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New Adirondack Park Report Finds Four Dominant Trends Shaping Life Inside The Blue Line

May 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Adirondack News

A newly published report identifies four dominant trends shaping life inside the Adirondack Park:

  • The Park’s population is declining at a steadily increasing pace;
  • The median age in the Park is eight years older than in the rest of New York State and, more strikingly, five years older than in the communities outside the Park’s boundary in the same 12-county area;
  • State-owned lands and public conservation easements have grown by one million acres in the past 30 years. Since 1972, these protected lands have grown by 50% to 3,392,000 acres;
  • Park school enrollments, which had been declining at 2% per year since the start of the millennium, are now declining at nearly 2.5% annually.

The report, entitled “The Adirondack Park Regional Assessment 2014: Seeking Balance,” is a follow-up to the 2009 Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project (APRAP) report. The research team remained the same through both studies, including Brad Dake, Chairman of the APRAP study, and a team of community planning experts from The LA Group of Saratoga Springs. Overseeing the report, along with Mr. Dake, were Town of Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board; and former Adirondack Park Agency Commissioner Deanne Rehm.

“Our goal is quite simple: to bring new information to the 140-year discussion about the preservation of the Park and the communities therein,” said Mr. Dake.

Among APRA 2014’s many findings:

  • The Park’s population is declining at a steadily increasing pace and the median age will increase by four years this decade alone. In the early 1970s, the population was 115,000 and the median age was 31. The population is projected to drop to that level again by 2030 (a loss of 17,000+ residents) and the median age will rise to 51.
  • From 2000 to 2030, the number of Park residents younger than age 30 is projected to decline by an average of 14% each decade. By 2030, more than one-third of the Park residents will be over the age of 60.
  • From 2003 to 2013, the number of public school students living inside the Adirondack Park dropped by 21% (an average of 422 students per year), twice the rate of decline in communities outside the Park’s boundary in the same 12-county area.
  • State-owned forever-wild lands now account for 45% of the Adirondack Park land area, while state-owned conservation easements in perpetuity account for another 13% of the Park. Taken together, 58% of the area of the Park is restricted from future development. Each of these percentages is the highest in the Park’s history.
  • Over the past 16 years, New York State has acquired conservation easements on private lands in the Park at a pace of 63 square miles annually. Over the past 25 years, these acquisitions have exceeded the size of Yosemite National Park.

“Historically, analyses of population and demographic trends in the Adirondacks have relied on data from the 12 North Country counties. But only two of those counties are wholly within the Adirondack Park, while 10 counties straddle the Park boundary,” said Mr. Dake. “Data from communities outside the Park’s boundaries have often produced a skewed picture of what’s happening inside the Blue Line. APRA 2014 took unprecedented steps to look specifically at what’s happening inside the Park and we found the picture to be quite different than what’s happening outside in the same 12-county area.”

Sources for APRA 2014 include the Program for Applied Demographics at Cornell University, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Education and several other state agencies. In addition, an extensive survey of Blue Line school districts provided the most accurate count ever of K-12 students living inside the Park.

APRA 2014 can be read online at www.apra2014.com.

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

April 11th, 2014 · 1 Comment · 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

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Adirondack Rail Controversy

May 23rd, 2013 · No Comments · Adirondack Life

Rail or Trail or “First-world Problem”?

All the “very cool, passionate, community-minded people” on both sides seem to have ignored a third-option – Rail-biking.

Richard B. did this back in the 90’s – A Ride on the Adirondack Railway.

Rail-bike at Stillwater Reservoir

Rail-bike at Stillwater Reservoir.
Photo courtesy of: R. Bentley

Non-motorized Re-Use. Leave the tracks. Get rid of the train. A healthy, cost-efficient, and non-polluting activity.

Look what they are doing in Koreawww.oceanrailbike.com.

As far as I can tell from my very brief research, Lake Placid, NY to Remsen, NY could be the longest Rail-biking trip in the world. Ride On!

Sweden, Belgium, Austria, UK, and FRANCE!!

Enjoy these Rail-biking videos.

Anyway, don’t do this here – you could get injured or die.
It might be illegal too, you could get arrested.

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DEC to Use Helicopter for Transporting Lime to Remote Adirondack Lake

February 13th, 2013 · 1 Comment · Adirondack News

Effort Will Counteract Effects of Acid Rain and Facilitate the Return of Brook Trout to Lyon Lake

NYSDEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will begin to deliver 80 tons of lime to an acidified lake in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area north of Stillwater Reservoir in the town of Webb, Herkimer County today, DEC Regional Director Judy Drabicki announced.

State police helicopters and their crews will be among the 40 plus staff required to complete this liming operation. From a staging area at Stillwater Reservoir on the ice near the boat launch site, sling loads of 2,000 pounds of lime will be hauled by helicopter for 3.8 miles into Lyon Lake. The lime will be left on the lake and helicopter will return to Stillwater for the next load. This trip will be repeated 80 times over four days, weather cooperating, to get all the lime out to Lyon Lake where DEC staff spreads it across the lake’s frozen surfaces.

Lyon Lake, Webb, Herkimer, NY

“This is largest liming operation DEC ever embarked on, an effort involving months of planning and coordination with DEC staff, Forest Rangers and the critical state police helicopters and pilots and crews,” Director Drabicki said. “Adding lime to the lake will allow brook trout to once again live in this waterbody. This is just the latest effort by Governor Cuomo and DEC to expand opportunities for the fishing and hunting community.”

When the lake thaws in the spring, the lime will combine with lake water and make the water less acid. This will be the first lime treatment for Lyon Lake. DEC plans to stock the lake with native Adirondack brook trout during this fall’s aerial stocking.

DEC has great hopes for reestablishment of brook trout in some larger Adirondack ponds and lakes. Fisheries staff has noted that the larger water bodies maintain a deep cold water layer right through the summer (referred to as stratification), unlike the smaller ponds which now mix right through the summer. This results in warmer water temperatures in these smaller ponds that are not as suitable for brook trout.

Anyone looking for additional information on DEC’s liming program or a list of Adirondack trout ponds can call the Watertown fisheries office at
(315) 785-2263.

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NY State Can Create a New Wilderness Area in Adirondack Park Spectacular as Grand Canyon, Yosemite & Minnesota Lakes

December 11th, 2012 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Proposed ‘Wild Rivers Wilderness’ is Last Location East of Rocky Mountains Where Dream of Wilderness w/More than 60 Miles of Wild Waterways Can be Realized

New Area Would Protect 72,000 Acres Rich in Wildlife, Wetlands & Whitewater Other Parcels Enlarge High Peaks Wilderness in North & Expand Snowmobiling in South NY State Can Create a New Wilderness Area in Adirondack Park Spectacular as Grand Canyon, Yosemite & Minnesota Lakes

Newcomb, NY – The Adirondack Park’s largest and most influential environmental organization is urging state officials to create a large, new Wild Rivers Wilderness Area here that would combine the grandeur and dramatic beauty of Yellowstone, with the waterfalls of Yosemite National Park and the interconnected lakes and ponds of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Adirondack Council“This is an opportunity that will never come again,” said The Adirondack Council Acting Executive Director Diane W. Fish. “This land has been off-limits to the public since before the Civil War. It is located within a day’s drive of more than 70 million Americans and Canadians. It contains no homes and no communities. The roads on these parcels will revert to foot trails quite easily. We urge the state to protect these soon-to-be-acquired lands, lakes and rivers to safeguard wildlife habitat and water quality and from overuse and motorized traffic.”

Fish said the Adirondack Council sent a letter to state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, Thursday (December 6), calling for the creation of a vast, new Wild Rivers Wilderness Area, and a major expansion of the existing High Peaks Wilderness, when the state completes its purchase of 69,000 acres formerly owned by papermakers Finch, Pruyn & Co., of Glens Falls.

Wild Rivers Wilderness

“Our plan calls for a brand-new Wild Rivers Wilderness Area around the Essex Chain of Lakes, the Hudson River Gorge, Blue Ledges, and OK Slip Falls,” said Fish. “When purchased, these new parcels would be combined with existing sections of the Blue Mountain Lake Wild Forest and the Vanderwacker Mountain Wild Forest, as well as all of the existing Hudson Gorge Primitive Area, to create a stunningly beautiful paddlers paradise among the state’s tallest mountains. It would include 48 miles of wild rivers, plus nine interconnected lakes and ponds, as well as the Adirondack Park’s most majestic waterfall.

“More important are the rich variety of wildlife, the forests, wetlands, and fisheries this new Wilderness would protect,” Fish explained. “The foremost duty of the state, according to the State Land Master Plan, is to protect the rare natural resources on these lands from potential overuse, pollution, noise and invasive species that motorized traffic would bring. There are many ways to gain access to wild lands and waters without driving automobiles directly into the center of them. Creative solutions can be found.

“The Adirondack Park is the largest, intact deciduous forest in the world,” Fish said. “It is to oak, maple and beech forests what the Serengeti is to African grasslands, or what the Great Barrier Reef is to coral islands. We must be excellent stewards of these new public lands from the moment they come into our possession and plan carefully for their long-term health. They will return dividends in the future that we can barely comprehend today. There are seven billion people on this planet as of March 2012. Wild lands and waters are getting rarer every day.”

Ample Accommodation for Motorized Access & Community Development

Fish reminded the commissioner that more than 90,000 acres of former Finch lands had been protected from development by conservation agreements with new private owners, which allow motorized public access and sustainable harvesting. Those lands are near the lands being purchased for addition to the public Forest Preserve.

The Council is proposing that less than 50,000 acres of the former Finch lands become Wilderness. That would mean another 18,000-plus acres of former Finch lands being purchased for the Forest Preserve would be eligible for motorized access too. In addition, some former Finch lands were sold to the communities that hosted them. Some of those lands will be developed.

In sum, the Council’s proposal calls for only about one-third of Finch’s 161,000-acre former holdings to become Wilderness. Fish challenged Commissioner Martens to see this purchase as a part of a larger plan for the rational completion of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and sought to reassure him that designating an area as Wilderness will not prevent its use.

Keene and Lake Placid are surrounded by five major Wilderness areas (High Peaks, Sentinel Range, Dix Mountain, McKenzie Mountain and Giant Mountain), yet are among the park’s most prosperous communities.

Bringing the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness closer, and adding the Wild Rivers Wilderness nearby, will benefit the communities of Newcomb, North Hudson and Indian Lake for generations to come, she said.

High Peaks Wilderness Expansion

The Adirondack Council also proposed an expansion of the High Peaks Wilderness, which is by far the most popular and overused section of Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park. The expansion would include the Boreas Ponds section of the Finch purchase, along with existing state lands not now managed as Wilderness.

Southern Parcels and Snowmobiles

In the southern Adirondacks, the Council is proposing an expansion of the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest in Benson by more than 2,000 acres, as well as an expansion of the existing Lake Desolation Wild Forest (Kayaderosseras Hills Wild Forest in 2020 VISION) east of Great Sacandaga Lake by adding the Thousand Acre Swamp. Both parcels are slated for state snowmobile trails on existing logging roads.

Other Finch Parcels

The Council’s letter to the commissioner contained recommendations on all 69,000 acres the state intends to acquire over the next five years from The Nature Conservancy. A copy of the letter and detailed maps of the areas described may be viewed at www.AdirondackCouncil.org.

Adirondack Park vs. Adirondack Forest Preserve

The Adirondack Park is a 9,300-square-mile (six-million-acre) preserve of public and private lands. Public lands make up about half of the park (2.7 million acres). Timberlands, private homes and 130 small communities make up the other half. Public and private lands are intermixed.

All state lands in the Adirondack Park are protected by a section of the State Constitution known as the Forever Wild Clause, which bans their lease, sale or development, as well as logging or destruction of public forests. These lands are known as Forest Preserve.

Not all public Forest Preserve is Wilderness. Less than half of the Forest Preserve – about one million acres – is managed as Wilderness, where no motorized or mechanized travel is allowed. These one million acres represent about 90 percent of all Wilderness areas remaining in the Northeast.

Council’s Plan Created in 1988

“We have been anticipating this opportunity for almost 25 years,” said Fish. “Back in 1988, we conducted the first comprehensive survey of the private Adirondack lands and recommended which lands the state should acquire (when they became available or from willing sellers) to complete the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The first three volumes of our 2020 VISION reports were completed by 1992, and became the backbone of the Adirondack portion of the NYS Open Space Conservation Plan. But our plans were sitting on a shelf until Finch, Pruyn & Co. sold its lands in 2007, and the Governor agreed to buy 69,000 acres of them in August.”

2020 VISION
The Wilderness protection plans collected in 2020 VISION: Volumes I & II are the work product of more than a decade of research by NYS Conservation Department Wildlife Biologist Greenleaf Chase; Plant Ecologist Dr. Edwin Ketchledge of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Adirondack Park Agency Forest Preserve Specialist Clarence Petty; and, Harold A. Jerry, a State Senator and Executive Director of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondack Park. This work was collected, illustrated and published by Adirondack Council Executive Director and professional planner George D. Davis, whose conservation planning efforts – including these – earned him the prestigious Genius Award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Founded in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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Governor Cuomo Hiked, Canoed, and Fished

September 26th, 2012 · No Comments · News

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North Country Regional Economic Development Council Adopts Vision Statement

September 13th, 2011 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Council also approves its Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) Endorsement Standard and its Public Participation Plan

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council met today and conducted its third meeting, which was open to the public. The meeting at SUNY Potsdam was attended by Lt. Governor Robert Duffy and led by North Country Regional Economic Development Council co-chairs Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce, and Anthony Collins, President of Clarkson University.

During today’s session, the Council presented and adopted its vision statement, which is intended to guide the council’s long-term strategic planning process moving forward. The vision statement can be found on the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s website at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com and is as follows:

“The North Country will lead the Economic Renaissance of New York State’s Small Cities and Rural Communities by:

  • Energizing our micropolitan cities, building on growth in the aerospace, transit equipment, defense, biotech, and manufacturing industries
  • Attracting and nurturing entrepreneurial pioneers to cultivate innovative clusters in our rural communities
  • Mobilizing the creativity, capacity and graduates of our outstanding and collaborative places of higher education
  • Catalyzing the highest per capita rate of small business start-ups in the state
  • Elevating global recognition of the region as one of the special places on the planet to visit, live, work and study
  • Activating tourism as a pathway to diversify our economies
  • Propagating an agricultural revolution as we help feed the region and the world
  • Creating the greenest energy economy in the state

Actualizing this vision will create family-sustaining jobs and build an inventive economy, capitalizing on our abundant natural capital – pristine waters, productive forests and agricultural lands; the rare splendor of the Adirondacks; and our dynamic international border.”

“The vision statement drafted for the North Country Region is bold, comprehensive and inclusive,” said Anthony Collins, Co-Chair of the Regional Council and Clarkson University President. “Taking action on the statement is a strong indication that the region can rapidly reach consensus views to drive our strategies, which bodes well for the future of the Council and the region.”

“The vision statement we are putting forward truly captures the great diversity of assets and opportunities of our unique region,” said Garry Douglas, Co-Chair of the Regional Council and President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “It also represents an important piece of the multi-faceted economic development plan for the North Country, which is starting to come together through our working groups. With the work of all of our volunteers and the upcoming input we will be welcoming through our public forums and other means, I expect us to see an exciting strategy come together over the next several weeks.”

In addition, the council detailed and approved its public participation plan, which includes: public comment period during regular scheduled council meetings; a series of public forums; the use of the council’s website, www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com, to provide information to the public about the council, its members, meetings, its strategic plan, as well as surveys to seek public input; and the use of social media, among others. A Facebook page has been created, “North Country Open for Business”, to amplify the council’s message, to engage regional community stakeholders and encourage public participation in the development of strategies and initiatives to promote growth and economic development in the North Country.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council will be holding three public forums around the region that get underway today. They are as follows: Monday, September 12, Plattsburgh; Wednesday, September 14, Tupper Lake; and Monday, September 19, Watertown. The Council’s goal is to integrate the public into the strategic planning process to design an economic development plan that reflects the local communities’ vision for job creation and economic opportunity. The Council encourages public participation and feedback through outreach, community meetings, forums, and online at www.northcountryopenforbusiness.com.

The Council also adopted its Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) Endorsement Standard, which will serve as a guideline for the review and ranking of future applications. By developing these endorsement standards early in the regional council’s strategic planning process, applicants can take them into account when preparing applications.

The next regular scheduled North Country Regional Economic Development Council will be Friday, September 30 at SUNY Potsdam.

The North Country Regional Council, which is comprised of a diverse group of 30 area leaders from the private and public sectors, labor, chambers of commerce, higher education, and community-based organizations, is working to create a five year strategic plan for economic development in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Created by Governor Cuomo, the Regional Economic Development Councils represent a fundamental shift in the state’s approach to economic development—from a top-down development model to a community-based approach that emphasizes regions’ unique assets, harnesses local expertise, and empowers each region to set plans and priorities.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is one of ten regional councils across New York that will serve as a single point of contact for economic activity in the region. Through their strategic planning process, the Councils will identify and expedite priority projects that demonstrate the greatest potential for job growth. As part of the initiative, up to $1 billion in state resources will be accessible to eligible economic development projects through existing program grants and tax credits.

Each Regional Council will develop a plan for the development of their region, which will provide a regional vision for economic development, address critical issues and opportunities, and lay out an implementation roadmap for future growth. The state will work with the Regional Councils to align state resources and policies, eliminate unnecessary barriers to growth and prosperity, and streamline the delivery of government services and programs to help the Regional Councils carry out their plans for development.

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