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Adirondack Explorer

Adirondack Explorer March/April 2019

Seven issues a year devoted to the enjoyment and protection of the Adirondack Park. In-depth writing and vivid photography bring the Adirondacks to life in tales of recreational adventure, coverage of environmental and policy issues and exploration of the communities that make up this unique six-million acre park.

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Adirondack Explorer
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4 min.
timber talks hit a snag after progress

Last fall, a Lyme Timber executive proposed to environmentalists establishing an Adirondack forum where they, timber companies and landowners would try to establish common goals and practices for both environmentally sustainable and economically viable forestry. “At the time I would say there was general support or at least very little opposition from all sides for the details,” said Sean Ross, Lyme director of forestry operations. “The concern from the environmental groups was losing the public review process.” Two months later, state legislation was reintroduced, at the behest of the conservation advocates, to require Adirondack Park Agency permits for any logging clearcuts of five acres or more. The current permit threshold is 25 acres. The Empire State Forest Products Association, which represents landowners, loggers and other businesses, has opposed the legislation before, saying it…

3 min.
dec still considering effects of ruling in paddling case

New York authorities in February maintained their guidance that there are recreational canoeing rights through navigable streams on private land, weeks after a state judge ruled that uninvited paddlers have no right to canoe the 1.8-mile Mud Pond Waterway in privately owned Brandreth Park in a remote stretch of the northwestern Adirondacks. “If a waterway satisfies all the criteria for being navigable-in-fact, it is open to public navigation for any purpose, whether commercial or recreational,” according to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s general counsel. That program policy, posted online, also advises how to handle landowner complaints. “Officers shall take enforcement action for Environmental Conservation Law trespass or Penal Law trespass in situations involving persons navigating on waterways only if there is clear evidence or a court decision that the waterway is not…

2 min.
christopher leifheit

Age: 67 Birthplace: Mount Kisco, NY Residence: Paul Smiths Occupation: Retired land surveyor, actor Accomplishments: My wife, Diane, and I came to the Adirondacks from Southern California in 1974. I was going to be a land surveyor. Forty-some-odd years later I sold the company I had owned and operated since 1986. We did surveys of thousands of acres at Madawaska Pond, Zack Lake, Perch Pond, Ampersand Lake and others—places where there were no trails, no lean-tos, no trail markers. Nothing. I thank all the men who worked with me for sharing an abiding love of the wilderness in which we found ourselves and an unmatched professionalism under often harsh conditions. Favorite hike/adventure: I will always treasure time spent at Duck Hole in the early spring. Snow on the ground, not too many people and a…

6 min.
searching for tickets

Even as thousands more hikers and campers poured into the Adirondack backcountry patrolled by forest rangers over the past decade, state data show ticket writing has dropped by the hundreds. Visitors are still littering and using the public lands illegally. But the ranger numbers haven’t kept up with the wave, and some say the stretched corps has to spend more of its patrol time keeping recreationists safe and informed. The numbers of tickets dropped by almost a third over a 10-year period, before a slight rebound last year. Read through tickets issued last July and August “The number of tickets the last few years, it’s way, way down,” ranger and union representative Scott van Laer said. “I’d attribute that to staffing issues—that we’re not getting into the woods as much, we’re not identifying…

7 min.
a ski loop with a view

The Hanging Spear Falls loop is probably the best backcountry ski tour in the Adirondacks that no one knows about. It’s surprising that it’s not on more cross-country skiing lists, because it integrates some of the best of the southern High Peaks: lots of views of mountains, a ski across the dramatic Flowed Lands, and an exciting ski out along the Calamity Brook Trail. Of course, it’s not for everyone. To get to Flowed Lands—always counterclockwise on this loop—you’ll face several miles of steep hill, requiring climbing skins or snowshoes. And if you don’t have two cars, you’ll have to walk an additional mile along the road back to your car, because it ends at a different trailhead from where it begins. I first got the idea from my friend Jim Close,…

7 min.
trump years renew fears

Two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, Adirondack Park environmental advocates fear his administration has reversed critical protections and momentum for healing the park’s ecosystem. Foremost in their minds is the acid rain that sterilized Adirondack lakes before Clean Air Act amendments and regulations scrubbed coal-fired power plant emissions and gradually restored lakes and ponds for fish and wildlife. But they also complain of a federal government now more welcoming of other pollutants, including carbon dioxide, as the region’s forests and snowy winters are changing with a warmer climate. Trump himself has framed climate change as a hoax, and has used Twitter to tease believers during cold snaps, though average annual temperatures continue rising globally and, especially, in the North Country. On coal, air and other rules, his administration has frequently touted the…