Wednesday, August 7, 2013

People Not Welcome: A New Land Classification?

Forest near Middle South PondSome recent events started me thinking about land classifications in the Adirondacks, and their possible inadequacy to preserve biological diversity in the future. With the twin threats of climate change and invasive exotic species, new strategies may be necessary. One such strategy is a new land classification, one where human beings will no longer be welcome.

I started thinking about the necessity of a new land classification when I read recent articles by Bill Ingersoll and Pete Nelson proposing their own new classification categories. Where their proposals were for a new category wedged between the current Wilderness and Wild Forest classes, mine would be the most restrictive land class in the Adirondacks, essentially preserving the land exclusively for the use of the other living organisms.

Virtually no one, not hikers or paddlers, nor motorized outdoor enthusiasts, will appreciate this new classification idea, if fact, they most likely will hate it. This universal distaste will not deter me though, as it just convinces me this is an idea before its time. And like investing for retirement, being before your time can pay off big dividends in the future, that is, if you survive to see it.

The genesis of this idea started with the controversy surrounding the classification of the former Finch Pruyn properties in the central Adirondacks. I advocated for the Wilderness designation for much of the new property, which would require the closure of many of the roads currently crisscrossing the property, reducing the probability of invasive exotic species getting more of a foothold than they already have now.

The Wilderness designation, currently the strictest of the land classifications in the Adirondacks, maintains as a central tenant that such an area is “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man–where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” No forms of motorized access are allowed, yet non-motorized recreation is permitted, and in most cases encouraged. Hiking, paddling and camping are all allowed in wilderness areas, including facilities that facilitate such activities. Are these areas truly living up to the concept of man being only a visitor? Or are they just being set aside as a different kind of playground?

There are clearly not enough areas set aside for all the other living organisms with which we share this amazing planet. Humanity has selfishly ensconced more and more global resources for themselves, at the expense of not only other living organisms, but the health of the very planet as well. Anyone who thinks differently need only spend their time taking a flight across the eastern United States, looking out the window down on a land covered with roads, houses, swimming pools and strip malls.

The recent news about the discovery of an emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) in Onondaga County, nearly at the doorstep of the Adirondacks Park, is a warning shot across the bow for biological diversity within the Blue Line. This tiny green beetle is native to Asia and East Russia, but was found in southeastern Michigan in 2002, and since has moved quickly east, arriving in New York in the spring of 2009. The way these tiny insects are distributed within New York suggests they may be traveling with the assistance of motorized vehicles rather than just by their own two wings.

All ash species are susceptible to these little beetles, as their larvae burrow underneath the tree bark, disrupting the tree’s ability to move water and nutrients, eventually causing death. These exotic beetles have killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in their wake, with tens of millions dying in New York State alone.

Go ahead and kiss your ash good-bye, upstate New York. Stop smirking Adirondacks, you are next!

This may seem as little concern in the Adirondacks, where ash remain a minor component of the forest, but it got me thinking about the constant onslaught of exotic pests threatening the northeastern forests. The emerald ash borer, Asian long-horned beetle, hemlock wooly adelgid, and gypsy moth are just a few such insect pests, not to mention the many pathogens, such as sudden oak death, white pine blister rust, butternut canker, red pine shoot blight and oak wilt. As our forests lose their battles against these foreign invaders, largely brought here to satisfy our insatiable appetite for cheaper products, the future forests will appear vastly different from the ones we see today.

Typically, the Adirondacks area has counted on its colder temperatures and furious winters to keep such exotic pests at bay, although this rampart may degrade with a changing climate and its accompanying warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, roads and trails, not to mention waterways open to the public within the Adirondacks, make forests even more vulnerable, as these invaders hitchhike on our clothing, vehicles, firewood, etc., allowing even deeper penetration into the backcountry.

Wilderness areas, lacking roads for easy human access, are thought to act as a barrier to the intrusion of invasive species. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as a plethora of exotic plant species surrounds nearly any lean-to, regardless of its location in a Wild Forest or Wilderness area.

A new land classification is obviously needed, one where the earth and its community of life are not only untrammeled by man, but undisturbed as well. These areas would be off limits to human visitors, even bushwhackers like me (gasp!), prohibited by law to visit under any circumstances. The only exception would be for enforcement purposes and by permit, obtained only for research, and not easily obtained.

These areas would start as just a minor component of the Adirondacks, perhaps just a patchwork of highly sensitive habitats, either harboring some threatened species, or being unique in some other way. With time, other areas once designated Wilderness or Wild Forest could be reclassified so as to protect even more area from adverse human impact.

Do I think such a new classification is possible, especially in the current climate where some people decry that the Wilderness designation is akin to already locking up the land and prohibiting reasonable use (i.e. motorized access)? No, I do not. However, I do take solace that the majority of comments on the former Finch, Pruyn property favored Wilderness over Wild Forest.

There may be hope for preserving some forests relatively undisturbed in the Adirondacks after all.

Photo: Forest near Middle South Pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness by Dan Crane.

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Dan Crane writes regularly about bushwhacking and backcountry camping, including providing insights on equipment and his observations as a veteran backcountry explorer. He has been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood and actively exploring its backcountry for almost two decades. He is also life-long naturalist with a Master of Science in Ecology from SUNY ESF and 10+ seasons working as a field biologist, five inside the Blue Line.

Dan has hiked the Northville-Placid Trail twice and climbed all 46 High Peaks but currently spends his backpacking time exploring the northwestern portion of the Adirondacks. He is also the creator of the blog Bushwhacking Fool where he details his bushwhacking adventures.




56 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    What a horrendous idea. The Park is a political creation, and like all political creations depends entirely upon its popularity for its survival.

    No access = No ambassadors

  2. Andy says:

    If the land wasn’t bought for the public’s use and enjoyment, then why did we waste taxpayers resources on it?

  3. william Deuel,Jr says:

    Dan,

    If you read the governors statement on the new land purchase it was to open the adirondacks up, get rid of the hunting and fishing clubs, which I disagree with and let the public have access to a larger piece of the adirondacks. If it had been proposed in the manner of your piece it never would have happened[ in my opinion]. I do understand your concerns but having been a hunting and fishing guide for many years in Newcomb most of the back country without trails gets very little use. Most of the foot traffic is in concentrated areas which I would assume would be checked out by the state as to any damage being done to the ecosystem.

  4. Bill Ingersoll says:

    Dan,

    What you’re describing most resembles a Research Natural Area, which are open to non-manipulative research but closed to recreation. They exist in western national forests. Based on the maps I’ve see, RNAs are not a separate classification category, but something that can be applied to a larger designation. So, a Wilderness Area might have an RNA applied to one corner, in a place where there are no trails.

    For more info:

    http://www.fs.fed.us/rmrs/research-natural-areas/

  5. Bill Ott says:

    You were not to be disappointed in the nature of the comments. Perhaps the idea would be more palatable if it were applied to a few terribly distressed areas that nobody wants to visit anyway. Or how about actively restoring an area as is being done at the Montezuma NWR and the Mentor Marsh in Ohio. These places have restricted access, and are being rid of invasive species, one plant at a time, largely by volunteers, in Ohio any. Just a few un-researched thoughts.

  6. TiSentinel65 says:

    There is plenty of acreage already where man does not travel by virtue of its desolation and the fact that the Forest Preserve is growing in acreage. This land classification exists in reality, but not in the law books. Lots of wilderness out there.

  7. dave says:

    Plenty of acreage of desolation (isolation)?

    The most remote spot, in the entire park, is 5.3 miles from a road.

    • william Deuel,Jr says:

      Dave,

      Maybe 5.3 miles as a crow flies. The idea that there is little acreage of desolation in the park flies in the face of my experience as a guide for many years. I am constantly in the back country and can go days without seeing a soul and hearing nothing but wilderness.

      • dave says:

        Days without seeing people and hearing nothing but wilderness? In the Adirondacks?

        Please do tell – exactly – where.

        • Paul says:

          Take a paddle down the East Branch of the St. Regis River. Put in at the access point off 458 near Santa Clara (you have to drive about 2 miles down the dirt road and then carry about a half mile). Go either way on the river and find a place to camp. You will see nobody else and you will not hear any road noise. You are basically in the center of the Debar Mountain Wild Forest. About as Wilderness as you can get. Oh yeah, bring lots of bug spray and maybe a head net. This is just one example I am sure William knows of some even better ones.

        • william Deuel,Jr says:

          Dave

          Yes days without seeing anyone. I will give you an example. I have a camp on the Tahawus road, from there to the base of Santanoni Mt is approx 4-5 miles. Over the MT the next road is RT 73. What do you think you are going to hear back there, not any roads I can tell you that. That is some rough country back there as per the number of hikers and hunters that come up missing and lost every year. Don;t take my word for that ,check with the rangers they will tell you. Give it a try, leave your GPS at home if you think you will hear a road you shouldn’t need it. I m not talking trails but backcountry and let me know what you think.

        • william Deuel,Jr says:

          Dave,

          My last reply was a somewhat out of line, my bad. No one should travel in the back country without all the assistance they can get such as their GPS and compass.I do find people rely to much on their GPS as weather and other factors can cause them to fail. I do stand by my point of that area being wilderness and very difficult terrain. Cheers.

        • Bill Ott says:

          The first time I went from Cranberry to Stillwater (1994), I went eleven days seeing no one. On the return trip, it was fewer days because I knew the way better and it was colder in November, and food does not go as far in the cold. I eventually had to leave my canoe in the woods because I was down to one day. Any time I go off the trail, I see no people for as long as I want. For me, the wilderness does not start until I get off the trail. I use shelters from time to time, but, in my opinion, if one is in a shelter, one is not in the wilderness.

          Bill Ott
          Lakewood, Ohio

    • Paul says:

      Yes, Wild Forest designations or something even less restrictive is probably most appropriate?

  8. Diane says:

    Yeah you got the negatives on this topic. Barring knee jerk reactions to the idea I think it needs to be discussed in an open reasonable manner. The issues of these imported nastys with no natural predators goes beyond ash borers. There is the deer tick carrying more than one little understood ailments in their bite, Japanese beetles who destroy food and foliage crops and the newest import to my garden, the scarlet red lily beetle which appears specie specific in its destroying capabilities. How do they get to my 30 year old garden, free of them until the last 3 years?
    We travel. Things get caught up in the vehicle and come home with us.
    It is no different in the woods.
    I am not convinced such designations would be honored or effective because as with the ash borer the damage has already been done. Lack of the old fierce winters is an encouragement for survival of these nastys too.
    There is also the question of the larger pests, whitetail deer overpopulation, and other visitors who may stay like moose.
    To try and control environment is a concept only mans hubris would come up with. Yet the park represents a good faith effort to do just that.
    The other part of the recreation notion that people get riled up about is the reality that the park was not made for recreation. It has evolved in theory to that but initially it was made to secure and protect water sources for New York. (Something to keep in mind as the fracking discussion ensues, an entirely different but related discussion. )
    My meandering point is there are many things to consider when reasonably discussing the idea. We need to look at the big picture and the long view to the future beyond our own short sojourn here.

  9. john says:

    I’m a field biologist and also mange our own property as a wildlife sanctuary under easement to the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust. Most trusts are preserving the land for human use but our mission is to preserve for the exclusive use of wildlife -no humans welcome.

    Given the huge volumes of people now crowding into the Adirondacks it makes perfect sense to preserve exceptional and pristine areas as no human areas. these would be ideal for species reintroduction and the like. To be effective, this must mean all humans and no exceptions for ( fill in the blank).
    John

    • JimR says:

      john, but these Essex Chain lands purchased with all NYS taxpayers’ dollars ARE NOT PRISTINE AREAS untouched by humans. Sorry! THAT fact seems to by-pass environmental extremists ears…

      • John Warren says:

        Jim,

        Of course they’re not pristine. They are not required to be pristine to be classified wilderness (nothing would qualify if that were the case).

        The goal of classification is not to identify what lands are now, it’s to identify what lands should become.

        It’s not a labeling exercise, it’s a management plan.

        JW

        • JimR says:

          Is “man’s activities substantially unnoticeable” on these lands? You can certainly interject your opinion here, but the words are the words in the NYS Constitution. And you are obviously attempting to twist them to be interpreted to what you want them to be. “identify to what lands should become”??? Hmmm… that would mean that if the extreme views you are professing were to be considered on the State’s big island to the south, we all can start the proceedings to reclassify NYC as Wilderness, because we all know eventually hundreds or thousands of years from now all of those buildings, bridges, tunnels, and every other piece of man’s work will crumble and become part of Mother Earth again? You are stretching it now, … and so did I!

        • JimR says:

          And john above did profess that these lands are “exceptional and pristine” to be preserved.

          • John Warren says:

            Context matters. Compared to the rest of the Northeast, they are exceptional and pristine.

            • JimR says:

              And compared to the NYS Constitution and the NYS DEC definition of Wilderness, they ARE NOT without man’s footprint. Sorry again, but so long as the APA follows the law, these lands should not be classified as anything more restrictive than Wild Forest. Still…protected better than private land.

  10. Not a new idea at all. I heard such an idea expressed for the entire Park a couple of decades ago. It was proposed to remove all human presence build a big fence at the Blue Line and prohibit flights over the park so that “nature could commune with itself without interference”.

    What such concepts fail to recognize is that humans are a part of nature too and yes our activities alter things but things change even without us. Anyone who has studied geology knows we are lesser players than large geologic forces. The difference is mainly that the changes we make happen more quickly. That’s a reason for us to be smarter about the affect we have on nature, not to pretend we aren’t part of it. As the quote in the front of Mother Earth News says (paraphrased) ‘For all our art, science and culture our very existence depends on 6″ of topsoil and the fact that it rains’. Humans need more contact with nature, not less, to remind them of that fact.

  11. tim says:

    Since you’re so concerned I think you should start today! Stop going into the woods, you’re obviously trampling innocent life underfoot at every step. Remove your presence from the park, you can do YOUR part now! At least you’ll have the personal satisfaction of knowing that you, you evil human you, are not harming “nature”, where humans were so obviously NOT meant to be.

  12. Bob Meyer says:

    Its good to discuss all ideas regarding the land classification in our Park.
    thanks Dan.

  13. Pete Klein says:

    What Dan suggests is already there.
    Once you get off a trail, you step into wilderness and it doesn’t matter if it is classified as wilderness or wild forest.
    This is why I suggest all of the state land should be classified as wild forest.
    A prime benefit of classifying everything as wild forest would be we could stop the debate – a debate that has become a total bore.

  14. Chris Wrzenski says:

    I think Bill Ingersoll has the right idea. Not a new land clasification but a designation that can be appplied to a portion of an already designated land classification area. I think if we thought of it as a “time capsule” or “Locked box” that could be opened/accessed in the distant future for a specific purpose, years or decades or centuries, down the road, it would be more acceptable to the public, because it would have a designated purpose/access time, at the time it was established. I believe we definately need some “time capsule” areas in the Adirondacks in various types of geologic areas and elevations. I am particularly concerned about how increased use, especially by watercraft/motors, may increase invasive species in the Essex Chain Lakes area.

  15. randy says:

    While I agree with the idea, it made me stop and think about how some of these invasive species, pathogens, etc get transmitted to otherwise “nasty-free” areas of the park. I’m sure we humans and our modes of transport, including boats, shoes, etc, are the principal cause of much of the damage, but even isolated, restricted areas can be affected by non-human transport. Beavers, birds, deer, etc all roam about and carry seeds and pathogens in their droppings. Perhaps I’m being far-fetched with this but it seems to me that evolution continues, for better or worse, with little regard for mankind’s attempts to stem the tide. That being said we should try everything possible to protect wilderness, but recognize that nature is far more powerful than us in making changes.

  16. Paul says:

    There is a classification that exists that is pretty close to this. It is called Private Property. That is why we have this “jem”. Keeping it private and having a conservation easement (Elk Lake for example) is more protective than a Wilderness designation and it is a heck of a lot cheaper for the state.

    • John Warren says:

      Just check out the South end of Lake George, or Schroon Lake, or for that matter, any other privately owned place outside large tracts owned by the wealthy, and you’ll see first hand how Paul’s plan to make it all private turns out.

      • Paul says:

        John, you missed the part about a conservation easement in my “plan”. It is pretty hard to argue that the “private” classification in this case hasn’t produced the kind of results we want. For example they are discussing now how a Wilderness classification could help to protect the Essex chain and keep the waters and its shoreline in the kind of pristine shape that it has been kept in even with private clubs using the land for several generations. My “plan” has a pretty proven track record.

        • John Warren says:

          You are arguing Dan’s point for him. If you want to “keep the waters and its shoreline in the kind of pristine shape that it has been kept in even with private clubs using the land for several generations” it has to be shut off from all access, just like it was all this time, except for a tiny number of people with special access (known now as those long-suffering ‘club members’)

          The land has more than 250 miles of roads. That’s not better-protected than public forest preserve, compared to say, the Hoffman Notch next door or the vast majority of public lands in this state. Unless your idea of ‘protected’ is ‘protected by a road covering it’.

          • Paul says:

            “You are arguing Dan’s point for him.” Absolutely. I am just pointing out that there is already a mechanism in place to have that sort of “classification”. The number of users in the past isn’t “tiny”. It would be interesting to compare the registers they put in here for a few years and then compare them to the club log books over a similar period. Remember I am not arguing for a club set-up I am simply saying that i=under the right conditions (road issues perhaps need to be dealt with) a private designation would be more protective.

            Doesn’t really matter we are going to find out if it is protected as public land. Only time will tell.

      • M.P Heller says:

        So hackneyed and predictable John. Those areas were developed in that manner intentionally. Sorry if you’re not thrilled with the results, but nobody needed to ask your permission.

        • John Warren says:

          “Those areas were developed in that manner intentionally.” No they were not. Please, show us the plan for development of any of those areas. The only plan was unfettered development without any restrictions.

          It’s not a question of aesthetics (the standard bullshit flag the anti-regulation folks try to wave). I’m sure you are aware of them, so you are apparently willfully ignoring the very real economic and health effects of private unrestricted shoreline development – such as occurred in southern Lake George and many other places. First, it will happen – eventually, except for the wealthiest of the wealthy, the vast majority of owners will be forced to subdivide their holdings and there will be houses and outbuildings spread along the entire shoreline. In Southern Lake George that has meant restricted ability to access the lake for traditional sports, as just one negative affect.

          On Lake George (although it is repeated everywhere) we also have the next step, the silting-in of previously navigable areas (economically speaking the Hague Bar comes to mind – where the ‘steamboats’ can no longer dock, and also Bolton Landing’s recent expensive dredging, and West and English Brooks). Then there is water made undrinkable and un-swimmable by improper waste-water management (the Village system has been a debacle), the obvious invasive species problems, and the loss of species such as reptiles and amphibians. I’m sure there are more – just ask the people who want to catch native fish.

          The only thing hackneyed and predictable is the failure in reasoning of those who argue that private ownership somehow equates to “protection.” If you want to have honest discussion about these issues you need to leave the unrelated political fantasies about “the free market” at the door and deal with the actual on the ground circumstances.

          You might be able to ignore the problems I’ve mentioned, but those of us who live with them, who have to pay higher taxes to ameliorate them, who can’t always swim and fish where we want – in some cases where families have for centuries – have a different view.

          If the Essex Chain had not been purchased by the Nature Conservancy, those lakes would have been sold by Finch to a private developer, who would have subdivided the land and lined the shore with homes no local person could afford. You and I and all my neighbors and even Paul (with his multiple second homes) would be barred from accessing those lakes a hell of a lot more than any wilderness or canoe area classification will.

          • Paul says:

            One of the important points here is that public ownership does not necessarily lead to protection. Part of the reason that Lake George is so heavily developed at the southern end is that much of the lake is off limits to development and has attracted people to live on the lake where they can. Lots of public land to play on and very few places to set up shop. John you understand that acquisition of Forest Preserve land increases the value of the remaining private parcels. These “locals” that you refer to have to pay more for their homes and taxes when we add more land to the public side of the equation. But of course they also do SELL their land at times so it can work both ways. I know many “poor locals” that have made a killing on buying and selling Adirondacks land.

            • John Warren says:

              “public ownership does not necessarily lead to protection” – really? It does a whole hell of a lot more than private ownership. See, for example, New York City.

              • Paul says:

                John, you are making all of these kooky comparisons. At least your Lake George one was a little closer. Leaving NYC aside for a moment the comparison that I made earlier I think is a better one, the Elk Lake lodge with its conservation easement. A similar arrangement for these lands would probably lead to a more well protected forest. And it can be done in a way that is as (or more) legally protected than we have under Article 14. Not to mention far less expensive for the taxpayers. This is a fact, you make it sound like some kind of fantasy? I know you are pretty unbending on these things but think about it. The last thing either one of us wants is the place to end up looking like the Bronx (no offense to the Bronx).

  17. Mike hit the nail on the head. The whole ide of something like the Adirondack Park is antithetical to the American notion of “If it can’t be monetized, it’s worthless.” Frankly, the fact that we’ve done what we already have with the Park is a near miracle. The reason it’s happened is because the Park has advocates. Environmentalists already have a stereotype against them for being elitist and aloof. There are already people who accuse green groups of wanting to rid the Park of people. Push a proposal banning all humans in any form from state land and all conservationists will get tarred by the backlash, whether they support it or not. The solution is that if you want to keep a large tract of land human-free, have it be bought by a land conservancy, who can do this with the land if they so desire.

    • JimR says:

      EXACTLY! Public lands owned by the public should be able to publicly use it! TNC could have kept it all and put blockades all over with a private police force to keep everyone out. It still would not have changed the fact that these lands have had human activities trampling the property for decades. Now that NYS has ownership, it will be protected within the law by means of classifying it the only alternative possible when looking at the SLMP…Wild Forest.

  18. adirondack joe says:

    this is the most ridiculous idea i have ever heard. as much as i love the wilderness we are part of it also. but the most important thing is like it or not we are at war with a lot of people in the park. they hate us. call us names,”tree huggers, elitists, some names i can’t print. you just gave them all the ammo they need to come after us. i agree with mike 100%. buy yourself 100 acres and put a 20 foot tall fence around it if you want to just leave the rest of us out of it.

    • Paul says:

      AJ, nobody is at war with you. In fact whatever you want to call them most environmental groups support the idea of opening private waterways to public recreational use (see all the articles here on the subject for more information). So they do not really support keeping people off the land quite the opposite. They just support their own type of preferred use.

  19. William Quinlivan says:

    The former Pruyn lands have not been a wilderness for well over 100years. The land has been crisscrossed with roads and has been inhabited by humans in one form or another for many decades. To suddenly call it “wilderness” is giving it a designation that it will never live up to. There has to be a balance between wilderness and wild forest that makes sense and I believe that is the job of DEC. I don’t want to see motorized boats back in the chain lakes, but I would love to be able to easily reach them and paddle them. There has go to be a way to accomplish this and still give a reasonable level of protection to this gem.

    • John Warren says:

      This “balance between wilderness and wild forest that makes sense” you are talking about. Since there is already more Wild Forest than Wilderness, not to mention the rest of the Northeast which is basically suburban, surely you mean that these lands should – for “balance” – be designated Wilderness.

      That’s not what you seem to be saying. You seem to be saying “I want a short walk with my canoe, so we should be able to drive there.”

      You can drive to within 5.3 miles of every spot in the Adirondacks, and nearly every lake. I would think that would be enough, and you’d start advocating for some places that you can’t just drive to.

      • Paul says:

        This balance argument doesn’t really work either way. If we really want some kind of balance we should start designating land as Intensive Use which is highly underrepresented in your equation?

      • William Quinlivan says:

        John, what I mean is a Wild Forest designation that has added protection for certain tracts but allows folks of age and / or families to be able to enter with their vehicle using existing roads and park with a 1/2 mile or less carry to paddle the bodies of water. I cannot support taking taxpayer lands and limiting their appreciation to only those capable of making a 5+ mile carry of boat and gear — there is something very “elitist” about that concept. Again, the roads are there, they have been used for many many years — it is not a wilderness and will never be one. It is too late.

        • Dan Crane says:

          Give it a few decades and there will be little sign of the roads left; nature always reclaims its own. To think that the presence of dirt roads precludes designating an area Wilderness just displays the short term and provincial thinking that I believe we need to move away from.

          • William Quinlivan says:

            Okay, lets follow your thinking long term. If we keep on restricting access you will keep seeing exactly what we are seeing economically throughout the Adirondacks and we will have a complete wilderness here. If we cannot find a way to become self sustaining and teaching young people the wonder and appreciation of nature and this unique place, how long do you think the next generation will carry the tax burden of a vast 6,000,000 acre wilderness with no viable towns and just a few small retirement communities filled with wealthy 80 somethings (if even that is left). We can protect the Adirondacks out of existence. I don’t want to see the central Adirondacks turn into one big Lake George or Old Forge, but I do believe that it could be a wonderful place for younger people to live, work a clean, modern business and easily access some spectacular outdoors for their growing families.

            • John Warren says:

              “exactly what we are seeing economically throughout the Adirondacks”

              In other words, a faster growth rate than the state average, annual summer tourists topping a million, and a better economy than nearly all other rural counties in New York.

              Yeah, that would be terrible. Let me guess – you want to retire here?

          • JimR says:

            You, of all people, should know the definition of “Wilderness” according to NYS DEC regs/laws and Article XIV of the NYS Constitution. “A wilderness area, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man – where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. A wilderness area is further defined to mean an area of state land or water having a primeval character, without significant improvement or protected and managed so as to preserve, enhance and restore, where necessary, its natural conditions, and which…generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable…”. 250 miles of roads, man-made dams, logging operations still very visible, buildings, and so on. Still consider this land WILDERNESS of even more restrictive? yes, you can have an opinion. But the APA and DEC must arrive at their decision by using the laws of this State. Sorry!

        • John Warren says:

          NO ONE’s access is limited. It’s time we stopped trying to argue that somehow, now that the public can actually access this land after more than 100 years, we’re actually limiting access. That is nonsense and makes no sense a all.

          You can drive right up to (and in to) practically every major water body in the park. Every inch of the park is within 5.3 miles of a road.

          We don’t have these classifications and the Forest Preserve so we can declare lands already mostly destroyed by industry open to further damage. The Forest Preserve isn’t for protecting precious roads. We have plenty of those. It’s exactly the opposite.

          I cannot support taking taxpayer lands and turning them into another permanent area filled with roads, because the few who can afford expensive canoes, motorboats, ATVs, and snowmobiles pretend they don’t have the vast territory of the Eastern United States to use their toys, and want EVEN MORE direct access by car or truck. That’s what the hue and cry for no more wilderness is – a direct call for even more access to wild lands by car and truck. WE ALREADY HAVE THAT – practically everywhere on the east coast.

          That’s elitist, and history shows that time and again the people of New York State do not want their public lands set aside for parking.

          • Bill Ott says:

            When a section is open to traffic, roads must be maintained, along with boat ramps and other amenities, such as providing trash pickup, parking spaces, law enforcement, rescue of drunken boaters, and so on.