New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Muller issued a temporary restraining order on Friday blocking the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation from constructing a new 140-foot steel motor vehicle bridge over the Cedar River.
DEC wants to build the bridge to create a shorter snowmobile route between Indian Lake and Newcomb. The planned route also requires a second legally questionable bridge across the Boreas River, also designated Scenic, as well as permissions from numerous land owners. » Continue Reading.
Two Adirondack environmental groups have filed a lawsuit challenging a plan by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to construct a massive new snowmobile bridge over the protected Cedar River in a remote area of the Adirondack Park.
The Cedar River is designated as a “Scenic” river under New York’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act. The suit challenges DEC’s issuance of a permit to itself for the bridge construction as violating the Act’s prohibition of motorized recreation, including snowmobiling, in Scenic river areas. The lawsuit also claims that DEC failed to conduct the required environmental review prior to issuing the permit. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has submitted comments (Comment Letter) to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) opposing what it describes as DEC’s attempt to issue itself a permit to build an illegal snowmobile bridge over the protected Cedar River in the Adirondack Park.
The Cedar River was designated by the Legislature in 1972 as a “Scenic” river under the New York Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. The Act prohibits construction of new, motorized bridges over Scenic rivers and also prohibits snowmobiles and other motorized recreational uses within one-quarter mile of Scenic rivers. » Continue Reading.
State agencies in the Adirondack Park are full of dedicated, hardworking employees who want to do their level best under their relevant laws and jurisdictions. However, in a situation where the same agency acts both as the applicant and the decider of an application, the public has good reason to be skeptical that there will be sufficient independence to raise difficult questions, much less objections.
This situation is apparent in the August 22, 2018 edition of the Environmental Notice Bulletin (ENB) issued weekly by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC. This edition of the ENB gives the public notice that a “Cedar River Bridge and Recreational Trail” is the subject of a permit application by the DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests. The decider of that permit application is the Permits Division of the same DEC. » Continue Reading.
There are many ways to constrain the boundaries around public participation in decision-making. One way is to sidestep the law without amending it, thereby limiting public awareness and legislative debate of the issues. An example of this is occurring on the former Finch, Pruyn lands where the State wants to issue itself a permit or a variance to allow snowmobile connectors in river corridors when the law says that that motorized recreational activity is not permitted.
Under the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area Unit Management Plan, the State recently argued in Albany County Supreme Court that DEC regulations allow the agency to issue itself a permit or variance to do things that others could not do, like build a motorized bridge over a scenic Cedar River, or operate motor vehicles over a scenic river like the Hudson River. Other parts of these River regulations expressly disallow the State from issuing itself a permit or variance to undertake a project which the statute disallows. » Continue Reading.
The acquisitions of former Finch, Pruyn lands have created a plethora of paddling opportunities ranging from whitewater dashes to pristine lakes and ponds.
A group of paddling enthusiasts, brought together by the magic of an internet forum, took my suggestions and joined me to paddle the outflow of the Essex Chain Lakes, or more simply, the Chain Drain.
We booked campsites at nearby Lake Harris for the sake of convenience and the size of our group. Groups of us began trickling in to the campsite on a Friday, the first day of the 2016 camping season at Lake Harris campground. All were greeted by warm, sunny skies and a multitude of black flies.
Two of the Adirondack Park’s major environmental groups are suing the state over the management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes region—a large tract of forest, ponds, and streams that the state acquired from the Nature Conservancy as part of the blockbuster Finch, Pruyn deal.
Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Albany contending that the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy. » Continue Reading.
Two of the Adirondack Park’s four major environmental organizations filed a legal challenge to the Essex Chain management plan, but the two others have legal questions as well.
Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild filed a lawsuit today in State Supreme Court in Albany, claiming the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy.
Named as defendants are the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which drafted the management plan, and the Adirondack Park Agency, which approved it. Both agencies refused to comment on the suit.
Christopher Amato, a former assistant commissioner at DEC, told the Almanack that the Essex Chain plan is “blatantly illegal.” Amato is now an attorney at Earthjustice, a nonprofit organization that is representing Protect and Adirondack Wild in the lawsuit.
Amato said Earthjustice will file a motion to prevent DEC from implementing the management plan until the lawsuit is resolved.
Note: This article is the third of three that looks at the widespread violations of public process, state policies, and state laws in the recent approval of the Essex Chain Plan. Part one can be found here and part two here.
In many ways the Forest Preserve defines the Adirondack Park experience. The trails, mountains, lean-tos, campsite and deep beauty of the forests are what the Adirondacks is all about. The Forest Preserve provides the dramatic scenic backdrop across the Park and brings millions of visitors to the Adirondacks. The Forest Preserve also generates tens of millions in school and local tax revenues. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is accepting public comments on how their Essex Chain Lakes Complex Plan conforms to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The comment period will conclude on October 16, 2015.
The plan addresses the continued development of controversial bicycling and snowmobiling projects, including the construction of a bridge over the Cedar River continued maintenance of the Polaris (Iron) Bridge over the Hudson River, and the construction of a new snowmobile trail between Indian Lake and Minerva. » Continue Reading.
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens, who announced his resignation this week, has announced that his agency will open nearly 20 miles of roads in the Essex Chain of Lakes to mountain bikers beginning Saturday.
DEC is using a technicality to open the roads before public comment has closed on the Unit Management Plan required by the State Land Master Plan.
Another thick set of Forest Preserve recreational plans and maps was sent by the Department of Environmental Conservation to the Adirondack Park Agency at the 11th hour, just before the APA’s June meeting. It’s the second time in as many months that APA members felt unprepared.
In May, APA Member Richard Booth spoke of having to review 80 pages and 45 maps of alternative snowmobile trails through the Forest Preserve just a few days before his State Land Committee was expected to consider them in public. This month, APA Member Art Lussi said he had less than 24 hours to review the 141-page Essex Chain of Lakes Complex Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP), which includes more than 20 maps before the Committee’s most recent meeting. “I have to comment that these plans are thrown at us in a way that doesn’t allow for us to give you input,” Mr. Lussi said to Rob Davies of the DEC. » Continue Reading.
A draft plan for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex produced by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) calls for major back-country development in some of the most unique lands in the Adirondack Park, only recently acquired by the people of New York.
The plan for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, located in the towns of Minerva, Newcomb, and Indian Lake, includes a snowmobile trail that would cross the Hudson River on the Polaris Bridge and the Cedar River on a newly constructed bridge; extensive mountain biking and equestrian trail networks; new ski trails, carry trails, and lean-tos; and expanded road access and parking areas. The proposal also seeks to maintain the Outer Gooley Club’s farmhouse building. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is investigating potentially significant changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), which sets Forest Preserve management standards and guidelines. As part of the resolution passed by the APA in December 2013, two issues were identified for SLMP reform: 1) the requirement that bridges in Wild Forest areas be constructed with natural materials; 2) the prohibition of mountain biking on designated roads in Primitive Areas.
Last fall, the APA solicited public comments on these two items, as well as anything else members of the public want to see changed in the SLMP and afterward convened a group of stakeholders for a scoping meeting. Because APA staff has not yet released recommendations for SLMP changes and the APA Commissioners have not yet acted to start the public review process, we are still in the early stages of formulating a process and schedule for how to undertake SLMP reform and select issues.
As they move ahead, APA would be well-served to adhere to the adage that good science makes good policy. The APA needs to bring solid data to the public about the issues they select for SLMP reform. We live in an age of stunning research and science, yet this is also an age where politics rather than science drive public policy. SLMP reform by anecdote is unacceptable. » Continue Reading.
Some major changes are afoot for our “Forever Wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve. Last fall, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) held a series of “listening sessions” regarding possible amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP).
The APA sought ideas and comments at these meetings, which staff members dutifully recorded. The APA also solicited comments by mail, fax, or email. All told, the APA received over 1,600 pages of comments, which were distilled to a 15-page report that the APA produced in January. » Continue Reading.
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