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.