Posts Tagged ‘APA’

Sunday, August 1, 2010

APA Sets Public Hearings on Fire Tower Plans

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold three public hearings regarding the assessment of alternatives to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP)related to the fire towers in the St. Regis Canoe Area and Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area. The APA is also accepting written comments on this matter until August 25, 2010.

Proposed alternatives for amending the State Land Master Plan include: » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moose River Plains Changes in the Works

The New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced three public hearings to discuss changes proposed for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.

Located in the central and southwestern portion of the Adirondack Park, the Moose River Plains Wild Forest offers many year-round recreational opportunities including hiking, fishing, canoeing, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, horseback riding, hunting and camping, making it an ideal destination for recreationists with varied interests and abilities. You can read more a short history of the Plains by the Almanack’s John Warren here; all our coverage is located here. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Commentary: APA Almost Never Rejects Projects

This year, the Glens Falls Post-Star has published several pieces detailing activities of the Adirondack Park Agency deemed dubious. All of these investigative works were written by Projects’ Editor Will Doolittle, a controversial choice since he’s been outspoken against the APA for years.

The paper’s agenda has been clear from the beginning, made all the more explicit by their January editorial calling for the abolition of the Agency.

After all the deluge of anti-APA articles and editorials, it was a bit of a surprise that the daily finally got around to providing a little balance by admitting publicly that the Agency has its defenders. Sunday’s paper ran a front page article entitled APA has critics, but also many compliments; it was written by Drew Kerr, not Doolittle.

“Discussion” of the online article was filled with the usual overheated rhetoric, including several who made the obligatory, but still pathetic, comparison of the APA to the Nazis.

But beyond the venom, one-off anecdotes and cheap Hitler references, what stood out for me was that item all too rare in public discourse: actual facts.

According to the report:

Since 1973, the APA has issued nearly 16,808 permits and denied only 136 projects… In addition, agency staff say that 95 percent of permit applications are completed before they are required to do so by law. The agency has between 15 and 90 days to rule on a permit, depending on the nature of the application.

For all the talk of power hungry bureaucrats oppressing the people and single-handedly stifling the Adirondacks’ economy for the mere joy of it, the fact is that the APA has rejected a mere 0.8 percent of proposed projects in the last 37 years.

This doesn’t mean that the APA is perfect, nor that it shouldn’t be required to show increased transparency, streamlined procedures or be subjected to more checks and balances.

What it does mean is that discussion of the APA’s future direction and policies should be based more on the big picture and actual data and less on outliers and “gut feelings.”


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Council Releases Plan to Combat Invasive Species

The New York State Invasive Species Council has submitted its final report to Governor David Paterson and the State Legislature. The report, titled “A Regulatory System for Non-Native Species,” recommends giving the Council authority to develop regulations for a new process that will prevent the importation and/or release of non-native invasive species in New York’s waterways, forests and farmlands. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Guest Commentary: APA and Economic Development

Steve Erman, the Adirondack Park Agency’s Special Assistant for Economic Affairs, has offered the following perspective on the APA and its role in regional economic development. It’s presented here for your information in its entirety:

Economic Development in the Adirondack Park – – The Appropriate Role for the Adirondack Park Agency by Stephen M. Erman

Over the past few weeks, there has been speculation and opinion offered by citizens and elected officials about an expanded economic development role for the Adirondack Park Agency. Before moving too far down this path, we should consider the strengths and limitations of the Park Agency and other State and local government organizations and regional not-for-profits with roles to play in economic improvement. The Park and its communities require and deserve effective economic development and other programs to support the creation and expansion of businesses that can thrive in this very special place. There must be a stronger focus on encouraging entrepreneurs, planning, and the ongoing protection of regional character and environmental quality.

Since 1982, I have served on the Adirondack Park Agency’s senior staff as Special Assistant for Economic Affairs. I administered a well defined economic program in an agency with core functions of land use planning and the regulation of development. Before coming to the Adirondacks, I was a consultant in Washington, D.C. and learned the
importance of building organizational capacity to create and implement workable economic development strategies. My experiences have given me a unique perspective on what is necessary for a stronger economic development agenda in the Adirondack Park.

The Agency’s economic development policy states in part, that “The Agency will support the creation and retention of jobs within the region in ways that are consistent with its statutory responsibilities with the understanding that economic improvement and stability are vital parts of a collective effort to protect and enhance quality-of-life within the Park.” Within this context, the Agency supports the efforts of State and local economic developers in a manner which does not conflict with APA permitting and other statutory requirements. We correctly recognize that the Agency cannot identify and recruit specific business ventures because of inherent statutory conflicts of interest when projects need to obtain Agency permits.

My work at the Agency has involved substantial outreach to economic developers to explain how land use is regulated in the Park. Assistance has also been given to entrepreneurs seeking to adapt their project proposals to the physical limitations of their sites before applying for development permits. This pre-application guidance has been helpful in speeding up the permit process. My work as an ombudsman has helped reassure entrepreneurs that businesses are welcome in the Park and that, with proper attention to planning details, permits are predictably issued. I have also provided objective analyses of the economic and fiscal impacts of projects to the Agency staff and Board.

Implementation of an economic program at the Agency which does not conflict with its regulatory responsibilities is challenging but the effort has been important. Over time, there has been improved recognition of the relationship of our region’s special environment to the economic viability of Adirondack Park communities and the economic security of Park residents. There is also increased awareness that the Park is a place where businesses can be established and expanded, often with the help of Agency staff.

The Agency has a workable approach for permitting “shovel ready” business parks so our region can provide the same incentive typically available beyond the Blue Line. Eight business parks have been permitted to date and two of these (Chesterfield and Moriah) are “shovel ready” so businesses require no further Agency permits.

The Agency has also expedited development permits when this was critical for jobs and business retention, as was the case with a new plant for Old Adirondack, Inc. in the Town of Willsboro. And, of great importance, the Agency has helped strengthen the capacity of a range of not-for-profit organizations which are now able to work together on regional economic development planning.

I am convinced that there can be steady improvement in the economic vitality of the Adirondack Park but it will require better definitions of responsibility and increased coordination between State agencies, local governments and involved not-for-profits. We need to reduce competition and conflict. We must recognize and respect the distinct
roles that are necessary in building a more diverse and robust economy without denigrating the environmental resource which has clearly given us a competitive advantage over many other regions of the United States.

Initially, three things are critically needed: First, the funding and empowerment of local governments and not-for-profit economic development organizations to conduct well focused and realistic economic planning; Second, increased focus by the NYS Department of Economic Development, the State’s lead development agency, on adapting its programs to better serve the needs of New York’s very rural places, including the Adirondack Park; and, Third, the extensive use of the “Adirondack brand” to both market products made in the region and to advance destination tourism.

The Adirondack Park Agency has planning resources, including a sophisticated geographic information system, which can be very helpful in supporting regional economic development initiatives. And, with additional staff, the Agency can more effectively assist communities throughout the Park in comprehensive planning necessary to encourage
economic development.

The objectives of protecting the natural character of the Adirondack Park and significantly improving its economy are not mutually exclusive and the Adirondack Park Agency shares an interest in both. In my view, however, the Agency should not be the single organization –the “one stop shop” –selected to plan and promote the economic future of the Park because of inherent conflicts with its regulatory mandate. The Agency can best affect the economic future of the Park and its diverse communities as a ready and able technical resource and by being knowledgeable about the full implications of Agency decisions.

Additional planning capacity and closer coordination with State and local government will allow the Agency to serve a significant role in supporting other organizations which can lead regional economic development efforts in the future.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

APA to Consider IP’s Sludge Landfill Expansion

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, July 8, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. Among the topics of the monthly meeting will be the expansion of International Paper’s paper mill sludge landfill in Ticonderoga, Franklin County map amendments, and a DEC proposal to build a fishing platform on Sacandaga Lake. The July meeting will be one day only.

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report. Following her report the Board will hear from Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston. Supervisor Preston will provide an overview of his Town as part of the ongoing Community Spotlight series. Complementing Mr. Preston’s presentation will be a summary of Wilmington’s recently complete Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

At 11:00 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider International Paper’s greater-than-25% expansion of its existing paper mill sludge landfill. The project site is located in the Town of Ticonderoga, Essex County.

At 1:00 p.m., the Park Policy and Planning Committee will determine approvability for a proposed map amendment in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The committee will also consider authorizing a public hearing for a requested map amendment of private lands in the Town of Harrietstown, Franklin County

At 2:00, the Park Ecology Committee will hear a presentation from Mr. Sean Ross, Director of Forestry Operations for Lyme Timber Company. Mr. Ross will discuss Contemporary Forest Management Practices and Needs.

At 3:00, the Legal Affairs Committee will meet to discuss delegating certain variance approvals to the Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs.

At 3:45, the State Land Committee will hear a preliminary proposal from the Department of Environmental Conservation for the construction of a fishing platform on the Great Sacandaga Lake at the Northville boat launch site.

At 4:15, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The next Agency meeting is August 12-13 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

September Agency Meeting: September 16-17 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Monday, June 28, 2010

VIC Commentary: Vital Service, No One’s Responsibility

I went to the ceremony this week that formally announced plans for a smooth transition of the Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb from the Adirondack Park Agency to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

It was a great relief to learn that APA, SUNY and the Town of Newcomb had been planning for this transfer of responsibilities even before the Governor’s budget announced plans to close both VICs in 2011. The fate of Paul Smith’s VIC remains very much up in the air, despite a long-held awareness that interpreting the Adirondack environment is a vitally important job and service that should be available to anybody throughout the Adirondacks at low or no cost.

The tragedy of the commons holds that all parts of the environment that we share in common is everybody’s to use, perhaps to exploit, and nobody’s to care for. The resource seems abundant, someone is responsible, it just isn’t me. The failure to systematically make the incredibly diverse and exciting natural and cultural history of the Adirondacks accessible to more Adirondackers and visitors to the Park is one of those tragedies.

Interpreting what is in a Park, and how it came to be there, and how it relates to people’s lives is a fundamental mission of the National Park Service, but not of any one agency in the Adirondack Park. It is said that not systematically offering to interpret a place to which so many are drawn, like the Adirondacks, is akin to inviting someone into your own home, and then abruptly disappearing. How many families have come and left the Park without ever encountering an Adirondack expert, in whatever field, who is also well versed in this form of public communication? Well over ten million people visit the Park each year. Less than one percent may seek out or casually encounter someone who can deepen their awareness, understanding and knowledge of Adirondack wildlife, Forest Preserve, unique architecture, or cultural history. This failure to reach more people with expert interpretation remains one of the greatest gaps in the continuing maturation and overall performance of the Adirondack Park.

The building and opening of the NYS APA’s VICs at Paul Smith’s and Newcomb in the late 1980s were expected to be the catalyst for the development of a well distributed and coordinated network of interpretive services across the Park. The Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st century made the “development of a comprehensive interpretive system for the Adirondack Park” one of the core functions of a proposed Adirondack Park Service (see the Commission’s Technical Report Vol. 1, #11 by Thomas L. Cobb, one of the Commission’s staff). Once built, in the 1990s the APA finally selected Adirondack Discovery as its nonprofit partner or arm of the VICs. Discovery featured expert presentations, coupled with field trips covering a wide range of Adirondack subjects, and convened these programs in town halls and libraries throughout the region, thus expanding the reach of the two VICs at very low cost since all expertise and service delivery were volunteered. Discovery’s founder, Joan Payne of Inlet, said at a 1987 conference called Envisioning an Interpretive Future for the Adirondack Park (see Cobb), “the trick in this whole field of interpretation is to bring together people who are receptive and eager to learn with people whose love of the place and all of its components just overflows.” She and Discovery did this very well for 25 years. I was just one of hundreds of people she invited to speak to local audiences throughout the summer months. In my case, I spoke about the Park’s conservation history that dated to the 19th century, and tried to relate that history to current events and threats. These talks and walks introduced me to some great towns and villages, people filled with curiosity and local knowledge, and opportunities for enlisting them in our cause of protecting the Adirondack Park.

Adirondack Discovery has ended its work, Joan died in 2009, and the VICs are threatened with closure. We can be grateful that the Newcomb VIC will in 2011 be under new management which has a similar commitment to “educational resources for both students and visitors so that they can learn about the wonders of ecology in the Adirondacks” (SUNY ESF President Neil Murphy). I walked Newcomb’s Peninsula Trail after the ceremony, feeling the freshness of discovery that I felt in 1990, gratitude for all the staff and volunteers who for 20 years have devoted themselves to enriching the lives of visitors, and the hope that anybody who comes here in future years will be guaranteed the chance to meet a naturalist who can help them gain fresh insights, and rekindle their love of and commitment to this Park that is so unique on planet earth.

Hopefully, Paul Smith’s College and other partners will help maintain and extend the services of the Paul Smith’s VIC. Meanwhile, The Wild Center, Adirondack Museum, Adirondack Architectural Heritage, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Explorer, and many other diverse institutions are doing wonderful interpretive work. The stubborn questions still remain: who is coordinating and marketing all of those efforts? Who is ensuring that visitors and residents alike receive a schedule of all their program offerings? This continued failure to guarantee a Park-wide system of interpretive services is a gap we all share in common, and a problem nobody has the clear responsibility to solve. As Tom Cobb wrote for the Commission, “the future of education and interpretation in the Adirondack Park hinges on the acceptance of this role as an integral part of park operation and management.”

Photo: From the Peninsula Trail, Rich Lake, Newcomb VIC


Saturday, June 26, 2010

APA Extends Comment Period For Jessup River UMP

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has extended the public comment period for the Jessup River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) amendment. The APA will continue to accept public comments on Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) compliance for the Jessup River Wild Forest unit management plan (UMP) amendment until August 2, 2010. A proposed final UMP amendment was completed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It was subject to a series of public meetings and public input. The Agency will accept public comments on the proposals contained in the UMP amendment until 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010.

This amendment addresses changes to the Jessup River Wild Forest snowmobile trail system. Proposals are in accordance with DEC and APA adopted snowmobile trail guidance and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Jointly adopted guidance established a “community connector” snowmobile trail class. Community connector trails can be 9-feet in width which is one foot wider than previously allowed under DEC snowmobile trail maintenance policy. The new guidance also calls for the elimination of trails that lead onto ice-covered water bodies and dead-end trails while promoting snowmobile trails near the periphery of Wild Forest units.

The Jessup River Wild Forest lies in the south-central Adirondack Park. It sits entirely within Hamilton County in the Towns of Arietta, Wells, Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and the Village of Speculator. The DEC estimates the size of the planning area at 47,350 acres. The area includes Snowy Mountain, the highest peak in the southern Adirondacks – elevation 3,899 feet, more than 24 ponds and lakes – the largest being Fawn Lake and approximately 73 miles of rivers including parts of the Cedar, Indian, Jessup, Miami and Sacandaga rivers.

The UMP amendment is available for viewing or downloading from the Adirondack Park Agency website.

All written comments pertaining to State Land Master Plan compliance should be addressed to:

Richard Weber, Assistant Director, Planning
Planning Division, Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Or e-mail: apa_slmp@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

The Adirondack Park Agency Board is currently scheduled to consider a compliance determination on the Jessup River Wild Forest UMP amendment at the August 12 and 13 Agency meeting. Any written comments received by 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010 will become part of the public record. Written comments received after 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010, will be provided to Agency Board members on meeting day but will not be part of the Agency meeting materials mailed to the members or posted on the APA website.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

SUNY ESF Will Take Over Newcomb VIC

Officials from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) announced today that on July 1, 2010, the APA will transfer ownership of the state-owned buildings and equipment of the Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb to SUNY-ESF. The College will then begin a transitional period with the goal to manage future Newcomb VIC programs, according to a press release.

SUNY-ESF has announced its intention to integrate operations of its Adirondack Ecological Center and the Northern Forest Institute. SUNY-ESF President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., said the agreement supports the work of the college’s Adirondack Ecological Center, which is located on the Newcomb property. “This new initiative extends the mission of the AEC, with additional educational resources for both students and visitors so they can learn about the wonders of ecology in the Adirondacks,” Murphy said.

APA staff are expected to provide traditional VIC programming in consultation with SUNY-ESF at the Newcomb facility during the transitional period. Staff will provide interpretive services for the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9am till 5pm. The public will continue to have access to the trail network and exhibit rooms. During this time period, APA staff will also assist SUNY-ESF in the identification of programming needs that meet the college’s goals.

The agreement will include the transfer of all state-owned buildings on the 236 acre Newcomb site. The 6,000-square-foot main public assembly building with its 150-seat multiple purpose room, 700-square-foot exhibit room and staff offices as well as an adjacent 2,500-square-foot garage and classroom building will be surrendered to SUNY-ESF.

After December 31, 2010 programming needs in reference to staffing, hours of operations, public visitation, special programs inclusive of groups and schools, off site programs and outreach will be directly managed and funded by SUNY-ESF.


Monday, June 7, 2010

APA: Moose River Plains, General Permits, Zoning Changes, Boathouse Definition

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The June meeting will be one day only and will consider the creation of a Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area, renewing four previously approved general permits on wetlands, communications towers, hunting and fishing cabins, and development rights, amendments to the Town of Hague, Bolton, and Westport local zoning programs, and revisions to the definition of “boathouse,” and easing the permitting process for businesses, among other topics. Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report which will include a resolution recognizing the contributions of long serving past Agency Board Member, James T. Townsend.

At 9:30 a.m., The State Lands Committee will hear a second reading for the Jay Mountain Wilderness and the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area Unit Management Plans. These plans are actionable items; however, the Board will not act on the fire tower proposal included in the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area at this time.

APA staff will request authorization from the Board to proceed to public hearing on reclassification proposals for state land in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties including a proposal to create a 2,925 acre Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area. The committee will also hear an informational presentation from DEC staff on the working draft for the Moose River Plains Unit Management Plan. Public review of the draft Unit Management Plan will be conducted jointly between DEC and APA as part of a coordinated SEQR review process on both the Unit Plan and the reclassification proposals.

At 11:15, the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider renewing four previously approved general permits which are set to expire on August 12, 2010. The general permits include:

2005G-2 Minor Projects Not In or Impacting Wetlands

2005G-3 Replacement of or Installation of Certain New Telecommunications Antennas on Existing Towers or Other Tall Structures

2005G-4 Hunting and Fishing Cabins Greater Than 500 Square Feet in a Resource Management Area

2005G-5 Subdivision to Convey Two or More Lots Without Principal Building Rights

The Committee will then hear a first reading for a new draft general permit which, if authorized, would expedite APA approval for a change in use in existing commercial, public/semi-public and industrial structures. This proposed general permit is the latest in ongoing efforts by the APA to improve administrative efficiency.

At 1:00, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving proposed amendments to the Town of Hague and the Town of Bolton’s approved local land use programs. Agency staff will then provide the committee with an overview on local land use controls inside the Adirondack Park.

At 1:45, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will hear a first reading on the Draft Memorandum of Understanding for APA’s review process of DEC projects on State Easement Lands inside the Adirondack Park. The MOU defines working relationships, provides guidelines for outlining new land use and development subject to Agency review and establishes review protocols for future DEC projects proposed on lands with State-owned conservation easements.

Following this discussion, the Committee will determine approvability for a proposed map amendment in the Town of Westport, Essex County.

At 3:00, the Legal Affairs Committee will meet to discuss and act on regulatory revisions for the definition of “boathouses”. The proposed definition is available as a pdf.

At 4:00, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

The next Agency meeting is July 8-9 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

August Agency Meeting: August 12-13 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

APA Seeks Public Comment on General Tower Permitting

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is proposing a new general permit entitled “Installation of New or Replacement Telecommunications Towers at Existing Agency Approved Sites.” According to APA press materials, this will be a General Permit which “will allow for an expedited review of certain types of telecommunications projects at sites where the Agency has previously issued telecommunications permits and where the Agency has reviewed visual analyses prepared for the approved projects.”

The general permit would cover the following types of proposed projects park wide:

1) the installation of one new telecommunications tower in the immediate proximity of an existing telecommunications structure approved by the Agency and where the existing access drive and utility infrastructure are used to the greatest extent practicable; and

2) the replacement of a pre-existing telecommunications tower or a telecommunications tower previously approved by the Agency to address structural deficiencies of the existing tower in order to accommodate co-location of an additional telecommunications provider on said structure; with potential for some de-minimus increase in height.

According to APA staff, the concept for this general permit came about after consultations with cellular companies, elected officials and agency staff. Projects eligible under this General Permit would not result in significant adverse changes in the overall visibility of the tower site as seen from public viewing points, according to the APA.

This action is a SEQRA, Type 1 action. A negative declaration and Full Environmental Assessment Form has been prepared by the Agency and is on file at its offices in Ray Brook, New York. The proposed General Permit, application and certificate forms are available for review on the Agency’s website at www.apa.state.ny.us/.

All persons and agencies are invited to comment on this proposed project in writing or by phone no later than June 28, 2010.

Please address written comments to:

Holly Kneeshaw, Acting Deputy Director Regulatory Programs

NYS Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
1133 NYS Route 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Photo: A Mass of communication towers atop Prospect Mountain overlooking Lake George. Photo by John Warren.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Commentary: On Towers in Wilderness Areas

This month the Adirondack Park Agency board authorized its staff to solicit public comment on proposals to save the fire tower on Hurricane Mountain through a bit of legal legerdemain.

I understand the board’s motivation: the public wants the tower to stay. This has been amply demonstrated in letters, petitions, and comments at hearings.

But the solutions on the table are intellectually dishonest and make a mockery of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

APA Seeks Comments on Jessup River, Hurricane and Jay Mtns.

The Adirondack Park Agency is accepting public comments on Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) compliance for the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area and Jay Mountain Wilderness unit management plans (UMP) and also for the Jessup River Wild Forest UMP amendment. The final draft plans and the proposed final UMP amendment have been completed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and was subject to a series of public meetings and public input during the planning process.

The Adirondack Park Agency will now consider compliance of each of these plans with the State Land Master Plan prior to final adoption by DEC. The Agency will accept public comments on the UMP proposals for the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area and the Jay Mountain Wilderness until 12:00 PM on June 2, 2010; public comments on the Jessup River Wild Forest UMP amendment are due by 12:00 PM on June 16, 2010.

Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area
The Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area (HMPA) is located in the northeast portion of the Adirondack Park in the towns of Elizabethtown, Jay, Keene and Lewis in Essex County. The unit is comprised of one Forest Preserve parcel covering approximately 13,784 acres in area and has approximately 34.3 miles of boundary line.

The area is bounded on the North by the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area, on the south by the Giant Mountain Wilderness Area, and on the east and west by private lands. Other nearby Forest Preserve units include the Sentinel Range Wilderness Area, The High Peaks Wilderness Area, the Taylor Pond Wild Forest and the Wilmington Wild Forest.

The namesake of the unit, Hurricane Mountain, is the highest and most conspicuous peak in the unit. The summit of Hurricane Mountain offers stunning 360 degree views and is a popular destination.

Jay Mountain Wilderness Area
The Jay Mountain Wilderness Area (JMWA) is located in the northeast portion of the Adirondack Park within the Towns of Jay and Lewis in Essex County. The area contains remote, rugged mountains affording spectacular views and is similar in character to the neighboring Hurricane Mountain.

The area is bounded on the north and west by private lands, on the east by the Taylor Pond Wild Forest Planning Area, and on the south by the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area. Other nearby Forest Preserve units include the Sentinel Range Wilderness Area and the Wilmington Wild Forest.

Jessup River Wild Forest
The Jessup River Wild Forest lies in the south-central Adirondack Park. It sits entirely within Hamilton County in the Towns of Arietta, Wells, Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and the Village of Speculator. The DEC estimates the size of the planning area at 47,350 acres. The area includes Snowy Mountain, the highest peak in the southern Adirondacks – elevation 3,899 feet, more than 24 ponds and lakes – the largest being Fawn Lake and approximately 73 miles of named watercourses including parts of the Cedar, Indian, Jessup, Miami and Sacandaga rivers.

All the UMPs are available for viewing or downloading from the Adirondack Park Agency website.

Written comments should be sent to:

Richard Weber, Supervisor Regional Planning
Planning Division, Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Or e-mail: apa_slmp@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Depending on the level of public comment received, the Adirondack Park Agency Board may consider Jay Mountain Wilderness Area and the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area at the June or July 2010 Agency meeting. The Jessup River Wild Forest may be considered at the July 8 and 9 Agency meeting.

Any written comments received after the comment deadline will be provided to board members on meeting day but will not be part of the official record.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Phil Brown: The Moose River Plains Conspiracy

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is catching flak over its plan to close the roads in the Moose River Plains, and according to some conspiracy theorists, this is exactly what it wants.

The thinking goes like this: DEC must have known it would spark an outcry, so it must be hoping that the controversy will garner more money to keep the roads open.

However plausible this may be, it appears to be at odds with the other conspiracy theory to emerge since DEC announced its proposal last week. This one holds that DEC is using the state’s fiscal crisis as an excuse to shut the roads not just this year, but permanently—in deference to the wishes of environmental groups.

Both theories were raised in the public discussion that followed my posts last week (here and here) on the Adirondack Explorer website and on our publication’s Facebook page.

Of course, DEC says it’s closing the roads to save money—a necessity required this year by state budget cuts—but many people seem unwilling to take this explanation at face value.

That state officials always harbor ulterior motives seems to be embedded in the ideology among certain Adirondackers. Usually, they claim that DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency are in cahoots with environmental groups such as the Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and act against local interests.

I won’t dispute that officials sometimes do have hidden motives, but the idea that DEC and the APA merely do the bidding of the greenies is manifestly false.

For one thing, the Adirondack Council, ADK, and other environmental groups have taken DEC and APA to court on numerous occasions when they disagreed with the decisions of officialdom.

For another thing, both DEC and the APA have shown a willingness to bend the rules to give local residents what they want.

Take Lows Lake. DEC went to the mat to keep Lows Lake open for floatplanes even though the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan had for years called for banning planes from the lake.

Take snowmobile trails. The State Land Master Plan says snowmobile trails must have the character of a footpath. Yet the DEC and APA approved guidelines that allow some snowmobile trails to be up to twelve feet wide, with most of the rocks removed to create a smooth surface.

Take fire towers. The State Land Master Plan calls for removing the towers from Hurricane and St. Regis mountains, but the APA board recently directed its staff to find a way to allow them to remain.

In short, DEC and the APA do not always take the side of the environmentalists. And they do try to appease local interests.

As a journalist, I’ve learned that you sometimes have to take what officials say with a grain of salt. So it can be a good thing when the public questions the motives of its government. But when people accuse the state of engaging in dark conspiracies whenever things don’t go their way, they poison the political atmosphere.

What is the evidence that DEC wants to permanently close all the roads in the Moose River Plains? Those who are making this claim should set forth their case. We’d all like to see it.

Photo by Phil Brown: the main road in the Moose River Plains.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

APA Meeting: Doubling Cell Towers, Fire Towers, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting this Thursday and Friday (May 13 and 14) at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook.

Among the items the Agency will be considering are a General Permit for the replacement and doubling of existing cell-towers and possible classification alternatives for fire towers in the Hurricane Primitive Area and the St. Regis Canoe Area. These could include reclassifying a small area around the base of the fire towers to a Historic Area classification, revising the State Land Master Plan. » Continue Reading.