Adirondack Base Camp header image

Entries Tagged as 'News'

Environmental Org Warns ‘Snirt’ ATV Rally Has Grown Too Big

April 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

April 12 Event Now Draws 3,600 All-Terrain Vehicles to Tug Hill’s Lewis County Trails & Roads, Leaves Lasting Scar on Landscape & Rivers

Adirondack CouncilLOWVILLE, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization has called on the Lewis County Board of Legislators to reconsider its prediction that an annual all-terrain vehicle (ATV) rally causes no environmental harm.

The Adirondack Council wants Lewis County officials to conduct a full environmental impact study of the annual SNIRT (Snow/Dirt) Rally, which allows ATV riders from across the Northeast to use public highways and the county’s trails to travel between local taverns.

The event causes erosion, excessive noise and disturbances to fish and wildlife, while destroying vegetation, intrudes on quiet neighborhoods and imperils human lives, the Adirondack Council said. Any one of these is reason enough to require a full environmental review under state law, the organization warned.

The SNIRT event drew only a few hundred participants when it began 11 years ago. In recent years, however, more than 3,500 riders have participated. The event’s impact has expanded from Tug Hill into the Adirondack Park, near Brantingham Lake, at the edge of the Independence River Wild Forest.

“We are extremely disappointed that the board of legislators has decided to operate an all-terrain vehicle rally without implementing the necessary changes that would minimize the environmental damage this event has caused in the past,” said Adirondack Council Legislative Director Kevin Chlad in an April 8 letter to the board.

“SNIRT’s rapid and uncontrolled expansion has overwhelmed the capacity of law en forcement, leading to an epidemic of trespassing on both state and private lands. Such lawlessness should be unacceptable to the county’s lawmakers,” Chlad wrote. “Further, we find it troubling that you continue to allow this event on public highways within the Adirondack Park.”

Chlad noted that that operation of ATVs on public highways is illegal, unless roads are properly opened.

“We believe that Lewis County has violated the provisions of section 2405 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law,” which limits the roads that may be opened to ATV traffic to only short distances, and onlywhere they can connect two already-legal ATV-riding areas or trails. Instead, the county opens roads that connect only to other roads.

Chlad said the county appears to be mistakenly relying upon another section of the V&TL (section 2408) to justify its road openings, when that section is merely a set of instructions for how to notify the public of special events.

“The Adirondack Council continues to recommend that a formal State Environmental Quality Review be conducted so that officials may monitor the full extent of damage that the event inflicts, both on the region’s roads and its natural resources,” Chlad advised.

Chlad said the organization strongly disagreed with the county’s finding that the annual event has so little impact on the environment that there is no need for a formal environmental impact study. He reminded county officials that the NY State Environmental Quality Review Act requires a formal environmental review of any proposed event that would cause one of the following to environmental changes:

  • Substantial adverse change in noise levels;
  • Substantial increase in soil erosion;
  • Destruction of large quantities of vegetation;
  • Substantial interference with the movement of fish or wildlife;
  • Impairment of aesthetic resources of community or neighborhood character; or,
  • Creation of a hazard to human health.

Over the past five years, the SNIRT Rally has caused all six of these impacts, Chlad said.

He noted that most of them can be witnessed on Youtube.com videos posted by the event’s participants.

“The Adirondack Council believes that this overdue assessment is a reasonable and necessary step towards improving this event in the future, as it would allow for proper environmental safeguards to be put in place,” he wrote. “We understand and support the county’s desire to boost tourism. However, we strongly believe that state law calls for events such as this to be carefully planned and strictly supervised to prevent the widespread abuses of public and private property that have been left in the wake of every previous SNIRT event.

“A lack of attention to these details encourages a culture of wanton environmental destruction, and at worst, simultaneously promotes drinking and driving with reckless disregard for public and private property and the well-being of other riders,” he noted.

In 2013, dozens of SNIRT participants had to be rescued by local rescue and law enforcement officials when they left the highways that had been opened to them and trespassed into local farm fields, where they were stranded by deep snows. Lewis County still has a significant snowpack as this weekend’s event approaches.

The Adirondack Council is privately funded, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms, and vibrant rural communities. The Council carries out its mission and vision through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

VIDEO:

Recent video of SNIRT Rally: Note that multi-passenger vehicles with roofs are too large to be legally registered as ATVs in NY State. Note also the constant presence of alcohol in these videos, as well as the riders leaving the roads and trails to cross wetlands and farm fields, both of which are supposed to be off-limits to all riders.

ATV RIDE! OVER 3500 BIKES! SNIRT RUN 2012 BARNS CORNERS NY

Snirt Run 2012 (Whiskey Riders)

SNIRT RUN 2013 POLARIS POWER! PLAYING IN THE MUD AND WATER!

2013 Snirt Run

Tags: ·····

DEC Announces 2013 Bear Harvest Results

April 7th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Record Takes Again In the Southern Zone

NYSDEC LogoNew York bear hunters took 1,358 black bears during the 2013 hunting seasons, making last year the second highest bear harvest on record in New York, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

“New York has excellent bear habitat and vast, accessible public lands that offer exciting opportunities for bear hunting,” said Commissioner Martens. “With abundant natural foods this past year, bears were in great condition, and we heard of several hunters who took bears weighing more than 500 pounds dressed. Under New York’s Open for Fishing and Hunting, our Fish and Wildlife Programs are being enhanced and our hunting and fishing licenses are streamlined to ensure increased opportunities for recreational in this state.”

Bear in GrassRegionally, bear hunters took a record 636 bears from the Southeastern bear hunting area and a near record 342 bears (2nd highest take) from the Central-Western bear hunting area. These high harvests reflect that bear populations have increased over the past decade. In addition, an abundance of hard mast (e.g., acorns and other nuts) kept many bears actively feeding later into the fall and available for harvest through the duration of the regular firearms season. Hunters took 224 bears in the Central-Western area and 431 bears in the Southeastern area during the regular firearms season. Bear populations in these ranges are in need of higher harvest rates in coming years in order to stabilize population growth generally and reduce populations in the Catskill region.

2013 Black Bear Harvest Comparison
2013 Bear Harvest

In the Adirondack bear hunting area, hunters took a total of 380 bears, fewer than the recent 5-year average. However, Adirondack bear harvest is the tale of two seasons. Bear harvest during the early bear season, which runs from mid-September through mid-October, is strongly influenced by availability of soft mast (e.g., apples, cherries and berries), and harvests tend to be poor during years with abundant soft mast like the 2013 year. Early season only accounted for 84 bears taken, approximately 65 percent below average. In contrast, hunters did well during the regular season, taking 246 bears, about 13 percent greater than average.

A complete summary of the 2013 bear harvest with results by county, town, and Wildlife Management Unit is available on the DEC website.

NYS Black Bear Management Plan

In January, DEC released a draft black bear management plan for public review and comment. The plan describes DEC’s approach to bear management which includes population management through regulated hunting, mitigation of human-bear conflicts, and technical guidance and outreach to the public about bears and conflict avoidance. The plan proposed several changes to bear hunting, including expanding the area open to bear hunting to encompass all of upstate New York and establishing a supplemental firearms season in September for bears in the Catskill and lower Hudson Valley region. DEC is reviewing the comments received on the plan and anticipates publishing a final version of the plan this spring. See Black Bear Management to review the draft plan.

NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch Program

Hunters play a pivotal role in bear management through reporting their bear harvests, and many hunters also submit a tooth sample from their bear for DEC to determine the age of harvested bears. For all hunters who report their harvest and submit a tooth, 680 hunters in 2013, DEC provides a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch and a letter informing them of their bear’s age. DEC is still processing tooth submissions from 2013, but we anticipate hunters will receive their patch by September 2014.

Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.

In support of this initiative, this year’s budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone largely untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries; and renews and allows expanded use of crossbows for hunting in New York State.

This year’s budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.

Tags: ···

DEC Submits Proposal to Amend Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan

April 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Action to Ensure the UMP is Consistent with Voter-approved Constitutional Amendment That Allows NYCO to Conduct Exploratory Sampling

NYSDEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today submitted a proposed amendment to the 2010 Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP) to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to ensure the UMP is consistent with the constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2013 that permits exploratory sampling on the state-owned parcel in the Town of Lewis, Essex County, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced.

The constitutional amendment authorizes NYCO Materials, Inc. to conduct sampling on the 200-acre parcel, known as Lot 8, to determine the quantity and quality of wollastonite on the site, which is adjacent to the company’s long-standing mine. The exploratory sampling will also provide information that DEC will use to accurately appraise the value of Lot 8 for a potential land exchange if NYCO decides to expand its mining operations.

“This is an important step in the process to evaluate the site for a potential land exchange between the State and NYCO that would expand public access and recreation opportunities in the Adirondacks, while also supporting the regional economy,” Commissioner Martens said.

The current Jay Mountain Wilderness Area includes Lot 8, which is part of the State Forest Preserve and is governed by Article XIV, Section 1 of the State Constitution (Article XIV). The property is also subject to the provisions of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) as outlined in the 2010 Unit Management Plan for the Jay Mountain Wilderness area.

The amendment is intended to:

recognize that a constitutional amendment approved by the voters on November 5, 2013 implicitly repeals APSLMP guidelines for Wilderness that otherwise would prohibit NYCO’s mineral sampling operations within the Jay Mountain Wilderness area;
make the UMP consistent with the constitutional amendment; and
note that detailed terms and conditions governing the mineral sampling operations will be set forth in a Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) issued by DEC.
If Lot 8 is ultimately conveyed to NYCO, an amendment to the APSLMP’s area description of the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area will recognize that Lot 8 will no longer be contained in the Wilderness Area.

The Constitutional amendment approved by statewide voters revised restrictions related to Lot 8 to allow NYCO to conduct mineral sampling to determine the quantity and quality of wollastonite on approximately 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands. Data and information from this the drilling sampling will be provided to the State so that a land appraisal can be made.

During this first phase to implement the constitutional amendment, Lot 8 will remain part of the State Forest Preserve, subject to Article XIV. However, for the limited purpose of the sampling operations, the amendment suspends Article XIV directives that Forest Preserve lands must be “forever kept as wild forest lands” and that timber situated on the lands will not be “removed, sold or destroyed.” This will allow for the creation of corridors and areas required for transportation of equipment, development of drill pads and the use of mechanized mineral sampling equipment. The second phase, conveyance of Lot 8 to NYCO, will occur after the State has appraised the value of Lot 8.

If NYCO decides not to expand its existing wollastonite mine onto adjacent Lot 8, then the company is required to compensate the State for the disturbance resulting from the mineral sampling operations. NYCO will be required to convey to the state an amount of land no less than the acreage and value of the portions of Lot 8 disturbed by the sampling operations. These parcels, to be added to the Forest Preserve, would be subject to approval by the State Legislature.

If NYCO opts to expand its mine onto Lot 8, the company must convey to the state other lands that are equal to or greater than the acreage and assessed land value of Lot 8, and the total assessed value must be at least $1 million. The lands to be conveyed also would require State Legislature approval.

In addition, when NYCO terminates all mining operations on Lot 8, the company will be required to reclaim the site and convey title to these lands back to the state for inclusion in the Forest Preserve.

Lot 8 was assessed by the New York Natural Heritage Program in July 2013 and inventoried by DEC staff in early 2014. These site visits helped to determine if any significant natural communities or unique forest traits are present and to obtain a general assessment of the existing forest stand relative to surrounding forest areas. The assessment did not identify any unusual or unique resources on the site, especially in the context of surrounding state lands.

Tags: ····

State Helicopters Assist in DEC Project to Reintroduce Brook Trout to Remote Adirondack Pond

March 26th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Adirondack News

Transport of Lime Part of Effort to Mitigate Effects of Acid Rain and Create Hospitable Habitat for Brook Trout in Hawk Pond

NYSDEC LogoAs part of Governor’s Cuomo’s NY’s Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative and a collaborate effort to mitigate the impact of acid rain and restore brook trout to the Adirondacks, state helicopters delivered 34 tons of lime to an acidified pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in the town of Webb, Herkimer County, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Judy Drabicki announced.

On March 6 and 7, approximately 40 DEC staff and New York State Police helicopter crews conducted the liming operation, which included 46 helicopter flights to transport 1,500 pounds of lime from a staging area near the boat launch at Stillwater Reservoir to Hawk Pond. The lime was deposited on the ice at the pond and later spread across the frozen surface. The liming of acidic lakes or ponds is a management tool used to neutralize the water’s acidity and create water quality that is more favorable for fish and aquatic life. When the pond thaws this spring, the lime will enter the water and reduce its acidity level.

“Each year, fisheries staff select an Adirondack pond for liming to reintroduce brook trout in the Adirondacks,” Regional Director Drabicki said. “This effort involves months of planning and coordination with DEC operations staff, forest rangers and forestry staff, along with State police helicopters, pilots and crews. This joint effort is critical to reclaim waters impaired by acid rain and restore native habitats to these Adirondack waters.”

This operation is the first lime treatment for Hawk Pond. This fall, two strains of brook trout will be stocked in the pond: the Horn Lake strain of brook trout, and a heritage/domestic cross. Once the fish have had the chance to spawn, biologists will be able to use the genetics for each strain of the stocked fish to determine which parents are producing offspring and which strain is performing the best in the pond. This research will help guide future management decisions involving Adirondack brook trout ponds.

DEC fishery staff is optimistic that these operations will successfully return brook trout to some large Adirondack ponds and lakes. Larger water bodies in the Adirondacks maintain a deep cold water layer right through the summer (referred to as stratification), unlike the smaller ponds where water layers mix, which results in warmer water temperatures that are not as suitable for brook trout.

For additional information on DEC’s liming program or a list of Adirondack trout ponds, contact the Watertown fisheries office at 315-785-2263.

New York Adventure Plates

Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of fishing and hunting licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions. This year, Governor Cuomo unveiled the NYS Adventure License, which allows outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, anglers and hunters to consolidate their recreation licenses and benefits onto their New York State Driver’s License, and the NYS Adventure License Plates, featuring nine plate designs available for free to those buying new lifetime hunting, fishing or park licenses in 2014. More information here: NY State Adventure License

In support of this initiative, this year Governor Cuomo has proposed creating 50 new land access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the Governor’s 2014-15 budget proposes to: include $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries; limit the liability of landowners who allow recreational activities on their properties, which could open up vast, untapped resources for additional hunting, fishing and many other recreational pursuits; and allow crossbow hunting once again in New York State.

Tags: ···

DEC: Emptying and Cleaning Feeders and Bird Baths Can Limit Spread of Disease

February 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Common Redpolls with Salmonella Frequented Bird Feeders across 13 Counties in 2013

NYSDEC LogoIn January and February 2013, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) confirmed infections with the bacteria Salmonella in common redpolls that frequented bird feeders across 13 counties*. No confirmed cases have been identified to-date in 2014, however it is the time of year when DEC receives reports of dead common redpolls that became infected with Salmonella at bird feeders. Proper maintenance of bird feeders can help prevent disease transmission, particularly in these late winter months when songbirds are especially vulnerable.

Salmonellosis or “Songbird Fever” is among the most common diseases associated with bird feeders. Outbreaks can affect many bird species including cardinals, goldfinches, sparrows, cowbirds and pine siskins. The bacteria can be shed in the bird’s feces even when the bird appears healthy. Salmonellosis can spread through contact with infected birds, contaminated seed, seed waste on the ground or water in bird baths. It is important to note that salmonellosis is a zoonotic disease and can be spread to both people and domestic animals. Other common songbird diseases that are spread through bird feeders are Mycoplasma Conjunctivitis (an eye infection of House Finches) and Trichomoniasis (an oral parasite of songbirds, pigeons and doves).

A bird feeder surrounded by the various species of birds is a common sight in many residential backyards. Bird feeders can be a safe and enjoyable way to watch birds from the comfort of one’s home but under the right circumstances birdfeeders can also be a place where diseases can spread very quickly between birds because of their close contact with each other.

New Yorkers can help curtail the spread of disease in songbirds by emptying and cleaning feeders and bird baths with hot soapy water at least every two weeks. It is also a good idea to soak feeders in a dilute 10 percent bleach solution and allow them to dry before re-hanging them. Waste seed on the ground beneath feeders should be cleaned up and discarded. Spreading feeders out and relocating feeders periodically can also limit the build-up of waste. Practice good hygiene when cleaning feeders and bird baths by wearing gloves to handle seed waste and washing hands after performing maintenance. If you observe multiple sick or dead birds at your feeder, please report them to your local DEC office. A list of DEC’s office can be found here: DEC Regional Office Directory

The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s Project Feeder Watch has a great deal of helpful information about feeding backyard birds at: Feeding Birds

*(Adirondack Region: Fulton, Herkimer, and Essex Counties)

Tags: ···

Increased Avalanche Danger From Valentine’s Snowstorm

February 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Snowstorm Creates Excellent Skiing Conditions
Increases Risk of Backcountry Avalanches

NYSDEC LogoPlenty of new snow has made for excellent skiing and snowshoeing conditions in the backountry. Skiers planning to ski backcountry glades and slides should be aware of the increase risk in avalanche.

The recent storm left 10 to 16 inches of new denser powder snow on top of the 2 feet or more of less dense snow already on the ground. Due to the winds from the storm expect wind loading on the leeward side of mountain slopes. Strong temperature gradient snows were already present in the snow pack. Be aware of the risk of avalanches.

Know Before You Go

  • Have a basic knowledge of avalanche risk, prediction, avoidance and rescue.
  • Carry beacons, shovels & probes
  • Check for avalanche conditions before skiing.
  • Obtain your own data. The presence of ski tracks on a slope doesn’t eliminate the risk of avalanche.
  • Remember safe travel techniques.
  • Know how to self-rescue and have a rescue plan.
  • Skiing, snowshoeing and other travel is prohibited on Avalanche Pass Slide.

There is more information on avalanche awareness and preparedness on the DEC web site at: Avalanche

via NYSDEC

Tags: ··

DEC Finalizes Plans to Relocate and Upgrade Lake George Beach Boat Launch

January 31st, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

NYSDEC LogoThe final design plans to relocate and upgrade the Lake George Beach Boat Launch are completed New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Robert Stegemann announced today.

“DEC is committed to increasing recreational access to the state’s natural treasures for both New Yorkers and visitors to the state. The design and operation of the boat launch will provide additional access for boaters to Lake George while ensuring the safety and minimizing the impacts on users of Lake George Beach and nearby residents,” said Director Stegemann. “The input received from residents and local officials led to modifications resulting in a boat launch that boaters, bathers and residents will all appreciate.”

The boat launch is part of a two-year project to improve the roads, parking lots and access to DEC’s Lake George Beach Area – aka Million Dollar Beach. Improvements to the roads and parking lots through the use of porous asphalt and other stormwater management features will also protect the water quality of Lake George. The sidewalk along the beach will be upgraded increasing safety, convenience and attractiveness for pedestrians. A boat wash station is planned for the boat launch that will provide further protection for the lake.

“I am thrilled Governor Cuomo and DEC are upgrading the facilities at Million Dollar Beach to make it more user friendly and provide more protection for Lake George,” said Town of Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson. “The beach is a key asset to our community and its tourism driven economy. We couldn’t be happier with the planned improvements.”

“Million Dollar Beach has always been a primary destination of visitors to Lake George, the planned improvements will raise the attractiveness and accessibility of the beach,” said Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais. “As chairman of SAVE the Lake, I am also pleased that boaters will have increased access to the southern basin of the lake while protecting the lake from aquatic invasive species.”
Lake George Beach

DEC held a number of meetings with local officials and residents. In response to the concerns expressed at these meetings and in other communications, DEC undertook a second review of the boat launch project and made changes to the plan. The second review included sampling lake depth out from and along the whole stretch of Lake George Beach.

Due to water depths and problems identified with other possible locations DEC once again concluded that the boat launch will be moved to the site at the eastern end of Lake George Beach. However, in response to the comments received, a number of modifications were made to the proposed design and operation of the boat launch, including:

  • The ramp location will be shifted west so that it will be 358 feet from the eastern shoreline of residences on Rose Point Lane;
  • The boat launch ramp is now oriented to point away from the eastern shoreline rather than straight out into the lake;
  • A 150-feet-wide navigation area will be marked with buoys to keep boats approximately 300 feet from the eastern shoreline;
  • The swimming area at DEC’s Lake George beach will be shifted 100 feet west to provide sufficient separation from the boating navigation area; and
  • The boat launch will not operate 24 hours a day during the busy summer boating season.

DEC’s decision to relocate and upgrade the boat launch so that boats can be launched and retrieved throughout the boating season is based on earlier studies that found boaters and local officials wanted additional public access to Lake George and boater’s usage of the southeastern basin of the Lake was far below “comfortable carrying capacity.” The 25-boat capacity planned for the boat launch will not exceed the “comfortable carrying capacity” for that portion of the lake.

Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.

In his 2014 Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo proposed creating 50 new land access projects. These projects will connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas.

Tags: ····