Thursday, September 12, 2013

APA Member Opposes ‘Wild Forest’ For Essex Chain

Essex ChainThe Adirondack Park Agency commissioners have yet to vote on the classification of the Essex Chain Lakes, but one commissioner asserted Thursday that a Wild Forest designation would be inappropriate.

Richard Booth, one of eleven members of the APA board, said his reading of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan leads him to the conclusion that motorized access to, and motorized use of, the Essex Chain should be prohibited.

Under a Wild Forest classification, state officials would have the option of allowing people to drive all the way to the Essex Chain and to use motorboats. Thus, Booth favors a Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe designation, all of which prohibit motorized use.

“The Wild Forest classification is not appropriate for this chain of lakes, because of what the master plan says,” Booth remarked during the monthly meeting of the APA board.

Booth said the State Land Master Plan’s primary objective is the protection of natural resources. He asked APA counsel James Townsend to prepare a memo spelling out the plan’s legal dictates as they bear on the classification decision.

The classification of the Essex Chain is one of the most controversial aspects of the classification decision facing the APA. Local officials want the chain classified Wild Forest to allow easy access to the lakes and possibly motorboat use. A Wild Forest designation, unlike the three other options, also would allow access to snowmobilers and mountain bikers.

After the meeting, Booth said the Essex Chain deserves greater protection than a Wild Forest classification would provide. “These are pretty fragile natural resources,” he said. “This isn’t just typical Forest Preserve; it’s very special Forest Preserve.”

Fred Monroe, executive director of the Local Government Review Board, said the towns oppose a motor-free designation for the Essex Chain region. “What I hear from the towns is that it’s critically important for reasonable access to a wide range of user groups,” he remarked after the meeting.

Monroe said one idea is to prohibit motorboats on the ponds during the peak paddling season in the summer, but allow them during the spring fishing and fall hunting seasons. In any case, he said, people should be allowed to drive within a quarter-mile of the Essex Chain.

The APA is weighing various options for classifying some 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company land, which the state purchased from the Nature Conservancy. The biggest chunk is the 17,320-acre Essex Chain Tract south of Newcomb. The board can vote on a classification at its October meeting at the earliest.

 

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Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.




37 Responses

  1. Pete Klein says:

    Obviously, the classification will not be unanimous one way or the other.

  2. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    Here is an argument for Wilderness that appeared in the Albany Times Union:

    http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/The-Adirondacks-wild-side-needs-to-be-forever-4809547.php

  3. Paul says:

    If Mr. Booth’s logic works there are also many other Forest Preserve areas that have been illegally classified as Wild Forest.

    Personally I agree that motors should be banned from these waters but I don’t think that the roads are too “fragile” to drive on so you can get in there to paddle.

  4. Paul says:

    Phil is this the only APA board member to suggest what they support at this point?

  5. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    Paul, he is saying the lakes and shorelines are fragile, not the roads. At this point, he is the only board member to tip his hand.

    • Paul says:

      Phil, yes I understand that and I agree. That is why the best thing to do might be to have a Wild Forest designation and ban motors on the Essex chain. That would make it like a Canoe Area with a decent level of access. Phil, with the Canoe Area proposal will you be able to drive directly to one end of the chain? Like we have in the St. Regis Canoe area.

  6. adkbuddy says:

    It appears Mr. Booth may be promoting his own agenda. The lands in question clearly meet the definition of Wild Forest per DEC. But then that is why some people strive to attain these position, so they can force their agenda on others.

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Just because someone has a different view than you, does not mean they are trying to “force their agenda” on you.

      I can’t believe that needs to be said.

      JW

    • Paul says:

      I don’t think he “strived to attain” that position. Wasn’t he picked by the Governor?

      What strikes me about his comment is that if the SLMP (the law) requires a Wilderness designation then other Wild Forest parcels have been classified illegally. I can take you to thousands of Wild Forest areas that have similar fragile ecosystems. It is really just their call as to how they want to treat this one.

  7. Peter Bauer says:

    Paul,

    Please provide us with your Wild Forest list. Two things define the Essex Chain’s ecologic fragility. First, it has 14 interconnected lakes and ponds with extensive wetland systems. Second, the Essex Chain is home to a heritage strain of lake trout. I’d be interested where such other ecologic networks with rare species exist in Wild Forest areas. The closest I can come to such a resource in a Wild Forest area is Sargents Ponds and there one of the ponds is being reclaimed due to fishing impacts largely from floatplanes. Thanks.

    • Paul says:

      Peter, for example the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. Other than the heritage strain of lake trout (and it may have had something similar when it was classified) it has all of the interconnected lakes and extensive wetlands systems you describe. If the Essex Chain is legally required to be classified as Wilderness as Mr. Booth describes than don’t you think that land like the Sarnac Chain would require a Wilderness Classification as well? As you well know the Wild Forest I describe is almost 80,000 acres. To say that it does not contain, at least, the equivalent amounts of fragile ecosystems as on the much smaller Essex chain I don’t think is accurate?

      I am not arguing that it is not fragile. In fact I said above that it is. I just don’t quite follow the logic of how one is required by law to be Wilderness and the other is not??

      Also, if we really want to protect the wild strain of trout in there keeping it off limits to the public (even those that like to fish in wilderness parcels) is probably required. It isn’t the motors (which have been on the Essex chain for years) which destroy a strain like that.

  8. Charlie says:

    “the towns oppose a motor-free designation for the Essex Chain region.”

    But of course they do.The towns are hurting for money and their timid,short-term thinking leaders use their power to appease their desperate and/or simple-minded constituency. We are well aware by now that money is more important than all living things on Earth.It’s the corporate and mainstream way of thinking. Suppose we open these new public lands to motorized use so that snowmobilers and boaters,and even non-motorized mountain bikers,can have their momentary pleasures. It will only be a matter of time before their carelessness and damage reveals itself I am certain….damage that cannot be reversed as is going on all over this country and the world.
    It is a scientifically documented fact that alien species are wreaking havoc on both terrestrial and aquatic systems throughout the country,and is now the second leading threat to biodiversity,trailing only habitat destruction.Knowing this why would we even take a chance on opening the Essex Chain Lakes to motorized use? Go back to the fourth sentence in my dialogue for one of the answers to this question.

    • Paul says:

      A discussion here only gets into true form when someone describes the local constituency as “desperate and simple minded”!! How condescending can you possibly get?

  9. Charlie says:

    Charlie said: “Why would we even take a chance on opening the Essex Chain Lakes to motorized use? Go back to the fourth sentence in my dialogue for one of the answers to this question.”

    He meant second into third sentence.

  10. Charlie says:

    I fess up Paul,I was being a bit sarcastic when I imposed such a remark,but really.. i’m not far off when you look at it. By desperate I mean people who are poor and jobless and their bills keep coming in,and who would sell the hides off of their backs just to bring in some money.They’d also pollute the living daylights out of an ecosystem so long as dollars are singing.Those poor farmers who sold the rights to their pristine lands to the gas people for hydrofracking….they’d sell their souls for a buck.Desperation I tell ya!
    And by simple-minded…. I mean come on.Look around at the way people act and dress up.It’s like everyone wants to be like everyone else.And do you read or watch the news? Listen to what people talk about.It’s either sports or Hollywood or Forrest Gump next door.Or money. There’s hardly any intellectual stimulation coming from anyone anymore.It’s generally mindless banter.Why do you think we have so many problems.To me smalltown America is a microcosm of urban America…maybe a little worse due to their circumstances.
    I don’t mean to offend anybody I’m just saying it as I see it that’s all.And of course i’m talking in general……..which is almost the same as saying wholly,which scares me.

    • Paul says:

      Charlie, I am glad that I have a more optimistic view of people and what they can accomplish, especially the folks that live in the Adirondacks. This area will remain beautiful and protected whichever classification it gets. Much of that will be because of efforts of the “simple minded” locals.

    • LocalYokel says:

      Wilderness supporters like you, Charlie, embarrass all of us who support wilderness in a way that is thoughtful and respectful of other people and their views. Instead of denigrating others as “simple minded” for not agreeing with your worldview, why don’t you offer something substantive and give us some well-reasoned arguments about why wilderness is important?

  11. Tim Baker says:

    Personally I don’t want motorboats polluting the water, in my experience the folks that use them are more likely to be the kind of people that will strip monofiliment off and just toss it aside for one thing, plus the fact that it actually puts hydrocarbons into the waters. I do think that being able to drive to within a reasonable distance to facilitate canoe launching is something that should be allowed.

    • Paul says:

      Tim, I prefer to see these waters as motorless also but new 4 cycle engine technology and emissions standards have made modern outboard motors very clean. Newer electric motors for boats will eliminate all emissions.

      • Paul says:

        now how can someone give a thumbs down to eliminating emissions! are you one of those oil company lobbyists?

  12. Charlie says:

    Paul…. I spout off sometimes so-be-it my heart is in the right place. I never lose sight of the fact that there are lots of wonderful people out their doing wonderful things to help make this world a better place,but i’m sticking to my guns…this society is chock full of people who just don’t know any better to put it mildly.I’ll end it there.
    I will say this. The Adirondacks are dear to my heart and i’m a firm believer in keeping them just the way they are without more of the same stuff that goes on everywhere else,and especially without more areas open to motorized use.

    You say “This area will remain beautiful and protected whichever classification it gets. Much of that will be because of efforts of the “simple minded” locals.”

    Hopefully you’re right on this Paul,but to be sure why don’t we designate it as wilderness so as not to take any chances with a wild forest designation which will allow motorized use? Especially considering that when you and me are long gone this world will be a much more crowded and noisy and polluted place and there will most certainly be far fewer places to go to get away from the dreadful,constant clamor of the crazy ape man. Just maybe some of our contemplative, astute progeny will appreciate having such places to go to get away from all of the mess we’re creating for them Paul. Shouldn’t that be our concern? Future generations?

    • Paul says:

      “Paul. Shouldn’t that be our concern? Future generations?”

      Yes, they are. In the Adirondacks we have set aside from development almost 1 million acres of land in just the last 20 years. 1 million acres! We have designated new lands as Wilderness. This includes land that was once classified as Wild Forest. There is far more protected land now than when I was a young kid, and there will be more for my children and grandchildren as I see it. Things are moving in the direction that you seem to think they are not? Making these waters a little more accessible for paddlers like I suggest is not some sell out on the environment. Charlie, I think that maybe you have your friends and enemies confused?

    • John Henry says:

      Pretty odd argument, the way it is now and for over 100 years allows the road and people to get there so I agree with you- keep it open not closed. Opps that is not what you mean you it CLOSED.

  13. Charlie says:

    LocalYokel says: Wilderness supporters like you, Charlie, embarrass all of us who support wilderness in a way that is thoughtful and respectful of other people and their views. Instead of denigrating others as “simple minded” for not agreeing with your worldview, why don’t you offer something substantive and give us some well-reasoned arguments about why wilderness is important?

    Your a good person i’m sure Yokel.I know I am and I know my heart is in the right place.I am not always able to impart the totality of my communication in a way that makes sense to everyone,or doesn’t put anyone off,but I do try and will continue to do so.When I share my views I do not wish to denigrate anybody as much as i’m just putting forth my awareness,blunt as I may be. I can began noting instances of the simple-mindedness I witness in this society on a daily basis but that would take up a hundred pages and besides this isn’t the place for that.It does correlate with many of the issues we face on a daily basis though,including some brought up on this site. I will try my darnedest to have more understanding of and respect for those of you who defend the mindless whoever they may be….and they be many trust me when I say.
    Your question is too easy Yokel.I’ll give you the first answer that floats in my head. Wilderness is important to me because,well….I look around and realize that everywhere that terra firma isn’t protected from the corporate machine,or from mindless people (there I go again), is corrupted,or on the verge of being corrupted, and feel strongly that wilderness areas are the only hope for the future of spiritual mankind.And even then there may be no hope.And i’m an optimist!

    • LocalYokel says:

      Charlie, I’m sure you’re a good person, but I think you are misunderstanding my point. I’m certainly not a defender of the “mindless.” I am a firm supporter of wilderness in general and more wild land in the Park. I think one does more harm than good though when resorting to calling people “simple minded” or “mindless” because they don’t agree with you. There are plenty of facts out there that you can bring to the table to support your point without resorting to ad hominem attacks. All that does is bolster the people who like to claim that supporters of wilderness are elitist snobs. You’re playing right into their hands. I understand you are very passionate about this, but a civil argument well-supported by facts is a much more effective and credible strategy than just calling the other guy a dummy.

  14. John Henry says:

    Not shocking but odd how the groups promoting the wilderness option keep completely ignoring that the town of Indian Lake has maintained the roads since 1900 and has a strong legal claim to keep them open. All spelled out in the Hamilton County News a few weeks ago and conveniently ignored here.

    They also omit that the buildings on the land are up for historical classification, right now, they just want to burn them down. Preserving history takes a back seat, well really no seat because they never address the issue.

    Worse in all the arguments and agenda’s these groups never address access rights for the disabled or elderly. If you do not stand up for the weakest and elderly among who will?

    Once again we have few vocal groups (some not even in NYS) who own no property and pay no taxes in the area (I do both) yet want only want the most restricted access for the rest of us. All for an area that has not been wild for over a 100 years?

    Last you all keep ignoring the attorney for the town of Indian Lake found ‘fatal flaws’ in new draft EIS, flaws that were well known. As he referenced if the local legal rights are ignored and the needs of less hale, this will become an area for only the young, elite and fittest among us, pretty much those who can afford the lightest weight equipment, a different 1% but the same. Not an area the state intended for more use, not less use.

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      “All spelled out in the Hamilton County News a few weeks ago and conveniently ignored here.”

      That’s some theory, but it’s wrong. The Hamilton County News is subscription only. It’s kind of hard to point readers to a story which was not distributed online.

      John Warren
      Editor

  15. Charlie says:

    Local…I appreciate your input and just to be sure I did not call anybody on this site mindless or a dummy,nor did I attack or direct it at anybody in particular. I am not an ad hominem attacker neither….I know better than that. I appreciate that everyone is here and that we are able to discuss these issues.

    Paul says: “Things are moving in the direction that you seem to think they are not? Making these waters a little more accessible for paddlers like I suggest is not some sell out on the environment. Charlie, I think that maybe you have your friends and enemies confused?”

    I’m open to convenience for paddlers Paul,but i’m very iffy about motorized use period.My angst has been with snowmobiles and atv’s and motorboats particularly. I’m not a mountain bike supporter neither as I’ve seen the damage they do.I’m not a purist as much as i’m all for keeping things in their natural state as much as possible,especially when we have the power to do so.. The Adirondacks are a very special place,and like I’ve said,in the future places like them will be much more sought after. I’d rather err on the side of extreme caution than take a chance on more motorized use.
    You say “There is far more protected land now than when I was a young kid, and there will be more for my children and grandchildren as I see it.”
    You never know Paul.Things could change on a dime.I like your optimism though.

    • Paul says:

      Charlie, this isn’t my optimism (although I tend to be optimistic) these are the facts. Article 14 makes sure that things will not turn on a dime here?

    • Paul says:

      mt bikes on dirt roads like these will not do any harm. but they will get people close to nature and help them understand what you and I feel should be protected.

  16. Ohkwari says:

    Arrest all development. People will have to learn to negotiate that space for themselves. You humans know no limits to your replication.