Thursday, April 4, 2024

Sue for the study

Saranac Lakes Chain

Environmental groups and unhappy neighbors in recent years have challenged a pair of proposed marina expansion projects in the Saranac Lakes Chain by accusing the state of failing to uphold a decades-old requirement to study how much use forest preserve lakes can withstand.

The requirement (mandate? obligation? suggestion?) resides in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which controls how the 6-million acre park is managed. The master plan has called on the Department of Environmental Conservation to complete a “comprehensive study of Adirondack lakes and ponds” aimed at determining “each water body’s capacity to withstand various uses, particularly motorized uses, and to maintain and enhance its biological, natural and aesthetic qualities.”

The state has never conducted the studies.

The marina developer, and the state, have argued that the permitting decision of a particular private project is not an appropriate venue to compel the state to meet its apparent obligation.

While an Appellate Division court in Albany tossed out marina permits granted by the Adirondack Park Agency on the grounds that APA failed to follow its wetlands regulations, the court also slammed the state for never conducting the capacity studies. The judges called the lack of studies “wholly unexplained and, indeed, inexplicable.”

Protect the Adirondacks is now taking its complaint straight to the state. Our partners at the Albany Times Union this week reported on Protect’s new lawsuit, which aims for a ruling that orders DEC to conduct the study and consider it before approving future marina projects.

Need a refresher? Read an overview of the issues here.

Eclipse glasses sign

The forecast for the April 8 eclipse is starting to come into focus. Photo by Mike Lynch.

Eclipse forecast: After snow, will sun come out in time?

With less than a week to go until Monday’s once-in-a-generation celestial event above the Adirondacks, the forecast ahead of the solar eclipse is starting to take shape.

After a historically-mild winter, the eclipse day could see temperatures in the 50s and sunny skies. That’s exactly what eclipse-watchers and those hoping to cash in on busy crowds are looking for.

But a burst of winter weather could add a fresh layer of snow to the mountains and forests before we get there. Forecasts predict a foot or more of snow across much of the region tomorrow and Thursday. That could further slop up the backcountry and heighten the concerns of forest rangers and others about the risks of visitors unprepared for wintery conditions seeking a viewing spot off the main road.

Go to our 2024 solar eclipse guide

Photo at top: An environmental organization is suing the state in its latest effort to compel special studies of how much use the Saranac Lakes Chain can withstand. Explorer file photo.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

2 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    The Saranac Chain is a huge array of private and public parcels of land. How is a “study” even possible? Look at Lower Saranac for example where the project is. It’s almost entirely public forest preserve land. With a very tiny amount of development at the SL end of the lake. What is a capacity study going to tell us, that the lake can handle plenty more use than it already has? Also, the lakes sit unused by motorized boat traffic for a large part of the year? I don’t have a problem with them doing a study, but this just seems like a stalling tactic by the neighbors. Supported by environmental groups who are always for anything that slows or prevents development projects.

  2. What recent challenges have environmental groups and unhappy neighbors brought forth regarding proposed marina expansion projects in the Saranac Lakes Chain?

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