Monday, January 23, 2023

DEC-APA Defy The Courts And Keep Unconstitutional Trails Open

It’s been nearly two years since the New York Court of Appeals, the State’s highest court, ruled that extra-wide Class II Community Connector Snowmobile Trails designed, approved, and constructed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) violate Article 14, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution, the famed the “Forever Wild” clause. The high court’s decision followed a decision in 2019 by the Appellate Division, Third Department, that Class II trails violate Article 14. The Court of Appeals decision came out in May 2021 and we’re now into our second winter where the DEC and APA continue to operate unconstitutional Class II trails as if the courts have not ruled against them.

Protect the Adirondacks is now back in court in an effort to get the state to comply with the appellate court decisions.

After the Court of Appeals decision, the DEC and APA rescinded their snowmobile guidance document that had authorized Class II trails and stated they would not build any more Class II trails. Protect the Adirondacks’ lawsuit challenged the legality of the first 34 miles of what would have been hundreds of miles of Class II trails.

After the Court of Appeals struck down Class II trails, the DEC pulled a nifty sleight of hand, stating that it would go back to using a snowmobile policy from the 1990s, “Office of Natural Resources-2 Snowmobile Trails-Forest Preserve” (ONR-2). ONR-2 authorized “Class A” trails that were approved at 8 feet in width and up to 12 feet wide on hills and curves. The Class A trail designation merely replaced the former “Class II” designation of trails that were 9 feet in width and 12 feet wide on hills and curves. This was not a substantive change in DEC’s policies or plans. It certainly did not mark any kind of meaningful reform of DEC’s Forest Preserve management. Protect the Adirondacks believes that this action was a shell game and not responsive to the Courts’ decisions.

In its wide-ranging decision, the Court of Appeals focused on excessive tree cutting and trail widths, substantial terrain alterations, and damage to the overall wild state of the Forest Preserve. The high court stated that Class II trails are “constitutionally forbidden.” Protect the Adirondacks argued throughout 2021 in letters to state officials and in DEC advisory forums that DEC and APA had a lot more work to do on the former Class II trails to comply with the courts than simply calling them something else. We argued that the trails had to be closed or repurposed for other recreational activities, and that they had to be restored, trees had to be planted, wide benchcuts (making trails over 20 feet wide in places) had to be removed, and wide bridges had to be narrowed or removed, among other things.

DEC rebuffed us at every step. Key DEC staff even claimed that they would continue to build new wide snowmobile trails. In 2021, the DEC and APA refused to do anything more than pledge not to build any more extra-wide snowmobile trails that would be designated as Class II trails.

At the end of 2021, the DEC formed the Forest Preserve Trails Stewardship Working Group, an advisory body composed of environmental groups, trail building groups, and local government leaders from the Adirondacks and Catskills. The initial meetings of this group in December 2021 and early 2022 were rough. It was clear that DEC and APA staff were continuing to willfully resist the reality that the Court of Appeals decision compelled them to reform their management of the Forest Preserve.

joint Assembly-Senate budget hearing on February 1, 2022 provided another instance of DEC’s willful resistance to change. At that hearing, Steven Englebright, then Chairman of Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, asked DEC Commissioner Seggos about the snowmobile trails that were involved in the Court of Appeals decision. Seggos’s answer was misleading:

Chairman Englebright: “In May of 2021, the Court of Appeals found that the DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency approval of certain snowmobile trails construction was unconstitutional. What is the status of these trails? Are they being restored as per the logical follow through on the court decision and are they open for use in their modified form?”

Commissioner Seggos: “Certainly any of the trails that would have been started pursuant to that historic plan went to a grinding halt when we saw that the subject was brought before the court. Any of the trails that are being used now are the ones that are historic in nature, of course, and predate the litigation, and we have not added any more trails in the Adirondacks.”

Seggos’s answer was not true. The Seventh Lake Mountain Trail in the Moose River Plains did not “predate” the lawsuit, which was filed while that trail was still under construction, yet was open to snowmobiles and being groomed as Seggos testified. Other unconstitutional trails were also still open. At that point we realized that we would have to go back to court to get the state to comply with the appellate court decisions.

In early 2022, we went back to State Supreme Court in Albany, the court of original jurisdiction, to inform the Court that the State has failed to comply with the Court of Appeals decision. The Judge asked both sides to try to work things out, and months of negotiations followed.

The spring and summer saw some changes to DEC’s approach to Forest Preserve management. The long-time Director of the Division of Lands and Forest, who had been a key obstacle to Forest Preserve management reform during his career and was one of the architects of the illegal Class II trail program, retired. At the same time, meetings of the Forest Preserve Trails Stewardship Working Group saw other groups urge DEC-APA to stop ignoring reality and to start complying with the Court of Appeals decision. Members of the Working Group called on DEC to implement portions of the Court’s decision addressing trees of 1” diameter at breast height, trail widths, and terrain alterations.

Additionally, at these meetings, Protect the Adirondacks continued to press the DEC to create a public review process through which its management actions are scrutinized for constitutional compliance, something that had not been done before. In the summer of 2022, DEC responded by posting notices of draft Work Plans for Forest Preserve management activities in the Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB). These notices included draft Work Plans and included a public comment period. Previously, an ENB post would announce that a final Work Plan had been approved, but there was no comment period, and the Work Plan was not provided to the public. This new effort at transparency marked an important reform for the DEC.

By the fall of 2022, the Working Group started reviewing and commenting on a draft mission and vision statement to guide the work of the DEC’s state lands staff and a draft guidance document that set out instructions for developing draft Work Plans. Protect the Adirondacks proposed reforms to the Work Plan template and development process, starting with a written evaluation of constitutional compliance.

A draft new Commissioners Policy-Forest Preserve Work Plans is now out for public comment (until February 27th) that outlines the steps necessary for the development of a Work Plan for a Forest Preserve project. New procedures for Work Plan development are now enumerated, tree protection affirmed at 1” DBH, alternatives analysis and statement of desired outcomes included, terrain alterations analyzed, among other reforms.

While these tentative reforms are important, they do nothing to repair the damage done to the 34 miles of completed and partially built Class II trails that were the focus of the Court of Appeals decision. By December 2022, negotiations between Protect the Adirondacks and DEC-APA had reached an impasse. We had attempted to reach agreement on the future of these former Class II trails and future policies for trail construction. But the State would not meet us halfway and refused to make binding commitments on many of the issues.

Going into the 2022-23 winter season, it appears that for the second year in a row the DEC plans to groom and manage illegal Class II trails as if it is business as usual. Protect the Adirondacks has now asked the original trial court in Albany to implement the decisions of the appellate courts and bring the State into compliance with the Constitution.

Reforms come slow to state agencies. Reforms come especially slowly to management of the three-million-acre Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills. Sometimes public advocacy can drive reforms in New York, sometimes exceptional leadership from state agency employees can do it, sometimes it’s a directive from the Governor, sometimes it’s new state laws. Other times, it’s legal action in the courts.

In this case, important reforms to Forest Preserve management were jump-started by the Court of Appeals decision, which will continue to positively shape management for decades to come. The DEC and APA still have a lot of work to do to get their houses in order when it comes to Forest Preserve management. 2023 marks the 11th year of Protect the Adirondacks’ Article 14 legal odyssey that challenged and prevailed, in a David and Goliath struggle, over state agencies that were circumventing the state Constitution in order to open the Forest Preserve to ever-increasing levels of motorized recreation and were using its management as bargaining chips for their political deals and objectives.

Hopefully, the next 11 years will see a new era of transparency and reform in Forest Preserve management.

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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.

74 Responses

  1. I Snowmobile, Snowshoe, XC Ski, and Hike says:

    It is clear that and so-called compromise that any environmental group ever made with respect to any land acquisition, UMP, or other plan involving snowmobile trails or any motorized use was not made with any sincerity. Their Holy Grail is to remove snowmobiles from the “Park” along with all other motorized vehicles and close all forest roads. They can not be satisfied with 50% of state land locked up as “Wilderness” where you can’t even ride a horse or mountain bike, all state land off limits to ATVs, and the vast majority of “Wild Forest” off limits to snowmobiles.

  2. Tony Goodwin says:

    I guess I will be the first of what I am sure will be many more comments. Yes, these Class II trails, including the Seventh Lake Mountain trail are more “intrusive” than regular hiking or wilderness ski trails – but not that much more. Remember that these new Class II trails were promised to the towns in exchange for their agreement in the addition of 65,000 acres of Forest Preserve. Absent that permission from the towns, we could still be fighting about that 65,00 acres. And now, don’t expect any agreement should other tracts of land be eligible for inclusion in the Forest Preserve.
    And Peter, you have clearly stated that you approve of the new Mt, Van Hoevenberg East Trail. That is in designated wilderness (the snowmobile trails are in Wild forest) and the Van Hoevenberg trail is much more out of “wilderness character” with (by my count) 742 stone steps over its 1.9 mile length. Most of those stone steps were made from native rock that had been cut to be nearly perfectly square – just like a similar trail in a city park. In my view that trail looks less like a Forest Preserve trail that any of what I have seen of the Class II snowmobile trails.
    So, just what is your standard for what is an acceptable trail in the Forest Preserve?

    • Steve B. says:

      Are you really going to complain about essential trail hardening ?. Is putting in a stone path in violation of the constitution ?. I think most agree that maintaining and hardening existing trails is key to allowing greater use as well as saving the taxpayers money long term with reduced maintenance needs. As opposed to knowingly violating the constitution by clear cutting a trail only used by a single user group (they tend to suck for hiking, skiing or bike use). I’m sorry the towns got mislead, but any smart lawyer could have read the applicable law and advised that the snowmobile trail construction was blatantly illegal.

      • Chris says:

        Snowmobiles share the trails with skiers, snowshoers, and fat tire bikes all the time. Why would these trails be any different. Bauer’s plan seems to be to keep everyone out of the forest except those that can hike in. As a tax payer and a person with disabilities I deserve to utilize the resources that we all own a part of. Those trails are much less destructive than the beat down eroded hiking trails in the high peaks.

        • Steve B. says:

          Fat biking is doable. Skiing on a prepared snowmobile track sucks. Period. And I’m unlikely to want to hike as I need to dodge noisy and polluting snow mobiles. Theres no escaping that the trails being discussed were not designed to be multi use, as the LP Tupper trail is. And really ?, you’re comparing to HPW hiking trails that everybody knows need to get re-built. Silly argument.

          • I Snowmobile, Snowshoe, XC Ski, and Hike says:

            Skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking on many snowmobile trails is just fine. On busy main trails, maybe it is not so good. But the fact is that you are not prohibited from doing so, nor from going in the woods off the trail if you prefer. you certainly are allowed to hike and bike on these trails during the 9+ months of the year when there is no snow. On the other hand, snowmobilers are prohibited from hiking trails and almost anywhere else off-trail. The number/miles of hiking/skiing trail exceed by orders of magnitude the number/miles of non-motorized trail. Non-motorized users have full acdcess to 3,000,000 acres of forest preserve. Snowmobilers are restricted to about 475 miles of trails trails, which works out to about 1000 acres of land occupied by trails, or about .04% of forest preserve. The hiking trails are for the most part maintained by the state using taxpayer money. A significant amount of snowmobile trail maintenance takes place by volunteers using club funds or funds from the trail fund that every snowmobiler contributes to when they register a snowmobile.

      • Tony Goodwin says:

        I’m not complaining about the trail hardening on Mt. Van Hoevenberg. I like that trail as it has already proven its worth. For instance, the new ADK Cascade Welcome Center said that it was the perfect place to send visitors who came in asking where they could take a hike. As a result that trail has absorbed many less-experienced hikers who had a good place to park, had good toilet facilities at the start, and hiked a trail that could stand up to the heavy use.

        What I was pointing out was Bauer’s hypocrisy in complaining about a slightly wider trail through an area designated as Wild Forest while celebrating a distinctly non-wilderness trail in designated Wilderness.

        • M.P. Heller says:

          You are very right to point out the logical fallacy in Peters argument.While I agree that proper management of wilderness trails must be undertaken in order to protect the “wilderness” resource as a whole, I also think that all of the hysterical arm flapping and hand wringing about the connector trails is quite overdone and much ado about nothing. Pure hucksertism, like much of what we have come to expect from “PROTECT!”.

          • Peter Bauer says:


            The statement that there’s an equivalence between the construction and impacts of Class II trails and the new hiking trail up Mt. Van Hoevenberg is false. The two types of trails are very different, so the hypocrisy charge doesn’t add up.

            A Class II trail is built with heavy machinery from end to end, that graded a 9-12-foot-wide flat surface. The MVH trail on private land at its base is wide, heavily graded, and was built with a machine, but the MVH trail in Wilderness in the Forest Preserve was built with hand tools and is narrow. The trail width even with the downslope stonework (armoring) created a 2–4-foot trail tread for single-file hiking. Class II trails were built so that two snowmobiles coming in opposite directions could pass each other. Arguing that there’s an equivalence here is a red herring. In our court case we submitted lots of evidence about the differences between foot trails and Class II trails and this evidence was found persuasive.

            Even where stone staircases were been built on the MVH trail, again all done by hand, the trail is 5-6 feet in width, with a minimal disturbed total area. Class II trails where benchcuts were built saw several feet of disturbance on the upslope, several feet on the downslope, and the 9-12-foot-wide trail tread, creating a disturbed, tree-less corridor of 15-20 feet in width and more in many places. We documented many such instances of excessive trail widths and major terrain disturbance in our materials submitted to the court and this evidence was found persuasive.

            A Class II trail saw cutting of around 1000 trees per mile, the MVH trail far far less. Again, we documented the tree cutting in our court materials, submitting thousands of GPS/pictures of stumps, pictures of trees marked for cutting. And, again, this evidence was found persuasive.

            We brought in a historian who testified about the 19th century usage of the word “timber”, and we provided many examples from texts of the period. Again, the evidence that we provided was found persuasive.

            We documented all of these issues, and more, because we went to court where our materials were scrutinized, and we were cross-examined. The impacts that we documented passed muster.

            Note that 8 of 12 judges who looked at this case, who looked at far more evidence than any commenter on this page has, determined that Class II trails violated Article 14. Today, 8 of 12 Americans don’t agree on much, but New York’s two highest courts ruled 4-1 and 4-2 that Class II trails are unconstitutional.

            The MVH trail is an experiment, a welcome experiment in Forest Preserve management, that will tell us if such a trail is viable in the future in other places. In theory, it’s designed to handle heavy use with minimal maintenance. We’ll see. If this type of trail proves successful, then I think there are other places in the High Peaks and across the Forest Preserve that would benefit from such a trail. Not every place for sure, but there are a number of heavily used trails in the Adirondacks where an MVH style trail may be a remedy to poor design, inadequate maintenance, and heavy use that have caused the creation degraded trail corridors up many a mountainside.


            • Bob Meyer says:

              Your facts are correct. What you’re missing is people’s reaction to your perceived attitude. Even I, as someone who only hikes and climbs and does not used any motorized or wheeled, transportation beyond regular roads, see your viewpoint as one of distain for those who disagree with you. You may not say it directly, but that is how it comes across. sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
              Just my two cents.

            • Tony Goodwin says:

              Yes, the Van Hoevenberg hiking trail is not as wide as the snowmobile trails you object to. But the work on the wilderness portion used a great amount of gas-powered rock drilling to shape the stones that made the uniform, non-wilderness-looking steps. Additionally, the construction process severely impacted many feet of the upslope and downslope edges of the trail. For the most part, these areas have healed (likely as have the adjacent areas to the snowmobile trails), but there are still major quarry pits – yes, dug by hand, that exist off the new trail and are only mitigated with a few branches over them.

              Yes, it is all a matter of degree. However, if you could convince all those judges that the snowmobile trails were illegal in wild forest, I might have been equally successful in declaring the scope of the Van Hoevenberg trail in designated wilderness as equally illegal. Trees were cut, and when the original route of the trail was changed, more trees were cut – and this second cutting was after the initial ruling on your case.

            • Paul says:

              “A Class II trail saw cutting of around 1000 trees per mile, the MVH trail far far less.”

              Peter, I don’t understand how cutting fewer trees is any less illegal? Either it is or it isn’t?

      • Marilyn Jones says:

        “Essential trail hardening”? Essential to YOU, maybe. How elitist.
        I guess the PERMANENT disruption of the natural terrain to accommodate stone steps for your hike is okay, but putting in a trail wide enough for two sleds to pass in winter is evil. Snowmobile trails do not leave anything but a natural, usable path with a few bridges behind, ALL of which can be enjoyed in all seasons, by many – INCLUDING wildlife.
        And a judge doesn’t get to unilaterally run the state.
        We’re lucky to get a month or two of our sport these days, can’t you just leave us alone?

        • Boreas says:

          I see elitism as demanding trails for motorized vehicles to be used only for a “month or two” (by people who can afford those vehicles!) in a Park created and developed to preserve natural resources. There are big legal, philosophical, and management differences between Forest Preserve lands and State Forests and other state/county lands across the state. It is not “elitist” to advocate for protections provided by Article 14. ‘Forever Wild’ are not just buzzwords to many NY taxpayers – they believe that is what their tax dollars are going toward. Significant changes to Art.14 can be addressed via constitutional amendment, but DEC often seems to feel they are above the law – and sometimes gets called out for it.

        • Thomas Buckman says:

          I totally agree with you but we are never going to win against the Peter Bauer’s in the world. Right away we’re the entitled elitists. Once they went from trees being 3 inches in diameter to begin anything growing it allowed to say snowmobile trails required 1000 trees per mile to be cut, it was all over.

    • common sense says:

      I’m with Tony on this one. Peter’s battle is with snowmobiles and not with the destruction of flora and fauna, otherwise he would have gone to battle on the pit n’ pile and mt van ho trail in high peaks wilderness.

      • Rosanne Warner says:

        100% agree with you on this. Protect signed off on the high peaks issue only because there was no snowmobile use proposed. Never said a word about all of the trees taken down in Lake Placid. Seems like a pointed argument that has gone on for far too long. Even the animals use the trails because it’s easier for them! The argument is clearly discriminatory.

  3. william hill says:

    Once again- the world according to Bauer…

  4. Randy says:

    Best comments I’ve ever seen in the almanack! Kudos Tony, Chris, and Common Sense!!!

  5. Lydia says:

    Do we need more trails or more snow?

  6. Tom Paine says:

    Mr Bauer, you where very very quiet about the the tree cutting for the Olympic Committee at Lake Placid? Very very quiet on the high peaks trail improvements. I guess one does not bite the hand that feeds you as the old saying goes. It is no secret you and your followers have had it out for the snowmobile user group and any user group that you do not like for many years. The Albany skullduggery abounds.

  7. Bob Meyer says:

    I have to agree with Tony Goodwin et al.
    I appreciate Peter Bauer‘s wilderness advocacy but, as Tony states, he is ignoring the agreement made with the towns (see above).
    Though I don’t think Mr. Bauer wants to eliminate all motorized use of the forest preserve, (am I wrong here Peter?)his purest attitude is a sure fire turn off too many residence and visitors to the Adirondack Park. That attitude works against the cooperation between the various interests and constituencies of the north country and beyond that is necessary and desirable going forward.

    • Jim says:

      Breaking an agreement with the towns does not seem legal or fair. I would like to see what the agreement actually says, but I can’t find it online. Do you have a link to the document?

      • Bob Meyer says:

        I do not have a copy of the agreement, although I read it carefully when it was presented.
        You might ask either Melissa Hart, who is the editor of the online Adirondack Almanack. Alternatively, Gwendolyn, Craig or Tracy Ormsby the publisher of the Adirondack Explorer would be good sources.

  8. Kierin Bell says:

    Tony Goodwin makes a good point: Class II trails aren’t *that* much more “intrusive” than hiking trails. But I would expand on that comparison.

    Many of the proposed Community Connector trails, and many snowmobile trails in general, are relatively well-clustered with existing roadways; our hiking trail networks, on the other hand, tend to sprawl and increase use in deep backcountry. Snowmobile trails are restricted by a mileage cap; trails for non-motorized users are not. Snowmobile trail networks have at least some rudimentary access-restrictions in place (clubs have some influence on levels of use throughout a season); hiking trails do not (with a few controversial exceptions). Where snowmobile infrastructures has diverged from the guidelines of the APSLMP — a document resulting from years of input from thousands of experts and stakeholders — the expansion of infrastructure for non-motorized users has perhaps diverged even more substantially.

    In other words, the snowmobile system is (at least vaguely) tied to historical patterns of use. Not only does this aid in stemming the progressive problem of overuse, but it buffers communities against what Richard Butler has called the “tourist area cycle of evolution” (for those complaining about ORDA: this importation of artificial attractions, loss of environmental character, and consolidation of economies and disenfranchisement is what Butler’s cycle predicts). This has resulted in likely the closest thing to “sustainable tourism” that we have ever seen in the Park, for better or worse.

    Of course, the Court of Appeals decision is certainly a bellwether for our time of escalating use and development, and organizational reforms are needed as well. But as evidenced by the double-threat of chaos resulting from increased pressure and strain on resources and the antagonism that has arisen at any attempt to do anything about it, there are larger issues.

    At all costs, we must resist the temptation to make this into a battle between different classes of users (in the words of tourism scholar Brian Wheeller, a battle between “the good guise versus the bad guys”). Instead it needs to be a battle against all users — no, just kidding! Really, it needs to be a battle for responsibility and accountability. And, while it has its problems, doesn’t the snowmobile system have at least some wisdom to offer in this regard?

  9. drdirt says:

    where’s the outrage??? When a judge rules against any of us citizens, we pay the fine, cease and desist, stop trespassing or harassing OR we go to jail. After the court ruled the trails unconstitutional 2 years ago, here we are arguing about what to do.

    Kathy Hocul, send someone to jail.

    • Tony Goodwin says:

      Yes, the ruling against the snowmobile trails appears to be clear. However, I my point was to point out the blatant hypocrisy of the person who brought the suit to begin with. That a greater intrusion in designated Wilderness is fine for a hiking trail, but a lesser intrusion in Wild Forest is not acceptable.

      • Paul says:

        The huge wooden staircase going up the ore bed brook trail in the HPW is about as intrusive as you can get in a designated wilderness area… Why does this group not file a lawsuit to have that removed? Must be over 200 hundred stairs on that thing? All it is “protecting” is bare rock if you don’t have the right type of hiking shoes to climb up it w/o stairs – go somewhere else. Hypocrisy is the correct term here.

        • Bob Meyer says:

          That’s a ridiculous comparison. There are many other ladders in the Adirondacks and they are of long-standing use for ( relative) trail safety, just like the cable on Gothics and the ladder on Crane

  10. COL (R) Mark Warnecke says:

    Peter, I guess multiple use is not in your vocabulary. I have to hand it to you; you are a snake oil salesman. It’s ok to cut a tree for a hiking trail, but not a snowmobile trail (or a horse trail, or a bike trail, or a cross country ski trail I assume as all need to be wider than a hiking trail). As you’ve previously stated in your opinion the ban on cutting trees for trails does not affect hiking trail construction. Really, why is that? I know why, because you don’t like snowmobiles. Well Uncle Pete’s snake oil isn’t the cure for management of state land in the Adirondacks.

    For the record, I don’t own a snowmobile (or a horse), but I support those that do using our state lands. That means trails and infrastructure. I also have degrees in Biology and Natural Resources Management. Not that anyone needs that to have an opinion on this matter.

    • Marilyn Jones says:

      Exactly, sir.

    • Steve B. says:

      I’m just curious if there have been trees cut (recently) to install or update a hiking trail ?. I’m aware of the Mt. VH trail as well as the Cascade Mt, improvements. Did they remove trees as part of these upgrades ?. Are there other trails I’m just not familiar with ?? i would think that had tree removal been needed on a trail upgrade, that might have been commented on here and I dont recall anything and it was not mentioned in this court case as an example of being OK for hiking trails but not OK for snowmobiles. Am I missing something ?. If not the case, you don’t get to use that in your argument as its not true.

  11. Boreas says:

    Attacking Bauer for pointing out obvious scofflaws at DEC/APA is just shooting the messenger. If you want to re-litigate the case in court, go ahead and bring a suit if a court will listen. That is anyone’s right. But at this stage, the trail construction was litigated at length, and DEC lost. Now, they just ignore the ruling, thumbing their nose at the court and taxpayers? DEC is charged with upholding ALL environmental laws, not just the ones that they agree with or serves their agenda. DEC is not going to rebuild their lost trust with local governments by ignoring the court decision and giving towns more false hope. THAT is the real snake oil being sold here.

    • Shane M Sloan says:

      A necessary act when that messenger willfully does so.

    • JohnL says:

      Ignoring or flouting court rulings that they don’t agree with is the norm in NY state. They did it in the Supreme Court ruling on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen and now you say they’re doing it with this case. Business as usual in Dem controlled New York apparently.

      • Shane M Sloan says:

        Loose usage of the word “control.” Last I could tell, they lost that years ago, and now we’re careening into the depths of the pit they’ve created. Lol

  12. MRK says:

    It seems nowadays that when a judge makes a ruling, no one seems to abide by it.

    • Adk Resident says:

      Judges ruled that the construction of Community Connector trails violated the Constitution. That is all Bauer asked of the court. He never asked for restoration work, nor for existing trails to be closed. Judges never considered restoration, in part because Bauer never asked for that.

      Shame on his legal team for missing a basic legal aspect of litigation … state your case AND request restitution. I guess you do get what you pay for. It appears from Bauer’s article that the State has worked in good faith to meet him halfway. Too bad his hubrus and ego gets in the way of meaningful compromise.

      • Adk Resident says:

        “Judges ruled that the construction of Community Connector trails violated the Constitution” meaning that the degree of tree cutting violated materiality protections established in McDonald. The court never opined that the existence of such trails violated the constitution.

      • Steve B says:

        Well actually he does state restoration – “and that they had to be restored, trees had to be planted”.

  13. Bill apple says:

    Do federal and state laws about discrimination of handlicap people every come up denienig access to public lands ever come into play, take away our boat ramps, close of 400 year old roads, tear down our camps, for just the healthy people can wLk done a old road they call a trail…
    This lNd was farmed, homestead, logged from 1492, and its still here this discrimination needs to stop and open land to NY residents again, fire roads opened, roads to fire towers the federal government paid for for public access and saftey. As well as the state.
    For you people that don’t know that’s the people we own it not the environmentalist of politicians.

    • Boreas says:

      For good or bad, conservation practices are different by design within the Adirondack Park. Building infrastructure to provide motorized, human access to the backcountry was never a priority.

    • Shane M Sloan says:

      This idea that not building explicitly for certain people is tantamount to denying them access is absurd. Somebody will always be “left out,” no matter what steps are taken. Pandering to the vast minority is not a great strategy, unless you’d like a world made of asphalt or a total lockdown society. Equity is a failed proposition. Nobody ever said the world is fair. Of course, as always, the left has double standards or no standards at all. Either we’re born as equals (ie. Men vs women, trans x = trans y and theybare interchangeable, race x = race y, etc) or we’re not. Thus applies to all facets of life.

      • Chris says:

        It’s not about building new ways of accessing the areas but don’t close down the ones that are already in place.

  14. Todd Eastman says:

    Have the DEC and the APA followed through on the court ordered restoration and re-designation of the trails?

    Apparently not…

    • Steve B. says:

      I’m not sure the DEC knows what to do with the illegal trails they allowed to be built. They should be proactively getting on the good side of the court and close the trails, then start a plan to plant trees as replacement for what got removed, which a judge is likely to tell them needs to happen. They are typically not that smart and as typical state employees are unable to make such decisions on their own. And so it goes.

  15. Brian Murphy says:

    Charge the hikers and bikers a trail permit for all the land use they have
    Give them something to cry about

    • Dana says:

      Bring it on!! I’ll pay. I pay now through State stamps where we also buy our licenses. But once instituted, would that eliminate this “us vs. them” mentality? I doubt it. Someone will always be the “bad” guy – the “other”.

      • Rob says:

        It would not stop the us vs them. Because the hikers feel that there should be no snowmobiles in the ADK. Will never understand the disdain they have for snowmobiles. Something that pumps millions of dollars into the ADK. Heck half of those towns wouldn’t even be around anymore if it wasn’t for snowmobiles

  16. William Best says:

    NYS needs more snowmobile trail. Period.
    The amount of reg. snowmobiles shows more and more $$$ is being spent .let other townships that don’t have sled access have acces.and reap the rewards.
    More trails les gov.
    William Best

  17. JD says:

    We own acreage in the southern part of the park. Without trails we could not enjoy our land. The wildlife use the trails more than us. Our neighbors enjoy the trails. Yes we use the tractor to maintain them sometimes. In the summer the trees overhang the trails with leaved branches much as a narrow driveway exists. I have walked thru state lands boondocking more than i can remember but I always sigh with joy when I come upon an old logging road going in my direction. Whether the trail is 4-6-8, or 10 feet makes not a difference in the middle of the forest. It is a path to enjoy. if that is what the snowmobilers need to see their slice of heaven so be it. An old, abandoned opening in the forest causes me to walk around and look for prior habitation. An old road thru the forest makes me walk and wonder what kind of traffic might have gone thru here. What’s the big deal? Let other people visit on snow mobiles if need be. After all we all taxpayers with a right to use. jd

  18. JohnL says:

    Hear, Hear!!

  19. Todd Eastman says:

    Stunning levels of ignorance regarding Article 14 on display here…🙄

  20. Tom Paine says:

    A tree on one users trail is legally different than a tree on another users trail.

  21. Steve B. says:

    Is the article author required to comment on everything you find potentially wrong in society and government in one article ?. I mean really, nothing wrong with a comment about issues related to the Adirondack outdoors. Covid and voting have zilch to do with the article,

  22. Raymond P. Budnick says:

    Please focus on your severally eroded hiking trails.

  23. DAN FISHER says:

    Interesting article

  24. Michael Welsch says:

    Complaining about Snowmobiles using the Moose River connector trail is a joke. Open the ADK’s for everyone to enjoy. This includes expanded snowmobile trails. Its a huge park with room for all

  25. Shane M Sloan says:

    We can’t do that. We have to signal our virtue and forsake the many who actually use the park for the insanely few who most likely won’t. It’s a win/win for leftist ideologues. They can feign concern, which makes them think they’re better than everyone else by way of optics, all the while they deplete the usage of the park and get it all to themselves. They’re a selfish, elitist bunch. And when the economy collapses completely, they’ll do like Kathy Hochul did; they’ll beg those they shunned to return and save them…pretending they had nothing to do with how bad things have gotten. Did I mention leftists are bad people?

  26. Shane M Sloan says:

    Keep your ad hominem for someone who doesn’t recognize it. As for glorifying subsidies, you’ve clearly never left nys. Subsidies rarely go where they were “meant” to go. You know nothing of me and my appreciation for the environment. You likely know less about it. My guess…you’re media fed and media educated. Do the work and get back to me. Seriously, I’d be glad to help or even teach you.

  27. Aaron M Kane says:

    It’s okay for big corporations to do this but if common folk want to use the land it’s all the end of the world…

  28. The letter of the law killeth but the spirit bringeth life. Peter Bauer is trying to impose the letter of the law and bringing death to tourism and to the local economies and to the enjoyment of the Adirondacks.

    • Steve B. says:

      That very enjoyment of the Adirondacks is there because the lands owned by the people of the state of NY are constitutionally protected. The DEC cannot choose to ignore state law to pander to one particular industry. Bauer has it completely correct.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      See Steve below.
      Though I have issues with the “way” Mr Bauer say things, statistics (facts) as opposed to anecdotal, emotional reactions bare him out.
      There are problems facing the Adirondacks. They are well documented on this platform. The argument that environmentalist are trying to keep people out of the Adirondacks for their own specialized enjoyment is pure nonsense.

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