Monday, May 18, 2015

Paddling the Upper Hudson and Opalescent River

By Seth Jones

When I read Phil Brown's article on paddling the upper Hudson and Opalescent Rivers, part of the new state land acquisition called the MacIntryre East Tract, I knew I had to check it out.  The trip did not disappoint me and is one that I would recommend to any paddle enthusiast.  I followed Phil's suggested itinerary that you can find in this Adirondack Almanack article.  The upstream paddle on the Opalescent River was a challenge at times but the float down was worth all the effort to get upstream.  At lower water levels it might be a challenge to make it all the way to the railroad bridge that crosses over the Opalescent which is where I decided to turn around.

If you get a chance this summer you should check out this beautiful new piece of state land.  Here are a few photos from the trip:

Lake Sanford

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Values in Conflict in the Backcountry

By Laura Waterman

When I’ve been asked to talk about what we mean by the “spirit of wildness,” the subtitle of our book Wilderness Ethics: Preserving the Spirit of Wildness, I’ve found myself giving examples of the kinds of insights we – hikers and managers – need to keep in mind if our wild places – I’m talking about the ones visited by us humans – are to retain a sense of wildness.  For, when we come down to it, isn’t it for that wild feeling, to be found in the woods and on the mountain tops, that we go out there?

Here’s an example: Picture the popular trail to Lake Pristine (names changed to protect the guilty).  For long stretches, broad plank walkways have been laid down over the wet and muddy trailbed.  These are not rough-hewn logs from the surrounding woods, but standardized two-inch lumber imported from valley supplies.

The objective: to provide hikers with a dry-shod passage through mud patches, not so much for their convenience and comfort, but to put an end to the trail-widening, vegetation-destroying effect of hikers skirting the mud.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Should I Go Solar? One Homeowner’s Perspective

By Christopher Corbett

Recently a door-to-door salesman approached us to consider a solar system. He explained we had ideal southern exposure and they were installing systems nearby. He explained in New York State, the utility has to install a “net meter” at no cost to the customer so customers receive the full benefit of their solar production.  When your production exceeds usage, the excess is recorded and applied against future usage.  After listening to his pitch for a free, no-obligation assessment, I was intrigued but gracefully declined.  It did, however, get me thinking.

Over the past two months, several solar systems were installed in our Village, by different Providers, as the lawn signs clearly showed. I had heard of generous incentives and tax rebates and decided further review in order. Also, encouraging renewable sources of power is both a federal and New York State public policy priority that is only likely to increase.

After investigating eight providers, I determined, first, this was a complicated decision and secondly, it was unclear if a system made sense for us, and if so, which Provider was best.  Considering my work background as a rate engineer for New York State regulating public utilities, I also was concerned that if I found it complex and difficult to sort out, I concluded most homeowners would likewise find this challenging too.

Following is a brief summary. Whether you want to help save the planet-- or save your wallet, evaluating the pros and cons is necessary to determine whether “going solar” may make sense for you.  This is not a full investigation of “going solar” but rather one homeowner’s initial conclusions that may be a helpful first step, if considering “going solar” is of interest to you. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

DEC Purchases the 6,200 Acre MacIntyre East Tract (Next Up: Boreas Ponds!)

By Neil Woodworth

Thursday, April 23, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that they had accomplished a critical land purchase for the southern Adirondack High Peaks.  The Nature Conservancy conveyed the 6,200 acre MacIntyre East Tract to DEC for 4.24 million.   This parcel is an important acquisition for public access to a wilderness paddle in the Opalescent River and to Allen Mountain in the southern Adirondack High Peaks.  This is the latest, and second to last purchase by the State of the 69,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands.  The final purchase will be the much acclaimed Boreas Ponds Tract which is likely to be brought into state ownership next year. 

The announcement of the MacIntyre East  purchase was made during what Governor Cuomo proclaimed as “Earth Week… a weeklong celebration of New York’s commitment and accomplishments to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state’s vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.”   This purchase was funded by the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Many ADK members supported our efforts to increase the size of the EPF and therefore the amount of money available for buying valuable properties like this one.

DEC Protects Hemlock-Canadice State Forest from Drilling in Final Unit Management Plan

By Neil Woodworth

On April 22, 2015, Earth Day, DEC posted the Final Unit Management Plan for the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.  This project has been a flash point in the battle against oil and gas drilling on public land in New York, especially in efforts to stop High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) on or under state-owned lands. The Final UMP states, that “no drilling for oil or gas will be allowed on Hemlock-Canadice State Forest for the duration of this UMP.”  ADK applauds the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for this important decision. As the UMP states, it is a decision that is consistent with the most important function of the property, which is protecting water quality.  It is clearly a victory for all of the groups, citizens, and government leaders who have been working together to protect this important resource and special place. ADK's Genesee Valley Chapter members attended the public hearing in scores and many more wrote letters.  By preventing horizontal drilling for natural gas under state lands, we protected the adjoining private upland watershed lands from HVHF drilling sites to extract that gas.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

ADK Announces New Development Director

By Neil Woodworth

I am very pleased to announce the hiring of Catherine Forbes as Director of Development.  Ms. Forbes holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Seattle University with a concentration in non-profit management.  She is currently the Director of Development for the Dutchess County SPCA and a member of the Board of Directors of Grace Smith House domestic violence shelter in Poughkeepsie, NY.

As Dutchess County SPCA’s Development Director, Ms. Forbes worked closely with board members, staff and volunteers to raise funds to meet a $1.8 million annual budget and to complete a $4.7 million capital campaign.  She oversaw special events including a golf tournament, cocktail parties, and an annual holiday gala.  Ms. Forbes previously worked for the United Way of Dutchess County where she was responsible for managing a staff of three and grants of $1.1 million.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hurricane Trail Re-route: A Herculean and Timely Effort

Hurricane Mt. Firetower

By Christine Bourjade

Many times, 3694-foot Hurricane Mountain has been in the news due to demolition threats to its 35-foot fire tower (built in 1919 and closed in 1979). No more: 2015 will see the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) restore the historic structure to full public access and provide interpretive materials related to the tower’s history.

This long-awaited turn of events will likely draw even more climbers to “Old Hurricane, a sharp cone on which the sun seems to hang as it bids the valley good night. (…) one of the finest high views to be obtained in the Adirondacks, said to some to be second only to that of Whiteface,” wrote Seneca Ray Stoddard in his 1874 edition of “Adirondack Illustrated”.

According to the history section of the area’s Unit Management Plan, the name Hurricane derives not from the weather but from a Native American name for the mountain, No-do-ne-yo, which means “hill of the wind.” The current Jay Mountain Road over its north shoulder was in use as early as 1790. The Old Military Road, which followed the approximate path of the current NY Route 9N, was started at the turn of the 19th century, providing a means for settlers to enter the area, and for local products to be transported to markets on Lake Champlain and beyond.