A justice of the Appellate Division, Third Department, of state Supreme Court issued an order on Friday that halted tree cutting by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on a new 9-12 foot wide snowmobile trail between Newcomb and Minerva in the central Adirondacks.
According to a survey commissioned by Protect the Adirondacks, the DEC cut over 4,000 trees on 2.9 miles of this trail in the fall of 2015, had recently cut thousands of trees on a new 3-mile section in June and July 2016, and was about to cut thousands more trees, including many located in old growth forest habitat. » Continue Reading.
The Daily Gazette in Schenectady opined recently that the latest post-budget legislative session in Albany was an essentially useless, squandered opportunity that didn’t accomplish much of importance to New Yorkers. In many areas, it may be true – much more could have been accomplished. Selectively speaking though, there were some accomplishments and compromises which took significant leadership.
One legislative accomplishment was catalyzed by serious PFOA groundwater pollution in Hoosick Falls and other upstate communities. (PFOA is described as a synthetic perfluorinated carboxylic acid and fluorosurfactant.) If Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill it will allow someone to file a claim for personal injury due to exposure to hazardous or toxic substances up to three years after a site has been designated a state or federal Superfund area. This is a very big deal for folks from Hoosick Falls and many other polluted locations. » Continue Reading.
Legislation in the form of a constitutional amendment has been introduced in Albany this session which would “convey certain Forest Preserve that was never intended to be included in the Forest Preserve.” That land is the 92-acre former Camp Gabriels prison in the Town of Brighton, formerly part of Paul Smith’s College, and before that a tubercular sanitarium. How this property and those interested in its conversion from a prison to another use came to this stage is a bit of a long story.
Given that this legislative session has just five days remaining, this 11th hour introduction of a constitutional amendment to Article XIV, the forever wild clause, should be viewed as both very surprising and controversial. It is neither. It’s a lesson learned, I trust, for the State of New York which turned a deaf ear in 2011 to the warning and recommendation of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Protect the Adirondacks and the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club. » Continue Reading.
We’re moving into an era of one-agency rule in the Adirondack Park and that should be very troubling to everyone. For nearly 45 years, management of the public Forest Preserve has been based on checks and balances between the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The APA set management policy and the DEC administered the on-the-ground management of trails and other facilities. The APA created and updated the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, while DEC drafted individual Unit Management Plans (UMPs), which the APA reviewed for compliance. By and large this joint administration, which provided oversight, accountability, and public participation, worked well for the natural resource protection and public recreational use of the Forest Preserve.
All that is changing. There is little effective oversight by the APA and little accountability by the DEC. We’re in a new era of one-agency control. » Continue Reading.
During his years as a senior advisor to many younger Adirondack conservationists, Paul Schaefer told some interesting stories. He witnessed the following incident in the New York State Legislature in 1953, when he was about 45-years-old, at the height of his effectiveness as a conservation organizer. The following story is about passage of what was called the Ostrander Amendment, an amendment to Article 14, Section 1 – the “forever wild clause” – of the New York State Constitution.
In 1953, the Ostrander Amendment had been twice passed by the State Assembly and the bill was on the floor of the State Senate, then being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Frank Moore. The Clerk of the Senate began to read the bill when a State Senator came up to the Lt. Governor’s desk, grabbed the bill from the Clerk, and quickly left the Senate Chamber. The Lt. Governor sent one of his aides after him and as the aide rushed out of the Senate chamber, he saw the Senator headed into a washroom. Following him, the aide found the State Senator about to flush the bill down the toilet. The aide, a big man, grabs the Senator by the collar, snatches the bill from his grasp and takes it back to the Senate Chamber and hands it back to the Lt. Governor, who said, according to Paul, “the next man who tries to take this bill I will personally hit with this gavel.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency is proposing several amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The document is supposed to establish rules for managing state land in the Adirondack Park, but has been at the center of criticism over abuse of power by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency, who are accused of ignoring its basic tenets.
Three public hearings are planned by APA, none south of Albany and none in the evening outside the Adirondack Park. APA is accepting comments in writing until January 29, 2016. » Continue Reading.
A new report by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve concludes that “New York’s Adirondack Park faces serious threats due to the failure by State agencies in recent years to protect and preserve the Park’s wild forest character and natural resources. ”
The report, The Adirondack Park at a Crossroad: A Road Map for Action [pdf], argues that APA and DEC are failing to fulfill their legal obligations to protect and preserve the Adirondack Park. The report outlines what the organization considers “a pattern of state agencies straying from their historical mission of science-based conservation and resource protection.” » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks conducted an investigation into the role of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in support of the 2013 Constitutional Amendment to allow NYCO Minerals, Inc., a mining company in Essex County, to undertake mining activities and obtain 200 acres of “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands.
The investigation started in early 2014 and used hundreds of documents from the DEC and Board of Elections obtained under the Freedom of Information Law. PROTECT’s investigation found what the group is calling “a startling and illegal commitment of DEC’s staff time and resources to support NYCO’s bid to buy Forest Preserve lands.” » Continue Reading.
In 1892 the New York State Legislature created the Adirondack Park and in 1894 placed “Forever Wild” forest protection into the State Constitution. Thus began a process of wilderness protection for what today covers thousands of lakes and millions of acres of forests.
During the following sixty years however, there were scores of determined efforts by developers, local governments, and subsequent legislatures to weaken that protection to promote mining, logging, hydroelectric power, roads, commercial recreation and off-road access by jeeps, snowmobiles, floatplanes and motorboats. To repel these threats, America’s first modern grassroots wilderness protection campaigns began. » Continue Reading.
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens will be stepping down in July according to an e-mail sent to staffers on Tuesday. Martens is expected to return to the Manhattan-based Open Space Institute, which he headed before moving to DEC, to work on national climate change issues.
He was appointed in 2011, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo was elected to his first term. Although popular with anti-fracking advocates for DEC’s ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), Martens has received mixed reviews from advocates of protecting state lands in the Adirondacks from development. » Continue Reading.
As I skied south and uphill, away from Santanoni Great Camp, I was asked – “on the record” – for my reactions. It was family weekend recently at Santanoni, with plenty of skiers in family groups including dogs. I said something like “this ski has become an annual ritual.” After all everyone knows that Newcomb has the best Adirondack snow come late winter. I looked forward to seeing and listening again to the camp’s master carpenter, Michael Frenette, over a hot drink.
The chance to see Santanoni and Moose Mountains rising into the blue sky above the winter glare of Newcomb Lake is also very attractive. The Japanese influence on the camp’s layout, the impact the architecture makes, the history there – it does set your mind going. After talking into the reporter’s microphone, I had to admit that my attitude towards the restoration of the Santanoni had changed over the years. » Continue Reading.
Article XIV, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution states: “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”
These words, approved by New York voters in 1894 and unchanged ever since, should be amended only under extraordinary circumstances and only to secure a clearly identified and significant public benefit. » Continue Reading.
An article in the June 21, 1915, Syracuse Post-Standard was the first anyone in our family had heard of the role our property on Indian Point played in the evolution of early forestry education in the United States.
The August Forest Camp was a miniature village of 9×9 tents where approximately twelve boys and men lived while participating in morning instruction and afternoon fieldwork. The month long program included elementary forestry, zoology, botany and fungi courses taught by prominent U. S. pioneers of forestry science. An old Adirondack guide also taught a week of Woodcraft “such as a man should know who wishes to spend any length of time in the woods”. » Continue Reading.
NYCO Minerals has begun cutting trees and drilling for wollastonite in the Jay Mountain Wilderness, actions that could render moot legal efforts to thwart the company’s plans.
NYCO spokesman John Brodt confirmed that the company began work in December after New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Buchanan dismissed a lawsuit challenging NYCO’s permit.
Last week, Earthjustice filed a notice of appeal with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, but it’s uncertain whether it will follow through. The nonprofit organization is representing Protect the Adirondacks, Adirondack Wild, the Sierra Club, and the Atlantic States Legal Foundation.
There will be many eulogies this week for Mario M. Cuomo. For me, the former Governor, like a certain white pine in our woods whose annual whorl of branches totes up the years I have lived here, is a measure of my time on this earth.
Thirty years ago last summer, Mario M. Cuomo gave that great address in San Francisco to the Democratic National Convention. I had just moved to upstate New York that year to be with Susan. As Governor, Mario Cuomo helped define the first eight years I worked for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
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