Wednesday, December 13, 2023

DEC admits to violation

West Canada Lake Wilderness

Over the summer Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve filed a complaint against the state Department of Environmental Conservation over motor vehicle use in wilderness. It was a rare test of how the Adirondack Park Agency, one of the state’s smallest entities, might reprimand one of the state’s largest, the DEC, for violating the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the leading policy document governing the park.

This December, a resolution appeared in the DEC’s environmental notice bulletin with little information. You had to request the document from the APA. Once we did, we found that the DEC admitted to illegally driving ATVs and other motor vehicles in wilderness areas. The APA and DEC came to a “compliance agreement” that included reeducating staff on state land master plan rules.

We also learned more about the circumstances of part of the complaint, including that an illegal structure on forest preserve had been burnt down. DEC is investigating this as a crime. You can read our full story here.

In other news involving the forest preserve, constitutional amendments will need first passage this upcoming legislative session in order to see any action by 2025. Some local government leaders are floating a new packaged amendment to address state administrative lands that are left vacant. Read more here.

Solar news:

Earlier this year we wrote about the largest proposed solar project in the Adirondack Park thus far, a 40-megawatt array planned for farmland in Mayfield near Great Sacandaga Lake. Fifth-generation farmer Jon Close plans to keep his dairy farm in operation by supplementing his income with leased lands to Boralex Inc. Boralex announced last week that it has submitted its permit application to the state Office of Renewable Energy Siting. You can follow its progress and submit comments here:


Adirondack Park Agency:

The APA is not meeting this week. Its next board meeting is slated for January.

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at:


Environmental Notice Bulletin:

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s full weekly environmental notice bulletin has Adirondacks-area public comment periods including the one below.

  • The DEC issued a tree-cutting notice for the Adirondack Rail Trail. It plans to remove 18 trees between one and three inches in diameter at breast height and 13 trees three inches or larger in diameter at breast height to facilitate the removal of an old camp structure along the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor approximately 1.25 miles southwest of Floodwood Road. The project will be completed through an approved work plan, according to the bulletin. The DEC is collecting comments until Dec. 20. View the work plan here: Comments should be sent to  Keith Carrow, NYS DEC – Region 5 Office, Division of Lands and Forests, P.O. Box 296, 1115 State Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or emailed to


Photo at top: DEC staff with ATVs observed within the West Canada Lake Wilderness, 2023. Photo by Bill Ingersoll.

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.

30 Responses

  1. David Pietkiewicz says:

    Not a big fan of a of what NYSDEC does sometimes but this is a classic example of Adirondack Wilderness Plan overreach! Only in New York…

  2. And law enforcement ,firefighters ,ems break speed limit laws OMG!

  3. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Were tickets issued for the users of the motor vehicles?

  4. Scott Thompson says:

    So would we rather pay staffers hours and hours and create hardships to carry out maintenance and projects or realize some of the “rules” are to extreme to make sense? Fire and rescue and even enforcement when necessary. Flexibility makes more sense. ” Forget a-bout it”

    • Paul says:

      I totally agree. The exception for motorized use should be extended to include this sort of activity. In fact for something like this that is pretty much a one off maybe trucking in a dumpster would be lowest impact.

      • Boreas says:

        Yup. Is there that much of a down side to removing non-conforming structures by non-conforming equipment? It used to be these structures were simply razed, perhaps burned, and the debris left to “re-wild”. Is that better? I believe it is reasonable for DEC to decide on their own on a case-by-case basis how to deal with relatively minor exceptions such as this.

        Hiker rescue/extraction and fire mitigation often involves motorized vehicles and aircraft in and over Wilderness areas. Where is the outrage for these safety activities? I think common sense should rule the day.

        But when time is not of the essence for safety, permission for the use of maintenance vehicles should involve a paper trail with accountability. Try to maintain some transparency and let taxpayers and residents know what is going on.

  5. Todd Eastman says:

    Follow the rules?

    Or host a Disneyland experience with the perception of wilderness without the reality… ?

    There’s lots of skilled people willing snd ready to play by the rules and put in the effort and not revert to using motorized vehicles for administrative work…🙄

  6. Fisherking says:

    Sometimes the bias of this platform and its commentators is embarrassingly apparent.

    • Boreas says:


      As far as the platform is concerned, virtually anyone willing to sign their name to an article may contribute content. I would say the “site” reflects the bias of the readership and contributors, not the editors. People should not feel inhibited in submitting factual content of any type.

      As far as bias of the comments/commentators – well yeah – plenty of opinionated people comment here. I think that is the point. I like to know the thoughts of people in the Park and my community.

      • Paul says:

        Burning it in the winter is easiest. But I think now they know that one burn barrel can equal something like an entire coal burning plants emissions. These places probably have some toxic stuff in them that you probably don’t want to burn just in the open.

        This from the DEC:
        “Follow DEC’s guidelines for camp fire safety. Municipal waste incinerators operate at 1,800°F and use filters to reduce harmful emissions, but backyard burn barrels -which are illegal – rarely exceed 500°F and release up to 40 times the amount of toxins and pollutants as permitted facilities.”

      • Fisherking says:

        The bias is contained in the “reflection” you mentioned.
        NYS DEC is not an enemy of the people.

        • Todd Eastman says:

          How do you feel when cops don’t follow the rules…?

          • Rob says:

            If they are working?? No issues with it. Just like no issue with the DEC using ATV to do their work.

            • Todd Eastman says:

              So a good beating is OK? Or are we selective on which rules are OK to bend…?

              • Rob says:

                Now we are getting a little extreme here. But if someone is resisting arrest and fighting with a cop, if a knee to the ribs will get him to comply and allow you to get him in cuffs, knee away! If the DEC needs 4 wheelers to access areas of the Adirondacks to do their JOB, 4 wheel away!

              • JohnL says:

                Hi Todd. Respectfully, if you’ve ever watched an episode of Cops or Jail or any of those reality police shows, you will have seen what it takes to subdue someone who doesn’t want to be subdued and may or may not be high on something. Oftentimes it takes 3 or 4 people to do it. So, I’m sure there are incidences where something extra must be done, especially if it’s one on one, to keep the injuries to a minimum, including injuries to the ‘perp’.

  7. JohnL says:

    I might be misinterpreting the above article, but is that ‘largest proposed solar project in the Adirondack Park’ actually IN the Adirondack Park? Can private property inside the Adirondack Park be used for the purposes of something this far reaching and counter to the intent of the Adirondack Park?

    • Rob says:

      I would have serious issues if I was told I could or could not do something on my property in the park. I own the land, I pay the taxes.

      • JohnL says:

        I was thinking that something this big and this ugly would raise a few red flags. Having thought about it a little, I guess if they can build the Enchanted Forest inside the park, they could do this. Thanks Rob.

        • Rob says:

          His property. He wants to have a solar farm installed on his property he should be able to do it without any issues. Don’t know why anyone would want to put a solar farm on their property, but if that’s what he wants to do, go for it

  8. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Todd Eastman says: “How do you feel when cops don’t follow the rules…?”

    Nobody dislikes a crooked cop more than a good cop!

  9. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Rob says: “I would have serious issues if I was told I could or could not do something on my property in the park. I own the land, I pay the taxes.”

    This is the problem in many cases inside and outside of the park. The mindset is universal! There are those who feel they can do as they wish so long as it’s on their property, no matter the disregard and damage to that which is just outside of, or borders, their property. Which is the same thing as saying “I can pee and poop in this part of the stream which runs through my acreage!” no matter the negative effects it may have downstream outside of my acreage. It’s a shame really.

    • Paul says:

      Charlie, how did you get from Rob’s comment that he thinks that anyone can do anything on their property? Read it again, he said if the person wants to build a “solar farm” they should be allowed to do it (assuming it follows all codes and other rules). Universal? (nonsense also).

  10. Paul says:

    “It plans to remove 18 trees between one and three inches in diameter at breast height”

    Is it really a good use of taxpayer money to make overworked and underpaid DEC people out measuring twigs? These poor people….

  11. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Paul says: “Charlie, how did you get from Rob’s comment that he thinks that anyone can do anything on their property? Read it again.”

    Rob says: “I would have serious issues if I was told I could or could not do something on my property in the park. I own the land, I pay the taxes.”

    Cut and dry Paul!

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