Adirondack Explorer’s reporter and writer Gwendolyn Craig has authored a fine article this month titled “The Long Wait for Forest Preserve Plans,” referring to the lack of unit management plans (herein, “UMP”) for some significant Forest Preserve Wilderness areas, like West Canada Lake and William C. Whitney, and for a group of Wild Forest areas, such as Lake George, Ferris Lake, Wilcox Lake in the southern half of the Park, and Debar Mountain and Chazy Highlands in the northern half.
The APA Act of 1973 “directs DEC, in consultation with APA, to develop individual unit management plans for each unit of land…classified in the master plan…All plans will confirm to the guidelines and criteria set forth in the master plan and cannot amend the master plan itself.”
Craig’s article accurately points out many staffing and budgetary shortfalls, policy hurdles and other challenges in completing UMPs in order to comply with the master plan (and updating them). DEC Lands and Forests has suffered from serious personnel and other cuts since the late 1990s. There were a few, but far too few, young DEC professionals appointed around 1999 to respond to then Governor Pataki’s announcement to complete all UMPs within five years. They worked diligently and drafted UMPs but as the new century began discovered that their superiors were unable to provide them with clear, enforceable policy with respect to controversial matters such as the expansion of roads, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles in classified Wild Forest areas.