Monday, September 18, 2023

Tree cutting policy 2.0 and more Adirondack policy news

Peter Bauer

In 2021, the state’s highest court ruled some snowmobile trails planned for Adirondack Park forest preserve violated the state constitution. While there were several facets to the decision, one of its cruxes was around the abstract question of what is a tree. Protect the Adirondacks, the group to bring the lawsuit, argued the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s definition of a tree was too small. The DEC was using 3 inches in diameter at breast height in its counts. Protect wanted the state to count trees 1 inch in diameter at breast height.

Last week, the DEC released a new forest preserve work plan policy that includes accounting for smaller trees. This policy will shape all projects on forest preserve—in the Adirondacks and Catskills—going forward. Read more on the policy here.

The APA is not meeting this month. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct 12-13.

The APA has some new public comment opportunities.

  • Applicant Matthew and Eric Dorr plan to build two 11,900-square-foot boat storage structures each 46-feet 8-inches tall. The structures will be located behind an existing 9,000-square-foot boat storage structure. The project is at 2643 NYS Route 8 in the town of Lake Pleasant. Comments are due by Sept. 28. To learn more and comment, go to
  • Crossett Lake LLC is applying for permits to build four single-family dwellings and accessory structures on the site of a former Boy Scout camp. The camp was purchased by Florida developer Pritam Singh this past spring. The proposal involves removing existing camp buildings. One existing dwelling will be converted to a recreation building and the existing dwelling and barns at the entrance of the site will remain, according to the project description. The applicant also proposes to build two docks near the existing beach on Crossett Lake and one boathouse on the western shore of the lake. Comments are due by Sept. 28. To learn more and comment, go to

Explorer file photo of Peter Bauer

This first ran 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.

15 Responses

  1. Randy says:

    They should go by footprint of trees taken out instead of number of trees.
    A 9′ (or even 12) wide trail is fine for summer hiking but come winter with snow on trees etc. a 9′ trail is not very suited or fun for cross country skiing.

  2. Paul says:

    I think the law was already pretty clear. It has to be significant cutting. These number of trees would sound like a lot if it was your half acre backyard. But this is totally insignificant numbers in relation to 6 million acres.. The whole thing is just getting lawyers and activists rich.

  3. William says:

    I thought a tree was only a tree once it was big enough to hug?

    On a serious note the 1.0″ diameter rule is a headache for those with private land accessible only by easement across state land. As the roads grow in a you have to obtain a permit just to keep it clear. Getting that permit is no small undertaking. Of course for some, making this difficult if not impossible is the goal.

  4. Gary Hartwick says:

    We fail to see how it is abstract. A tree is a tree is a tree.

  5. Paul says:

    I would argue that it is a tree from the moment of germination…

    • Randy says:

      Hmmm… I would argue it’s a tree from the second it was fertilized 🙂

      • Bill Ott says:

        I do not care if your tree is or is not protected by the equal rights amendment, no tree within the Blue Line should be threatened by people who just want to get from one bar to the next in the least amount of time. Just tell me why snowmobiles are needed. Do they make the wilderness more wild? Do they make the wilderness experience more real? Do they actually do anything more than provide a thrill for people who spend so much time making their money that they do not have time to actually enjoy the woods except for the short time they spend escaping it. My name is Bill Ott. I have been doing these woods since the 1950’s. I will know how to find you. You know my name, but you will not find me. Keep the noise out of the Blue Line.

        • Rob says:

          Well there it is. It’s all about the noise. Go talk to some of the restaurant owners in Old forge and Inlet. If it wasn’t for the snowmobiles in the winter they wouldn’t be able to stay open. The “locals” don’t eat out enough. Think of what these towns would be like without the restaurants. I’m related to two owners of restaurants in the area. Been reading on here for months about housing issues and how hard it is to get people to want to live and work in the park. Let’s get rid of a multi million dollar tourist attraction. Yeah that makes sense. But you will have your quiet.

          • Randy says:

            Some people may be confused…. I am not a snowmobiler (although I do xc ski on snowmobile trails for exercise and birdwatching, etc.). Just because I don’t do it doesn’t mean I think others shouldn’t either… so it seems reasonable for them to have trails to do it.

        • William says:

          C’mon, this isn’t about money. Some people choose to buy a machine and some choose a set of snowshoes. To each his own, there is room in our great park for everyone. The good news is electric snowmobiles, quads, side by sides and jet skis are now being manufactured. You won’t have to hear them, but guessing you will still be opposed.

        • Rob says:

          I’m curious what Bill is going to do if he finds us???

          • Bill Ott says:

            I’ll probably ask for a ride! The comments are taken to heart.

            • Rob says:

              I’d be more than happy to give you a ride. Heck I’ll give your own snowmobile to ride. My comment was supposed to be light hearted, not stern. Hope it didn’t come across that way.

  6. Paul says:

    I don’t care about the snowmobile question (haven’t been on one years), I was just commenting specifically on the tree cutting policy, that impacts everyone no matter how you choose to recreate. Also, there is about 1.2 million acres designated wilderness in the Adirondacks – no snowmobiling at all is allowed if you are looking for that.

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