Monday, September 25, 2023

The wait for forest preserve plans

unit management plan map

A few newsletters ago I was talking about unit management plans and how difficult it is to make them sound interesting. We have since posted our September/October magazine piece about this online, with some special interactive elements we hope will better tell the story.

About 50 years ago, the state Department of Environmental Conservation was charged to create these physical and natural resource inventories and project lists for more than 50 chunks of forest preserve in the Adirondacks. Former Gov. George Pataki tried to kick start these plans back in 1999. He called for them all to be finished in five years. Nearly 25 years later, about 782,000 acres still don’t have plans.

Why is this important? Without a plan, no major projects can be done in a unit. For a place like Lake George Wild Forest, which has no plan, that means the DEC cannot build a marked trail up Rogers Rock. It cannot reroute the trail up Prospect Mountain, which DEC has already called “dangerous to hikers.” The William C. Whitney Wilderness has no plan, either. Campsites there cannot be moved, which some said needs to be done to protect sensitive shorelines and habitat.

We also found that those units with plans often have project lists that go undone for years. How the state prioritizes accomplishing projects in unit management plans is unclear. Jerry Delaney, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, spoke with me after the story was published about the frustration for local leaders already leery over new state land acquisitions.

“You’re talking a significant amount of time,” Delaney said. “(There are) no allowed uses on it (a unit without a plan) unless you want to hike on something that exists. That’s irresponsible of the state agencies to have those hanging out there that long, because it defies every promise they’ve ever made to us about how the (forest preserve) land will benefit our communities.”

I hope you’ll check out our online story where you’ll see a clickable map of the park’s forest preserve unit boundaries (pictured above). You can see if an area you are interested in has a unit management plan or not. If it does have a plan, there is a link directing you to it. (Editor’s note: You can also listen to Gwen explain these issues on a recent Capitol Pressroom interview)

Whitney Park update

John Hendrickson is selling a home on Little Tupper Lake for $5.25 million. He also updated the Explorer on his 36,000-acre Whitney Park he still hopes to sell, but not to the state. Read more here

Adirondack Park Agency

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: New public comment opportunities include:

  • ASD Spartan NY2 Solar, LLC is seeking a permit to build 16,874 solar panels generating a maximum 5 megawatts on a closed and capped industrial landfill off state Route 149 in Queensbury. The 38.5-acre project includes two inverter/transformer stations located adjacent to the landfill cap for a total energy storage system size of 5 MW/15MWh. Comments are due by Oct. 5. To learn more and to comment, go to:

Environmental notice bulletin

Last week’s DEC environmental notice bulletin had some new projects in the region out for public comment.

  • The DEC released a tree-cutting notice for the Boreas Ponds water access site in North Hudson and will be accepting comments until Sept. 27. The DEC plans to cut and remove 20 trees between one and three inches in diameter at breast height and 11 trees three inches or larger in diameter at breast height. The removal is for construction of an accessible water access site and hand carry launch on Boreas Ponds. The route will involve upgrading approximately 300 feet of Boreas Road to accessible standards and constructing a trail approximately 200 feet long by 5 feet wide from the road to the water access point. To view the work plan, go to: Send comments to Robert Ripp, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Warrensburg Sub Office, Division of Lands and Forests, 232 Golf Course Road, Warrensburg, NY 12885 or email
  • The DEC issued a tree-cutting notice for Auger Falls trail improvements in Wells. Comments should be submitted by Sept. 27. The DEC proposes to cut and remove of eight trees between one and three inches in diameter at breast height and two trees three inches or larger in diameter at breast height. The department will construct a 0.2 mile reroute of the Auger Falls Trail. The project also includes hardening and defining tread along sections of the existing trail to focus use within the correct trail corridor and to sustain the high levels of visitation to the site. These actions are needed to reduce impacts to the natural resources in the area and to improve visitor safety, according to the project description. To view the work plan, go to: Send comments to Kirstin Seleen, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Warrensburg Sub Office, Division of Lands and Forests, 232 Golf Course Road, Warrensburg, NY 12885 or email

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

3 Responses

  1. William R Monroe lll says:

    We need more access to non motorized areas for those of us that like peace and quiet. The noise makers have the most places at their disposal. Everything should not be set up for jet skies,loud power boats, snow mobiles and guns. Those of us with ptsd and other sensitivities also deserve some rights. Please make this an important consideration.

    • Paul says:

      There is almost 2 (1.8) million acres of Wilderness designated lands where jet skis, and loud power boats are not allowed now (not counting canoe areas and a few others). That is more than half of all the publicly owned land within the park. What do you think is a reasonable amount, all of it?

  2. Paul says:

    I don’t understand. The DEC can and does do things w/o a UMP in place. They did a lot of stuff on state land in the Santa Clara tract in the Debar Mt. Wild Forest unit after the acquisition from Champion. Built canoe carries, parking areas, campsites etc. There is only a draft UMP there. Why do you say they can’t do anything w/o one?

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