Posted on June 28th, 2012 1 comment - Add a comment >>
A man who built a boathouse on Lake Placid in defiance of the local code-enforcement officer could be forced to tear it down.
The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that William Grimditch should have obtained a permit from the town of North Elba before building the boathouse in 2010.
Grimditch was rushing to build the boathouse before stricter boathouse regulations adopted by the Adirondack Park Agency went into effect. His children built a smaller boathouse on adjoining property, also without a town permit.
Last August, State Supreme Court Justice Richard Meyer ruled that the Grimditches did not need a town permit, reasoning that localities had no jurisdiction over the state’s navigable waterways. He dismissed a lawsuit brought by the town and four Grimditch neighbors.
The appellate court, however, said the state’s interest in navigable waterways does not preclude localities from controlling shoreline development. It sent the case back to Meyer for reconsideration.
Mark Wilson, president of the Shore Owners Association, said he hopes the town eventually will force the Grimditches to tear down the boathouses.
“We feel any other remedy would send a message that anybody can go ahead and build a boathouse and then negotiate a remedy. Ask forgiveness instead of permission—we would not like to see that precedent,” Wilson said.
Wilson said a decision in favor of the Grimditches would have been “a disaster” for Adirondack lakes as it would have left localities powerless to control shoreline development.
It could not be learned whether Grimditch plans to appeal to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
Posted on June 28th, 2012 Add a comment >>
Brian Houseal will step down as executive director of the Adirondack Council when his contract runs out this fall.
Houseal told the Explorer he is pursuing other work in conservation but plans to continue to live in Westport.
Asked why he was leaving the council, he replied: “I’ve been in this position ten years. It’s time.” He noted that his second five-year contract with the council will expire in late October.
Houseal counts among his achievements the successful lobbying for acid-rain and clean-air legislation and the launching of the Common Ground Alliance, which he co-founded. As its name suggests, the alliance seeks common ground between environmentalists and local leaders.
“Wilderness and Article 14 is the core value of the council, but we also need to be active in solutions that will benefit communities and their economies,” Houseal said. (Article 14 of the state constitution decrees that the Forest Preserve stay forever wild.)
Diane Fish, the deputy director, will serve temporarily as executive director while the council conducts a search for Houseal’s replacement.
Houseal’s departure means that two of the Park’s major environmental organizations will soon be under new leadership this fall. Earlier this year, Peter Bauer announced he will leave the Fund for Lake George to become executive director of Protect the Adirondacks.
The council issued a lengthy news release that summarizes Houseal’s accomplishments with the council. Click the link below to read it.
Posted on June 20th, 2012 2 comments Add a comment >>
Following is the Forest Ranger report for late winter and spring from the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Region 5.
Town of North Elba, High Peaks Wilderness
On Saturday, March 10, at about 3:30 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a report from a DEC Forest Ranger regarding an injured woman at the Calamity Brook Lean-to. Shauna DeSantis, 57, of Glens Falls, NY, injured her knee and ankle and was unable to walk on her own. A New York State Police Aviation Unit helicopter was requested and dispatched to the area. The Lake Colden caretaker and another Forest Ranger also responded. Ms. DeSantis was hoisted out and airlifted to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid at 5:10 p.m. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness
On Friday, April 20, at about 5:04 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a request for assistance from a hiking group on the Brothers. A member of their group, Christopher Powers-O’dor, of Binghamton, NY, was in distress and was unable to walk on his own. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded and reached the group about 2.5 miles from the Garden Trailhead at about 5:21 p.m. The Forest Rangers provided food and water and assisted walking Mr. Powers-O’Dor to the trailhead. He was transferred to Keene Valley Rescue ambulance for transport to the Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid at 9:22 p.m. Know your abilities. Drink plenty of water, eat food to keep up you energy and rest often.
Town of Newcomb, Dix Mountain Wilderness
On Thursday, May 3, at about 11:10 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch in Albany received a phone call from Essex County 911 reporting five hikers overdue from a day hike. David Guirola, Jessica Lasprilla, Yandy Rodriguez, Edward Garcia and Kevin Gonzales (no ages available) all of Miami, FL had left from an inn at Schroon Lake at 10 a.m. and traveled to the Upper Works Trailhead for a hike into the High Peaks. When they had not returned by 11 p.m. staff at the inn called 911. While two DEC Forest Rangers prepared to respond to the search, a State Police Trooper reported locating the group’s vehicle in the Upper Works Trailhead parking lot. The two Forest Rangers searched the trails through the rainy night to no avail. The next morning six additional forest rangers joined the search, with two entering the High Peaks Wilderness from the north. At 10:05 a.m. the group was located near Calamity Brook. They were wet and cold but otherwise healthy. After rehydrating and warming them, Forest Rangers escorted the group back to their vehicle. Know your abilities and the area you plan to hike. Always carry a map and compass, and know how to use them. Carry a flashlight or headlamp at all times.
Town of Elizabethtown, Giant Mountain Wilderness
On Thursday, May 17, at about 10:30 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Essex County 911 reporting an injured camper who had fallen about 30 feet at the Split Rock Falls in Elizabethtown. William Tayler, 19, of Gansevoort, NY, was suffering from a possible head injury and broken bones. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and along with volunteers from Keene Valley Fire Department, Elizabethtown Fire Department and Backcountry Search & Rescue. Mr. Tayler was packaged and carried out to an awaiting Elizabethtown Emergency Medical Squad ambulance. He was transported to Elizabethtown Hospital and then on to Albany Medical Center by a New York State Police Aviation Unit helicopter. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness
On Tuesday, May 22, at about 9:30 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from the hiking partner of man reported lost on the west side of the Ausable Lakes valley. After climbing over Lower Wolfjaw Mountain, the pair had descended to the Wedge Brook Trail to a campsite. The partner left to scout the area and upon return found Jason Wainwright, 20, of Cheektowaga, NY gone. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and proceeded to the Wedge Brook Trail. Mr. Wainwright was located after one hour of searching the intersection of the Wedge Brook and West River trails. When hiking in groups, even pairs, stay together – know the location of all group members at all times.
Town of North Elba, Eastern High Peaks Wilderness
On Saturday, May 26, at about 4:20 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a report from Essex County 911 of an injured hiker. Valerie Scanlon, 62, of Troy, NY, was descending the VanHovenburg Trail about one mile above Indian Falls when she fell and struck a rock causing multiple minor injuries. Two DEC Forest Rangers and an Assistant Forest Ranger responded. They assisted Ms. Scanlon down to Marcy Dam, where she was evacuated by UTV and given treatment for her injuries. She drove herself to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid for further evaluation and treatment. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.
Town of North Hudson, High Peaks Wilderness
On Sunday, May 27, at about 12:55 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a report from a DEC Assistant Forest Ranger of an injured hiker. Kevin Seaman, 44, of Walworth, NY, was hiking on Big Slide Trail and while descending the slid 100 feet down the trail before landing on his feet, being thrown forward and hitting his head. He continued on until he encountered an Assistant Forest Ranger on patrol. Mr. Seaman complained of severe back pain and explained what had happened. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded in a State Police Aviation Unit helicopter. Mr. Seaman was stabilized on a backboard, given first aid and hoisted to the helicopter. He was flown directly to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, VT. Don’t hike alone Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness
On Monday, May 28, at about 8:18 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from a hiker who was in distress. Jim Kirkby, 55, of Ray Brook, NY, was descending Lower Wolf Jaw with his daughter towards the Rooster Comb Trailhead. He was experiencing problems due to a medical condition. Neither he nor his daughter had headlamps with them and he was concerned that they would get caught in the dark. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and located Mr. Kirkby and his daughter about 1 mile from the trailhead. After providing Mr. Kirkby with food and water, the Forest Rangers escorted the pair back to their vehicle. Mr. Kirkby refused any further medical attention. Monitor your health and carry any required medication with you when hiking. Carry a flashlight or headlamp at all times.
Town of Willsboro, Private Land
On Thursday, May 31, at about 9:18 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting two lost hikers on Rattlesnake Mountain. Chuck Ko and Colin Yost, both 19 years old and from Plattsburgh, NY, had reached the mountain summit at 8:00 p.m. but lost the trail when they were descending at about 9:00 p.m. Neither Ko or Yost had warm clothing or headlamps. Three DEC Forest Rangers responded and located the two men at 11:18 p.m. in good condition. They were escorted out of the woods and back to their vehicle. Be prepared to spend an unexpected night in the woods and pack plenty of food and water, extra clothing, flashlight/headlamp, ensolite pads, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blanket.
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness
On Sunday, June 3, at about 2:33 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call requesting assistance with a hiker in distress. Ruby Salley, 58, of Keeseville, NY, had just descended Saddleback with four other women, when she began having problems walking. The other members of her group provided fluids and food and began escorting Mr. Salley down the Phelps Trail. Four DEC Forest Rangers responded and assisted Mrs. Salley down the trail to the Garden Trailhead and her vehicle. Drink plenty of water, eat food to keep up you energy and rest often.
Town of Newcomb, High Peaks Wilderness
On Sunday, June 3, 2012 at about 8:20 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting an overdue solo hiker in the High Peaks. Dr. Jack Lawler, 61, of Amherst, NY, was due to return home on Sunday evening from a weekend trip in the Santanoni Mountains. One DEC Forest Ranger responded and located Dr. Lawler’s vehicle at the Bradley Pond trailhead. Shortly after, Dr.Lawler was located returning to his vehicle. He was overdue but in good condition. Always inform someone of your itinerary.
Town of Harrietstown, High Peaks Wilderness
On Sunday, June 3, at about 6:57 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a report from the DEC Raquette Falls Caretaker requesting assistance with evacuating a sick hiker. Marissa Pavlus, 22, of Old Forge, NY, was in severe pain. A DEC Forest Ranger responded to Axton Landing on the Raquette River while the caretaker transported Ms. Pavlus by boat to that location. The Forest Ranger transported her to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for treatment. Contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.
Town of Arietta, Ferris Lake Wild Forest
On Sunday, April 8, at about 6:50 a.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County Sheriffs reporting an overdue group of hikers. Brett Scrader, 20, Zack Gill, 19, and Ethan Tinker, 21, all from Johnstown, NY, left for a hike on the Good Luck Lake Trail System the previous afternoon at about 3:00 p.m. They were expected to return back at about 7:00 p.m. Six DEC Forest Rangers responded and found that the young men’s vehicle still parked at the trailhead. Scrader, Gill and Tinker were located in good condition at 12:12 p.m. and escorted back to their vehicle. Know your route, the terrain and your physical capabilities.
Town of Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Wild Forest
On Monday, May 28, at about 7:33 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 advising of two lost 10-year-old boys from Utica, NY. The boys were part of a youth hike on Blue Mountain and had run ahead and became separated from the group. They were separated for about 1½ hrs before the leader sought help. Five DEC Forest Rangers responded to the site only to learn the boys had been reunited with their group while the Forest Rangers were in route. Stay together when hiking in groups and know the location of all group members at all times.
Town of Arietta, Silver Lake Wilderness
On Thursday, May 31, at about 2:12 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Hamilton County 911 reporting an injured hiker on Good Luck Mountain. Wayne Gensler, 65, of New Hartford, NY, was descending alone from the summit of the mountain when his foot got caught on a root and he fell, injuring his ankle. Four DEC Forest Rangers responded along with Caroga Lake and Fulton County Emergency Medical Services. Mr. Gensler’s ankle was splinted and he was carried out two miles, which required some low-angle rope relays across some portions of the trail. Caroga Lake Fire Department met the group on the shores of Good Luck Lake with their boat and transported Mr. Gensler to a parking area along State Route 10. There he was transferred to an ambulance and taken for further medical evaluation and treatment. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.
Town of Bolton, Lake George Wild Forest
On Sunday, March 18, at about 5:24 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from Matthew Cleary, 20, who was hiking the Tongue Mountain Range with his father, Kevin Clearly, 58, and 16 year old brother, all from Delmar, NY. Mr. Cleary realized they had missed a trail junction but without a map or compass was unable to determine their location. Warren County 911 provided cell phone coordinates which showed the group just south of French Point Mountain. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and were able to direct the three hikers via cell phone to continue to travel north on the trail. The Forest Rangers began hiking in from the Clay Mountain trailhead and reached the reached the group at 9:49 p.m. All were out of the woods at 11:56 p.m. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them. Carry a flashlight or headlamp at all times.
Town of Johnsburg, Siamese Pond Wilderness Area
On Sunday, April 29, at about 7:20 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call reporting two overdue paddlers on the Sacandaga River. The caller had been waiting for more than four hours to pick up his friends Kurtis Coutere, 21, and Carl Shionst, 48, both from Massachusetts, who had been canoeing down the Sacandaga River. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded and as they arrived on scene to begin the search, the two men came out of the woods on their own. Always inform someone of your itinerary.
Town of Hague, Rogers Rock Campground
On Wednesday, May 23, at about 8:30 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from the DEC Assistant Caretaker at Rogers Rock Campground regarding two lost hikers. He was in cell phone contact with Samuel Nerenburg, 21, of Averill Park, NY, and Kerri Coburn, 20, of Cohoes, NY, who had been hiking the Orange Trail from the campground. They were on a trail, but had no map so they didn’t know where they were. Two DEC Forest Rangers responded to Rogers Rock. The two men built a fire which was easily seen by the Forest Rangers. The two men were located and escorted back to the campground. Know your route, the terrain and your physical capabilities. Always carry a light, a map and a compass.
Town of Fort Ann, Lake George Wild Forest
On Sunday, March 11, at about 3:30 p.m., DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook received a call from a DEC Forest Ranger advising he was in route to a rescue on Buck Mountain. Two more DEC Forest Rangers responded to assist in helping Kristen Wetsel, 29, of Saratoga Springs, NY who had an ankle injury. Ms. Wetsel was carried a short distance and then transported by ATV to the trailhead. There she was placed in an ambulance and transported to Glens Falls Hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Accidents can happen. Always carry a first aid kit and contact the DEC Forest Rangers at 518-891-0235 in backcountry emergencies.
Posted on June 11th, 2012 6 comments Add a comment >>
The logging road to Madawaska Flow and Quebec Brook, waterways acquired by the state in 1998, is closed to the public, the Adirondack Explorer has learned.
I intended to drive to Madawaska on Sunday to take photos for a paddling guidebook and was surprised to find the gate locked. A sign indicated that the road was closed on June 4 and that public access was prohibited.
The road provides the only motorized access to Madawaska Flow, the centerpiece of a 5,800-acre tract known as the Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area. The area is used by birders, paddlers, and hunters.
Dave Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said a private landowner, Winston Towers, closed the road but did not give a reason other than to say the land will soon be put on the market.
DEC has conservation easements with public-access rights on the timberlands bordering Madawaska (known as the Santa Clara Tract), but the beginning of the road crosses non-easement lands.
“DEC is actively seeking a solution to this issue and seeks to reestablish public access to Madawaska Pond in the near future,” Winchell said, adding that the agency considers this a priority.
Normally, visitors reach Madawaska by driving nine miles over a dirt road that traverses commercial timberlands. The road starts on Route 458 in the town of Duane.
“The road is the only public-access road to the Santa Clara Easement Lands and Madawaska Flow,” Winchell said. “DEC has a public access right of way in another location, but there is no road; it would have had to been built.”
It’s possible to reach Madawaska Flow by paddling upstream on Quebec Brook from Blue Mountain Road, but travelers must carry around rapids.
Posted on June 5th, 2012 4 comments Add a comment >>
For the May/June issue of the Explorer, Brian Mann wrote a piece about the difficulty of getting state funding for smaller land deals in the Adirondacks. That’s because all the attention is on the acquisition of former Finch, Pruyn lands and Follensby Pond–roughly 80,000 acres in all. As a result, Mann reported, the Adirondack Land Trust planned to sell land abutting the Pigeon Lake Wilderness to a private buyer rather than the state.
Today the Land Trust announced that it has indeed sold the 340-acre property to a private buyer for $1.3 million. Known as the Mays Pond Tract, it includes 3,300 feet of the Mays Pond shoreline and a stretch of Constable Brook, a tributary of Big Moose Lake. The Nature Conservancy says the property will be protected by a conservation easement that prohibits subdivision and restricts development. There is a rustic lodge on the pond.
Mann is reporting for North Country Public Radio that a hiking trail that passes through the property will remain open to the public.
Environmentalists hoped the state would purchase the tract, but local officials opposed adding it to the Forest Preserve, Mann says.
Following is the text of the trust’s news release:
Keene Valley, New York – The Adirondack Land Trust today announced that it sold to a private buyer a 340-acre parcel for $1.3 million in the towns of Webb and Long Lake. As part of the transaction, the property, which borders the 50,000-acre Pigeon Lake Wilderness, is now protected by a conservation easement.
Known as the “Mays Pond tract” and offered for sale on the open market through real estate broker LandVest, the property includes a rustic cabin and will continue to be used as a private wilderness retreat, just as it has for more than 70 years.
The conservation easement, which limits development and prohibits subdivision, is designed to protect the tract’s significant forest, wildlife and aquatic habitats, including 3,300 feet of undeveloped shoreline on 30-acre Mays Pond, 40 acres of wetlands, and a stretch of Constable Brook, a free-flowing tributary of Big Moose Lake.
“We’re delighted to have found a conservation-minded buyer for Mays Pond and to be opening a new chapter of cooperative stewardship,” said Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Land Trust. “The buyer comes from a family with multi-generational ties to the Inlet area and tells us she ‘feels blessed to be the owner of such a beautiful piece of the Adirondacks.’”
“This is an excellent conservation outcome for a very special property,” added Carr.
 A conservation easement is a legally-binding, permanent land preservation agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization or agency qualified to hold an easement.