Thursday, October 9, 2014

APA Seeking Adirondack State Land Master Plan Revisions

APSLMPAt its monthly board meeting in Ray Brook on Thursday, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) announced that it will begin a public process to consider amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) . The APSLMP is the governing document for the classification and management of the constitutionally protected Forest Preserve lands within the Adirondack Park.

“It has been over 25 years since the APSLMP was amended and there is strong interest from all stakeholders to revise the Plan,” APA Chairwoman Lani Ulrich said in a statement to the press. “It is our goal to conduct an inclusive public process that will address commitments established in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex classification and identify other possible amendments to improve the APSLMP.”

“As part of Essex Chain Lakes Complex classification, the APA agreed to consider amendments to the APSLMP that would allow the use of all-terrain bicycles in the Essex Chain unit and non-natural materials to be used in the construction of a bridge over the Cedar River,” the press release stated.

Four public meetings, in Ray Brook, Warrensburg, Old Forge and Albany, are expected to be scheduled throughout the Adirondack Park and New York State over the next several weeks to provide an opportunity for public comment.

Following the public meetings, and subsequent meetings with stakeholders, the agency plans to undertake a State Environmental Quality Review on the Essex Chain Lakes Complex proposals and develop a timeline to consider additional amendments to the APSLMP.

The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan defines permissible activities on State-owned Forest Preserve land in the Adirondack Park.  The APSLMP was written in 1972, but since 1987, there have been no major amendments to the APSLMP.

An updated version of the APSLMP with updated Area Descriptions, Statistical Information and Appendices was published in February, 2014, and can be found here.


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18 Responses

  1. Dan Crane says:

    Can we expect that when the majority of the comments favor increased protection for the State Preserve, the APA will completely ignore them and instead make it easier to mine Lot 8, lower the legal bar for developments like the ACR, allow ATVs everywhere and generally continue to degrade protection for wild places in the Adirondacks?

    Sounds like a brilliant plan to me. Thanks Andrew Cuomo.

    • Paul says:

      Dan, Private developments like ACR don’t have much to do with state land issues. I am not sure what your point is there?

      • Davis says:

        Paul, nothing could be further from the truth. The state supposedly has a “smart growth” policy. That policy directs growth to existing town and city centers. The APA was negligent IMHO to not consider this when they made their decision. It’s not a perfect world and the policy is at times ignored outside the Park. Not withstanding, the policy does exist.

        • Paul says:

          But that is part of the APA’s (“the state”) policy it is not dictated in the State Land Master Plan which has nothing to do with private land. Here the revisions are regarding the ASLMP not other APA policies. I think you are mixing apples with oranges.

        • Bill says:

          Davis, you are confused. Understandably so. For the record here:

          The APA has two plans, the State Land Master Plan (SLMP)and the Private Land Use and Development Plan (PLUDP). They are completely different. This new effort will update the SLMP, not the private land plan.

          “Smart Growth” is what you mention. That is a set of principals from DEC, not the APA. Principals are a bit different from legally binding rules and what it amounts to is a small bucket of grant money for planning that towns can apply for.

  2. Chris says:

    Yeah, the plan needs updating to fit in a world where a few can buy whatever they want at the expense the many.

    It certainly seems that the only reason for a rewrite is to literally lessen the protection which has been substantively lessening for years. It’s pretty much an ongoing slide everywhere that regulations lose their enforcement in the face of narrow economic interests and lobbying dollars, followed by outright repeal and roll backs which favor the few at the expense of the many.

    Thank goodness the crafters of the park did as well as they did to last this long. They foresaw resource scarcity and tried to avoid what is happening now.

    • Paul says:

      The APA (under the guise of the ASLMP) has recently designated many thousands of acres of state land as Wilderness. They have also designated many thousands of acres of Forest Preserve as Primitive or Wild Forest. They have recently re-classified other lands as Wilderness. They have capped the number of miles of snowmobile trails. They continue to outlaw any ATV use on any Forest Preserve land. The state owned Forest Preserve continues to grow. I don’t quite follow this premise that things are less protected?

  3. Pete Klein says:

    I do find it interesting and do object to holding the public hearings outside of those areas most affected by the reason for the hearings – the Essex Chain Lakes Complex classification.
    Indian Lake and Newcomb would have been better choices than Old Forge and Warrensburg.

  4. Bill Ingersoll says:

    There certainly is room for improvement in the SLMP, which was written to address Forest Preserve issues as they stood in 1972. Generally speaking, the plan is a document that lists all the things you can’t do in the preserve, without providing much of a vision about all the good things that people CAN do on state land. So there are absolutely ways that the document can be updated in a constructive way that doesn’t involve removing restrictions or allowing new activities in Wilderness, Primitive, or Wild Forest areas.

    However, I have no doubt that there will be many groups stepping up with their own shopping lists of changes they’d like to see–some of them mutually exclusive. I have little confidence that the current APA has the strength to retain ownership of the revision process, and to keep politics out of it.

    A strong APA would be able to keep the public discussion focused on certain issues and work toward a specific resolution. The history of the Forest Preserve from 1885 through 2000 is one of increased protections, as each new generation grew to appreciate the wilderness values of the preserve and never assumed that the work of preservation was done. This effort probably plateaued in 1972 and stalled thereafter, partly because not all of the SLMP guidelines (management plans every 5 years, for instance) were ever implemented. Therefore the APA state land staff will have already analyzed all of the major SLMP-related actions over the last 42 years, and they will have a list of recommendations that (a) leaves alone what is working well, and (b) corrects what practical experience has shown isn’t working at all. This APA-originated list is the document that would be advanced to the public for review and comment… if the APA was a strong, independent agency with a long institutional memory.

    A weak APA will adopt a bunch of recommendations drafted by a CGA “working committee” and pass it off as its own work; the contents of such a revision will depend on which executive directors and political officials get on that committee. Some of these interest groups have been chafing at some of the limitations on recreational use imposed by the SLMP, and these will be the “improvements” that will be proposed. Because some of these wants and desires will be mutually exclusive, deals will need to be made to arrive at a final list of changes that all of the “stakeholders” will publicly support. Even some of the so-called “watchdog” groups may not be as preservation-minded as they would like everyone to believe, so the focus will be almost entirely on recreation, and specifically which types of recreation-related structures can be allowed in which land designations. To offset a greater leniency toward motorized recreation, there will be a new wilderness designation somewhere, and thus the SLMP will be “strengthened”… even though people capable of independent thought will do the math and realize that the public has been asked to accept the equation 2+2=3.

    Unfortunately, it’s some version of the second scenario that is most likely to play out. The preservation-minded community has become punch drunk in the 21st century on the idea of splashy land acquisitions, and some of these groups are willing to sell their souls to keep these new lands coming. The emphasis for these groups has shifted to quantity rather than quality: so long as there are more acres being added to the Forest Preserve every year–and therefore more acres that might be designated wilderness–then the real preservation work has been done. Just as advocating for a mine in a protected wilderness was OK for some “preservationists” if they perceived they were getting more land, then relaxing (or removing) certain inconvenient SLMP guidelines will be easier to accept so long as the overall action can be tied directly to the next Finch Pruyn acquisition. A land purchase is a “benefit” powerful enough to offset a whole bunch of ills.

    Speaking just for myself, if a weaker SLMP is the political coin needed to keep buying new state land, then I’d rather have no more new state land.

    • Paul says:

      Perhaps you could have state land guidelines that are more restrictive on existing state lands and a different set of guidelines for newly acquired state lands. If that is necessary to add land to the Forest Preserve.

      But personally I think that we already have enough state owned land in the park. Partially because we seem to already have far more land than we can properly manage. Seeing what is happening with some of the issues here (illegal ATV use etc.) it seems like we have our hands pretty full.

    • Bill says:

      Lots of people will participate. There are recreation interests, some of which didn’t exist when the SLMP was written. There will be ecologists, not to be confused with preservationists, who have a much better handle on the needs of, for example, wildlife and fisheries, than they did when the SLMP was written. And of course there will be the preservationists, who generally are not ecologists, who can’t imagine changing anything ever for any reason.

      Given the generally better (CGA inspired) conversations going on all over the Park these days, it strikes me as a good time for a review of the SLMP. It will take time and patience and learning. This is a very hard thing to do well. That’s the reason it has not been done sooner.

      Bill – you, or anyone else, individuals or groups, should be encouraged to write a new draft as you would wish it to be and submit it. That would have a lot more value than a comment or a column. Snide remarks won’t be especially useful.

      If you do write a draft, please expect it to be mixed in with ideas of others rather than accepted as a whole. Different perspectives can add value and be accommodated; it is after all public land, not yours alone. A ‘my way or the highway’ approach will only leave you frustrated, and writing bitter words here from time to time.

      Personally, I think this is a great opportunity to review and reflect on how we manage 3 millions acres – that is a lot of land. With decades of experience behind us, we know more now, and we can have a better SLMP if we all do a good job.

  5. Charlie S says:

    You can bet there’ll be vultures with net gain in their craniums lined-up just waiting to throw their three cents in.

  6. J. Anthony says:

    Many things have changed since 1972. Great assets to land management such as the USGS GAP (Gap Analysis Program) and PADD-US (Protected Areas Database) have only been available for around 5 years. Hopefully these tools will assist in creatating a better plan for the future.

  7. J. Johnson says:

    I find it hard to believe that people from the green groups come on here and whine about how they are not being heard with three million acres of forever wild lands and the rest controlled by their lawyers and activists in Albany. No other quote “special interest” groups have the ability to call the governor’s office or demand a meeting with the APA or the DEC Commissioner at a moments notice. Snowmobile trails are capped at under one thousand miles and the green groups sit in the planning meetings for the snowmobile plan knowing full well they are lying though their teeth about working together. The lawsuits are proof of their fraudulent intent. Think about how much land we are talking about out of six million acres. A trail averaging eight feet wide less than one thousand miles. Who you kidding. It is amazing how times have changed. When this Governor’s father was in office the green groups ran the NYSDEC and the APA. People at the NYSDEC did not dare communicate with the non approved green recreational groups with fear their of their jobs being terminated. It is about time we all have an equal say not just the high priced special interest environmental groups.

  8. Jason says:

    Don’t kid yourself. Nothing will ever change. We are going to get what the Adirondack Council and ADK want. It’s been like that since the early ’70’s. If you think anything has changed your only kidding yourself.

  9. Charlie S says:

    J. Johnson says: I find it hard to believe that people from the green groups come on here and whine….

    > There’s not enough greens out there J. Greens meaning people marked by goodwill,people who see value in the Earth,the water,the air we breathe.People with smarts! They are way too few in number,especially compared to the large amount of people who just don’t give a hoot one way or another. Greens are but a handful compared.

    Think about how much land we are talking about out of six million acres.

    > You ever look at a map J.? All those roads breaking up all of what once was green space.Six million acres is a mere pittance compared to what once was.And the damage that comes with roads! And to think how much damage humans can do in such a short period of time nowadays compared to 150 years ago.Six million acres may sound like a lot until you see what is taking shape outside of those acres,until you realize what us humans are capable of once we have access.

    It is about time we all have an equal say not just the high priced special interest environmental groups.

    > !!!!!!

  10. J. Johnson says:

    Charlie, stop acting like your the downtrodden and abused. The other user groups in NYS do not have the political clout, money and lawyers that the Green groups have. Who has all the lawsuits filed in NYS concerning the Park? Who gets instant access to the NYSDEC Commissioner and the Governor’s office? The Green groups run the NYSDEC and Albany with an iron fist. Even in motorized approved areas Green groups are filing suit over and over again. You must be one of the ones who wants the “Bob Marshall Wilderness Area”. Where the whole northeastern portion of New York and a good chunk of Northern New England is closed and all traces are removed. You basically want to return life back to ancient times. Why don’t you deep pocket green people cough up the monies for the lost for taxes. Sorry but I guess I am a dirty conservationist not an environmentalist. I do not buy into your twisted religion.

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