Vice-Chair, Conservation: John Omohundro, 315-265-8365
New Canoe Launch - The Red Sandstone Trail boasts a newly-constructed landing at the north tip of Sugar Island. Lucas Hanss, Eagle Scout candidate, completed the landing over Columbus Day weekend as his community service project. The new landing does not enter the water so waves and ice cannot harm it. It prevents paddlers from eroding the bank by trying to climb its clay sides (see photo). Lucas brought together a talented team to create a lasting structure for us.
Open Space Plan letter - The state’s Open Space Plan, begun in the 1990s, was up for renewal this year. The Plan is DEC’s way of eliciting public input on how and what to conserve. On behalf of the executive committee I wrote a four-page letter to the Region 6 Advisory Board, which is responsible for the northern and western sides of the park. I supported their call for greater oversight of land transactions, more stewardship funding, adjustments in taxation of state and easement land, and greater attention to invasive species. I also shared the advisory board’s interest in continuing to protect Massawepie Mire, the Bog River area, and the north-flowing rivers like the Raquette. I’ll have posted my letter on the chapter’s website by the time you read this.
Conditions at DEC - I sent my Open Space letter to Pat Whalen, head forester of the local NYSDEC substation, and he sent back some evidence of the hard times the local office is coping with. He has seen full-time staffers drop from 10 to 4, while the substation’s responsibilities have increased from 200,000 to 700,000 acres of state and easement lands. More manpower, he predicts, would facilitate Unit Management Plan updating, which among other effects would improve recreational and educational features of the lands in our region.
Raquette news - I serve as ADK representative to the Raquette River Advisory Council, which oversees recreational and environmental happenings on the river from Piercefield to the St. Lawrence. Our meeting in October arranged for fresh interpretive signs on the Red Sandstone Trail, considered the complexity of developing whitewater access amenities in the Stone Valley Cooperative Recreational Area on FERC (federal) land, advocated for opening a picnic area at Stark Falls, which was closed once due to dumping, and agreed to devote more attention to invasive species along the river. I’m planning to recruit a scientist and students to conduct an inventory of those. If you have a Raquette River question or issue, please contact me.
St. Lawrence Flatlands UMP - The DEC held a public open house on Dec. 1 for the Unit Management Plan for the St. Lawrence Lowlands State Forest, over 20,000 acres in several parcels centered around Brasher Forest. Tom Ortmeyer and I gathered information so I could write a letter on behalf of the chapter urging improved recreation for non-motorized users while maintaining environmental protection. I’ll post the letter on the chapter website by late December.
Support for EPA’s Clean Air Initiative - I ask you to visit http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51116/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12043 and sign the petition from ADK to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency recommending strengthening the plan. The basic request described on that website is as follows: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a Clean Power Plan which is a critical step in ratcheting down the carbon emissions that are locking us into climate disruption. The plan, currently open for public comment, calls for regulations on power plants, which account for approximately one-third of US greenhouse gas emissions. The new regulations are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% (of 2005 levels) by 2030. The Clean Power Plan also reduces harmful emissions, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, that are the major cause of acid rain in the Adirondack Park. In 2013, eighty-two percent of sulfur dioxide emissions occurred from stationary fuel-combustion sources such as power plants. The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is a good start, but the science demands - and our technological advancements allow for - a more aggressive plan that can benefit consumers, the economy, and the climate. Therefore, ADK is recommending the EPA strengthen its proposed plan by:
- Increasing Reduction Targets
- Decreasing Reduction Timeline
- Prioritizing Renewables and Energy Efficiency
- Reducing Reliance on Natural Gas