In the midst of our cold winter, a debate has been heating up around tree cutting for trails.
With the NYS Court of Appeals set to hear a case next month, environmental groups are taking sides. See this recent article by Adirondack Explorer’s policy reporter Gwen Craig: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/adirondack-advocates-clash-over-lawsuits-possible-effects-on-trail-work.
From the article, here’s an overview of the issue:
“Protect the Adirondacks, a nonprofit, sued the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency over the construction of snowmobile trails on the state forest preserve. They’re called Class 2 community connector trails, and are 9 feet wide with some 12-foot-wide curves and slopes. The amount of tree cutting involved in the first 25 miles of these trails, Protect the Adirondacks has argued, violated the “forever wild” clause in the state constitution. That clause ensures that millions of acres of forest preserve lands are protected for future generations, and prevents the harvest and sale of timber.
Recreation and environmental organizations disagree on how this case could influence trail work and maintenance. Supporting the DEC are the Adirondack Mountain Club, Nature Conservancy and Open Space Institute, who all believe the case goes beyond snowmobile connector trails and bleeds into any trail work, including maintenance of hiking trails.
Siding with Protect the Adirondacks is a similarly formidable list of environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, Adirondack Council and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.”
At issue is the definition of what constitutes a tree, and whether small trees/saplings are counted in the tally of what gets cleared for trail development/maintenance. The DEC has set those that “count” at 3 inches in diameter at breast height, a definition that’s being challenged in this lawsuit.
From the Almanack archive, a commentary by former Explorer editor Phil Brown about the issue that dates back to 2016: https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2016/11/snowmobile-trail-tree-cutting-and-forest-preserve-law.html
Let’s hear your thoughts. Which side are you on?