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November, 2009

Lyon Mountain: Wilderness or Wild Forest?

The Adirondack Park Agency is poised to classify Lyon Mountain as Wild Forest—a decision that would run into opposition from the Adirondack Council, one of the Park’s leading environmental organizations. Brian Houseal, the council’s executive director, said he would like to see the Lyon Mountain tract classified as Primitive, with an eye toward eventually classifying it as Wilderness, the strictest of the APA’s nine state-land zoning categories. “There’s no Wilderness now in that sector of the Park,” Houseal said after the APA’s meeting last week. Located in the northeastern Adirondacks, west of Plattsburgh, 3,830-foot Lyon is one of the Park’s >>More


November, 2009

Snowmobile guidelines OK’d

The Adirondack Park Agency voted 10-1 Friday to approve snowmobile-trail guidelines despite objections by environmental groups that they violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The executive directors of the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and Protect the Adirondacks say the guidelines would permit trails that fail to meet the master plan’s mandate that snowmobile trails have “essentially the same character as a foot trail.” They also say the guidelines would unlawfully permit the use of grooming machines on the Forest Preserve. On Thursday, all three said they would consider suing the APA if the guidelines were approved. After Friday’s vote, >>More


November, 2009

About-face on Lows Lake

In a victory for local government, the Adirondack Park Agency voted 7-4 Friday to renege on an earlier decision to give a land-use classification to the waters and bed of Lows Lake. The APA board did the about-face while redoing a vote taken in September. At the earlier meeting, the commissioners voted 6-4 to classify the waters, bed, and surrounding lands of the lake either Wilderness or Primitive. Because of a legal snafu, that vote was later deemed invalid, and so the board took up the matter again at this week’s meeting. In the original decision, the board agreed to >>More


November, 2009

APA snowmobile plan called illegal

The Adirondack Park Agency could face legal action if, as appears likely, it approves new snowmobile-trail guidelines at its meeting on Friday. The APA’s State Land Committee voted this afternoon (Thursday) to permit the agency’s full board to consider the guidelines at its Friday meeting. Afterward, the executive directors of the Park’s three major environmental groups—the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), and Protect the Adirondacks—argued that the proposed guidelines violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Their objections pertain to the character and maintenance of a new class of trails known as “community connectors,” intended to link >>More


November, 2009

Farmer still angry at APA

This week I was forwarded some heated e-mails written by Sandy Lewis, the outspoken owner of a large farm in Essex County, and his antagonist at the Adirondack Park Agency, lawyer Paul Van Cott. Lewis has been vociferous in his disdain for the APA. He sued them and won after the agency contended he needed a permit to build worker housing on his organic farm in the Champlain Valley. In one e-mail, Lewis says the APA needs an overhaul and questions Van Cott’s competency. In a reply, Van Cott writes. among other things: “Mr. Lewis, you are a sociopath. Please >>More


November, 2009

Little testifies at corruption trial

The big story in Albany these days is the corruption trial of Joseph Bruno, the retired majority leader of the state Senate, and among those testifying this week was Betty Little, the state senator whose district includes most of the Adirondack Park. The New York Times reports that the trial has shed light on the inner workings of the state legislature, including the doling out of pork. The following excerpt from the Times describes Little’s testimony on Tuesday. Both she and Bruno are Republicans. In the Senate, as in the Assembly, the largest shares of this pork budget are awarded >>More


November, 2009

Questions on easement deal

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, is not happy with the proposed modification of the easement agreement with Heartland Forestland Fund. (See previous two posts here and here.) Woodworth contends that the modification would weaken protection of the 110,000 acres covered by the easements by allowing hunting camps to remain, with members allowed motorized access. “This is the first time we have downgraded an easement to make it less protective of the environment,” he said. The state purchased the easements in a 1999 deal with Champion International, the prior owner. The easements prohibit development but allow logging. >>More


November, 2009

Proposed Forest Preserve addition

In a post yesterday, I reported that Heartland Forestland Fund would donate 2,661 acres to the state under a plan to modify a conservation-easement agreement in order to allow hunting camps to remain on timberlands in the northern Adirondacks. I now have a map of the lands in question, shown above. Most of the land (2,146 acres) lies within the Adirondack Park and will be added to the Deer River Primitive Area, which is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The remainder (515 acres) lies just north of the Park and includes three quarters of a mile of river corridor >>More


November, 2009

New deal for hunters

When the state signed a deal a decade ago to protect 139,000 acres owned by Champion International, Adirondack residents complained that it called for the demolition of hunting camps that had been in use for many years. As a result, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to modify the deal to allow the 220 camps to remain. In exchange, the current owner, Heartland Forestland Fund III, will donate 2,661 acres to the state. The company supplements its timber revenue by leasing land to hunting clubs. In 1999, the state bought 29,000 acres outright from Champion and protected the >>More


November, 2009

Youth Climate Summit

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake will host 170 students from high schools and colleges throughout the Adirondacks next week for its first Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. Each school will send a team of students, educators, and school administrators who will develop plans to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.  They also will learn how global warming is expected to affect the Adirondacks. The conference was the brainchild of Zachary Berger, a graduate of Lake Placid High School. Inspired by the museum’s climate-change conference in 2008, he suggested a similar conference targeted toward youth. “We know that progress can’t be >>More


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