In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, everyone is invited to take part in a national virtual action event. Today through Thursday, activists, performers, thought leaders, and artists will all be collaborating on a 3-day live stream. Organized by the US Climate Strike Coalition and Stop The Money Pipeline Coalition, who together are made up of over 500 organizations, have come together to organize Earth Day Live.
New York State’s expedient evasion of its own State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), has no better recent example than the Cedar River Snowmobile Bridge. The new bridge is being built north of Indian Lake, six miles inside the Adirondack Forest Preserve across a river designated by the State as Scenic.
A Supreme Court just rubber-stamped DEC’s actions in a ruling against Adirondack Wild and Protect the Adirondacks. There is plenty to say about how the Court’s decision (and DEC’s self-issuing Permit and Variance) sets a negative precedent for protection of Scenic Rivers under the State’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, but for the present let’s address the SEQR evasion. » Continue Reading.
What follows is an announcement sent to the press by Adirondack Forest Preserve advocates Protect the Adirondacks:
Protect the Adirondacks supports transition of the 55-mile-long Saratoga and North Creek Railway to a new public multi-use recreation trail. Given its location, the dominant use would be as a bike and walking trail. This new public trail from Saratoga Springs to North Creek would connect dozens of small communities such as Lake Luzerne, Hadley, Stony Creek, Thurman, Riparius, The Glen, and Warrensburg, among other hamlets and businesses, along the rail line. » Continue Reading.
In the July 2019 legal decision in favor of Protect the Adirondacks, regarding the constitutionality of excessive tree cutting by state agencies to build a network of Class II community connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, the Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled that the cutting of over 25,000 trees to build these trails violated Article 14, Section 1, of the state Constitution, the famed “forever wild” provision.
This article looks at the meaning of Article 14, Section 1, in light of this new ruling. (A related article dealt with use of the word “timber” in Article 14 of the state Constitution). This article looks at how small diameter trees have long been protected in Forest Preserve legal practice. Article 14 reads: “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.”
By the metric of public use the High Peaks Wilderness Area, and nearby Giant, Hurricane and Sentinel Range Wilderness areas, are major successes. The crowds hiking in the High Peaks are at an all-time high. The current dismal state of many of the hiking trails does not seem to be a major deterrent to the throngs of people eager to hike one of the High Peaks.
For many people hiking a mountain like a High Peak is no sure thing and is, and should be, a challenge. There are plenty of highly used and popular smaller mountains throughout the Adirondacks that provide stunning views, but the allure of hiking a High Peak is immense.
On Tuesday New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Muller granted a motion by two Adirondack environmental groups to preliminarily enjoin the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from constructing of a new snowmobile bridge over the Cedar River until a decision is reached in an ongoing lawsuit.
The river is designated as a Scenic River under New York’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act.
The preliminary injunction was issued in response to a lawsuit brought by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and Protect the Adirondacks! The court decision halts construction of the trail at the banks of the Cedar River for now. » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks recently won a major victory in its lawsuit to enforce Article 14, Section 1 of the state Constitution, the well-known forever wild clause. The case challenged the excessive tree cutting undertaken by state agencies to build a vast network of Class II Community Connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
The case began in 2013 and this result has been six years in the making. Previously, the Appellate Division, Third Department, of the state Supreme Court had issued a preliminary injunction against this tree cutting in 2016 after the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) had constructed or roughed out over 20 miles of new trails.
In order to cut a lot more trees on the Forest Preserve for new snowmobile corridors, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General’s Office have announced that they will appeal July’s court ruling against the State and in favor of Protect the Adirondacks.
That ruling by a 4-1 court majority declared that the extent of tree cutting for snowmobile trail construction, when considered cumulatively, violated our state’s constitutional limit on destruction of timber on the Forest Preserve “to a material degree” (Article XIV, Section 1, NYS Constitution, and court interpretations). » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Forest Preserve advocates Protect the Adirondacks announced Monday that they plan to appeal one of the July 3rd rulings by the Appellate Division, Third Department, in its lawsuit challenging the tree cutting and terrain alterations for snowmobile trails on the Forest Preserve by state agencies. The State announced last week that it also planned to appeal part of the ruling.
The court issued a mixed decision in July. It ruled that the cutting of over 25,000 trees on the Forest Preserve for wide class II community connector snowmobile trails violated Article 14, Section 1, of the NYS Constitution. At the same time however, the court ruled that the construction practices used to clear, bulldoze and grade these trails did not violate the famous forever wild provision of Article 14.
The New York State Constitution’s Article 14 protects the Adirondack Forest Preserve as “forever wild.” Adirondack Forest Preserve lands form the basis of the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
There are more than three million acres of Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks today. Yet, the most consequential New York State Court decision restricting the ways we can develop and use the “forever wild” Preserve was all about a few acres of land below Mt. Van Hoevenberg, close to Lake Placid.
There, in 1929, the state planned a “bobsleigh run or slide on state lands in the forest preserve.” About 2500 trees would need cutting to create the bobsled course for the 1932 Olympics. The lower court, the Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled that this activity was unconstitutional on grounds that this was wild forest and therefore must be preserved in its wild state, stating that “we must preserve it in its wild nature, its trees, its rocks, its streams. It must always retain the character of a wilderness.” » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks is set to hold its annual membership meeting at View Arts, located at 3273 State Route 28 in Old Forge on Saturday, July 20th. The meeting provides an opportunity to get an update on the major issues the organization sees facing the Adirondack Park, see PROTECT’s priorities for the year ahead, and meet the staff and Board of Directors.
The annual meeting includes the Conservation and Advocacy report, financial report, membership report, and election to the Board of Directors. » Continue Reading.
The Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled Wednesday that state tree cutting to build a network of wide class II community connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve violated Article XIV, Section 1 of the State Constitution. The Appellate Division, Third Department, reversed a lower court ruling issued in 2017.
Protect the Adirondacks had challenged the constitutionality of cutting more than 25,000 trees to build over 27 miles of new snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve. The lawsuit was started in 2013, injunctions against further tree cutting were ordered in 2016, and a bench trial was held at State Supreme Court in 2017. » Continue Reading.
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.
The new study The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010, published by Protect the Adirondacks, took a deep, nuanced look at leading economic and population trends in the Adirondacks. While most of the U.S. population grows increasingly urban and connected to the digitized, global economy, Rural America is engaged in a struggle to maintain viable communities, to provide essential services and institutions, and to plan for a future with smaller populations, lower birth rates, and low-growth economies.
The Adirondack Park faces the same economic and population challenges experienced by most of Rural America. » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks has published a new report The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010. This report has been widely circulated around the Adirondacks. It was mailed to all local officials, loads of non-profits, elected reps, school districts and local libraries. It’s available online. Through the end of the year, we’ll be undertaking a number of public presentations on the report and we’ll be publicizing those as they are organized.
The report is long, complicated, and not easily distilled to talking points. I’ll be writing a series of essays this spring and summer for the Adirondack Almanack that take a deep dive into the major findings. This article is the first and it provides an introduction and overview. » Continue Reading.
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