Posted on October 27th, 2010 8 comments Add a comment >>
We just received the Forest Ranger Report for September and October from the state Department Environmental Conservation’s Region 5, which includes most of the Adirondack Park. The report follows verbatim.
Town of Wilmington, Private Lands
On Wednesday, September 22, 2010, at 12:09 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a report that a man had collapsed on the trail near the base of High Falls Gorge. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the scene and located James McCrann, 73, of Hicksville, NY, sitting on the side of the trail. Mr. McCrann was alert and conscious and was able to walk out the quarter mile to the awaiting Wilmington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Ambulance. Mr. McCrann was provide same basic care and released at his own request without any further medical treatment. Know your physical limitations and always carry food and water.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm, a DEC Forest Ranger and DEC Interior Caretaker on routine patrol received word of an injured hiker on Phelps Mountain. Mari Anne Raimville, 19, of Montreal, QC, had sustained a lower leg injury while descending Phelps Mountain and was unable to proceed. The Forest Ranger and Interior Caretaker responded and carried Ms. Raimville to Marcy Dam. Another Forest Ranger had responded to Marcy Dame with an UTV and transported woman on the UTV to the trailhead via the Macy Dam Truck Trail. Always carry a first aid kit, even on day hikes.
Town of Wilmington, Whiteface Mountain Intensive Use Area
On Saturday, October 9, 2010, at 5:39 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Olympic Regional Development Authority staff requested assistance from DEC Forest Rangers at the summit of Whiteface Mountain. The elevator to the summit had broken down and several persons with disabilities from the Essex County ARC were trapped on the windy summit. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and assisted ORDA staff and public volunteers carry several individuals down from the summit along the catwalks to the castle at the top of the Whiteface Memorial Highway. All the individuals were safely brought down the mountain with no further incident by 7:20 pm. Know how to obtain assistance in emergency situations. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Sunday, October 10, 2010, at 1:39 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Essex County 911 reporting a hiker needing medical assistance. Doug Roy, 53, of Ottawa, Ontario, was having a medical emergency on the Rooster Comb Mountain trail. DEC Forest Rangers and members of the Keene Volunteer Fire and Rescue and Keene Valley Volunteer Fire and Rescue located Mr. Roy approximately a 1/2 mile from the trailhead. Mr. Roy was extremely weak, but still conscious. Emergency Medical Services volunteers from the fire and rescue units provided medical care. Forest Rangers and other volunteers carried Mr. Roy back to the trailhead where he was placed in an ambulance at 3:30 pm for transportation to Adirondack
Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment. Be aware of your medical and physical condition and carry prescribed medications with you.
Town of Newcomb, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 3:43 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from a woman requesting assistance in locating her husband in the vicinity of Moose Pond. Mathew Crowell, 29, of Syracuse, NY, had been hunting in the area for several days and reported his location each morning and evening using his Spot Locator. Mr. Crowell had not reported in since 10:00 am on Saturday. Mrs. Crowell became concerned that her husband might be injured after learning of the presence of snow in the higher elevations. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and located Mr. Crowell’s car at the Moose Pond Trail Head and started to search the 6 miles of trail into Moose Pond. At 6:05pm the Forest Ranger heard a shot and found the subject in good shape, at the last spot location he had sent to his wife. According to Mr. Crowell, he had sent his wife points from the Spot Locator throughout his trip but obviously the signal didn’t get out due to the steep drainages. Always provide someone at home with your itinerary and when you expect to return. Electronic devices are useful in providing information and communicating with people outside the backcountry – be aware of their limitations.
Town of North Elba, Adirondack Loj Lands
On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 8:00 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from the Adirondack Loj reporting two hikers overdue from a hike up Mt. Jo. Alice Langlois, 44, of Atlanta, GA, and Leanne Mardngon, 44, of Montreal, Canada had left late in the afternoon to with two companions to climb the mountain. After reaching the summit Ms. Langlois and Ms. Mardngon decided to take the long trail back to the Loj while their friends took the short trail. As darkness approached the friends became concerned since neither of the women had headlamps or were prepared to spend the night in the woods. A DEC Forest Ranger responded to the call for assistance and located the subjects at 8:45pm on the long trail. They were safely returned to the Adirondack Loj by 9:30 pm. When hiking in groups keep together.
Town of Keene, Giant Mt. Wilderness
On Friday, October 22, 2010, at 7:12 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a report of a group of hikers on the Giant Mountain trail without flashlights. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and met the group of Boy Scouts from Lee Center, NY, a short distance up the trail. The Forest Ranger provided the group with extra flashlights and escorted them down the trail without incident. All subjects were out of the woods by 8:07 pm. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp. Remember that the sun sets earlier in the fall and plan trips accordingly.
Town of Ticonderoga, Pharoah Lake Wilderness, Lost Pond
On Sunday, October 24, 2010, at 11:08 am, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Essex County 911 reporting a hunter lost in the vicinity of Lost Pond. DEC Forest Rangers, a DEC Environmental Conservation Officer, State Police and Ticonderoga Police joined in the search for Tom Santelli, 32, of Arlington, VT. Forest Rangers located Mr. Santelli at 4:30 pm approximately ¾ of a mile off the Lost Pond Trail. He was in good condition and was escorted out of the woods. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Harrietstown, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Saturday, September 18, 2010, at 4:21 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call reporting an injured person on the summit of Ampersand Mountain. Nathan Turplin, 28, of Ithaca, NY had fallen and injured his lower leg. DEC Forest Rangers and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit responded. Mr. Turplin’s leg was stabilized and he was hoisted to the helicopter. At 6:45 pm, Mr. Turplin was flown to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for further evaluation and treatment. Know how to obtain assistance in emergency situations. The DEC Forest Ranger emergency phone number is 518-891-0235.
Town of Saranac Lake, Saranac Lake Wild Forest
On Saturday, October 2, 2010, at 4:01 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a request for assistance from Franklin County 911 for a subject lost in the vicinity of Lake Colby. Ryan Noel, 24, of Saranac Lake, NY was walking along the railroad tracks in the vicinity of Lake Colby when he left the tracks and became lost. DEC Forest Rangers and a helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit responded. Mr. Noel was spotted by a forest ranger in the helicopter at 4:55 pm. Forest Rangers on the ground reached him and escorted him out of the woods. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Wild Forest
On Sunday, September 5, 2010, at 6:14 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 reporting two hikers lost on a trail off State Route 28 in the Town of Indian Lake. Sal Padronaggio, 56, and Lorraine Padronaggio, 54, both of Bohemia, NY, were unable to name the trailhead they had started at and could only describe their location as on a snowmobile trail close to a river. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the Rock Pond trail head, which met the description provided, and located the subjects’ vehicle. A Forest Ranger on an ATV drove three miles to Rock River, eventually making voice contact with the two hikers. Mr. and Mrs. Padroaggio were located approximately ½ mile from the trail. They slowly made their way back to the ATV, due to a minor leg injury Mrs. Padronaggio had obtained earlier. They then were transported out on the ATV. They arrived at the trailhead at 9:20 pm, cold and wet, but otherwise in good condition. Learn about the area you plan to hike. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Hope, Wilcox Lake Wild Forest
On Saturday September 18, 2010, at 7:24 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from the DEC Sacandaga Campground reporting a camper overdue from a day of bear hunting. Arthur Foure, 49, of Selden, NY and his partner left the campground in the morning to hunt in the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest off Creek Road. The pair went separate ways to hunt a five square mile area surrounded by roads, and planned to meet up back at their vehicle at 6:15 pm. When Mr. Foure did not return by 6:30 pm, his partner returned to the campground to report him missing. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and met up with the partner, instructing him to return to the trailhead and wait for Mr. Foure, while he went the other way following the roads that surrounded the area. The Forest Ranger located the Mr. Foure at 8:25 pm along Old State Road, approximately 2.8 miles from the trailhead. He was returned to the trailhead and reunited with his hunting partner. Learn about the area you plan to hike. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Indian Lake, Jessup River Wild Forest
On Sunday, October 10, 2010, at 2:00 am, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from the DEC Lewey Lake Campground reporting 3 overdue hikers. David Ciaccia, 23, and Samantha Ciaccia, 22, both of Conshohocker PA, and Abagail Kite, 23, of Owins Mills, MD, had not returned from a day hike of Watch Hill. DEC Forest Rangers responded and searched through the night, covering most of the ground around Watch Hill while repeatedly calling out the names of the three hikers. At 8:30am, the Rangers located the subjects in good condition. They reported that it had gotten dark as they were returning to the campground and they did not have flashlights, so they lost the trail. When asked if they could hear Forest Rangers calling for them, they said they had but stated that “growing up in the city you never holler back”. Always carry a flashlight or headlamp. Remember that the sun sets earlier in the fall and plan trips accordingly. If lost, help searchers found you by staying in one place; starting a fire or make noise; and answer searchers calls.
Town of Lake Pleasant, Moose River Plains Wild Forest
On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 1:10 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a cell phone call with a very poor connection from a hunter reporting that one of his hunting partner had not returned from a morning hunt. Based on information provided before the phone transmission was disconnected William Parker, 50, of Jefferson, NY, and his hunting partner had reportedly been hunting along the Cedar River, near Blue Mountain, in the Town of Indian Lake. DEC Forest Rangers responded and began to search the trailheads on Route 28 & 30, but could not locate the hunter’s vehicle. Another phone call was received later in the day describing the hunting party’s location as the first lean-to on the Cedar River Flow. A Forest Ranger then began searching the Northville Lake Placid trail and located the hunting group at 3:45 pm on their return to Wakely Dam. The other hunters in the group had found Mr. Parker ten minutes earlier and were sending him out by canoe. According to Mr. Parker he had become lost in a large swamp early in the day and took most of the day to return to the Cedar River Flow. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Indian Lake, West Canada Wilderness Area
On Tuesday, October 19, at 4:15 pm, DEC Forest Rangers were requested to assist in the evacuation of a hiker on Snowy Mountain. A 60 year old man from Sydney, Australia had injured is leg approximately 2 miles from the trailhead. Members of the Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department and the Indian Lake Emergency Medical Services, along with four forest rangers, carried the injured man over several difficult stream crossings and through steep sections of the trail. The man was placed into an ambulance around midnight and transported to a hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Always carry a first aid kit, even on day hikes.
Town of Long Lake, Sargent Ponds Wild Forest
On Sunday, October 24, 2010, at 5:09 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 requesting DEC Forest Rangers assistance in the evacuation of a hiker on the Owl Mountain Trail. Jesica Burnside, 20, of Utica, NY had injured her lower right leg while returning from the summit. DEC Forest Rangers responded and located Ms. Burnside moving slowly just a short distance up the trail. She was transported to the trailhead on an ATV and turned over to Long Lake Emergency Medical Services at 6:30 pm. Back country hiking trails can be rugged and rough, wear a hiking boot or hiking shoe appropriate for the hike.
Town of Thurman, Private Land
On Saturday, October 16, 2010, at 3:13 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call reporting an overdue hunter. Dillian Greeno, 23, of Hudson Falls, NY had been hunting the drainages that lead away from the hunting camp on Shanahan Road. DEC Forest Rangers responded and began searching the drainages. At 5:21 pm, Mr. Greeno was located in good condition approximately ½ mile from the camp. Know the area you will be hiking or hunting. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Bolton, Private Land
On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 6:19 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from tw hikers reporting they were lost on Cat Mountain. Ming Zhou, 27, of Dewitt, NY, and Amanda Selvam, 26, of Syracuse, NY had followed a red marked trail east but lost the trail and needed help. DEC Forest Rangers responded and began searching the trail system in the area. At 11:30pm, Mr. Zhou called the Dispatch Center and reported that they saw lights and heard the voices of the searchers. Forest Rangers located Mr. Zhou and Ms. Selvam at 11:35 pm. They were escorted to the Edgecomb Road and transported back to their vehicle by another Forest Ranger at 1:30 am. Know the area you will be hiking. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Fort Ann, Lake George Wild Forest
On Sunday, September 5, 2010 at 3:41 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a call from Washington County 911 reporting a group of lost hikers on the east shore of Lake George, in the vicinity of Shelving Rock. Paul Ziemba, 56, of Lancaster, PA, Cathy Ziemba, 28, of Williamsville, NY, and Karen Ziemba, 27, of Rochester, NY were on the shore of the lake and were planning to stay put until help arrived. A DEC Forest Ranger started to search the lands along the shore in the area of Shelving Rock, while another Forest Ranger searched the from the water in boat. At 5:13 pm the forest ranger in the boat located the group in good health and relayed them back to their vehicle. Know the area you will be traveling. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Town of Dresden, Lake George Wild Forest
On Sunday, October 17, 2010, at 7:39 pm, the DEC Dispatch Center in Ray Brook received a phone call from Warren County 911 reporting two lost hikers. Peter Urban, 19, of Waterford, NY and a 17 year old female from Clifton Park, NY became lost after hiking to the summit of Black Mountain and attempting to return on the loop trial. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and contacted the two hikers directly. After determining their location based on the information provided by the hikers, the forest ranger directed them to a known location. The forest ranger hiked to the location, met them and escorted them back to their vehicle by 11:00 pm. Know the area you will be hiking. Always carry a map and compass and use them.
Posted on October 22nd, 2010 1 comment - Add a comment >>
Free pizza, free beer, and free movies. Have we got your attention?
Scott Arno, the Guides House coordinator, said the films’ topics include ice climbing, bouldering, base jumping, and death in the mountains. He expects the screenings will start from 6:30-7 p.m.
There is no admission charge. Again, free pizza, snacks, and beer will be served.
On Saturday night, the Guides House will host a reception and show a trailer for Ride the Divide, an award-winning film about a 2,700-mile bike race from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. Free snacks will be served. The doors open at 7 p.m.
The full film will be shown at the Palace Theater in Lake Placid at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10.
The Guides House is located next-door to High Peaks Cyclery on Main Street. It will host free films on Saturday nights throughout the fall.
Posted on October 22nd, 2010 2 comments Add a comment >>
The November/December issue of the Explorer will contain an article and a debate on a lawsuit filed against the state by five military veterans who contend that the state’s ban on floatplanes in Wilderness Areas violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Today, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed an answer to the suit. Most of the document is filled with standard legalese (“Deny knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief …”), but it provides insight into the state’s defense.
Assistant Attorney General Susan Taylor contends in the answer that the federal law does not require the state to provide the disabled with access to every part of the Adirondack Park.
“A substantial portion of the entire Adirondack Park is accessible to the plaintiffs, including many lakes and ponds on which float planes are permitted to land and from which they are permitted to take off,” Taylor writes.
In recent years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has spent millions of dollars to make boat launches, viewing platforms, hardened trails, roads, and other facilities accessible to the disabled.
Most of these facilities are on Forest Preserve tracts designated Wild Forest, not Wilderness. However, Taylor asserts that the disabled do have access to some lakes in Wilderness. She mentions as examples Little Tupper Lake and waterways in the Siamese Ponds, Silver Lake, West Canada, and Five Ponds Wilderness Areas.
The plaintiffs are represented by Lake Placid attorney Matthew Norfolk.
Click the link below to read the state’s answer (in PDF format).
Thanks to Carl Heilman II for permission to use the above photo.
Posted on October 22nd, 2010 7 comments Add a comment >>
The ouster of Pete Grannis as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner has shocked and outraged green groups.
A former Manhattan assemblyman, Grannis was seen as a friend of the environment long before he was appointed by Governor Eliot Spitzer to head the Department of Environmental Conservation. Grannis’s biography and photo were removed from DEC’s website this morning.
The Albany Times Union reported that Grannis was fired Thursday after the leak of a DEC memo protesting Governor David Paterson’s demand that the department lay off 209 employees by the end of the year.
In the memo, DEC says the department has borne a disproportionate share of earlier budget and staff cuts and warns of “potential serious risks to human health and safety and environmental quality” if the department is forced to go through with the additional cuts. The memo says DEC’s work force would be reduced to 2,926 full-time positions, down from 3,775 in April 2008—a 22 percent decrease.
“Many of our programs are hanging by a thread,” the memo states. “The public would be shocked to learn how thin we are in many areas.”
“We no longer have a general capacity for incremental reductions,” the memo continues. “All the meat has been stripped to the bones, and some of the bones have disappeared.”
It’s expected that the Peter Iwanowicz, the governor’s deputy secretary for the environment, and Stuart Grushkin, DEC’s executive deputy commissioner, will run the department for the remainder of Paterson’s term, which expires in January.
Even before the firing of Grannis, green activists had roundly criticized Paterson over cuts to environmental programs.
“It’s a terrible punctuation mark to an awful administration,” said Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan. “We hope that they don’t do any more damage before they go out the door.”
Sheehan said he does not accept the administration’s contention that all the cuts are necessary in light of the state’s fiscal crisis. He contended that Paterson “savaged the environmental budget” at the same time he increased overall state spending.
Sheehan and Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, both praised Grannis. “We had our differences with him, but by and large Pete Grannis has done an excellent job,” Woodworth said.
Woodworth added that Iwanowicz and Grushkin also have strong credentials.
Following is the full text of a news release issued jointly by several environmental groups:
(ALBANY, NY)—State lawmakers, environmental, conservation, and public health organizations today attacked Governor Paterson for the reckless termination of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Alexander B. “Pete” Grannis. Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed Grannis to lead New York’s primary environmental agency in 2007. The groups are calling for Paterson to reinstate Grannis and for the next governor to provide the DEC with resources necessary to responsibly safeguard New York’s environment.
Press reports suggest that Pete Grannis was fired in response to the leak of an internal memo (LINK http://www.eany.org/news/dec_dobletter_2010.pdf) that reveals how the latest round of proposed budget and staff cuts will imperil the DEC’s ability to monitor air and water pollution, clean up toxic oil and chemical spills, and keep an eye on out hazardous waste disposal and storage, among dozens of other critical functions. Staff and budget cuts also mean that new businesses moving to New York State must wait years for necessary permits and regulatory approvals, while polluters have little fear of enforcement and often escape regulatory oversight. According to the memo:
* Agency was told to lay off 209 staff, on top of 260 early retirement incentive approvals this year. This leaves the agency with 2,926 staff, a 23 percent reduction from 2007-08.
* The DEC is bearing 10 percent of all state layoffs, although the agency only accounts for 2.5 percent of the total state workforce.
* In the last 2.5 years, the agency has lost 595 employees, 16 percent of its workforce.
* The DEC’s non-personal services budget (travel and equipment for inspections, oil clean ups) has been cut in half from 2007-08 to 2010-11.
* In 2007-08, the Spitzer Administration increased staff levels at the DEC and added 108 for a total of 3,775.
“The firing of Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis is one more in a long series of examples of the Paterson administration’s open hostility to the environment. It is obvious that the performance of Commissioner Grannis was anything but poor. He performed his duty as New York’s environmental caretaker with diligence, clarity and fearlessness. Commissioner Grannis stood firm against proposals to cut the DEC to nearly the lowest levels in its history, and he paid for it. Today we honor his courage to stand up for our water, land and air and to be a staunch advocate for his agency,” Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.
“Commissioner Pete Grannis was fired for sounding the alarm and because the truth came out about the Department of Environmental Conservation. Budget cuts and staff attrition have pushed the agency to the brink. Instead of rising to the challenge and working to address these serious issues, the Governor’s reaction was to fire the one person holding it all together. This wrong-headed move will cost New Yorkers dearly. A functional DEC is essential for the protection of our air and water quality and right now the agency is struggling to meet its responsibilities. We are seeing it locally with a permitting bottleneck further delaying responsible developments. Looking ahead, even if hydrofracking was safe, DEC does not even come remotely close to having the resources to enforce drilling regulations,” said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee.
“PEF/encon, Division 169 of the Public Employees Federation, representing the 1700 (and rapidly diminishing Professional, Scientific and Technical Staff at NYSDEC), calls on the Governor to reinstate Commissioner Pete Grannis immediately. DEC is in turmoil as it is with drastically reduced staff at a time when there are numerous critically important environmental issues needing to be dealt with that have the potential for serious harm to public health and safety if not handled professionally and competently. We find it abhorrent that a Commissioner was fired without even the pretense of due process and having a chance to present his side of the story. The issues in the memo released to the public are not new to the professional staff–we have been telling the legislature and Governor for years that our staff shortages are resulting in drive-by inspections and triage management. It is almost criminal for the Governor and Legislature to pretend that this agency can fulfill its mission, statutory and regulatory responsibilities,” said Wayne Bayer, PEF/encon Executive Board and Shop Steward.
“Firing Pete Grannis is the Paterson Administration’s final insult to New York’s environment. The Governor has been tearing the Department of Environmental Conservation limb from limb over the last few years and now they’ve cut off its head,” said Rob Moore, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates of New York. “We’re calling on Governor Paterson to reinstate Pete Grannis and we’re calling on the next governor to responsibly provide resources to the agency and protect our shared environment.”
“The Governor’s systematic dismantling of the DEC is reckless—critically endangering human and environmental health. One would think Governor Paterson has lost his mind,” said Susan Lawrence, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Chair. “To fire such a dedicated, loyal DEC Commissioner as Pete, who held together this decimated agency, Paterson has clearly lost his heart as well. It will take years to repair the damage Paterson has done to New York’s environment.”
“The firing of Pete Grannis is a sad punctuation on the dismal environmental record of the Paterson Administration,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal. “We have seen cuts to staff, slashing of the Environmental Protection Fund, and a proposal to end land protection. The Adirondack Council applauds the efforts of Commissioner Grannis to protect the environment during his tenure and his truthfulness about what additional cuts would do to DEC’s critical functions. We wish Pete the best in the future and hope this administration, which is openly hostile to the environment, does not do any further damage in its final days.”
“The dismissal of Peter Grannis, a multi-decadal environmental statesman, is an act of political timidity and gutlessness reflecting an unwillingness to address the systematic fiscal challenges engulfing the State as well as a disregard for long-term environmental protection and health,” said Jim Tripp, General Counsel, Environmental Defense Fund.
“Commissioner Grannis worked for the people of New York. He served them well by telling the truth about how devasting budget cuts are putting air and water quality at risk. Governor Paterson’s act of firing Pete Grannis betrayed New Yorkers’ strong support for environmental protection and a transparent and accountable government,” said Curtis Fisher, Regional Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation.
“When someone like Pete Grannis, who worked at the DEC in the early 1970’s and championed environmental laws in the State Legislature for thirty years before serving as commissioner, says that the agency is at its weakest point in history and that critical environmental programs are ‘hanging on a thread,’ people ought to listen. Instead, Governor Paterson fired him,” said Laura Haight, NYPIRG’s senior environmental associate. “This is just another example of an Administration more interested in enforcing its ill-informed and heavy handed agenda than looking out for the public’s interests.”
“Pete Grannis has spent his life fighting for clean air,” said Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. “As an assemblyman and as DEC Commissioner, he has led air quality and tobacco control efforts which have helped New Yorkers breathe easier. The Lung Association calls on the state of New York to follow Pete’s legacy by restoring much needed funds to DEC and refocusing its resources on cleaning the air we breathe.”
“The Governor just sent a chilling and frightening message to every government employee—tell the truth and you will get fired. The disproportionate cuts to the DEC will have dramatic ramifications to every New Yorker. Protecting drinking water, air quality, cleaning up toxic waste site and protecting surface waters are necessities not luxury items. Managing a budget deficit isn’t an excuse to endanger the health and welfare of New Yorkers,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
“Pete Grannis has been a steadfast champion for conservation for decades, and it’s a shame that the Paterson Administration’s assault on the environment has claimed another strong advocate,” said Albert E. Caccese Executive Director of Audubon New York. “This continued dismantling of the DEC by Governor Paterson and Larry Schwartz is leaving the state handicapped to protect its citizens, birds and other wildlife from emerging environmental threats, and it is our hope that the next administration reverses this wrongheaded strategy.”
“Pete Grannis has long been an environmental leader in New York,” said Richard Schrader, New York Legislative Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “As the head of the state environmental agency, he helped to create a landmark recycling program for electronics, invested in green jobs, and promoted smart growth in our communities. Commissioner Grannis is right – the dangerously understaffed agency has been badly injured by incessant, disproportionate budget cuts and in turn, so has New York’s environment. These deep cuts are among the many reasons the state cannot move forward on risky endeavors like gas drilling – an issue the next administration will need to confront head-on.”
“The ongoing disproportionate targeting of this agency for cuts and the Commissioner’s firing serve only unscrupulous companies that benefit from lack of oversight at the expense of the public’s health and welfare,” said Kathy Curtis, Policy Director of Clean New York. “Commissioner Grannis should be reinstated immediately and no more cuts should be made to the Agency.”
Prior to his time as DEC Commissioner, Pete Grannis served as a member of the State Assembly for decades representing the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Earlier this month, conservation and environmental groups called on Governor David Paterson to stop anticipated staff cuts at the DEC. According to published reports, 209 staff layoffs have been ordered by the end of the year. Coupled with staff lost to retirement incentives and budget cuts, the latest round of layoffs will reduce agency staff to the lowest levels since the 1980’s, with serious consequences for the DEC’s ability to respond to environmental hazards, not to mention critical routine functions such as monitoring air and water pollution.
The agency is responsible for providing oversight for air and water quality, open space, forests, wetlands, gas and oil drilling, hazardous waste, hunting and fishing, invasive species eradication, dam safety, and many other programs. The wellbeing of all New Yorkers depends on the DEC to enforce existing environmental laws.
The layoffs are in addition to other budget cuts for non-personal services such as travel and equipment for inspections and testing for chemicals such as pesticides. With resources for these critical activities cut in half since the 2007-08 budget year, the agency can only afford to respond to 150 oil spills rather than the annual average of 350.
The organizations calling on the Governor include The Adirondack Council, American Lung Association in New York, Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Clean New York, Earthjustice, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Justice Action Group of WNY, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Public Interest Research Group, Pace Energy & Climate Center, Prevention is the Cure, and Sierra Club – Atlantic Chapter.
Posted on October 21st, 2010 2 comments Add a comment >>Our latest story about Shingle Shanty Brook has attracted some attention in the blogosphere and elsewhere. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has determined that the disputed stretch through private land is open to the public under the common law right of navigation.
Click here to read the online version. The print version in our November/October issue will have a few more details.
There’s a chance the dispute will wind up in court. If DEC prevails, it could be a big win for paddlers. Presumably, a ruling in DEC’s favor would affirm that waterways suitable for recreational paddling are subject to the common law.So what waterways besides Shingle Shanty might be affected by such a ruling? One candidate is the Beaver River. I paddled that river this spring and wrote about the trip for the Explorer. Click here to read the story.
The Beaver passes through a large private estate en route from Lake Lila to Stillwater Reservoir. A major question is whether this stretch has enough water to be considered navigable.
“The river is full of rocks,” one of the landowners told me. “It’s navigable only for a short time during the spring. The rest of the time it’s very treacherous.”
When I did it in May, I carried only twice, once around a collapsed bridge and once around some rapids. I also got hung up on rocks several times and had to step out of my canoe.
While researching the story, I talked to two others who have paddled the Beaver in spring, and they said they had to get out of their boats only once or not at all.
Today I talked with Brian Delaney, the owner of High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid, who paddled the river last week with his wife, Karen.
“It was a wilderness experience, absolutely unbelievable,” Delaney said. “We didn’t see anyone.”
The water was higher than usual. Delaney said they carried only once, around a log jam. “We just skirted the shoreline,” he said. “Our feet were still in the water.”
He also said they scraped bottom a few times. Even so, he thinks the river could be paddled in lower water. “You could stay on the water and pull your boat over the rocks, but that’s normal paddling for the Adirondacks,” he said.
In short, the experience of several paddlers suggests that the Beaver is navigable. However, questions remain: How much of the year is it navigable? How often do paddlers have to portage? These would need to be answered if the landowners went to court to contest the right of the public to travel on the Beaver—regardless of the outcome of the Shingle Shanty case.
Posted on October 14th, 2010 4 comments Add a comment >>
After years of debate and delay, the Adirondack Park Agency voted today to authorize the rehabilitation of dormant fire towers on St. Regis and Hurricane mountains.
The APA board voted 9-0 to reclassify a half-acre under each tower as a Historic Area—an action that critics denounced as “spot zoning,” warning that it sets a bad precedent.
The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan had called for removing the towers, but in the face of a public outcry, the APA agreed to amend the master plan to allow the towers to stay.
The APA board expects that citizens groups will raise the money to fix up the steel structures. Board members also said the state Department of Environmental Conservation can remove the towers if they become a safety hazard or financial liability.
David Petrelli of the Friends of St. Regis was elated with the decision. “We have only a handful of these towers left,” he said, “and when one is taken down, it’s lost forever.”
“They’re landmarks; they’re part of our history,” said Melvin “Stub” Longware of the Friends of the Hurricane Fire Tower.
Assuming the governor signs off on the agency’s decision, DEC will draft management plans for the two Historic Areas. After that, the two friends groups will be able to begin work on fixing up the towers so they can be reopened to the public. DEC removed the lower steps from both towers years ago to make them inaccessible.
As recently as September, it seemed doubtful that the agency would allow the towers to be reopened to the public. At that month’s meeting, the APA staff recommended that the land under the towers be classified as Primitive. Under this scenario, APA staff said DEC would be authorized to do minimal maintenance to keep the towers intact but prohibited from restoring them for public use. When people on both sides objected to this solution, the staff changed its position.
Environmental organizations had argued that the APA should follow the State Land Master Plan and remove the towers. Acknowledging the towers’ cultural importance, they suggested that the structures be rebuilt in nearby hamlets and promoted as tourist attractions.
One tower is in the 13,500-acre Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area. It was only the tower’s presence that prevented the APA from originally classifying the region as Wilderness—which is defined in the State Land Master Plan as an area where “the imprint of man’s work is substantially unnoticeable.”
Despite acquiescing in the tower’s restoration, the APA board designated the rest of the tract as Wilderness. David Gibson of Adirondack Wild contends these twin decisions make a mockery of the Wilderness guidelines in the State Land Master Plan. “It’s clearly not compatible to have a five-story steel structure in the middle of a Wilderness Area,” he said.
The other tower is in the 18,200-acre St. Regis Canoe Area. Essentially, the Canoe Area is managed by the same guidelines as Wilderness. Thus, the tower had been considered a “non-conforming use” in the State Land Master Plan.
Because the towers were in violation of the master plan, the APA had to amend the document somehow to permit them to stay in place.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said he would have preferred that the agency classify the tower footprints as Primitive rather than Historic. He fears that people might cite this precedent as a rationale for permitting other structures to remain in Wilderness Areas and perhaps for reopening old roads in the Forest Preserve.
“Given the direction that some historic preservationists want to go, you could really change the wilderness character of the Park,” Woodworth said.
Woodworth said the towers could have been fixed up even if the summits had been classified as Primitive. “If they’re going to stay, they ought to be maintained, and the public ought to be able to use them,” he said.
His first choice, however, was to remove the towers. He noted that hikers can obtain great views from the summits without climbing the towers.
Brian Houseal, executive director of the Adirondack Council, also favored the removal of the towers, but he regards the issue as minor. “We’re not going to challenge this decision,” he said. “We have bigger fights.”