Friday, I concluded a four-part history of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan: why it was written, how it has been applied, and why it has been updated. Together, I think the four essays provide a good overview of most of the key events that influenced the original plan and its two revisions, from the point at which the Forest Preserve was created in 1885, to how we arrived at the master plan that we have today. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘APA’
The purpose of this five-part history of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) has been to place certain current events within a larger context, from the historical developments that inspired the creation of the master plan to its implementation. The discussion that we are having today was triggered by a high-profile land acquisition in the central Adirondacks (the Essex Chain of Lakes) and the requirement that this land be classified in a way that will determine the preferred future management policy. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) did reach a classification decision last year, but recognizing the inadequacy of this decision, the agency simultaneously promised to consider ways of changing it.
While this sense of indecision on the part of the APA is certainly novel, the basic elements of the case – an attractive and well publicized land acquisition, an eager but divided public, the need to reach a management decision – are as old as the SLMP itself. Of all the events that have occurred since 1972, the one with the greatest resemblance to our own times was perhaps the Perkins Clearing land exchange of 1983. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) was created in 1972 to address the cumulative impacts of sixty years of unplanned recreation management. The original plan – and to a large degree, the current version of the SLMP too – reflects this era by listing many of the facilities and uses that the old Conservation Department had allowed into the Forest Preserve, and then commenting on their appropriateness within each of the various zoning categories (Wild Forest, Primitive, Wilderness, et cetera). This certainly lends credence to the complaint that aspects of the SLMP are outdated in 2014 and need to be amended.
Without a doubt, the SLMP was never intended to be a static document, its provisions set in stone for all eternity. Part of any sound management process is to review successes and failures, and to identify opportunities for improving a set of guidelines based on the experience of having worked within them. The expectation was that the plan would be reviewed at least every five years—sooner, if there was a valid reason. » Continue Reading.
Nearly a year ago I posted an informal poll here at the Almanack in order to measure which issues facing the Adirondack Park were considered most important to readers. At the time my purpose was to prove my suspicion that human diversity, the issue I considered most critical to the future of the region, was not on the collective radar. The poll results supported my contention and started a conversation that has grown into multiple initiatives. I couldn’t be happier about that. But now I want to return to the poll for a different purpose. » Continue Reading.
A few years ago I wrote a story for the Adirondack Explorer about a trail run to Gull Lake in the Black River Wild Forest near Woodgate. My outing began on a muddy mess of a road passable only by jeeps and pickup trucks.
This year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation repaired two miles of the road, smoothing it out, laying down gravel, and installing new culverts. I was able to drive my Honda Fit (not a high-clearance vehicle) the full two miles with no problem.
For nearly 25 years the Crane Pond Road has existed as an illegal and controversial 2-mile-long road in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area. This summer, there were regular reports about cars and trucks getting stuck in a mud wallow at a degraded point where the Crane Pond Road cuts through a wetland. In August, I encountered a group stuck there with their jeep when I walked the road.
In September, state agencies celebrated 50 years of the National Wilderness Act. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had presentations about the Wilderness Act and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) attended various ceremonies to pay homage to Wilderness. Both agencies elegized the importance of Wilderness.
The failure to close the Crane Pond Road belies their pretty words about Wilderness. Natural resource degradation has reached a point where the Crane Pond Road is now a public safety hazard. » Continue Reading.
An interesting discussion developed this week in the comment sections of several Almanack articles related to the APA’s review of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP). The discussion was spurred by DEC Forest Ranger Scott van Laer. His contribution: why not consider an Adirondack National Park? So I thought I’d have a little fun and explore what one might look like.
Those who know their history or have read Bill Ingersoll’s two-part series covering the history that led to the SLMP know that this is not a new idea. In 1967 Laurance Rockefeller proposed that a National Park be established in the heart of the Adirondacks. It was a non-starter – overwhelmingly opposed – but spurred changes in thinking that were critical to all that followed. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency is considering two amendments to the State Land Master Plan, both concerning the Essex Chain Lakes region, but the agency likely will be asked to weigh broader changes to the document.
The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board already has set forth nine proposals for amending the master plan, which governs the state’s management of the Forest Preserve.
“There’s going to be more, but that’s a start,” Fred Monroe, the board’s executive director, told Adirondack Almanack at an APA “listening session” Wednesday evening, the first of four such meetings that the agency plans to hold to gather ideas on amending the master plan.
I have no doubt that when the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) announced its intent to begin an amendment process for the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), more than one preservation-minded advocate held their breath for a moment. The master plan, after all, is the document that has guided the management of the Forest Preserve for the past forty-two years. It has capped the amount of roads and snowmobile trails to essentially 1972 levels, kept snowmobile trails reasonably narrow and trail-like, and kept both roads and snowmobile trails out of the designated Wilderness areas. For a preservationist who seeks to foster the wild forest character of our state lands, these are accomplishments worth celebrating.
On the other hand, people seeking enhanced access to the Forest Preserve for a greater number of people will list these same SLMP accomplishments as a set of roadblocks that should be reconsidered.
The current amendment process is being conducted because in 2013, as part of the classification package that designated the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area, the APA promised it would revisit the SLMP to see if there was a way to open these lands to mountain bike use. The area was classified Primitive to balance competing political influences: on one side, a desire to keep the lakes as motorless as possible — floatplanes notwithstanding — while on the other hand allowing motor vehicle access on some of the surrounding roads. In an odd twist, some traditionally preservation-minded voices were more than okay with this, calling the classification scheme “wilderness with access” — turning the old “Access versus Wildness” argument on its head. » Continue Reading.
A coalition of New York’s environmental and historic preservation organizations is expressing its gratitude today after receiving a decision from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that preserves the rights of state and local governments to regulate the size, shape and visibility of telecommunications towers in scenic and historic areas, including the Adirondack Park.
In January, the groups sent a joint letter to the FCC, urging federal officials to recognize that scenic beauty and historic significance are the backbone of local tourism, both inside and outside of the Adirondack Park. In public comments on a proposed FCC rule, they asked the commissioners to reject the notion that expansions of 10 percent or more in the height or width of cell towers would have no impact on the environment or historic preservation. » Continue Reading.
Recently, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) announced that it will commence an amendment process for the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the document that sets the state’s management policies for the Forest Preserve and other state-owned lands in the Adirondack Park.
For some people this action will be seen as a long-overdue opportunity to update an important document that has not been materially amended since 1987. For others, this will be a period of apprehension—an opportunity for opponents to weaken certain cherished provisions that have been in place since 1972. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency has announced that it is opening the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan for review. This is momentous news. Together with the Land Use and Development Plan which governs development on private land in the Park, the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) is one of two fundamental documents used to carry out the will of the people, as expressed in Article XIV of the NYS Constitution, that the Adirondack Forest Preserve should be “forever kept as wild forest lands”.
My interest in revising the SLMP is to strengthen its focus on ecological integrity over more traditional notions of open space. The SLMP, to its credit, already emphasizes science and ecology. But it was written in 1972, when ecology was still very much a nascent science. It can be a stronger document by taking advantage of forty years of maturation in a discipline more relevant to the protection of the Adirondacks than any other. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold a series of what it’s calling “public listening sessions” to solicit comments regarding their plan to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP). The SLPM was written to govern management of the constitutionally protected “forever wild” lands in the Adirondack Park.
Changes to the plan for state lands in the Adirondacks are currently being considered, including: allowing the use of “all-terrain bicycles” in the Essex Chain Lakes tract, building a steel bridge over the Cedar River for snowmobiles, and other wider changes. For example, snowmobile and ATV owners are also pushing for wider motorized access to Adirondack Forest Preserve and there could also be a push by the Adirondack Powder Skier Association to clearly allow cutting backcountry glades for skiing.
The public will have the opportunity to be heard on changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan at the following four meetings: » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency has announced that they will hold “public sessions” in the coming weeks to consider changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The State Land Master Plan has been part of the Executive Law since 1972. It is the planning document guiding the management and public use of all state lands in the Park, including the New York State Forest Preserve. It includes landscapes as distinct from each other in character as the Five Ponds Wilderness Area and the Crown Point State Historic Site.
All of these sessions could be positive if they are respectful, well informed, organized, focused and led. The sessions also should be well grounded in State Land and Forest Preserve history. » Continue Reading.
The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has refused to grant the opponents leave to take their case to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal.
Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said the opponents will file a similar motion with the Court of Appeals itself within thirty days. The high court is expected to issue its decision by the end of the year.
That’s an understandable reaction, but the opponents have raised an interesting legal question with broad ramifications for the whole Adirondack Park. At least, that’s how it appears to a layman.
The question is: Are the development guidelines set forth in the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan mandatory or not?
In a decision in July, the Appellate Division suggested that they are not mandatory.
The question came up because the project’s opponents contend, among other things, that dividing up timberlands for “Great Camp” estates violates the land-use plan.
On August 29th, I visited the Gull Lake and Chub Pond trails in the Black River Wild Forest. I photographed all sorts of trail and wetland damage from All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use on these trails. ATVs are not allowed on these trails, but the Black River Wild Forest area has a history of illegal ATV use, and I thought that the damage to these trails reflected more of the same.
I had received reports about ATV damage in this part of the Forest Preserve earlier this year. The previous week I had spent time in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest inventorying trail damage from ATVs and photographing ATV side-routes around various barrier gates put up by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It appeared that the damage to the Chub Pond and Gull Lake trails was also caused by illegal trespass. The usual telltale signs of illegal trespass and recreational riding were evident. » Continue Reading.
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) recently met in Long Lake. One of the break-out sessions focused on reform of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), which is the policy document for management of the Forest Preserve. The Common Ground Alliance effort is one of a handful of organizing efforts around the Adirondacks where ideas are being collected to detail potential changes to the SLMP.
In its December 2013 resolution classifying the Essex Chain Lakes/Pine Lake Primitive areas and Hudson Gorge Wilderness area, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) committed to examine several items for possible SLMP revision. Since then, there has been no action by the APA or release of a public memo detailing a schedule for the APA to follow up the December 2013 resolution. In this void, various APA Commissioners have made comments at APA meetings, as has the representative from the Local Government Review Board, that express the desire that the APA undertake a revision of the SLMP well beyond the scope of the December 2013 resolution.
The SLMP has worked effectively for 40 years. As a frequent user of the SLMP, I’m continually impressed by the durability and prescience of this regulatory document. Though it was written long before wildlands management developed as a professional field, it has served the Adirondack Forest Preserve exceedingly well. » Continue Reading.
In July, Earthjustice obtained a temporary restraining order to block the test drilling. At the time, Justice Thomas Buchanan scheduled arguments for August 22 on whether the ban should remain in effect for the duration of a lawsuit filed against NYCO, the Adirondack Park Agency, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. » Continue Reading.
On the heels of the passage of Proposal 5 last November to sell 200 acres of Forest Preserve to NYCO Minerals, Inc., state agencies and NYCO are now going for broke in new permit applications for a massive expansion of NYCO’s two mines in the Town of Lewis. At the December 2013 meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) there was unanimous cheering among the APA Board and senior leadership over passage of Proposal 5. In those same weeks, NYCO began its applications to expand its two mines in Lewis.
NYCO is seeking major expansions of both mines. With its political fortunes at an all-time high, the time is right to permanently change the scale of its mining activities in the Champlain Valley. » Continue Reading.