Adirondack Trail Magazine

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Hiking Deeper

The Adirondack Park | Adirondacks, NY - Official ADK Region

Explore the history of the Adirondack Park and the 6 million acres of Forever Wild land…

The Adirondack Mountains are perhaps one of the most interesting and divisive paradigms, checkered in opinion, controversy and historical events, starting with the original pioneers who forged their way to the rugged Adirondack forest back in the 1800s. To truly know the Adirondacks is, in my opinion, a scholar's challenge to say the least. The historical archives are as rich and deep as the forest's canopy itself. In my view, there are two distinct algorithms molded by the original legislation dating back to 1907 and as promulgated in the New York State Constitution that indeed make up the Adirondack equation, and in this column, I would like to share my thoughts.

"Inside The Blue Line, Adirondack Native Images.

Early pioneers made their way from the Champlain, the Saint Lawrence, the Tug Hill and from the southeastern New York corridor. These hearty individuals settled in, persevered the harsh Adirondack winters and ultimately made it a place they call home. That same theme, perhaps steeped in a bit of romantic lore, today may be somewhat of a memory. However, The Adirondacks' whimsical wonder can still be discovered and explored; the rush of wind and scent of pine can still be experienced, but within the guidelines that make the Adirondacks perhaps the most unique of all Parks in the lower 48. Scholars have deemed it as perhaps the model for future vast tracts of forest as described by one veteran DEC official.

In the Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords depicted above, The Adirondacks are held out to the public as "6 million acres of Forever Wild Land" … bigger than Yellowstone, Grand Canyon National Park and the Everglades combined. In my opinion, this threshold is to a degree like comparing apples and oranges. The Adirondack Mountains are a State Park regulated by the State of New York and as decreed in the New York State Constitution but entwined with a National Landmark designation. The legislative guidelines are not the same for a State Park as propagated by law with respect to a National Park. It is a mathematical certainty that this Google SEO keyword caption is misleading to the layman. How is this possible when in fact approximately 3.0 million acres of the 6 million acres are privately held?

Hiking Deeper.

Further adding controversy to the Adirondack equation is NIMBY or (Not In My Back Yard). Many, not all, of the large private tracts are posted with "No Trespassing" signs, and those that are "Posted" largely not accessible for public usage and/or exploration. The argument is further fueled with the purported 2.6 million acres of State Land and the acreage designated as Forever Wild – and 740,000 acres of forest subject to easements and rights of way. Do you know the exact rules of Forever Wild? I did not until I contacted the DEC Ray Brook office to clarify my interrogatory. A phone call to the Ray Brook office provides succinct clarification. No worries, it is all good. The DEC is more than willing to answer your questions and be helpful.

Work Together.

I have noticed in my years of travel in the Adirondacks, 55 years to be exact, that not every Adirondack resident is indeed from the Adirondacks. Today, there are approximately 130,000 year round residents who live, work and recreate in the Adirondacks. Many of those residents have made the Adirondacks their home for years, scores for generations. Today, tourists, hikers and naturalists from all walks of life seek to share in a place where 130,000 hearty souls work, live and call the Adirondacks home.

In a recent interview with a land developer based out of Tupper Lake, New York, we discussed this NIMBY paradigm and the legal "gaming" of it. At the end of the day, John Q taxpayer ends up funding the State to defend an ostensibly frivolous case against a gentleman seeking to seemingly engage, and by the letter of the law, to do the right thing for a community that struggles economically. Sure, the developer will be enriched by his vision but I also believe this same developer gives back much more than he gains. He revitalizes a village with jobs and economic infrastructure. In my opinion, it is a win-win situation for the people who call the Adirondacks home, a village that struggles economically and the State of New York which foots a huge legal bill while seeking to balance commerce and preservation. It is not all about green greed and privilege.

Adirondack Harmony.

People do own property in the Adirondacks, some for generations; they have rights as landowners and rightfully so. Owning property in harmony with State Land is part of the equation that makes the Adirondacks special. Landowners and hikers alike simply need to follow the guidelines as set forth by the APA and related regulatory agencies; it is a good thing. I would lay a wager that if you called a landowner with property that is "Posted" and asked for permission to hike on their land they would be eager to share the Adirondack experience with you. It is a sensitive balance of business savvy and preservation working together in harmony for the greater good of all to benefit future generations of Adirondackers.

I find it provocative that a minority of the preservationists and activists, plaintiffs in the Article 78, despise development and the obvious need for commerce. Economic development is not necessarily an Adirondack evil or toxicant if adhered to by the legislative guidelines set forth and as governed in the New York State Constitution. Coincidently it is the same minority of purported preservationists, the plaintiffs, who own homes on Adirondack lakefronts or tracts of land areas hammered with "Posted" signs.

Hike Freely.

I did not find this to be the case at Big Tupper. The developer does not have the land posted, and I have personally witnessed many hiking the splendor of Big Tupper unabated. When I spent two weeks (this includes travel back and forth to my office and home) documenting the region by capturing images, "Behind The Lens", I was, by and large, welcomed by the community. Yes, there were those who questioned my work and for reasons with merit, I believe. To question is prudent; to ignore is irresponsible. So, to those that asked why I was photographing the community, I say to you, welcome my efforts and see the trees through the forest. My efforts were conducted as a volunteer to help a village, not charging anyone a penny. There was one chap who ran the Tupper Lake Beach, 24/7, who did make me great hamburgers and let me sleep under the stars and did not charge me. This is also part of the Adirondack mix, friendly individuals working together for a common cause, a careful balance of human existence and delicate wildlife.

What we do need is to recognize the abundantly clear requisite to vigilantly manage equilibrium with respect to commerce and preservation, respect each other's rights and work together for the greater good. I find this to be the case at Big Tupper. It is about a place people call home, a village where individuals live, work and play. It is also the resolve and the savvy vision of an individual seeking to implement positive economic development, create hundreds of full time jobs and do so within the guidelines as set forth in legislation.

For me, the Adirondacks are made of villages which people call their home. Whether native or new to the area, we all share the same love for the Adirondacks. It is no different than New York City, with its five boroughs and a mix of people from every walk of life. They call their apartments home, their neighborhoods a village and they live, work and play in the same public parks with open access adhering to the City's rules. Today, many travel to the Adirondacks to explore those six million acres of Google "Forever Wild" only to be greeted by a "Posted" sign.

Economic stimulus and green commerce is as important to the Adirondack region as the protected State Land and the necessary rules to manage its day-to-day usage. If a few individuals, who do not even reside in the Adirondacks file an Article 78 as a fishing expedition to stalemate positive economic development, whereas the Sierra Club jumps on board after the all APA approvals have been brought to "ordered and adjudged," then I suggest that if this same minority of purported preservationists really seek to make a statement, they could donate their landholdings to the state, make their waterfront property "open access" and move into an Adirondack village and coexist as a community.


More poignant, I formally welcome Governor Cuomo to come join us on The Adirondack Trail and see first hand the feasible balance of economic development, preservation, robust green job creation, community infrastructure to support it, concomitant, working in harmony for the greater good in the Adirondack Park, in particular, Big Tupper. These are the same constituents who seek to bring hundreds of full time jobs to the region resulting in a positive economic impact while maintaining a tactful balance of a delicate ecosystem. This certainly can be observed at Tupper Lake and the Big Tupper project. The Governor's Whitewater Challenge was a huge success, and if you met Governor Cuomo as I did, you too would see in his eyes the steadfast resolve to make economic development and the balance of unspoiled wildlife a feasible equation, regardless of your political convictions. Governor Cuomo, I respectfully invite you to come join us on The Adirondack Trail at Big Tupper and put an end to the needless legal salvos and financial shackles derailing the resolve for an Adirondack Village people call home.

The shot above captured by Brock Garrison is from the summit of Goodnow Oservation Tower, the highest Ranger Tower in The Adirondack Mountains. Brock Garrison | Images

Perhaps you may wish to take on the challenge of a legendary Adirondack "High Peak". In this riveting video, veteran Adirondack "46er" Jenneifer Frontera coaches a NYC woman, tiny Julia Munoz Payano, on her first adventure up to the summit of sensational Mt Jo, Eastern "High Peaks" Region. Brock Garrison | Images. Here is the video of Jenny in action on Mount Jo in "Eastern High Peaks" hiking with the petite, Julia.

"The Plains Of Abraham", The Eastern High Peaks