Friday, June 15, 2012

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

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11 Responses

  1. Mick says:

    Thanks for posting the Gooley Club tour. The general public needs to see that these clubs aren’t “elitist” like a lot of people have said they are. The clubs are very important. We should try to help them stay open.

    I understand that the Gooley Club made a generous purchase offer to the Nature Conservancy to try to protect their inholding and DEC completely ignored it. It just doesn’t make any sense at all for the state to want to close down dozens of clubs!

    Not a speck of litter anywhere!

    Thanks so much for posting it.

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  2. Local Yokel says:

    These clubs may not be “elitist,” but they certainly are exclusive. It’s not like any of our fellow Almanack readers can simply bop down to Newcomb and join the Gooley Club, right? Why should only 120 people continue to enjoy exclusive access to this area? You say the clubs are “very important.” To whom? Please don’t trot out the “economic benefit” argument without including some established facts, like data from an actual study or two, not just “estimates” and guesswork.

    The argument that some precious “way of life” is endangered is also bogus. Whose “way of life” is at risk here? That of the 120 odd club members? As a “common good” argument that doesn’t really hold water, does it? I can empathize that you personally may be distraught over the loss of your private paradise, but change is the way of the world, isn’t it?

    “Not a speck of litter anywhere!” That seems true from watching the video, but I also see a bunch of camps and a road right on the shoreline of a body of water. Is that really optimal stewardship?

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  3. Mick says:

    The exclusive use standard is established by the land owner; the clubs have no say in that matter. All of the clubs I’ve talked to said that they would welcome public shared use, and long as the clubs can remain in existence.

    This one club directly infuses over a half million dollars per year into the local towns. An economic impact / benefit analysis should be performed by the state well in advance of any Forest Preserve land acquisition, so the general public can have a complete understanding of the true costs, including the lost opportunity costs. In the case of the Finch land, the negative economic impact to the taxpayers is estimated to be over $300 – $400 million in the first ten years. Is it worth it? Is it a good deal for the taxpayers and the local towns?

    The cabins near the shore were built between 75 and 100 years ago to normal standards for that time period and have caused no harm. The lake system has been called “The jewel of the Adirondacks” (it seems that we hear that term used a lot about a lot of places that are for sale to the state) for a reason; the stewards have kept it in pristine condition.

    Regarding the way of life, one can not read a historical account of the Adirondacks without seeing mention of the clubs. The Blue Mountain Lake Museum has some very interesting information on this club. Several hundred people visit the club every year, and the place is spotless. I’m sure if the state took the land, there would be a few blue tarp camps and litter everywhere. What would you prefer?

    I have a question for you Local Yokel: Doesn’t the SLMP clearly state that fee purchases of productive forestland should not be made? I think that is on page 11 of the SLMP.

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  4. Local Yokel says:

    The paragraph of the SLMP you are referring to is on page 7. It states that “highly productive” forestry lands should not “normally” be purchased for forest preserve, but it does make exceptions. At any rate this article indicates that logging will “continue on most of the property.” http://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/gooleyclub.php

    Where is this $300 million figure coming from? What about the $500,000 (which I do believe is plausible) you say the club infuses into the towns? Without any sources these are just numbers from nowhere. If you do have sources, please provide them. I do agree 100% with you that an impact/benefit analysis should be done before moving forward with the purchase of the tract.

    I get the history, but it doesn’t change the fact that these clubs are exclusionary by nature. Just because something is historic that doesn’t mean that it continues to be important, or even desirable. I also think you are making some huge assumptions regarding what will happen when the land is opened to the public. According to the article linked above, the vice president of the club seems to think that the land will have significantly fewer visitors once the club goes away. It’s quite a stretch for you to claim that public access is automatically going to mean “blue tarp camps and litter everywhere.”

    The article I linked to above also seems to contradict your statement about exclusive use: “The Gooley Club, however, wants to maintain exclusive rights to hunting and fishing throughout the tract.”So which is it? Does the Gooley Club welcome public shared use, or do you want to maintain exclusive rights? If it’s the latter than an easement is inappropriate. I have no problem with the state using my tax dollars to purchase this tract so anyone could enjoy it. I’d have a huge problem if that money went to support an easement to protect the rights of a privileged few. If the club was amenable to true shared public use (including the Essex chain of lakes), than I think an easement would be best possible outcome, but it seems like the club is not willing to make that compromise.

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  5. Mick says:

    Forest Preserve Wilderness lands are exclusionary by definition; they only allow for a small handful of people who like backpacking to use the resources. What about families with more gear than they can carry? What about the handicapped, wounded, or infirm? Clubs support these user groups better.

    It’s my understanding that the consensus of the general public who want to access these lands, want to do so for canoeing and kayaking purposes, namely on the Hudson and Cedar Rivers. So that would allow the clubs to maintain their traditional and historic uses quite compatibly, wouldn’t you agree?

    Are you saying that the SLMP, doesn’t that apply to the Finch lands? The region 5 easement acquisition guidelines don’t even support easement purchases.

    Regarding the forest economics, DEC clearly states that every acre of productive forestland is worth $375.00 per year to NYS’ GDP. 65,0000 acres x $375.00 per acre = $24,375,000.00 per year of lost GDP value if the land is taken in fee. Please check my math. This does not include club members’ direct expenses for their recreational preferences including ATV, snowmobile, gear, and provisions expenditures.

    Let’s address the environmental protection issue of Forest Preserve lands: Managed forests are protected forests, AND they sequester more greenhouse gasses than unmanaged forests. The ONLY control measure on Forest Preserve lands for invasive species that is allowed under state constitutional guidelines is chemical or biological treatment. The preferred control, mechanical treatment (removal) is strictly prohibited. What do you envision happening on FP lands if the Emerald Ash Borer or Asian Long-horned Beetle infests large tracts?

    The FP public taking plan is flawed and FP acquisitions should be suspended indefinitely until objective economic analysis and forest protection plans are legally established. This is a big crap shoot, and the risks are too high, especially considering that a taking is permanent.

    Thanks.

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  6. Mick says:

    Hey Local Yokel, you jumped off. I hope I didn’t say anything to offend your sensibilities!

    Sincerely,

    Mick Finn

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  7. Local Yokel says:

    Nope, not offended, just out enjoying the nice weather and the freely accessible Forest Preserve!

    Speaking of access, when you state “Clubs support these user groups better,” of course you mean the small subset of these users who are club members or know someone who is, correct? Or can any “handicapped, wounded, or infirm” person simply access the Gooley Club lands as they please? While some members of these user groups may be physically unable to access some FP lands, they are certainly theoretically welcome to do so 24/7/365.

    Sure, lots of people want to paddle the Cedar and Hudson rivers, but you are conveniently omitting the Essex Chain of Lakes, which is arguably the biggest draw for paddlers in that area. If the Gooley Club is willing to share public access to these bodies of water then yes, I think the clubs would certainly be able to compatibly maintain their traditional and historic uses. The sticking point is that the Gooley Club doesn’t seem to want to share the Essex Chain.

    I’m not going to address any of the other points you’ve made until you provide some verifiable sources: citations, links to documents, what have you. No offense intended, but the standard of evidence needs to be greater than you simply posting your own interpretations of information you are obtaining from elsewhere. If you can post your sources regarding region 5 easement acquisition guidelines, forest economics, and carbon sequestration, I’m happy to continue to debate you. If not, I see no point in continuing.

    Thanks

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  8. Mick says:

    LY,

    So I think we agree that if the plan could be revised so the public could have access, and the clubs could remain in business, that would be best for everyone. Does this seem sound to you?

    All the information you’re looking for is easy to find with Google searches.

    Feel free to address the forest protection problems with Forest Preserve land, and the SLMP question.

    Thanks,

    Mick

    PS the petition site contains a lot of information, and there is a link to it on the video comments. The Joe Martens interview is especially relevant; the state should PROTECT the clubs. This would be a change from current practices, and “change is the way of the world, isn’t it?”

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  9. Mick says:

    LY, see this document:

    http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/osp09eappa.pdf

    e-Appendix A-73. Spells it out very clearly. I think the state has embarked on an illegal plan.

    Now would you address the other issues I’ve raised, or are you going to dismiss facts and play dodge ball?

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  10. Local Yokel says:

    Yes, I do think that the best case scenario would be public access AND letting the club remain. What I am opposed to is the club maintaining any exclusive rights to hunting, fishing, and travel on the land, excepting the one-acre “buffer zone” around individual camps. I personally would even find the club reserving some hunting and fishing rights exclusively – like, say the first week of the season – to be a good compromise.
    Google is a great resource, but if you are going to present information as facts to support your argument, then you should also be willing and able to readily provide your sources. That’s how this kind of thing works. It’s pretty bad form to present information as a third-party fact, and then when asked where came from to say “google it.” So if you want me to address those points please provide the same sources that you pulled these facts from, and I’ll gladly do so. Like many Adirondackers I work a couple jobs to get by and don’t have tons of time to hunt and peck through Google searches to find the exact sources you are drawing on.
    I don’t think the SLMP or the Regional Advisory Committee spell things out as clearly as you would like them to. Look at the language used: “should not NORMALLY be made…UNLESS” (SLMP p.7 #11, emphasis mine). This isn’t an absolute. The SLMP was written in such a way as to allow exceptions. If the intention of the SLMP was an ironclad protection of forestry lands from fee purchase, it would probably read “shall not be made.” A subtle distinction, but it’s there. The way it’s written now leaves ample room for interpretation and exceptions.
    Same thing with the RAC document you linked to: “Conservation easements should be the PREDOMINANT method of acquiring a State interest in private lands, and fee purchase, when under consideration, should be the subject of a detailed written justification.” (RAC report 2009, e-Appendix A −73, H, emphasis mine). Again, the way this is written leaves plenty of room for interpretation and justification of fee purchase. It doesn’t say easements should be the ONLY method of acquiring land. In the same paragraph it states that the “Committee favors the acquisition by the State of Conservation easements on lands which include productive agricultural or forest lands.” This seems to be a preference/recommendation of the Committee, not any kind of binding law. I don’t see, given what these documents actually say, how you are drawing the conclusion that the state’s plan for fee purchase of these lands is illegal.
    In the end, Mick, my greatest hope would be that we both get what we want: your club (and others) remain where they’ve been for decades, and the public gets unfettered access to the land and especially the Essex Chain.

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  11. Mick says:

    Local,

    If the land is classified as Wilderness, do you think a lot of paddlers will hike in 5 miles to the Essex Chain?

    Here’s what I think would be the best thing for everyone. Tell me if you agree with this. First of all, and I want to put this on the table, I am philosophically opposed to any public taking in this matter, and I think that for those people who would like to use the Essex Chain, they can join the club; the club would welcome new members and can tier memberships based on usage. There is nothing wrong with private recreation, and I am a firm believer in private ownership and private recreation. I’m sure you know a lot of people who are members of private clubs, swimming, golf, tennis, fitness, etc.. Having said this, I think this is the most reasonable compromise if indeed the state is intent upon a taking.

    1) The state should purchase, in fee, 10 acres around OK Slip Falls and Blue Ledges. The acreage should include access.
    2) The state should purchase conservation easements on the rest of the land, primarily development rights (to prevent development) and recreational rights, to allow public access of the resource. These easements should protect the club interests. The commitment should include required state stewardship, otherwise we could expect to see abuse and neglect.
    3) Regarding the Gooley Club, the camps sit on a small bay of Third Lake. To maintain the atmosphere, privacy, and security of the club, the bay should be for club members’ use only, and off limits to the general public. It is approximately 90 acres.
    4) If the fee purchase intent is to classify the land as Wilderness, then the public access should be in accordance with Wilderness classification requirements. This means that only the clubs would have vehicular usage rights, again to maintain the economic engine, and stewardship levels.

    Yokel, if you’d like to go PM, I will provide confidential information. You’ll have to disclose your e-mail address and will have to agree to a confidentiality agreement.

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