Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NYS Open Space Plan Considers Recreation, Climate

big dropThe public has until mid-December to comment on the newest draft of the state’s Open Space Conservation Plan.

Updated every five years, the plan guides the state’s decisions regarding land acquisitions and sets a strategy for land conservation. The plan is developed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Regional committees throughout the state provide additional input.

This plan listed four urgent priorities: promoting outdoor recreation; addressing climate change; ensuring clean water, air and land for a healthy economy; and protecting, using and conserving natural resources and cultural heritage.

In the outdoor recreation section, it specifically mentions promoting recreation for all types of users on both private and public lands, connecting children with nature, and connecting open space corridors.

In the climate change section, it states that data from the last 30 years has shown that winters have changed.

“In the Adirondacks, total annual snowfall has decreased by 40 to 60 inches (more winter precipitation now falls as rain),” the plan states. “During the same time, the period with snow on the ground has decreased by as much as 20 days in some parts of the state. By the end of the century, parts of New York could see only 5 to 10 days of snow cover during the winter season.”

The plan offers a number of actions that should be taken to address climate change, including providing technical assistance and model ordinances to towns. This information could help communities expand buffers along waterways and limit inappropriate development along river and stream corridors, wetlands, floodplains, and riparian areas.

“The program will focus on providing the tools to local governments to address this critical need, to protect private property and community resources in this era of increased storm intensity and flooding,” states the plan. “By acting now, workable, community-based solutions can be developed that avoid the need for top-down, state-driven regulations.”

The plan also details the role forests can play in sequestering carbon, in addition to the advantages of sustainable forestry. It also mentions the benefits of having “large tracts of unbroken forests and connectivity among these forests.”

“In the future, as plant and animal populations and biotic communities respond to rising temperatures, species range expansions and contractions are expected,” the plan states. “Habitat connectivity is important for making those range adjustments.”

The state identifies numerous lands that it would target if they became available for purchase. Those include the 14,600-acre Follensby Park in Tupper Lake, which is owned by The Nature Conservancy and is expected to be sold to the state at some point in the future. The former Finch lands in the Central Adirondacks, also owned by The Nature Conservancy, are included. The state currently has a contract to purchase those parcels, including Boreas Ponds.

In the northwestern part of the Adirondacks, the section of Massawepie Mire that is still private is listed as a natural resource that should be preserved. The plan states this land contains the Adirondacks’ “largest fen with adjacent eskers, kames and kettle ponds.”

Whitney Park, the 36,000-acre property in Hamilton County, is also desired by the state. It “contains enormous outdoor recreational potential,” according to the plan.

For people looking to provide the state with input on the plan, public comments will be accepted until December 17. A series of public hearings will be held across the state from October 21 to October 23. The hearings will include a workshop from 1 to 2:30 p.m., an afternoon hearing from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and an evening hearing from 7 to 9 p.m.

In the Adirondack region, four hearings are scheduled. In DEC’s region 5, hearings will be held on October 21 at the OPRHP regional office in Saratoga Springs and October 23 at DEC’s offices in Ray Brook. In Region 6, they will be held on October 21 at the Utica State Office building and October 22 in DEC’s offices in Watertown.

Public comments can be submitted by email to LF.OpenSpacePlan@dec.ny.gov or mailed to the DEC state headquarters with the following address: Open Space Conservation Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

An electronic version of the draft plan is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/317.html.

Photo by Phil Brown: Damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The state’s Open Space Conservation Plan says that addressing climate change, which causes more severe storms, is an urgent priority.

 


Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues.

Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine.

From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake.

Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at mike@adirondackexplorer.org.




36 Responses

  1. Jim McCulley says:

    Addressing climate change is called adapting. Which as the earth has warmed and cooled over the past 200,000 years man did. Until the new Global Warming religion said man is the cause. It’s the human condition to need a catastrophe coming down the road to give their lives meaning. But stop pissing away money on something that if it is happening it’s not by mankind. And the solutions are far more expensive than just dealing with the issues as they come up. http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/05/97-study-falsely-classifies-scientists.html

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Your repudiation of science aside (after all, who can argue with someone who doesn’t believe in the logic of science), human life is somewhat different than it was 200,000 years ago.

      Adaption probably requires a different approach than it once did.

  2. Running George says:

    “Adaptation” by man is what has created the climate change monster we now face. Any “adaptation” must be a repudiation of the actions and fuel driven activities that have led to increased carbon emissions. This open space plan, if it is serious about climate change, must show “adaptation” by admitting that snowmobiles do not belong in the Park and any attempt to justify ATV use makes the plan hypocritical on its face.

    • Greg says:

      This comment is a penny wise and a pound foolish.

      “This plan listed four urgent priorities: [1] promoting outdoor recreation; [2] addressing climate change; [3] ensuring clean water, air and land for a healthy economy; and [4] protecting, using and conserving natural resources and cultural heritage.”

      [1] is a directly promoting snowmobiling/ATV-like it or not. [2] The climate damage by snowmobiles/ATV is virtually negligible compared to other activities that were conveniently left off: motorized boats, seaplanes, cars, trucks, logging, etc. Do we ban recreational motorcycle riding? Fall foliage tours? [3] Snowmobiles have little impact on the environment (other than skiers/hikers, but that is a completely different and unrelated argument), ATVs stress the environment more, but a blanket ban would be foolish, particularly when [4] has “using” an important part of the initiative.

      As public-ownership of the Adirondacks continues to increase, so must public usage. If this balance is lost, I foresee the general state sentiment, laws and possibly constitutional amendments that will erode the park, or at least continued ‘progress’.

      What particularly worries me is the cost to the state continues to increase with it paying local taxes, personnel costs, land purchases, etc., while the benefit to the state will have a diminishing return for each additional acre. Add that to the undeniable fact that the state will be poorer over the next 50 years than the past 50, the outlook for me is inclusion, not exclusion.

  3. M.P.Heller says:

    It’s kind of amusing, the level of predictability that the comments here possess when a story like this is published.

    Someone goes off about global warming, John immediately serves them Kool-Aid.

    Then comes the snowmobile and ATV haters. (“Oh how the folks who like activities that I don’t like or can’t afford should be punished.”) The red herring about trails getting destroyed resurfaces with predictability. (Here’s a thought, give ATV enthusiasts their own designated area to use, then stay the he** out of it, your activity has no more right monopolizing public lands than you do preventing their activity from gaining access.) Haters. It’s as simple as that. Disguised with some nonsense about conservation because that is a good way to manipulate policy and public opinion. Take a popular and Noble cause, drape it in your own personal viewpoints, add a dash of hubris, a pinch of misrepresentation, and a sprinkle of narrow mindedness, voila! A self serving attack campaign is born. (And you are beyond reproach now too, not a bad added bonus right?)

    The level of constructive discussion always seems to evaporate here when certain topics get raised. The vapid comments and inflexible attitudes surface almost immediately. On the one hand it illustrates the passion (and rightfully so) that so many readers have about park issues, on the other hand it does an equally good job demonstrating how horrible the same people are at listening to anything but themselves.

    • Running Georgek says:

      “Here’s a thought, give ATV enthusiasts their own designated area to use” –
      Here’s a fact. It doesn’t work. Wherever ATV trails have been established has only led to more illegal ATV encroachment. ATV riders view trails as nothing more than as a means to get somewhere else where they don’t belong and that has been documented in a Sierra Club 2006 white paper called “Kill or Cure”.
      As for “Kool-Aid”, sounds like you’ve been swilling some of that extra sweet corporate, science denying, stuff yourself. Sorry, but at a time of the environment and human existence sitting on a precipice, encouraging carbon spewing “recreation’ in a state park is at its best, asinine. But then we humans have “dominion”… I’ll bet that’s another flavor you find appealing.

      • Paul says:

        It is funny sometimes it can go the other way. I used to belong to a hunting club. The owners sold some of the land to NYS to add to the forest preserve and some of it was put into a conservation easement. When the land became forest preserve the first change I saw was a new (deeply cut) illegal ATV trail that crossed from easement land onto the adjacent forest preserve land to access the river. Those guys never would have considered doing something like that when the land was still in private hands and being leased. The lesson there is really that the issue is enforcement. The DEC simply has too much land to properly enforce the rules they have. Until that is addressed these problems will continue. And as they buy more land like defined in the open space plan these problems will get worse if they don’t address this issue.

        • Running George says:

          Agree about the need for enforcement. The state politicians have been starving the DEC in that area for years while standing on soap boxes professing their support of the environment.

      • M.P.Heller says:

        Every place ever huh? So the entire lot must be of a bad sort. I find that hard to believe. There are responsible and irresponsible users in all groups. Sounds like a bunch of hate to me.

        • Running George says:

          The hate seems to be emanating from you. You just don’t want to deal with the reality of the ATV culture. Vermont has closed their state ATV trails, Massachusetts opened and then closed their trails, and while trails still exist, Pennsylvania reports no reduction in illegal activity by providing riding areas.
          “So the entire lot must be of a bad sort. I find that hard to believe.” It doesn’t have to be the entire lot… just enough, and in the ATV crowd there are way more than enough. Saying damage is only caused by a minority, doesn’t make the damage any less. It’s a favorite ATV rider tactic to call names and even harass other people at public hearings… when you scream hate, look in the mirror.

  4. Paul says:

    I really don’t see public recreation as an open space preservation issue?

    Is the Whiney property under a conservation easement? If it is that land is probably better protected than any other lands that the state would like to buy and see opened up for public recreation? Also land owned by the Nature Conservancy is well protected. I am not sure why any of that would be a priority?

    I know that environmental groups have been hoping that the state will get them added to the Forest Preserve for years (as the sit closed and well protected). But that isn’t for climate change mitigation or any other environmental reason. It is so we have more places to hike, fish, etc.

  5. Charlie S says:

    > Jim McCulley says: “Addressing climate change is called adapting. Which as the earth has warmed and cooled over the past 200,000 years man did. Until the new Global Warming religion said man is the cause.”

    >> After reading the above I thought about the latest American fad… leaving your car running while stopping at the store for five,ten,fifteen minutes. Surely all of those emissions rising into the air is not doing damage hey Jim?

    There are certainly cycles as old newspaper reports do verify.There has been record reports of snow and cold and rain and heat and floods in the 1800’s,and even at the turn of the last century. There is also the fact that worldwide concentration of atmospheric CO2 was 43 percent higher in 2013 than it was at the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750, and was higher in 2013 than at any point in the last 800,000 years.This is science!

    Evidently you have a bias towards concerned people who are probably right when they say that humans are the reason why the earth is warming and glaciers are disappearing and lakes are drying up…… Maybe they’re wrong maybe it is an 800,000 year cycle,but to sit back and do nothing Jim…. that’s mindless.That’s mainstream.

    Jim also says: “It’s the human condition to need a catastrophe coming down the road to give their lives meaning.”

    >> You’re wrong on this Jim. It’s a helmeted millionaire passing a football around in a field that gives Americans meaning. It’s a baseball,a golf ball,a television,Oprah Winfrey and a thousand mindless other things that give Americans meaning in their lives. It’s a handheld device!

  6. Charlie S says:

    Greg says:”Snowmobiles have little impact on the environment.”

    Which is like saying automobiles have no impact on the environment.

    • Greg says:

      Agreed, but perhaps taken out of context. There are two effects that I see:

      1.) Climate & CO2 – You can’t pick and chose what stays. If you want no snowmobiles, then you have to get rid of motorized boats, seaplanes, motorcycles, fall foliage tours, and a host of other recreational activities that use gas. That’s not going to happen, so let’s not target snowmobiles.

      2.) Most snowmobile trails are on current and former seasonal roads that would exist with or without snowmobiles. The forest damage is minimal in the grand scheme of things. Those that are on dedicated trails is still has an insignificant lasting impact on environment compared to paved roadways, camps, etc. Smaller organisms have little trouble crossing a snowmobile trail compared to a mowed lawn or paved roadway. Erosion may even be less than hiking trails in some regards compared to the all the permanently eroded summits (thinking of high peak trails and Colvin’s survey summits that were cleared). Again, you can’t chose…none or all.

      • Paul says:

        Electric snowmobiles are already a reality. At some point the emission issue is a non-issue (as long as the charge from a green source, an excellent point made by Pete in one of his Volt plugs (just kidding those were great articles!)).

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0kJbPEqbFA

        Looks like the only difference between this and a gas powered machine is the lower noise level!

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          There are no production electric snowmobiles, so they are not a reality.

          It’s unclear why the few remaining snowmobile makers are not interested, but I suspect it’s simply not in their corporate culture.

          • Paul says:

            The do exist, so they are real. Hopefully the folks that mass produce them will add them as a marketable product (like car makers have) in the not-too-distant future.

            • John Warren John Warren says:

              “The[y] do exist, so they are real.”

              A handful of prototypes exist and have for many years.

              There is not one production model being manufactured.

              So no, for the purposes of your point, they are not real.

              • Paul says:

                Okay but like I said hopefully that will change. You gotta start somewhere, perhaps not reality but far from a fantasy.

                One positive development here is that it seems that most outboard motors are switching off the old inefficient and high emissions two cycle engines to four cycle models. That is a very real change. Perhaps the impact from these types of vehicles is pretty negligible anyway but anything that can help is good. I would assume that snowmobiles are using four cycle technology as well.

  7. Charlie S says:

    M.P.Heller says: (Here’s a thought, give ATV enthusiasts their own designated area to use, then stay the he** out of it, your activity has no more right monopolizing public lands than you do preventing their activity from gaining access.) Haters. It’s as simple as that. Disguised with some nonsense about conservation because that is a good way to manipulate policy and public opinion.

    I don’t like the word hate M.P. but I will say there is quite much that I see that I don’t like…. thoughtful,caring,futuristic me. We do a ton of damage on a daily basis because of our ‘need’ for convenience, entertainment and short-term pleasures. To many of us I suppose it’s easier to just keep blinders on.

    • M.P.Heller says:

      Thoughtful, caring, futuristic you Charlie. Wow. Any other accolades you care to heap on yourself?

      Hate is a strong word isn’t it? We don’t have to call it hate. We can call it sunshine rainbow instead. Either way, stop sunshine rainbowing on the snowmobiles and ATV’s. None of us are beyond reproach.

  8. Charlie s says:

    Thoughtful,caring,futuristic me. Yes M.P. I think I would know me better than you do waddaya think?

    Sunshine rainbow/rainbowing? You lost me!

    Snowmobiles and atv’s? Evidently you praise them. I don’t. Good for me good for you.

    • M.P.Heller says:

      It’s not praise Charlie. It’s a lack of intolerance. There is quite a difference.

      • Running George says:

        Hmmm… now it’s note “hate” but intolerance. I will admit to having no tolerance for the wanton destructive behavior that I’ve personally witnessed by ATV riders.

        There are no rights granted to any group simply because land is “public”. Excessive damage is reason enough to ban certain activities. That would be neither hate or intolerance, just logic.

  9. Wally Elton Wally says:

    We all lose as climate change progresses – snowmobilers, hikers, wildlife, all of us. Too bad the “discussions” here show no inclination to address such a major challenge collaboratively.

  10. Scott van Laer Scott van Laer says:

    High Peaks National Park

  11. Paul says:

    The picture here with the article makes me wonder if folks in the Adirondacks may eventually be “climate refugees”. This is not isolated to the coasts or the far north and south. It is true we can adapt but at some point the cost is so high that there are places we simply can’t live. It took a river on fire to move people to change when it comes to clean water unfortunately the same may hold true for climate change. We may be getting closer.

  12. Charlie S says:

    Wally says: We all lose as climate change progresses – snowmobilers, hikers, wildlife, all of us.

    >> All of us do lose Wally,especially wildlife and future generations who might possibly never know the Adirondack experience we have come to know,or the Tongass experience in Alaska where the US Forest Service allows logging companies to have their way with 1000 year-old trees,or….. the list is so long where do I begin!It is a constant battle trying to save what’s left of this earth’s delicate ecosystems.

    There’s not enough appreciation of the natural world that surrounds us…is why there will always be a battle between smart people with foresight and obtuse people who cannot get past the man (or woman) in the mirror. There’s too few of the former unfortunately.

  13. Charlie S says:

    Scott van Laer says:High Peaks National Park.

    Do I take this as you propose the feds take over our beloved Adirondacks Scott? The corporate crooked feds!

    • Scott van Laer Scott van Laer says:

      Not Adirondacks. A National Park should be considered in what currently makes up the High Peaks Wilderness and perhaps some adjoining units.

    • Bill Ott says:

      Charlie & Scott,

      I say keep the Feds out of the Park. Once given up, the land will never be gotten back. If federal rules are needed to save the high peaks, let New York implement them.

      (Maybe Scott is bucking for a plush federal position?)

      Bill Ott

      • Scott van Laer scottvanlaer says:

        LOL, Bill, I think a National Park would just put me out of work! Pros and cons for sure but I think the idea should be examined.

  14. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: It took a river on fire to move people to change when it comes to clean water unfortunately the same may hold true for climate change. We may be getting closer.

    We’re getting closer to something Paul and it probably wont be good. Yet nothing changes!We keep going along doing the same old thing expecting different results. We’re like the mythological lemmings who jump off of cliffs to their deaths,except it is real…. we are on a march to our deaths the way we go about destroying every living thing in our path.Shame on us,sad for future generations.

  15. Charlie S says:

    scottvanlaer says: I think a National Park would just put me out of work! Pros and cons for sure but I think the idea should be examined.

    >> They did examine the idea in the 60’s Scott.I have the proposal.After reading it,and saw the swath they wished to nationalize,I got the feeling it was all about the timber and the clean water,not the preservation of the Adirondacks. Fortunately it did not fly.Fortunately people were awake back then and put up a fight.

    • Scott van Laer Scott van Laer says:

      I know they did. It’s been 50 years and I think it deserves consideration again. This area is classified as Wilderness by the DEC yet useage type for much of the unit feels more national Park to me…I would not endorse the Rockefeller plan but instead argue in a different format. I am not convinced it is the best idea but I have many reasons for thinking it would be appropriate. I think it merits serious consideration.

  16. Charlie S says:

    I’m glad you’re in this class alone Scott!