Conservation Resource Alliance and the Boardman Dams Implementation Team (IT) recently celebrated the reopening and rebirth of 2.5 miles of the Boardman River as project partners, stakeholders and supporters gathered at the former Brown Bridge Dam site. The message was one of goodwill and collaboration as so many partners and community members deserve credit for the realization of this project.
A group of nearly 60 were able to enjoy a rejuvenated river valley that has been under water since 1921. Restored to its relic channel, the Boardman now meanders through 2.5 miles of former impoundment and shows evidence of some of the best habitat potential of any stretch of this state designated Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. Drummers from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians honored the reborn river with traditional tribute to Mother Earth. Good food, a passionate leadership team, and a group paddle of the project area highlighted the perfect northern Michigan day.
What's up next? The project moves downstream where planning for the removal of the next two former hydro-electric dams, Boardman and Sabin, is well underway. Seen as the largest dam removal project in Michigan's history, and the largest wetlands restoration in the Great Lakes Basin, the Boardman Dam Project will re-connect 160 miles of river habitat. Visit the dedicated project website: www.theboardman.org
New York State recently purchase thousands of acres of former paper company lands from the Nature Conservancy and now must classify nearly 40,000 acres of lands and waters to determine how they will be managed and used as part of the public Adirondack Forest Preserve. The state Adirondack Park Agency and the Governor must choose between a Wild Forest designation that permits extensive motorized recreation or a Wilderness designation where some motorized access is provided, but the priority is natural resource protection and human-powered recreation. Some combination of the two is also an option.
Conservation Alliance support of the Adirondack Council helped ensure that these lands were purchased by the state of New York to be open to the public for the first time in one hundred years. Conservation Alliance funding has helped to rally support and strengthen advocacy efforts so we can seize this rare opportunity to provide the strongest management protection and create a new, unique wilderness experience in the Northeast.
Governor Andrew Cuomo needs to keep hearing that people want Wilderness.
Earlier this year, The Wilderness Land Trust was awarded a grant for their Castle Crags Wilderness Acquisition Campaign, to permanently protect and transfer to public ownership the 1,257 acres of private land currently blocking direct public access from I-5 to the climbing and backpacking within the 12,232-acre Castle Crags Wilderness Area.
While we were attending the Outdoor Retailer Show, we received excellent news that the acquisition campaign had been successful. 1,257 acres of private land have been purchased and will be transferred to the Forest Service, adding additional acreage to the Castle Crags Wilderness and providing climbing access from the I-5 freeway.
Take Action and ask President Obama to designate the Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument! The Boulder-White Clouds are Idaho at its best-stunning beauty, clear water and rich wildlife habitat.
For decades, Idahoans have worked to conserve these mountains and strike a balance between protection, access and responsible use.
That vision should move forward and our leaders in Washington, DC, should take note. This pristine land must be used wisely and left whole and healthy for our kids and grandkids.
Idaho's public lands-especially amazing places like the Boulder-White Clouds-are important to Idahoans and all Americans. It's our responsibility to make sure they remain pristine and beautiful long into the future.
In the Northeast, the current hotspot in the battle to keep public lands from being exploited for natural gas production is 7,000 acres comprising the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest (H-C SF). About 24 miles south of Rochester, NY, the H-C SF is one of the most valuable and unique public properties in New York. The area encompasses the only two undeveloped Finger Lakes left of the original 11 lakes. The cold, deep waters of Hemlock and Canadice lakes provide pure fresh drinking water for nearly a quarter million people in the greater Rochester area.
The steep shorelines of the H-C SF are a refuge for mature temperate deciduous forests, that provide a vital nesting habitat for many neotropical songbirds. The secluded shores of the Hemlock-Canadice were selected for the first successful hacking site for re-introduction of the bald eagle in New York. The spectacular scenery of the lake draws many kayakers and boaters. The magnificent forests have 14 miles of hiking trails with many vantage points of the lakes. The H-C SF is totally surrounded by the forests and wetlands of the watershed of the City of Rochester. The springs and tributaries of that watershed feed these lakes. The land manager of H-C SF, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in a proposed unit management plan (UMP) has now proposed horizontal drilling from wellpads located on these adjacent watershed lands in order to exploit the natural gas located under the H-C SF.
Gas drilling would cause wellpads, wastewater reservoirs, roads and pipeline construction in the forests and wetlands which buffer and encircle Hemlock and Canadice State Forest. If the state leases its gas rights to drillers, they would have the right to cross the lands of H-C SF with pipelines and compressor stations. The gas revenues that might be earned by the state from exploiting the gas under the H-C SF would be a very poor trade for probable contamination of the Rochester water supply from the clear cutting, habitat destruction and industrial disturbance of the forests and wetlands in the Hemlock Canadice watershed. We who cherish these unspoiled lakes, pure water and the forested slopes surrounding them must never acquiesce in the natural gas leasing and extraction under the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.
What is the solution? The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) proposes to pass legislation that designates the H-C SF as a "Unique Area", placing the lands in the State Nature and Historic Preservation Trust. No gas drilling on or under lands placed in the Trust can occur under New York's state constitution. Alternatively, ADK will work for a Unit Management Plan for the H-CSF in which the state gives a conservation easement to the City of Rochester wherein DEC gives up the right to lease any gas and oil resources under the H-C SF to any energy company.
ADK has been fortunate enough to receive a grant from The Conservation Alliance to help us in our efforts. The grant has enabled us to exhaustively study the H-C SF UMP and build an alliance of groups and individuals who will help us preserve the Hemlock – Canadice State Forest as a "Unique Area". It is ADK's hope that the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest will become a constitutionally protected state Nature Trust, protecting the watershed of the City of Rochester from gas drilling and exploitation for years to come.
We supported Western River Conservancy's campaign for the permanent protection of 2.5 miles along the Yampa River at the entrance of Cross Mountain Canyon. This protection creates a sanctuary for fish and wildlife while opening new public access to tens of thousands of acres of surrounding public land.