Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Court Continues Ban On State Tree Cutting On Forever Wild Lands

A 12-foot wide snowmobile trail bridge constructed in the Moose River Plains in 2012.A new preliminary injunction has been handed down today by a full panel of the Appellate Division, Third Department, of the State Supreme Court, to sustain a temporary ban on tree cutting by state agencies on the forever wild Forest Preserve. This preliminary injunction will remain in place until a decision is made on an appeal of a denial by the State Supreme Court for a preliminary injunction against tree cutting during construction of a network of new class II community connector snowmobile trails on the Forest Preserve.

Tree cutting was stopped for 25 days in mid-July thru mid-August 2016, resumed for one week, and then was halted again on August 19th by one justice of the Appellate Division. The new ban is expected to remain in place well into the fall.

“Protect the Adirondacks cheers this decision by the Appellate Division, Third Department to stop tree cutting by the Department of Environmental Conservation while we make our appeal. We believe that the Forever Wild provision in the State Constitution is being trampled. More than 15,000 trees have already been cut down and dozens of acres of the Forest Preserve have been cleared as the state has built many miles of these new road-like trails. No further tree cutting should be allowed until our lawsuit is resolved,“ Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks, said in a statement issued to the press.

This action is part of a lawsuit filed by Protect the Adirondacks against the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency alleging a violation of Article XIV, Section 1, the Forever Wild provision the NYS Constitution. The state is currently working to build an extensive network of road-like trails through the Forest Preserve. To date, the state has built or plans to build over 36.5 miles of these trails, which Protect argues will require clearing 40-50 acre and destruction of over 31,000 trees.

Unlike other trails built on the Forest Preserve, new “class II community connector snowmobile trails” are excavated with heavy machinery to remove large boulders and stumps, utilize extensive bench cutting along trail sides, grade and flatten a wide trail surface area, remove thousands of trees over 3 inches diameter at breast height (DBH), remove thousands more trees under 3 inches DBH, remove the entire native understory, often replace the native understory with a grass mix, open the forest canopy, fracture and chip away bedrock, utilize oversized bridges often equipped with reflectors, and are built to handle the operation of these motor vehicles at high rates of speed.

All filings for the appeal must be submitted by Protect by October 7, 2016; those will be followed by an answer from the state.

Photo: Above, a 12-foot wide snowmobile trail bridge constructed in the Moose River Plains in 2012.

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35 Responses

  1. lauren says:

    Trees or brush? There is a difference. We may nee a Civilian Corp to clear the trail.

  2. Richard M Hildebrandt says:

    Leave the Adirondacks alone.
    Witnessed first hand the straight line wind damage near Wanakeena.
    Natural beauty is hard to find these days.
    To alter virgin forest for a motor sport is a sin against nature.
    Please leave it nature.

    • Bruce says:


      If the picture of the trail cut and bridge is accurate, where is the virgin, or even 2nd growth forest? Looks like logged off land just starting to grow back after the 2nd growth was cut off.

      • John Warren says:

        That is a different trail, cut last year. Details are in the caption.

        • Bruce says:


          Thank you for pointing that out. The point I was trying to make with Richard was that virgin forest isn’t being cut by the state for any purpose I know of. Perhaps his definition of “virgin forest” is different than that considered by most people.

          • John Warren says:

            I’ve spoken with the guy who is surveying the trails in question. Some of the trees being cut are over 300 years old, one tree was over 340.

            There is no such thing as “virgin forest”. Unless you’re a forest ecologist, you really should have little to say about whether the evidence shows “old growth”, “first growth,” “virgin forest”, etc.

            There are areas being cut that are mature forests over 300 years old.

  3. Jim S. says:

    I am so happy that at least one of the environmental groups is deeply committed to upholding the protections our forefathers put in place all those years ago . Save the trees !

  4. Boreasfisher says:

    This ban on class 2 connectors would garner broad popular support across NYS if given the attention it deserves. Thanks to Protect for keeping it in the spotlight.

  5. Running George says:

    Great work on the part of Protect!

  6. Boreas says:

    Does anyone have a link that describes the various DEC classifications of snowmobile trails?

  7. john says:

    Well, If I cannot cut trees to make a trail, I’ll just have to go for using all those old logging trails. They are already there & can be used.

  8. Paul says:

    Thanks for the update on this. Seems pretty complicated how things work with the appellate court.

    Reminds me of that movie Amistad where the Africans end up with their case before the supreme court. The actor playing president Adams asks the leader of the Africans – “do you know why you are going to stand trial before this court”? And he answers – “this is where they are finally going to kill us?”….

  9. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Richard M Hildebrandt says: “To alter virgin forest for a motor sport is a sin against nature.”

    It’s what we do Richard nonstop on a daily basis. When you have a society that lacks soul this is what you get…and worse!

  10. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Paul says: “Reminds me of that movie Amistad…”

    This is a major part of the problem Paul…the Hollywood mindset,the allure of entertainment,the distractions that take us away from ourselves and real issues…. and nature.Listen to what people talk about! It’s all small talk! It’s about tv and sports and money. Listen and tell me if i’m wrong.There’s hardly any real substance from anyone anymore,nothing to enrich the spirit. If we get any shallower there will be zero depth before long. Then imagine how things will be. The older I get the more I look forward to the failure of my vital functions.

  11. Brian says:

    You are the most selfish group of outdoor enthusiast I have ever come across. The snowmobile connector trails will not take away all the things u enjoy. I am a avid hunter,fishermen,snowmobiler and motorcycle rider. Your way of thinking only benefits your group. My father at the age of 66 would like to enjoy more of the adks but can’t hike or mountain bike anymore..He sure can still ride a snowmobile. The damage after the old school clear cutting and the big fire caused tremendous damage for years after… This group needs to realize that the adks are not just for them.. We has NYS residens get a piece of it too.

    • Boreas says:


      I would say snowmobilers already have a piece of the ADKs. Aren’t there existing snowmobile trails that you and your father can ride? Would you and your father ride this new trail if it were a narrower, slower Class I trail? Perhaps that would be the best compromise.

    • Ryan Finnigan says:

      Brian I will ask you who is more selfish: those who want to protect the States’ natural resources within the forever wild Forest Preserve for the benefit of ALL New Yorkers and FUTURE GENERATIONS, or those who desire to burn fossil fuels while riding a motor vehicle on newly constructed roads that required the destruction of thousands and thousands of trees?

  12. Brian says:

    Yea there is snowmobile trails and yes I would b fine with a smaller slower trail. As far as burning fossil fuels.. My sled is a four stroke 90 HP that get 22 miles to a gallon..My motorcycle is a 15 hp that gets well over 75 miles to a gallon.. Allot less exhaust than a common car or truck. With out a path or a dirt fire road people could not even access the forest to enjoy.. I believe there is plenty of acres for all..

    • Ryan Finnigan says:

      Are you bragging about getting 22 mpg with your snowmobile?

      “Without a path or a dirt fire road people could not even access the forest to enjoy.”
      News flash Brian: many people enjoy the forest without following trails or roads. Ever heard of bushwacking??? Get off of your motor vehicle and go into the woods. You can if you try harder.

    • Boreas says:


      I too believe there is a lot of land to go around. What we are contending with here is:

      1. A new trail (requiring the closure of other snowmobile trails to maintain the snowmobile trail cap).
      2. A new TYPE of trail (Class II) that requires much more landscaping and tree cutting because of the necessity for the trails to be wider and flatter to accommodate more speed and safety.
      3. People who are against any cutting of trees, especially old-growth, to facilitate a Class II trail. Many would like to see it scaled back to a more traditional Class I trail, and others would prefer no new trail at all.

      I believe many of the people who are supporting the work stoppage are not trying to stop the trail being built, but would accept it being built with less of an impact such as a Class I trail. Yet others do not see the need for what many call “superhighways” through the preserve just to allow faster speeds. There is still a lot of debate about how to best proceed here.

  13. Running George says:

    Every time I turn around the fossil fuel burning enthusiasts are demanding more trails… inside the Park and out.

    They already have so many trails that people that live in rural areas don’t know what a quiet winter night is like… or quiet early mornings as the bars are closing.

    The state should not be in the business of promoting more fossil fuel burning recreation.

  14. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Brian says, “Your way of thinking only benefits your group.”

    Your way of thinking benefits a group that is so pervasive in this society Brian that it is preposterous that you would even come on here and say what you said. Selfish? Look in the mirror.

  15. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Running George says: “The state should not be in the business of promoting more fossil fuel burning recreation.”

    The State is in bed with the fossil fuel industry George.

    • Boreas says:


      I can throw that blanket a little further. Anyone who uses fossil fuels directly or indirectly (plastics, etc.) is helping the fossil fuel industry. But however one looks at it, the party won’t last forever.

  16. Tom Payne says:

    Careful Brian you will be painted as an Albany lobbyist. And the talk of compromise, don’t belive a word they say.

    • John Warren says:

      “Tom Payne” is an actual lobbyist for the snowmobile industry who refuses to identify himself or the organization he works for. But what’s worse, his repeated vague and unsubstantiated personal attacks like the one above, and his inability or refusal to make any actual contribution to discussions, show him and his organization to be a real cancer on our community. A search for his e-mail address reveals that he has been reported for sending spam, probably part of the same kind of anonymous harassment he engages in here.

  17. Bruce says:

    I don’t own a snowmobile although I have in another place and time before there were public snowmobile trails. I don’t live where snowmobiles are used, so don’t have any interest in a snowmobile trail pro or con.

    However, I think Brian might have a point…is this about motorized use of the Wild Forest, or tree cutting? As I recall, before the trail was started, there was much discussion about the necessity of such a trail, and at the same time, a call was put out to remove the bridge over the Hudson by the same organization, effectively preventing motorized use in that area.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, and call a spade a spade. Just my opinion, but I don’t think the injunction against tree cutting will hold up in the final analysis, how it’s carried out may be modified; bringing us back to the original discussion of motorized use.

  18. Brian says:

    Bushwhacking, Are u serious? What about all the vegetation damage caused by that? Bragging? Not me.. just stating how efficient the machines I use are.. I c some of the same one way talk in the Boreas pond comments.. U are well funded and organized group, with one way thinking. You claim your reason is to preserve for future generations.. U people should look in the mirror.. Your hidden agenda is pretty clear to me.. All the fossil fuel burning comments.. too many cars in the parking area..

    • Michael K says:

      Fossil fuels are on their way out. Start up alternative energy companies are popping up all over the world. I’m sure you’re not against new business adventures.
      The forever wild laws were enacted after rape of the adk forest. I understand your like of snowmobiles & their overall carbon footprint is pretty small. But the laws were enacted to keep people from chipping away at them with little incursions into the park.

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