marketed by LandVest, a real-estate company that deals in timberlands the Northeast. In an online brochure, LandVest says the property contains six peaks, several trout streams, an eighteen-acre pond, and a trail system. The brochure touts the property’s timber value but also suggests that the pond would be suitable “for the development of a recreational cabin or second >>More


November, 2011

Christopher Amato to leave DEC

Christopher Amato is resigning as the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s assistant commissioner for natural resources. He said will return to practicing law in the private sector or go to work for the state attorney general. Amato told the Explorer that he expects to remain in the Albany region, where he lives. He said he will stay at DEC for “at least a week” longer. “It was time for me to move on,” he said. “I very much enjoyed my time here.” Amato had been in private practice before joining DEC four and a half years ago. Earlier in his >>More


November, 2011

No decision on Marcy Dam

Now that the state has decided not to rebuild the dam at Duck Hole, people are wondering about the future of Marcy Dam. The short answer is that there is no answer—not yet. “No decisions have been made. We’re still evaluating that,” David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said this morning. Unlike the Duck Hole dam, Marcy Dam remains largely intact. However, flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Irene washed away the bridge over the dam and the dam’s sluice gate. Most of the pond behind the dam has since drained, leaving a mudflat. DEC plans >>More


November, 2011

DEC won’t rebuild Duck Hole dam

The state Department of Environmental Conservation does not plan to rebuild the dam at Duck Hole, an iconic pond deep in the High Peaks Wilderness. The wooden dam was breached in the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene in late August, draining about two-thirds of the impoundment. Even before Irene, fans of Duck Hole had been urging DEC to repair the old dam. In fact, the Explorer ran a debate on the question in its September/October issue, which was on the newsstand when the storm hit. Nestled among high mountains, Duck Hole is a favorite camping spot on the Northville-Placid >>More


November, 2011

DEC reopens two more trails

The state has reopened two more trails in the High Peaks region, but it has no plans to reopen before next year other trails closed by Irene. Hikers can once again take the Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 to Snow Mountain, though the low-water route through the Deer Brook flume remains impassable (it was eroded during the storm). Also reopened is the second crossover trail between the East River Trail and West River Trail in the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The first crossover trail is still closed, owing to a missing bridge. Three trail on the Forest Preserve remain closed: >>More


October, 2011

DEC reopens 5 trails closed since Irene

Five trails that had been closed since August 29, the day after Tropical Storm Irene, have been reopened, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced this morning. Four of the trails start in the vicinity of the Ausable Lakes in the privately owned Adirondack Mountain Reserve: The Carry Trail between Lower and Upper Ausable Lake (trail #54 in the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks guidebook). Trail from the Carry Trail to the Colvin Range Trail (#55 in the book). Trail from Warden’s Camp at the foot of Upper Ausable to Sawteeth Mountain (#57) Trail from Warden’s Camp to Haystack Mountain >>More