Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Forever Wild And The Word “Timber”

Protect the Adirondacks recently won a major victory in its lawsuit to enforce Article 14, Section 1 of the state Constitution, the well-known forever wild clause. The case challenged the excessive tree cutting undertaken by state agencies to build a vast network of Class II Community Connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

The case began in 2013 and this result has been six years in the making. Previously, the Appellate Division, Third Department, of the state Supreme Court had issued a preliminary injunction against this tree cutting in 2016 after the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had constructed or roughed out over 20 miles of new trails.

A trial was held in 2017, in the Supreme Court (New York’s trial-level state court) in Albany, and the trial judge issued his ruling dismissing PROTECT’s complaint and upholding the State’s position in December 2017. PROTECT appealed that decision in 2018. A 4-1 ruling in favor of PROTECT that reversed the Supreme Court decision was issued by the Appellate Division on July 3, 2019.

The Appellate Division’s landmark decision did two things. First, it affirmed past legal precedents from the 1930s and 1990s about the limits on tree cutting allowable on the Forest Preserve to facilitate public recreational use. In doing so, the court ruled that the cutting by DEC and APA of over 25,000 trees on 34 miles of Class II community connector snowmobile trails violated Article 14. Second, the court ruled that the terrain alterations and construction methods using heavy machinery to build the Class II trails did not violate Article 14. The State has published a plan to cut hundreds of miles of similar trails in the Forest Preserve. This decision, if it is upheld on appeal, should prevent that planned destruction of the Forest Preserve from occurring.

Supporters of the State’s building of the Class II trails have criticized this ruling, but there are many flaws with their criticism. Much of this criticism is aimed at the court’s decision that small trees under 3” DBH (diameter at breast height) are protected as “timber” under Article 14. These critics seem to believe that if these small trees had not been taken into account by the Appellate Division, the court might have ruled in favor of the State and its Class II trails. Given that an unprecedented 6,900+ large trees of 3” DBH or more were being destroyed for just the first 34 miles of these trails, there can be no doubt that this trail system was unconstitutional under the existing legal precedents. The consideration of over 18,000 smaller trees by the court merely bolstered this evidence. Even though DEC has ignored these small diameter trees for decades, the historical record shows that the framers of Article 14 fully intended that it would apply to all trees, of all sizes.

The heart of Article 14, Section 1 reads: “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” This wording has not changed since its adoption by the Constitutional Convention of 1894.

Since its passage at the 1894 Constitutional Convention and subsequent approval by the voters, the meaning of the word “timber” in this section has been debated. The Appellate Division’s decision confirms that “timber”, as it pertains to the Forest Preserve, protects the forest as a whole, and trees of all sizes, and not just large merchantable trees.

The July 2019 decision focused on two central points, among several that were contested during the 2017 trial: (1) that the level of tree cutting by the State to build the Class II trails exceeded the level of tree cutting proposed in other State actions that were contested in court in prior Article 14 decisions — the 1930 Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks v MacDonald decision and the 1993 Balsam Lake Anglers Club v DEC decision; and (2) that the framers of the Constitution’s “forever wild” clause did not limit protections against substantial tree cutting to only large, merchantable “timber”; that the use of the word “timber” in its historic context included all trees regardless of size; and that small diameter trees, which can often be over 75 years old or older, are ecologically important to the functioning of the forest ecosystem and must be considered in State management decisions.

The court stated:

We agree with Supreme Court’s determination, based on the expert historian’s testimony as well as other evidence, that the use of the word “timber” in the constitutional provision at issue is not limited to marketable logs or wood products, but refers to all trees, regardless of size. Although tree size and maturity may be considered in determining whether a proposed project’s tree cutting is substantial or material, plaintiff presented expert testimony debunking the assumption that smaller trees are necessarily young or immature; some forest trees measuring less than three inches DBH can be more than 100 years old, and smaller mature trees play an important role in the continuing ecology of the forest. The court generally accepted the tree counts proffered by plaintiff, including for trees less than three inches DBH. Accepting those factual findings, approximately 25,000 trees either had been or would be cut to construct the trails.

Today, the word “timber” is often associated, though far from uniformly, with large diameter trees that have commercial value as saw timber, among other purposes. Even today, though, the meaning of the word timber has varied meanings among foresters. On WAMC public radio, Fred Monroe, a local government leader in the Adirondacks, said that Class II trails “can be judged to be unconstitutional if you count things that are really not timber as timber.” This view of the term ignores its historical meaning, as of the time when Article 14 was adopted.

To find the meaning of the word “timber” as it pertains to Article 14, Section 1, it’s important to consult the historical record. In the 2017 trial, and as referenced by the Appellate Division decision, Protect the Adirondacks provided expert testimony by the Adirondack Park’s leading historian, Dr. Philip Terrie, the author of a number of Adirondack histories, about the meaning of the word “timber” in the late 19th century. The court trial transcripts can be read here.

Dr. Terrie cited the 1892 Webster’s International Dictionary of the English Language for the definition of the word “timber” at the time that Article 14 was adopted. There were six definitions, one of which was “Woods or forests, wooded lands.” Others included gluing many boards together to make a large beam. Terrie also cited a passage from Joel T. Headley’s The Adirondack: Or, Life in the Woods (1849), a popular 19th century publication, in which Headley used the word “timber” to mean the thick understory of the forest.

Additional evidence from the historic record included a passage from Verplanck Colvin’s Report on the Progress of the State Land Survey, 1893. Colvin recounted a report about planned logging on the summit of Mount Seward above Ampersand Lake, a remote region of the Adirondacks that Colvin found to be special. While he voiced regret about the proposed logging, of more interest is how he used the word “timber”:

The agent informed me that not only was the timber in the valley to be cut and removed but shoots were to be constructed far up toward the summit of the High Peaks so that not only logs fit for lumber could be sent down to the skidways but even the small soft wood spruce timber would be thoroughly cut for pulpwood as the company did not consider it desirable to keep and pay taxes upon these high upland where the trees are very slow growth.

Colvin’s use of the phrase “small soft wood spruce timber” was instructive. To Colvin, the word “timber” meant any tree that the loggers were planning to cut, big or small.

The best original source about the meaning of the word “timber” in Article 14 (then Article 7, Section 7) is the transcript of the 1894 Constitutional Convention’s debates over its adoption. (Click here to read the debate transcript.) Reading this shows that the framers of Article 14 used “trees” and “timber” interchangeably. It’s difficult to see in the language of the framers throughout the debate about adoption of Article 14 a use of the word “timber” that is limited to a commercial sense, meaning only large, merchantable trees, rather than as a word that meant the whole forest of standing trees, consistent with the dictionary definition of their time, or that the framers envisioned that the new Constitution would provide protection for some trees, but for not others.

The debate on the forever wild provision in the state Constitution started on September 7, 1894 and ran over to Saturday morning, September 8th. At the debate on Saturday morning, David McClure, the father of the forever wild clause, opened by stating:

“The hills, rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun — the venerable woods — rivers that moved in majesty — and the complaining brooks that make the meadows green,” these for years had been neglected by the people of the State and the great men of our State, the men of public spirit generally, had forgotten that it was necessary for the life, the health, the safety, and the comfort not to speak of the luxury of the people of this State, that our forests should be preserved. (Applause) (Page 128)

McClure then asked “What are these forestlands, Mr. Chairman?” He recounted the acreage of state-owned lands and then read passages from a statement by Assemblyman George W. Smith of Herkimer, and from State Surveyor Verplanck Colvin’s report about the importance of forests for preserving water. McClure then started to make his case for forever wild by asking “What is the value of these woods and why should we try to preserve them intact?” After talking about the failure of agriculture in the Adirondacks, he answered his question by stating that the Forest Preserve should be “a great resort for the people of this state.” (Page 131) Note that the architect of Article 14 did not talk about the board feet or commercial value of the “timber” on the Forest Preserve.

McClure also made the economic argument that Adirondack forests must be protected in order to protect the headwaters of the Hudson River. He said “We will one day need the water stored in the Adirondacks to drink in the city of New York.” McClure quoted the famed 19th century Adirondack travel writer, Rev. W.H.H. Murray, that the Adirondack forests are, quite literally, a gift from God. (Page 133)

McClure then talked about the destruction of forests around the world, which contributed to the falls of great empires in the Middle East and Europe. He talked about massive reforestation programs in Germany and France. His speech came back to the U.S. and talked about the negative effects on the Ohio and Connecticut Rivers from deforestation in their watersheds. He then asked rhetorically why Yellowstone was being protected, but New York’s forests are not? McClure then cited recent actions by the State to protect New York’s forests, which saw his first mention of the word “timber”: “Governor Flower, by repeated, not only annual, but special messages, has called the attention of the Legislature to the necessity not only of saving the forests themselves by protection and the non-sale of lands, but to the necessity of preserving even the timber upon the lands for the protection of the interests of the State. They were only doing what has been done in the old days.” (Page 137) In this passage McClure is talking about the need to stop commercial harvesting of trees on the Forest Preserve. His use of the word “timber” meant all of the trees in the forest.

McClure then made the case that though New York had no debts it had failed to invest in foresters and the protection of state forests, repeatedly using “forests,” “woods,” and “timber” interchangeably. McClure continued by making the argument that no lands of the Forest Preserve should be sold and that no trees should be sold. He stated “First of all, we should not permit the sale of one acre of land. We should keep all we have. We should not exchange our lands — in an exchange the State is in danger of obtaining most of the taxing — and there is no necessity why we should part with any of our land. We should not sell a tree or a branch of one.” McClure was talking about stopping the practice by the State of selling Forest Preserve lands, something that was still being done after the Forest Preserve was formed in 1885. But it’s his language here in talking about stopping logging that is most important. To make his case he did not talk about large merchantable trees, but said “We should not sell a tree or a branch of one.” (Page 139) Given McClure’s language, it’s hard to see the logic in modern-day arguments that preservation of the commercial value of the large diameter “timber” on the Forest Preserve is all that Article 14 is concerned with.

It is instructive to see McClure’s use of language when he started to talk about actual logging of the forest in the next part of his speech.

Some people may think in the wisdom of their scientific investigations that you can make the forests better by thinning out and selling to lumbermen some of the trees, regardless of the devastation, the burnings and the stealings that follow in the lumberman’s track. But I say to you, gentlemen, no man has yet found it possible to improve upon the ways of nature. In the primeval forest when the tree falls it is practically dead, and when it falls it is a protection to the other trees; it takes in the moisture through its bark, and rottenness, and diffuses it down and into the soil. I do not like the notion of the lumbermen cutting the woods and taking out the best trees and destroying, with every tree he takes, fifty in addition. (Page 139)

Why is it that when McClure talks about logging and selling lumber, he does not use the word “timber”? Why is it that when McClure talked about “the lumberman cutting the woods” and “the best trees”, he did not use the word timber? Note that McClure even argued about the importance of dead trees, as “protection to the other trees,” something unlikely if he envisioned that the new forever wild amendment protected only large merchantable trees.

McClure then talked about the importance of the State buying up more lands to expand the Forest Preserve: “We can buy these lands for a trifle. Many of the clubs owning large tracts are willing to put them into the forest preserves so far as preserving the lands as wild lands. Mr. Chairman, our lands should not be sold or exchanged; our timber should not be sold.” (Page 140) McClure was not talking only about large merchantable trees when he used the word “timber.” He was talking about the all the trees in the forest, which if left alone and not cut, make a wild land.

At that point, delegate William Goodelle from Syracuse rose to offer his famous amendment to add the words “or destroyed” to the forever wild clause, so that the final sentence in Article 14, Section 1, would read “nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” Goodelle then took the floor in support of his amendment, stating: “I would not only prevent this State from selling, but I would prevent it from destroying the timber within this preserve. I would not only do that, but I would inhibit them from the purposes of the destruction of our forests.” Goodelle mixed together the words “logs,” “lumber,” “timber,” “trees” and “forests” to make his case.

In his most impassioned section, Goodelle stated:

Within several years past a dam has been put across that river [Beaver River at the Stillwater Reservoir] at a point above number four, and the result is that the water has been set back upon thousands and thousands of acres of the forest of those mountains, the spruce, the pine, the balsam. The result is that they stand there to-day by thousands and thousands of acres, a ruined scene to look upon. The trees have all died; the beautiful river is wiped out and is gone, and we have there a vast pond or a vast sea, with those dead trees standing upright in the water. (Page 142)

Though Goodelle successfully amended the forever wild provision so that the “timber” on the Forest Preserve was not to be “destroyed,” his purpose was clearly to strengthen protections of all types of forests and trees on the Forest Preserve. Nowhere in Goodelle’s arguments is there a case to be made that he was talking about protecting only large merchantable trees. Rather, he was trying to protect all of the trees in the forest.

Goodelle was followed by Charles Mereness of Lowville, who recounted his camping trips in the Adirondacks:

I have traversed this great forest in true aboriginal style, with my boatman and skiff, and a pack on my back from Long Lake and Blue Mountain on the southeast to Paul Smith’s on Lake St. Regis on the north; from the Fulton chain on the southwest to the lower Saranac on the north, and have visited a large number of the beautiful lakes and ponds in that region, of which there are not less than one thousand. I have stood on the highest mountain peaks and admired the beauty of the green leafage stretching out as far as the eye could reach, and where none of the ravages of man were discernible, and have frequented the places inhabited for centuries, and until recently by the denizens of the forest; where the deer, the moose, the black bear, the beaver and many smaller animals flourished, notwithstanding the presence of panthers and wolves. The moose and the beaver are gone, never to return, I fear, and I suppose the brutal instincts of man will not be satisfied until the last deer is shot, and the last speckled beauty caught.

The screech of the locomotive, introduced to that lovely section, by Doctor Webb and others, can now be heard, and the time is fast approaching when the whole region will be made desolate and barren, unless the hand of the despoiler is stayed. We have already waited too long, but I implore you, do not longer hesitate to take measures to stop this outrage. (Page 147)

Mereness ended his statement by exhorting the convention: “Let us recommend to the people that they put into the organic law the declaration that our forest preserve and the timber thereon shall be inviolate forever.” (Page 148) The language Mereness used was not technical language of the word timber meaning commercial values and estimates of board feet, but rather it was a good example of the use of the word “timber” in that time – as a noun that meant all the trees in a forest, all the wooded lands.

There followed a discussion about the scope of the Forest Preserve and its overall size, until Delegate Thomas McArthur of Glens Falls rose to speak. He talked about the forests of the Adirondacks and Catskills as a “vast sponge.” (Page 152) Delegate Chester B. McLaughlin of Port Henry followed and spoke of his observations about Adirondack forests after regularly visiting the area for the past 10 years. McLaughlin urged rejection of all changes to the forever wild amendment except for Goodelle’s addition of these words “or destroyed.” McLaughlin said “In every section of it you will see some parts of this immense forest destroyed. The moment you put in any provision that anybody can cut timber there, then you destroy the effect of the whole amendment.” (Page 153) Those words spoken on that Saturday morning in 1894 by Port Henry’s C.B McLaughlin, a son of the Adirondacks, were quoted 125 years later in the July 2019 Appellate Division decision.

The debate then shifted to a discussion about taxation before order was restored. At this time, McClure refocused the debate to restate the amendment, as it is known today. He wound up his speech with these relevant comments:

I say, sir, that it is necessary that something be done; I say, sir, it is necessary to close the door unless you want this great water supply, this great sanitarium, this great health resort of our State that is known from ocean to ocean, and from land to land, destroyed, that you must shut the door, and you must close it tight, and close it right away; and not only that, you must keep it closed for twenty years. (Page 156)

Here, McClure talked against tree cutting of any kind by imploring the convention to “shut the door.” He closed his speech with these statements:

This is not an individual matter with me, sir, I am not interested to the extent of one dollar in the forest lands of this State, but when I see the great number of pleasure seekers, the great number of invalids that annually visit that territory, not only in summer, but also in winter, it appears to me that we here, now and to-day, should do something to protect that great and- magnificent forest from further spoilation. In and out of the forest preserve, every dollar’s worth of land that is now owned by the State of New York should be enjoyed by the people of the State of New York, should be as free as air, as free as the God-given sunlight of heaven.

Again, sir, more should be done, which is not proposed by this amendment. More should be done, in that the State should own all the lands within this great forest preserve. It should be so, sir, that the poor man as well as the rich man might enjoy its benefits. It should be so that no great corporation, no wealthy individual, or association of individuals, should be able to select out the choicest, most beautiful spots of this domain, and set up in front of them a forbiddance, a sign of “no trespassing.” I say, sir, it is our duty to the people whom we represent — and I thank God there is no politics in this — to give a sufficient, a proper and adequate protection, so that when the foresters tell us that within twenty years a forest will recuperate, within the time in which another Constitutional Convention will assemble within the walls of this magnificent pile, we shall have a forest domain that will be of some satisfaction, that will be a credit, as this great building is a credit, to the great, and magnificent Empire, the State of New York. (Applause) (Page 156)

There followed more procedural discussion before the question was called. The amendment, which has come be Article 14, Section 1, was passed unanimously by the convention delegates. The language used in this debate by McClure, the key architect of Article 14 – “great and- magnificent forest” and “the God-given sunlight of heaven” – show us that the framers in 1894 employed inspired rhetoric and were not using the word timber in a commercial sense, but as a noun commonly used in the late 19th century to describe standing trees of all kinds in the forest.

The new state Constitution was approved in November 1894 and forever wild took effect in 1895. Since then, the forever wild public Forest Preserve has been a fact of life, often celebrated as one of New York’s great accomplishments. The meaning of Article 14 has been debated through the generations and is being debated today. It’s clear from the historic record that the framers of Article 14 did not use the word “timber” in the commercial lumbering sense in which it is sometimes used today, but as a word describing all trees in the forest. The State’s arguments in the recent trial, and the arguments of its apologists in the Adirondacks, are merely modern semantics, which have no basis in the original intent of the framers of Article 14. The framers of Article 14 envisioned in their debate in September 1894 that all trees in the Forest Preserve were meant to be protected, not just some of them, and not just the large trees.

Portrait of David McClure, Chair, Special Committee on Forest Preservation, 1894.

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Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks. He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He was the co-founder of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) in 1998, which has collected long-term water quality data on more than 75 Adirondack lakes and ponds. He has testified before the State Legislature, successfully advocated to pass legislation and budget items, authored numerous articles, op-eds, and reports such as "20% in 2023: An Assessment of the New York State 30 by 30 Act" (2023), "The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010" (2019), "The Myth of Quiet, Motor-free Waters in the Adirondack Park" (2013), and "Rutted and Ruined: ATV Damage on the Adirondack Forest Preserve" (2003) and "Growth in the Adirondack Park: Analysis of Rates and Patterns of Development" (2001). He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife, has two grown children out in the world, and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Threads.

52 Responses

  1. Smitty says:

    I mean no disrespect, but if you want your articles to have impact, please shorten them.

  2. adkresident says:

    Just stupid.
    The trails were to be expanded to get people off the roads and make the trails safer.

  3. Paul says:

    They just need to come up with a common sense measure (one that can be measured easily with some kind of quantitative formula) of what “substantial” is. Otherwise the only people that are benefiting here are the lawyers making the arguments back and forth.

    Personally I think that relative to all the timber in the Forest Preserve this amount of cutting is pretty minuscule. The court did not agree. How many trees just fall over for this or that each day in the FP?

    Peter, do you agree, or do you think that it is “all” the trees as you state in your conclusion. If that is the measure then the debate is over. You can’t cut any for anything.

  4. ben says:

    Used the standard logging companies have used for the last 100 or so years. They seem to have it down pat!

  5. roger dziengeleski says:

    With respect, the interpretation of words that were uttered 100 years ago cannot be taken seriously. The minute one qualifies a statement by saying “what this meant to” someone who has been dead for decades, the statement becomes pure conjecture. No matter how much one studies history or how many degrees one amasses from such study, they cannot state with any certainty whatsoever, what the dead person meant.

    Interpreting written statements from decades ago are easily skewed to reflect the beliefs of the interpreter. Peter’s selection of only certain passages reflect this issue. Six old definitions of timber but only the one that fits his beliefs is mentioned in this article.

    If this is what the court based its decision on, the State’s appeal showing “timber” to be related to economic value should be successful. No one ever yelled “TIMBER!” when a seedling was damaged.

    • John says:

      And no one ever yelled “timber!” when the amendment was passed. The warning did not come into use until after the turn of the 20th century. Meanings change over time. Good thing we keep records like debate and court transcripts. This is not tough stuff.

      • roger dziengeleski says:

        Your comment fails to recognize that recorded use of a word or term is not representative of its earliest use. This quote is from Merriam’s dictionary, “The date most often does not mark the very first time that the word was used in English. Many words were in spoken use for decades or even longer before they passed into the written language.”.

    • Steve B. says:

      “With respect, the interpretation of words that were uttered 100 years ago cannot be taken seriously”.

      Say that to the defenders of the 2nd Amendment

      • Kathy says:

        My thoughts exactly..
        And the history is fascinating, such a way with words…

      • Vanessa says:

        This, ladies and gents

      • roger dziengeleski says:

        My comment related to spoken words. Peter Bauer claimed in his article that he knew what Verplanck Colvin meant by his words. That is an impossibility without asking Mr. Colvin. So Peter’s reference is Peter’s interpretation of Colvin’s words, not Colvin’s interpretation. I can read the Colvin quote and come up with a much different meaning than did Peter. “Small softwood spruce timber” could and likely did refer to trees six inches in diameter and larger.

  6. adkDreamer says:

    New York State jurisprudence states clearly that words used in law must be interpreted by their common meaning, unless they are words of art – as in words used in trades or commerce having an alternate understanding – however words of art should be accompanied in legal documents with their meaning to avoid ambiguity. Absent a clear definition, ambiguous words will be interpreted to have meaning supporting the free use of the land, the least restrictive definition, and go against those who attempt to broaden their meaning in an effort to restrict land use.

  7. Carol Akey says:

    The Adirondacks ,Forever wild yes!!

  8. Boreas says:

    Perhaps we should be debating the original meaning of the words “preserve” and “wild” instead. If they no longer have the same meaning as when A14 was adopted, then A14 should be amended and clarified by the voters to avoid never-ending challenges and lawsuits. Obviously, motorized conveyances and “overuse” weren’t much of a consideration at the time.

    • adkDreamer says:

      No. The idea that current colloquial word meanings somehow magically change long standing adopted law runs contrary to over 100 years of res judicata. Interpretation of words used in law rely predominantly on the meaning commonly used at the time the law was enacted (or words of art if defined alternately – see my previous comment on New York State jurisprudence)

      There are hundreds if not thousands of case law available addressing or referencing how words are to be interpreted.

      • Boreas says:

        Yet again, I think you missed my point. That’s OK.

        • adkDreamer says:

          No. I missed nothing – Your suggestion is that A14 should be amended if preserve and wild no longer have the same meaning is rubbish.

          • Boreas says:

            I guess I have to spell it out for you. What do you think is really being discussed here? It isn’t simply the legal description of a tree or timber – it is larger than that. If today’s definitions of “wild” and “preserve” are going to include the building of trails for motorized conveyances, it is in conflict with what was envisioned with A14. This contradiction has been skirted for too long. If you feel that is rubbish, then I guess we disagree.

            • adkDreamer says:

              Please resist the urge to gaslight me – it is so annoying. This article is precisely addressing word definitions in law. At the risk of repeating myself again, here goes: New York State jurisprudence already has a remedy in law regarding how words and phrases are to be interpreted for meaning. You are suggesting that it is somehow OK to ignore hundreds of years of well settled law and practice for something you ‘feel’ you need to argue endlessly.

  9. Gary Hartwick says:

    Eventually we are going to have one giganic bombfire when all the stuff in the woods burns up.

  10. Paul says:

    If they meant “tree” why not use the word tree. The use of the word “timber” in itself seems point to something else being on their minds?

    “wood prepared for use in building and carpentry” – the current dictionary definition.

    “There were six definitions, one of which was “Woods or forests, wooded lands.” Others included gluing many boards together to make a large beam.”

    The first one is close to the current use of “timber land”. The second sounds quite “industrial”.

    What were the other 4? Did any contain the word “tree”?

  11. ben says:

    I still say use the standard logging size used by loggers in the ADK for the last 100 years or so. If it , was, is, will be good enough for them, then that should be the standard! They cut trees down in the ADK for a LONG LONG LONG TIME & no one complained.

  12. Sandor says:

    If we are to cut trees let it be for jobs,state revenue and a purpose.To cut trees for snowmobiles thru pristine forest is a joke.Gov. C. is a joke! Utilize bike trails for machines..there are enough bike trails thru-out NY to use!! Let it snow let it snow let it snow.

    • ben says:

      Show me on a map a bike trail between Newcomb &Warrensburg or Lake George. Creating revenue for the ADK towns is a purpose. Snowmobiles provide that economic input to towns in the winter!

      • Dana says:

        Want to increase revenue and employment in Newcomb or other villages? Put in a Stewart’s Shop.

        • roger dziengeleski says:

          Dana, really? Such sarcasm and general lack of understanding. Newcomb has been trying to get a convenience store for decades but neither Stewarts or any other chain will put one in. Just not enough traffic. Maybe with connector trails there would be?

          • Boreas says:

            I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic at all, although it may have sounded that way. Perhaps new the money being spent on Upper Works will add more traffic to the area.

            • roger dziengeleski says:

              Thanks for the clarification. Maybe the upper works will help but likely a lot more is needed. A pure single stream recreation based economy will require all forms of recreation to be encouraged in order to cover all seasons and to generate enough economic activity to provide jobs and services.

              • Boreas says:


                If the upper part of the RR corridor to Tahawus could provide a year-round recreational corridor it would also help Newcomb and the Upper Works project. But while the commercial potential of that section of RR is rehashed and debated, the Newcomb area waits… I would much rather old RR beds provide year-round connector trails since much of the infrastructure is already present.

                • roger dziengeleski says:

                  Allowing all types of recreation will not replace the economic impact of lost development, forest management and mining economic contributions. Towns continue to shrink as do services and needed infrastructure like hotels and restaurants. All are needed to support a recreation only economy. We aren’t in a place of plenty where we can pick and chose what recreation we will allow.

      • Hoffman Notch says:

        Not enough economic input to justify your bull crap trails. Leave the damn Adirondacks alone. Snowmobiles don’t belong on Forest PRESERVE lands…GO ELSEWHERE on trails that already exist. Snowmobile traffic isn’t making anyone rich. Leave it alone you greedy sob’s

        • Roger Dziengeleski says:

          By this logic there should be no hiking trails either? “Leave the damn Adirondacks alone.” This includes all human activity. Very elitist to suggest only your preferred form of recreation is to be allowed in the Adirondacks.

          • Boreas says:


            There’s that term “elitist” again. The hiking trails exist. The proposed snowmobile trail doesn’t. I feel Hoffman Notch has a valid point. Is it not “elitist” to expect A14 to be ignored in order to build trails for a motorized sport that only some can afford? Many snowmobilers feel their activity is OK but draw the line at allowing ATVs in the Park or building trails for ATV/motorbike use. Is that “elitist”? eBikes and drones are not allowed, but snowmobiles are OK?

            Hiking, hunting, fishing and paddling were the types of recreation alluded to in A14. There was no mention of motorized recreation and developing trail systems for them. Until A14 is properly amended to address the modern issues of motor vehicle access, APA, DEC, and other stakeholders will continue to be busy in the courts. Propose an amendment to A14 and let’s find out once and for all what NYS citizens feel about motorized recreation in the FP. There will be no good way to plan for the future management of the Park with shifting court decisions and challenges.

            • Hoffman Notch says:

              Roger…my comments were based on an economic outlook. Snowmobilers want us to believe that they keep the Adirondack towns up and running in the winter…it’s just not true. And your word “elitist” pisses me off. As Boreas eluded to…there is nothing more “elitist” than saying that these trails are smowmobile only. Snowmobiles use them for such a short period of time throughout the year. I’m an ATV owner…but I can’t use “YOUR” trails. Clearly you don’t understand what “elitist” means.

              • roger dziengeleski says:

                Hoffman and Boreas, snowmobile trails are multi use trails and have been for many decades. Snowmobilers, horseback riders, bike riders, hunters and other open space recreational users don’t lobby against hiking or canoeing (all human activity impacts wilderness). So if you don’t like the word elitist (Would selfish, snobbish, or obstructionist be better adjectives to use?) just stop trying to ban other users from their recreation. Three million acres of Preserve is enough space for all recreational pursuits. By the way, snowmobiles have been allowed under A14 for well over half a decade. Thanks,

                • John Warren says:

                  The notion that snowmobile trails are really multi-use trails is an outright lie. Nearly all snowmobile trails are closed to all but snowmobile club members only.

                  Open existing snowmobile trails to all users and then you can start complaining about the trails you want on public forever wild lands.

                  • howard says:

                    snowmobile trails are open to all users, not just club members. You DON’T have to be a club member to ride the NY State snowmobile trails, just NY State registered.

                    • John Warren says:

                      False. Snowmobile trails are officially closed everywhere right now. They are not open for anyone’s use, except on Forest Preserve, where the clubs don’t get to decide who uses the trails. Where trails are managed by clubs, they are closed to all use, and often gated besides. Club trails are not open to ATVs, mountain bikers, hikers or skiers because, legally, club trails rely on landowner permission and snowmobile clubs don’t seek, and are not granted, permission for those uses.

                    • howard says:

                      I was rebutting his comment that trails are only open to club members. Don’t get your panties in a knicker John, it’s not becoming for you!

                • Hoffman Notch says:

                  Roger…yes obstructionist will work fine for me…I Don’t want your machine in the Adirondacks. I ride my ATV for miles and miles…just not in the ADK’s

                • Boreas says:


                  “Three million acres of Preserve is enough space for all recreational pursuits.”

                  Your argument really holds little merit for many of us. You are ignoring one word important word here – “preserve”. How can a preserve be open to “all recreational pursuits” – especially if some of these pursuits require cutting trees and leveling/smoothing of terrain? Keeping the FP “Forever Wild” and allowing alternative transportation routes through those same lands certainly are at odds.

                  Yes, the FP is a pretty big place, but NY is much bigger. You shouldn’t ignore state, local, and private lands that do welcome snowmobilers in your calculations. What keeps the FP unique is its lack of development and motorized recreation. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. All we have to do is amend A14 to include all types of recreation, or throw it out entirely. But we shouldn’t continue bending A14 for every potential user group out there. Do it right and propose amendments to A14 and let the voters of NYS decide, not politicians.

                  If you are still searching for an adjective, how about ‘preservationist”?

                  • Hoffman Notch says:


                  • roger dziengeleski says:

                    Selfish is indeed the word. None of the recreational pursuits allowed by A14 and the masterplan would result in diminishment of the ecosystem. You just want to have your enjoyment of the Preserve and keep others from theirs. Very sad.

                    • Boreas says:

                      “None of the recreational pursuits allowed by A14 and the masterplan would result in diminishment of the ecosystem.”

                      What are your sources for this viewpoint – the current administration? There are many people who would disagree.

                      I just want the FP to be managed as a preserve. My enjoyment of the Preserve is simply knowing it is there. That may sadden you, but I feel it is important given the constant assault on natural areas around the world. THAT is sad.

                      I am proud NYS set these lands aside as a preserve over a century ago, and I feel it is important to keep it that way. I don’t believe building and promoting Class 2 connector trails ever closer to areas designated as Wilderness should be part of the future of the FP.

        • ben says:

          awh do you need a hug from a snowmobiler

  13. Sandor says:

    Economic input? Show me on a map what businesses are going to benefit from North Hudson to Newcomb….O…thanks now!!!

    • ben says:

      Let’s see the Newcomb House Bar & restaurant, being that you can then go onto Long Lake (Adirondack Hotel/Stewarts & all the other business; you can then ride down to Raquette Lake & hit all the business’s there. If you go towards North Hudson, all the business over there can now be visited by snowmobilers from the Newcomb side of the trails. So it opens up LOTS of business’s

  14. Sandor says:

    Don’t know what businesses are in long lake? If you go from Newcomb (1- bar) to North Hudson (1-gas station) that makes 2 for a slap to mother nature and you …

  15. Sandor says:

    And all the businesses in Raquette lake would be the Tap Room..ok now 3..lol!

  16. Hoffman Notch says:

    No wonder I see all these sleds for sale at the end of winter…your all broke from putting gas in your machines to go have dinner 60 miles away. I’m assuming you do this regularly…since these businesses are thriving off off your patronage. So let’s see gas for the 120 mile commute, dinner…more if you stay over in one of the very few motel/hotel/inns actually open in the winter. Yikes…y’all must work some serious overtime.

  17. Sandor says:

    We don’t need snow mobiles…the BS…fumes..pollution, and the Sheriff’s Dept .here everyday….

  18. roger dziengeleski says:

    We don’t need hikers, or people, eroding trails, exhaling carbon gas, littering the mountains, rangers issuing tickets every day…. Come on, how selfish can you be?