Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Court hears tree-cutting lawsuit

court screenshotOne of the stories I wrote for this past issue of Adirondack Explorer was about a “forever wild” case before the state Court of Appeals brought by Protect the Adirondacks against the state Department of Environmental Conservation. In case you missed it, last week the court heard oral arguments from both sides, which I wrote about here.

If you click on that link above, too, we embedded the YouTube clip of the hearing so you can watch it for yourself. No matter what side you might take, it is interesting to watch the judges ask so many good questions. This whole case can get very abstract when you’re looking at the question of what is a constitutionally protected tree. But I thought the judges also got to some very specific questions about constitutional amendments and work that has been impacted thus far from this litigation.


The Post Star newspaper had an editorial siding with the DEC. From previous coverage, we know that the Adirondack Mountain Club, Open Space Institute and the Nature Conservancy are also siding with the state. Other groups have also filed amicus briefs in favor of DEC, such as the Association of Adirondack Towns and Villages. The Adirondack Council, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and the Sierra Club are siding with Protect. We should hear something on the court’s decision this spring.

We’re a few days away from the deadline for a timely state budget, April 1. It’s unlikely legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make that deadline exactly, but we should see something final very soon.

I have my own deadlines this week for our May/June issue of the magazine. We also have an upcoming Coffee and Conversation at 10 a.m. on Wednesday to talk about stories in our March/April issue. You can sign up here.

I’ll also draw your attention to a new series we’ve got online about the Adirondack Park Agency’s contentious history by writer Brad Edmondson. You can read the first part of the “Regulators and Rebels”series here.

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly policy newsletter. Sign up to receive “Adirondack Report” for free in your inbox!

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.




7 Responses

  1. nathan says:

    There’s a need for managed logging. The majority of the adirondacks are becoming mature forests with limited browsing for most animals. The logging creates much more diversified enviroments and stages of forest growth fostering much more animal diversity and greater numbers. The managed logging also helps to create less build up of massive wildfire fuel and limit out of control fires and destruction of towns. Th logging would help increase the incomes of residing families and businesses. Maine can figure out managed forestry and logging, can NY be as compitant?

    • Balian the Cat says:

      Nathan I am open to your suggestion that some forest management provides a safeguard where population centers and wildfires are a concern, but I have never understood the wildlife argument. Are you suggesting that if there were no people in an area that animal populations would suffer in some way? The idea that human management is somehow superior to the natural order doesn’t make sense to me – unless you are only looking at wildlife populations as resources.

      • Boreas says:

        BtC,

        Keep in mind, the largest, most dangerous fires in the Park were during periods of active logging. Logging tends to dry out a boreal or NE forest and the soils under it. Logging and leaving debris is basically setting the tinder for a fire and flash floods.

        In this area, the denser a forest becomes, the “wetter” it becomes and a reduced likelihood of an intense, widespread burn. The forest is a water sponge because we typically have an excess of water here. Thin it, add tinder, let it dry – watch out. Old-growth forests rarely burn of their own accord. If we continue to develop areas within or adjacent to wild forest, we can’t blame the trees for our losses.

        • Balian the Cat says:

          Boreas – sometimes rather than lead with “everything you say here is easily repudiated” I offer that my mind is open. I understand what you are saying and I get that embers from steam locomotives aren’t really a threat anymore – I just try to develop middle ground on occasion in the hopes that a conversation can ensue.

  2. Philip Terrie Phil Terrie says:

    The argument that logging the Forest Preserve would promote wildlife has been around for decades. The Conservation Dept. (forerunner of the DEC) pushed it aggressively in the mid 20th cent in an effort to get rid of the forever-wild provision, which the state bureaucracy has never liked. When they said “wildlife,” what they meant was white-tailed deer, which thrive in a managed forest and reproduce there in greater numbers than they do in an old-growth, close-canopy forest–more food close to the ground. It’s a simple choice: do you want wilderness or lots of deer, which in the Adks, are a symbol of human manipulation of the environment.

    • Boreas says:

      Phil,

      I agree. The FP should not be managed with only hunting in mind. The FP is an extremely small area relative to the rest of the world that can be allowed to re-wild. It isn’t even close to being a mature forest, let alone old-growth. One generation of trees does NOT make a mature forest. It takes numerous generations (200-300 years/generation) to get the forest, soils, invertebrates, and mycorrhizal fungi back to normal after being decimated by logging and extraction. It is this “wood-wide web” that is critical to a healthy forest. The FP is only the first step in restoring this forest.

      There is a great deal of private and state forests that can be managed for wildlife without extraction logging. Small areas where a percentage trees are felled and left to rot in order to open the canopy would be preferable to extraction logging. You don’t get soil compression from the equipment. You don’t lose biomass. You don’t deplete soils of invertebrates, fungi, minerals and water. WMAs are examples of forests managed for game. There are no legal game species that are endangered, so there is no compelling ecological reason to increase their numbers. The reason the activity is called “hunting” is because it is NOT easy. Otherwise, it is just “gathering”.

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