150+ Hear debate on Adirondack land access

By OPAL JESSICA BOGDAN , The Leader-Herald


NORTHVILLE – Environmentalists, government officials and local community members came together Monday. Nov. 14 at Northville Central School to discuss the future of tracts of land in the Adirondacks recently acquired by the state.

Among the issues is whether to allow motorized access to the land.

The state Adirondack Park Agency hosted the open public comment opportunity. Residents from Hamilton County, the village of Mayfield, town of Benson and Amsterdam joined the crowd of about 150, and more than 60 participants voiced their opinions on how the land should be classified.

Article Photos

More than 150 residents from the Adirondack region listen and share their concerns about the Adirondack Park Agency’s classification of around 100 parcels of land owned by the state.
(Photo provided — Opal Jessica Bogdan, The Leader-Herald)

The APA is in the process of evaluating 33 proposed state land classifications and 13 reclassifications for a total of 50,000 acres. Bill Farber, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, explained that local areas see an impact on trails and roads toward the town, sparking a local economic impact.

Hamilton County Sheriff Karl Abrams raised public safety and communication as issues for Cathead Mountain, which he believes should be reclassified with fewer restrictions.

He described an instance when a body was found 16 miles back in the woods and a way to respectfully remove the body had to be determined.

“I don’t have a helicopter, I can’t fly to the top on the mountain. I need to walk or have a vehicle that can handle the land,” Abrams said. He said, as an avid hunter and fisherman, he owns an all-terrain vehicle that he was able to use to safely, humanely and respectfully remove the individual. “You have to let up on some of the restrictions,” he said.

Cathead Mountain is located in the town of Benson, Hamilton County, and currently is classified as “primitive.” A primitive category aims to maintain primitive conditions of transportation and the environment, meaning no additional trails can be added and no motorized vehicles can be used.

Farber explained the APA process for land classification. The state of New York makes a decision to buy a piece of land and give it to the Forest Preserve. The first step is closing on the land, allowing the state to take ownership. Then in some instances, the state goes right to classification. Different categories for classifications include “wild forest,” “primitive” or “wilderness.” Once classified, the state develops a unit management plan. The classification is the first cut at how will the lands be used.

“We see an interesting transformation in the process,” Farber said. “When people want to see the state buy the land, everyone has this huge moment where they all say that the land will be wonderful for all kinds of recreation, so sport groups and environmental groups stand up and cheer. Ironically, when we transition to the classification, then you start to see the group split and have environmental groups saying that all of the land should be wilderness and sport communities say you have enough wild forest [and] to give us access to the land.”

According to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, Cathead Mountain has two reclassifications available based on the need for the fire tower on the mountain.

“Either the fire tower and the telephone line could be removed and the whole area should be added to the Silver Lake Wilderness Area, or the fire tower and telephone line to the tower, if found to be necessary, could remain and the primitive area be enlarged to include an appropriate, small acreage surrounding the Cathead Mountain tower, until such time as the tower is no longer needed,” according to the master plan. “A Unit Management Plan was adopted for this area in 2006.”

Abrams said the he feels that any land should be protected, up to a certain point.

“I understand that you have to have some of these restrictions, that you have to have these protections,” Abrams said. “But I’m here for the people in Hamilton County and anyone around the county. Cathead Mountain is a vital part in order to get out of the town. I want to make sure that the communications are there so if you’re hurt or your family is hurt, God forbid, I’m not able to get there in time to help.”

However, not everyone agreed with the reclassification of the mountain. Environmentalists voiced concerns for the preservation of nature and worry that when they’re older, there will be no wild land left.

Tyler Solcaslt of Old Forge spoke about another area – Boreas Ponds, located in the heart of the Adirondacks. Solecaslt said 80 percent of the Adirondack Park is already within 1 mile of a road, and he feels that changing Boreas Pond to have more public access shouldn’t happen.

“When I left the Adirondack Park temporarily last year to walk the Appalachian Trail, I was deeply disturbed,” Solcaslt said. “I thought my wild journey was going to spectacular, but instead, I found that I had to cross a road every 4 miles on average along the trail.”

He continued on to say that when he grows to be an old man, he may not have the same physical capability, but he argued that doesn’t mean that every pond or mountain in the Adirondacks should have a road to it.

“There is not much wildness left in this country, and I hope they can see the value in what’s left. If not for today, then for future generations. Wilderness has already been stolen,” Solcaslt said.

Prior to the public comments, state Assemblyman Marc Butler said the APA does a good job with its mission to protect the character of the Adirondacks. Butler did not make a formal presentation himself, but said he would provide written comments at a later date.

“This is democracy at the most basic level, where people have a chance to weigh in on this,” Butler said. “As this process goes forward, I want to remind everyone to not overlook the most precious resources that we have in the Adirondacks and that is for people who live, work and recreate there.”

Public comments are being accepted through Dec. 30, and written ones can be sent to Kathleen D. Regan, deputy director of the APA, atclassificationcomments@apa.ny.gov or via mail to P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977.

Upstate New York community named one of the coziest mountain towns

Like it or not, winter is on its way. For some, it’s a time to seek thrills on mountain slopes or to enjoy the peace and quiet of a snowy trail in the woods. For others, it’s a reason to stay indoors as much as possible.

Regardless of which winter outlook you have, you may find what you’re looking for in the mountains. Expedia has compiled a list of the 17 coziest mountain towns in America, and while as expected, many include a winter playground for outdoor types, some also offer lodges with warm fire places, shopping, great restaurants and historical sites to visit.

Though New York can boast many winter destinations in the Adirondacks and the Catskills, only one community, Lake George, was included on Expedia’s list. Attractions that help the town stand out include ice fishing, sledding in Battlefield Park and ice skating on the outdoor ice rink near Lake George High School. Places to visit for the indoor set include The Log Jam Restaurant and Inn at Erlowest.

DEC Advises Backcountry Visitors of Winter Conditions Throughout the Adirondacks

Winter Recreational Opportunities Available with Proper Preparation and Precautions

The recent snowstorm is providing good conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondack backcountry, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. Visitors should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice, and cold to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience.

“Snow has arrived in the Adirondacks in time for people to take advantage of all the winter recreation opportunities in the Park during the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Be aware that snow and cold temperatures can also present dangerous – even perilous – conditions to those who are unprepared. Visitors exploring the backcountry should dress for cold weather and use snowshoes and skis to navigate trails where appropriate.”

Snow depths range from two to 18 inches, deeper in some local areas, with the deepest snows in the northern and western Adirondacks. Snow depths are deeper in the higher elevations such as the High Peaks and other mountains over 3,000 feet.
While snow is present throughout the Adirondacks, ice has not formed on any lakes and ponds. Seasonal access roads remain open to public motor vehicles, but are not plowed or otherwise maintained. These roads should be used with caution, if at all, based on the amount of snow and other conditions.

Visitors to the Eastern High Peaks and other mountains that exceed 3,500 feet should carry snowshoes for their safety and the safety of other backcountry users. Snowshoes or skis ease travel on snow and prevent “post holing,” which can ruin trails and cause sudden falls resulting in injuries. Ice crampons and traction devices should be carried for use on icy portions of the trails, including summits and other exposed areas.

In addition, backcountry visitors should follow these safety guidelines:

  • Dress properly with layers of wool and fleece (not cotton) clothing: a wool or fleece hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots.
  • Carry a day pack with the following contents: Ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sunglasses, sun-block, ensolite pads, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.
  • Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink, and rest often. Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes you more susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Check weather before entering the woods – if the weather is poor, postpone the trip.
  • Be aware of weather conditions at all times – if the weather worsens, head out of the woods.
  • Know the terrain and your physical capabilities – it takes more time and energy to travel through snow.
  • Never travel alone and always inform someone of your intended route and return time.

Traveling through snow takes more energy and time than hiking the same distance, especially in freshly fallen snow. Plan trips accordingly.

Call the DEC Forest Ranger Emergency Dispatch at 518-891-0235 to report lost or injured people or other backcountry emergencies.

The DEC Adirondack Backcountry Information web page provides current trail condition information and links to current weather, snow cover, and other important information to help ensure a safe and enjoyable Adirondack backcountry winter experience.

The Hiker’s Role In Disturbing The Wild

A trail weaving its way through the woods to a summit takes up just a minuscule fraction of the wild lands it traverses, which may leave the impression that trails have little impact on wildlife. Research in recent years by the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests that is not the case.

“You’d be surprised by the ripples left by a day hiker’s ramble through the woods,” wrote Christopher Solomon in the New York Times in 2015. “In 2008 Sarah Reed, an associate conservation scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and her colleagues found fivefold declines in detections of bobcats, coyotes and other midsize carnivores in protected areas in California that allowed quiet recreation activities like hiking, compared with protected areas that prohibited those activities.”

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Often, people treat autumn as a grieving period for their hiking season’s end. The early onset of freezing summit temperatures and the Northeast’s late spring snowpacks can mean that avoiding the trails costs you six months of the year. Instead, with a little planning, knowledge, and preparation, you can get comfortable conquering mountains year-round. Here are a few pointers to get you started.





by Joan Herrmann

Whereiwander… October brings many visible changes to the Adirondacks. Of course, the most notable change is to the foliage. Red and sugar maples, aspens, beech and birch merge with the spruces, pines and balsams to present an awesome “going away” party in the canopy. The understory also produces a grand display when hobblebush, ferns and wildflower leaves change from summer’s constant green to metallic gold, bonze and copper, with a bit of purple for contrast. As the days begin to shorten, animals begin changing colors too. White-tailed deer begin to molt, lighter tan and reddish hairs of spring and summer will fall off and the newly grown darker brownish hairs become the autumn and winter coat. Camouflaging and insulating hairs will also begin molting and growing on snowshoe hares and long-tailed weasels. Snowshoe hares molting, from reddish brown to white, may take several months to complete the process, while the long-tail weasels molting to winter white (except for the tip of the tail) may accomplish molting, in a matter of weeks.
Many animals have begun to “bulk up” for a long sleep in addition to growing insulating hair. Black bears are omnivores and have been eating everything, including fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, plants, insects, eggs, small mammals, fish, honey and carrion. The stored fat will be burned for fuel so there will be little loss of muscle. While hibernating black bears will not eat or drink, they do not move about, or excrete. Their heart rate and breathing will slow down. Female black bears will probably den up by late October. If she has cubs they will den up with her. The cubs stay with the mother for about 18 months. If she mated in the spring, she will den up alone and the new cubs will be born while she hibernates. The male black bears will den up about the last week in November or the first week of December.
Small mammals have been preparing for winter all spring and summer long, some by making caches. The eastern chipmunks which reside on our property have been caching unsalted peanuts and sunflowers seed for many months. The eastern chipmunks “sleep” for several weeks at a time, not a true hibernation, and wake up and eat from the cache. They have been collecting other foods sources as well, such as corn, beechnuts and berries, which will be eaten throughout the winter and early spring. On mild days in late winter or early spring I will occasionally see one or more eastern chipmunks at our bird feeders, replenishing their cache.
Insects that don’t winter over, such as grasshoppers, katydids and crickets will have deposited their eggs in leaf litter or within rock or wood crevices. The eggs wait under a blanket of snow, for the days to grow longer and warmer, then the nymphs (immature stage of some insects) will emerge.
Autumn is a great time to spend time outdoors, discovering or revisiting favorite hiking places, especially when temperatures are cooler and insects are no longer a problem. After a few days of rain many new “treasures” appear in wooded areas, such as new species of mushrooms. Even though I love eating mushrooms, I enjoy finding and photographing them even more.
In October and November colorful species can be found on trees, fallen logs, and the on the forest floor. Mushrooms appear in many colorful sizes, shapes and textures. Fungi are essential and extremely important in our lives, perhaps that is something we seldom think about but, consider the role fungi play in the ecosystem.
Consider the decaying of wood, in which fungi breakdown lignin and cellulose, returning unbelievable levels of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Ganoderma applantatum, which we call artist fungus, found on trees is a wood decaying fungus. Fungi also play a big role in keeping or getting us healthy. Yeast fungi are used in both bread making and wine production. Medicines such as antibiotics used in healing and anti-rejection drugs used in organ transplants are completely dependent on fungi.
The mushroom is the fruiting body or reproductive structure of a fungus; it is the part we see. The rest is underground, and is the vegetative body of the fungus which is made up of fine filaments called hyphae. Mushrooms, for identification purposes, have been divided into groups according to their appearance of the fruiting bodies and reproductive structure. Groups that can readily be seen this time of year include jelly fungus, puffball, polypore, coral fungus, tooth fungus, bolete, stinkhorn and chanterelle. All of these are interesting to find and photograph, but I never eat any of these. They may be edible but, unless a mushroom is confirmed by a credible mycologist, do not eat it.
Some of the more interesting coral fungi that can be found in our Adirondack forests are spindle-shaped yellow coral (Clavulinopsis fusiformis) and yellowish-tan coral (Ramaria abietina) both resembling an underwater coral. In addition to artist fungus (Ganoderma applantatum) found most often on upright trees, look for chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) a rather colorful species which looks like skinned chicken cutlets. Also look for turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) on fallen logs. To me some of the most interesting mushrooms are the chanterelles. Two favorites are scaly vase or wooly chanterelle (Gomphus floccosus) and pig’s ear (Gomphus clavatus). Both of these fungi are two to six inches in height and are vase shaped and hollow. Rain water fills the vase and birds and insects can drink the water. The outside of both fungi is scaly in appearance. Stinkhorns are great to find and photograph however you may smell them before you see them. Ravenel’s stinkhorn (Phallus ravenelii), which I discovered in a bed of roses, caught my attention first, by its nasty odor.
Classified with puffballs, which are easy to find because of their size and shape, are some of the micro fungi such as bird’s nest (Cyathus stercoreus) and the larger earthstars like fringed earthstar (Geastrum fimbriatum).
I add the genus and species names, because the common names may differ per locale, and it may help with identification if you chose to look them up or perhaps do some research. Many excellent guides are available for mushroom identification our local bookstores