Monday, December 3, 2012

Rescuing A Lean-to Before The Damage Is Done

What follows is an e-mail recently sent by Paul Delucia, of Lean2Rescue, one of several volunteer organizations who work to build and maintain facilities in the Adirondack Park’s backcountry.

Rarely do we get a chance to rescue a lean-to before the damage is done.

On Thanksgiving, Hilary Moynihan (ADK lean-to adopter coordinator) and I were notified that somebody had chopped down a tree at the Gull Lake lean-to (Black River Wild Forest). Sadly, it was live spruce tree (about 60 ft tall) left hanging precariously in a smaller cherry tree. It threatened both the lean-to and anybody that might visit it. I sent out a broadcast to all that might be in the Woodgate / Old Forge Area on a moment’s notice. By Saturday, a crew of eight from Lean2Rescue arrived with nearly 150 lbs of equipment (ropes, climbing gear, saws), and a tree climber (me). After about an hour, the tree was safely down and the lean-to standing unharmed.

I had to climb the cherry tree to the top (roped in), remove the top of the spruce, pull it into the center of the cherry tree, remove most of the branches, set a second rope in a stronger (lower) part of the cherry tree to lower the tree to the ground as we finally cut it from the bottom.

On Sunday morning, winds sufficient to bring the tree down on the lean-to had arrived. Getting a crew of eight within less than a day, I can say it’s forever amazing to see the response and capabilities this group brings to the Adirondacks, and I’m proud to be part of it.

While this was a rewarding and challenging trip, it was overshadowed by the senselessness of the act that made it necessary. After this past year, let’s hope next year is a better one regarding such vandalism. Let’s hope people will stop burning lean-to logs (old/new) and stop chopping down live trees.

Photo: The vandalized tree, left leaning over the Gull Lake lean-to. Courtesy Peter Davis, Lean2Rescue.

Related Stories

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

29 Responses

  1. Gerald says:

    DIFFICULT to comprehend this thinking. If they like being out why do they try to destroy it for others? Something doesn’t compute here.

  2. Chris says:

    You guys rock — another lean-to “rescued”! Thanks so much to Lean2Rescue for this difficult job!

  3. Bill Colucci says:

    I historically had been safe from seeing this kind of senseless damage and truly crud conditions of the Lean to’s if I hike in more than five miles…(why are people hammering empty rifle shells into the lean to’s lately??)

    Sadly, even this is no longer the case…

    Fortunately, one benefit of my carving weight off my base load has given me the ability to carry out more junk left behind by others.

  4. Paul says:

    Glad to see we are opening up even more state land for this kind of abuse.

  5. Alan Senbaugh says:

    The DEC allows volunteer groups to cut live vegetation on the Forest Preserve? Also this seems like a very pro job that DEC staff should be doing. Dangerous.

    • John Warren says:

      First, it was not “live vegetation” – read the story, the tree was cut through, but (luckily for the lean-to) did not fall. Second, the whole situation is a little more complicated than you suggest. You should get the facts BEFORE you have an opinion, and certainly before you post that opinion. These volunteers are pros, with DEC authorization.

      • Alan Senbaugh says:

        OK it was a question, not a statement. See the question mark? Also I think the regulation against cutting includes “standing dead.” In the picture the tree looks to be alive.

      • Alan Senbaugh says:

        It was a question. Did you notice the question mark? In the photo the tree does look alive. Secondly, I think the DEC regulation prohibits cutting of standing dead trees. Try not to be so negative and arrogant in your responses. I was honestly just asking a question. What they accomplished is great. I was just surprised the DEC didn’t handle such a dangerous situation directly.

  6. Alan Senbaugh says:

    Was this even reported to the Forest Ranger to investigate?

  7. Gary Fortcher says:

    Awesome job by capable dedicated pro’s. Well done.

  8. Jackson says:

    Great job guys, I have stayed in that lean-to once or twice over the years.

  9. Paul says:

    How far is that lean-to from the water? That tree sure was a widow maker.

  10. Paul says:

    I wonder how many beers they had before they decided to cut that tree down? It looks like they were more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic!

  11. Mary Smith says:

    I am amazed that people will hike so far into the woods just to act like buffoons. A beautiful fall evening was ruined for everybody camping on Pharoh Lake a couple of years back by a group of 3 from Glens Falls who decided to talk in their Outside voices and chop god knows what into the wee hours of the morning. It was my first backpack trip 35 years. Now I go out on weekdays only when not so many drunks are out there.

    • Paul says:

      Mary many of the folks here are big supporters of opening up more state land to these buffoons. These lands have been abused for years it is only going to get worse.

  12. Solidago says:

    Thank you Lean2Rescue! More groups and engagement like this is exactly what is needed.

    • Paul says:

      We do need this kind of engagement. But 8 people seems like overkill for one little tree. Maybe some were just along for moral support.

      • Solidago says:

        The more the merrier if it is a volunteer effort – the fact that that many folks were willing to get out there is very encouraging. Now if 8 DEC personnel showed up, it would be a different story.

    • Bill Ott says:

      Eight people is not too many – heck you can see that many state workers taking down a tree along the road. The job is dangerous, and if someone is injured in the woods, the more people for the rescue and carry-out, the better.
      What is needed however is for some of these buffoons to be caught, punished, and published as an example. Would it be possible for a private citizen with a camera to help in this cause? Love to see some comments on this.

      • Paul says:

        Bill all they get is a ticket and a small fine. And they only get that if they are caught in the act or confess. This kind of thing happens all the time. Every time I hike or camp on state land I see live trees being cut. Maybe not quite as large and obvious. Education is the only way. Enforcement is impossible. We keep adding more and more state land and there is no one to enforce the rules. Get ready to see a lot more of this.

        • Alan Senbaugh says:

          State land enforcement is the job of the forest rangers. Did they catch the people?

        • Bill Ott says:

          Paul, thanks for the reply. If education is the key, how is the education done? And why not lobby for stiffer fines? This almanack gets some spirited conversations; I would hope people in authority read these lines.
          Bill Ott
          Lakewood, Ohio

          • Paul says:

            Stiffer fines might not make a difference. It is the chance of getting caipught that is a deterrent. With more and more state land a no more rangers the chances of gettin caught are slimmer and the problems get worse. Addmore land, and not more rangers, you have more issues.

      • Paul says:

        Bill I recently cut down a spruce that was much larger that was leaning right towards my camp. We had no problems. There were two of us. But it doesn’t surprise me that the state would put 8 guys on the job.

  13. Jon says:

    Great Job guys . Thanks

  14. Tam says:

    Thanks so much for cleaning up after the stupidity of others.