Over the past few months, I’ve been having some conversations with various people about an Adirondack Park Agency regulation that caught me by surprise when I heard about it. What is it? It’s that all new wilderness camping sites must be at least 150 feet from a water front or trail, and any existing site must be relocated to that distance if it requires reconstruction. Considering that my job does mean keeping up with regulations, it was the first I’d heard of it, hence part of my shock. The other part was being incredulous that it was thought to be a good idea.
Posts Tagged With: Environment
One of the things that many people have come to expect in their visiting here is “free camping.” There are spots called “wilderness camping sites” which offer a convenient stopping point for those on hiking or canoe trips, and in various wilderness areas. They’re not much for amenities. They consist of a pit privy (an outhouse), a fire ring, and depending on the particular site, a clear spot to pitch a tent or a lean-to. They’re popular with a set of people, particularly those who want to “get away from it all” or those who just want to camp “for free.” What none of them ever consider is the cost of those sites.
One of the sights you see in spring here in the Adirondacks is that some of the fir trees have big square holes dug into them. The explanation for them is that woodpeckers make them. The question I often had was: Why? You see, it’d be understandable if they were digging out a nesting hole, except that the holes aren’t high up, they’re usually waist level or lower. They’re also not obviously going after something like a grub which would be nearer the bark of the tree. This spring, I finally got my answer as to what was happening.
Every year a large number of tourists come to the Adirondack Mountains. One of the popular things to do is to take a canoe trip. There are a number of canoe routes, parts of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Some people choose a section to be done in a day or two, while others choose longer journeys. It’s a chance to enjoy nature, to paddle through the lakes and streams, to see nature. Most of them do this without problems, beyond the usual insect bites, sore muscles, and occasional rain. Every now and then, someone runs into serious problems.
Recently, there was an opinion piece about how a certain area of state land should be classified. The author, who works for an environmental advocacy group, was arguing for the strictest classification, and then went on to discuss how to limit access as well as what facilities should be constructed and where. My reply comment was “Great, and just who do you think is going to do this?” This isn’t the only time something like this has happened. I had a similar response to another group a few years ago that was trying to advocate for the creation of a new national park. Why would I make these responses? Because I’m for parks.
Last week I talked about the anti-vaccination groups and the problems they cause. Yesterday, Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy had a much more detailed diatribe about that, and one of their media spokespeople:
McCarthy is the most famous face of the anti-vax movement. More than perhaps anyone else she has mainstreamed the incredibly dangerous claims of the anti-vaxxers, saying vaccines gave her son autism and that she cured him using what are known to be noneffective treatments. She decries vaccines as toxic, yet boasts about getting injected with Botox, which in reality contains the single most deadly protein toxin known (botulinin). What she says is phenomenally dangerous, and I consider her claims to be a substantial threat to public health.
I recommend reading the entire thing, along with the imbedded links.
One of the interesting – or annoying – things about living in the Adirondacks is that you get a perspective on how many things have become “taken for granted,” when in reality, there’s nothing “granted” about it. In fact, just two or three decades ago, they didn’t exist or were only available to a limited few. I realized this the morning when my internet connection started having problems because of the weather. It was annoying, to put it mildly. You see, I take it “for granted” that my connection will be working, and will have a reasonably high speed. But less than a decade ago (7 years, to be precise), my internet connection here would have been a dial-up, and that would have been “iffy.” But it was what was available. A decade before that? I would have been (and did) paying for that same connection “by the minute,” and if I’d lived here, I wouldn’t have had it at all.
My work takes me into the woods during a good part of the year. While most people are looking at the views, admiring wildflowers, and trying to see wildlife, I’m constantly scanning the area for enemies. When I’m out on the water, or standing on a stream bank, I’m looking for them as well. Am I a paranoid nut, or suffering from PTSD? No, I’m a biologist, and I’m looking for something else: Invasive species. They’re out there, some are here, and some are coming.
In the middle of this past fall, I was out with a group of fellow supervisors doing “general maintenance.” As we were headed to one point, the topic of conversation was what weather we might expect this winter. I said “If we have a good snow, this place will be busy. ” When one of the others asked what I meant, I pointed out that if we went another few miles down the road we were on, we’d be at the entrance to one of the major wilderness snowmobile trails. He said “You know, I really hate snowmobiles. They’re noisy, polluting, and I wish they weren’t allowed up here.” I replied “Yes, but you have to understand something. They also drop a hell of a lot of money on the local economy.”