Friday, July 22, 2016

Court Upholds Halt Of DEC’s Forest Preserve Tree Cutting

minerva to newcomb snowmobile trailThe Appellate Division, Third Department, of state Supreme Court issued an order today to uphold an injunction against 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.

The DEC cut over 4,000 trees on 2.9 miles of this trail in the fall of 2015, had recently cut over 1,000 more trees on a new 3-mile section, and was about to cut thousands more trees, including many located in old growth forest habitat.

Protect the Adirondacks is currently challenging the legality of these new road-like snowmobile trails in Supreme Court in Albany. Protect has alleged in court that these trails violate Article 14, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution, the “forever wild” provision, due to the enormous amount of tree cutting. Article 14, Section 1 prohibits destruction of the trees on the Forest Preserve.

Efforts to stop tree cutting on other new 9-12 foot wide class II snowmobile trails in 2014 and 2015 were unsuccessful. For the 14-mile Newcomb to Minerva trail, Protect the Adirondacks obtained an independent expert count of stumps of cut trees, and an estimate of the additional trees to be cut, to detail the high level of tree cutting.

In its public notifications and planning, DEC only counts trees greater than 3 inches diameter at breast height (DBH). This spring, DEC estimated it would cut over 1,600 of these large trees over 7 miles of new trail. When trees under 3 inches DBH were added to the tally, Protect the Adirondacks found that over 9,000 trees would be cut on this section.

The entire trail from Newcomb to Minerva would require cutting over 17,000 trees. Prior cases on the constitutionality of tree cutting on the Forest Preserve tallied both large and small trees. Protect the Adirondacks aged the stumps of a number of trees cut down on the Forest Preserve under 3 inches DBH and found many to be 30, 40 and 50 years old, or older.

The temporary restraining order will remain in place until a decision is issued by the State Supreme Court on a motion for a more permanent injunction that will be considered on Monday, July 25, 2016.

Photo provided by Protect: Recently cut and graded sections of the Newcomb to Minerva Class II Snowmobile Trail.

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22 Responses

  1. Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

    DEC can cut all the trees they want, but if they can’t make it snow, what good is it? Let’s stop blind pandering to the snowmobile lobby and get real about what is happening with climate.

    • Tom Payne says:

      Is that like the blind pandering of the Environmental Lobby that has been going on in Albany for decades.

  2. Chuck Parker Chuck Parker says:

    I think we can safely assume that cutting anything along a trail that is less than 3” is more brush cutting than tree cutting. This cutting does not impact the existing Adirondack lands classified as wilderness or wild forest. It, the cutting, does supports a proven positive recreational access that positively impacts the Adirondacks and those that live there. Wise use, a balance use, is better management than non use which this banning action is supporting.

  3. Boreas says:

    Assuming the connectors are allowed to be built, I would like to see metrics provided by an independent firm showing the actual economic impact on these towns today, not extrapolated historical figures when snow was plentiful. Otherwise, all the hype is speculation.

    • Chuck Parker Chuck Parker says:

      The latest figures, 2014, from the Fish and Wildlife Service is that in New York, the economic impact from Sportsmen and outdoor recreation participants is $9.2 billion a year.
      Source;
      U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-
      Associated Recreation. Revised January 2014.

      The Adirondacks has the natural resources to receive and is receiving some of this economic resource with out adversely affecting the environment. Check with your local towns or county tourism departments

      • Boreas says:

        Chuck,

        I didn’t make it very clear, but what I meant was specific metrics both before and after the connector trails are constructed to measure what economic impact, if any, the new connector trails have on those communities. We can no longer depend on 4 month sledding seasons with plentiful snow to provide dependable revenue from sledders. Otherwise, we are simply cutting a lot of trees in the hope something positive happens.

        • Trailogre says:

          And I think Chuck is a little one sided………with his snowmobile/motorized recreation slant

          • Ruth Olbert says:

            One sided……. Slant……….
            Think about those two terms when you read most of these articles and comments pertaining to any of the new state land purchases/ trails.
            Just saying.

            • John Warren John Warren says:

              Ruth, instead of simply slandering the Almanack, why don’t you tell us which sentence in this story is inaccurate and why?

        • Chuck Parker Chuck Parker says:

          My involvement with comments on the Adirondack Almanac is limited due time restraints. But, I would like to respond to what you said and include some other responses to comments that were made by others.
          Saying they are cutting a lot of trees from my perspective is very misleading. They are cutting branches and brush for the most part. I could say that my friends within the ADK are killing a lot of trees and impacting the potential of new growth because trees can’t grow on their trails. But that would be a ridiculous statement.
          The comment, “Depending on a four month sledding season.” The sledding season rarely has been four months long even on the Tug Hill which typically gets more snow. If by today’s weather trends we get one good year in three for sledding, the positive impact provided by a good trail system ( usability and environmental sound) is worth the investment.
          “Hoping something positive happens”, that happens with any sound investment, financial or environmental. You look at the probability and act accordingly.
          The comment made by another, “Forest Preserve… … Article XIV…”. Now I can’t say this for sure but I don’t think that the NYS DEC would deliberately violate article XIV. There has an injunction and that is simply an injunction which is subject to review and can be over turned. Just ask the group that filed the injunction what there over all success rate is in similar legal actions.
          Forest Preserve… … Article XIV will soon be approaching the 50 year mark. It has been very successful, in the past. Tree have grown, balance has changed. Many knowledgeable people feel that Article XIV does not adequately addresses today’s Forest Preserve’s need. How many farms or businesses would still be a successful endeavor if they operated on 50 plus year old philosophy. We as educated I people, have the opportunity to be proactive now or be reactive in another 50 -75 years when the forest preserve will be in a state of decline.
          You mention the shorter sledding season. If this trend continues and the general humidity of the Adirondacks goes down, the Adirondack forest will become a tinderbox. Where are the fire breaks to protect the overall forests. Where are the firebreaks to protect the local communities. Look at Article XIV not as how it served the Adirondacks in the past, but what it offers the future in sound management

          • Boreas says:

            Chuck,

            Like it or not, we are saddled with the laws we have. If taxpayers feel they are out of date, then they should change them accordingly. But Article XIV being elderly doesn’t necessarily make it a bad law simply because it doesn’t align with certain special interests.

            WRT potential firebreaks and fire protection, you seem to be viewing the forest within the Park as something to be actively “managed”. Keep in mind, that model is not typically supported in areas with a Wilderness classification. Wild forests need to burn from time to time – especially with climate changes. We simply can’t maintain the past and current forest ecology with a changing climate. Nature will take care of that – as we are seeing in the west.

            • Chuck Parker Chuck Parker says:

              Your first paragraph stating Article XIV being old does not necessarily make it bad, neither does it make it applicable for today. Man has knowledge, man has science.
              Forest burns are not necessarily always bad. But the forest fires of Canada and the Western U.S. are excellent examples of mis-management, probably through non management. Man was given the ability to manage for the overall good. We have that knowledge and ability. I believe that is an expectation or responsibility placed upon us. To do nothing is being less than responsible citizens of this earth. We are not just observers we are part of this earth and have the ability to do good.

              • Boreas says:

                “Man was given the ability to manage (forests?) for the overall good.”

                Mankind has yet to prove this to many of us. Perhaps this is true for private forests managed strictly for lumber products, but otherwise, I would have to disagree. Big burns happen because small burns are put out prematurely. The Yellowstone fires proved the mistake of “managing” wild forests by protecting them from natural processes.

          • Todd Eastman says:

            “Many knowledgeable people feel that Article XIV does not adequately addresses today’s Forest Preserve’s need.”

            Now that packs some authority…

      • Todd Eastman says:

        All those recreational opportunities that you describe for taking place within the Adirondack Park occur within the Forest Preserve and must meet the conditions that created the Preserve, that would be Article XIV. Meet those basic standards and you can chug along…

        … not following the prohibitions in Article XIV gets yer butt in trouble.

  4. Mary says:

    What are the details of this story? Where did the trees go to?

  5. Charlie S says:

    “The DEC… was about to cut thousands more trees, including many located in old growth forest habitat.”

    Yep that’s the DEC for you. Not like the old DEC that’s for sure.Kiss-ass capitalists automatons who see no value in the the very things they’re supposed to be seeing values in. This is to be expected in today’s society where life is one meaningless diversion after another. Nowadays people are shallow no matter what their positions in life.

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