A State Supreme Court justice has ruled that Protect the Adirondacks’ lawsuit against the state over the legality of “community-connector” snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve should go to trial.
In a decision signed January 25, Justice Gerald Connolly denied motions to decide the case without a trial, saying there are factual disputes that must be sorted out through a trial.
Protect the Adirondacks contends that the community-connector trails – which are nine feet wide (or 12 feet on curves) and often graded – violate Article 14, the clause in the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”
A justice from the Appellate Division, Third Department, of state Supreme Court, issued an order to show cause Friday to stay further tree cutting on the Forest Preserve by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as it builds a new 9-12 foot wide snowmobile thoroughfare between Newcomb and Minerva.
Last week a Supreme Court decision denied a motion for preliminary injunction against tree cutting by DEC, which had work crews cutting trees on the Forest Preserve this week. Tree cutting had been stopped for 25 days in mid-July thru mid-August. This new decision will halt tree cutting for the next ten days while the Appellate Division considers whether to issue an injunction during Protect the Adirondacks’ appeal of the Supreme Court decision.
The DEC has cut over 7,500 trees on 6.5 miles of the new community connector snowmobile trail from Newcomb to Minerva, including many located in old growth forest habitat. The DEC is planning to cut another 7,500 in the weeks ahead. » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks and the Sierra Club are asking the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, to review a recent decision in favor of the developers of the Adirondack Club and Resort, a massive development proposed for Tupper Lake.
In a statement today, Protect and the Sierra Club said the midlevel appeals court, which is based in Albany, made several errors in its analysis of the case. Because the Appellate Division’s decision was unanimous, the groups must seek permission to take the case to the Court of Appeals.
Judith Enck, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator, will make a public presentation “Climate Change: The Challenge of Our Time” which features details about recent federal actions to reduce greenhouse gas and C02 emissions and what they mean for New York and the northeastern U.S.
Enck’s presentation will start at 11:00 AM, July 6th, at Great Camp Sagamore as part of Protect the Adirondacks’ annual meeting. The presentation is open to the public.
“Climate Change: The Challenge of Our Time” will focus on the EPA’s recent release of new draft greenhouse gas emission reduction regulations for over 1,000 existing power plants. EPA estimates that 83% of greenhouse gas emissions are from carbon dioxide (C02) released into the atmosphere. As a group these coal-fired power plants are the single largest sources of C02 pollution in the U.S., producing nearly 25%. These new rules expect to produce a 20% reduction in C02 emissions by 2020 and 30% by 2030 (based on 2005 levels). The new program is partly modeled after the success of the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments, which successfully inaugurated the cap-and-trade program for reducing national emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, the two substances that cause acid rain. » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks is urging the state to create a 12,850-acre West Stony Creek Wilderness Area in the southern Adirondacks.
The Wilderness Area would combine 3,925 acres of former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that the state recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy and 8,925 acres of existing Forest Preserve in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.
“The West Stony Creek area is rugged terrain dominated by low ridges and mountains and the meandering West Stony Creek and associated wetlands. The Forest Preserve sections have old-growth forest communities,” Protect Chairman Chuck Clusen said in a news release today.
Protect also says a Wilderness classification would offer stronger protection for a six-mile stretch of West Stony Creek that is designated a Scenic River within the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System.
Legal champion for nature, for our nature and for the wild, David Sive, eulogized in The New York Times recently, was a man who epitomized the truth that you protect only what you love, you love only what you understand and you understand only what you are taught. According to the writers of the Times obituary, David brought Thoreau’s Walden with him to World War II and he and the book survived the Battle of the Bulge.
That is a blessing, for David Sive went on to employ Thoreau’s transcendence, his own legal training, fierce guardianship of all he loved and consummate use of the English language in the courts of law to protect the Hudson Valley and its Highlands, the Catskills, the Adirondacks, our State Parks, and many other places.
Before David Sive, the idea of a citizen and their representative gaining standing to argue for the environment in a court of law was rare indeed. Thanks to him and other pioneers, it has long been practiced. One can always wish that more of our judges were better trained and more inclined in this direction, but that is another story. » Continue Reading.
Last week, the organization, PROTECT the Adirondacks, announced that they plan to begin a program, entitled Cougar Watch, for developing a database of Mountain Lion sightings in and around the Park. For years, many reputable individuals have claimed to have glimpsed this large member of the cat family, which has led some people to wonder whether a small population of these highly adaptable predators currently exists within the boundaries of the Blue Line. With all the sightings entered into a publicly accessible database, it might be easier to draw some conclusions regarding the status of this reclusive feline in northern New York. » Continue Reading.
Bernard C. Smith served in the NYS Senate from 1965-1978, an era when trust in our government’s good will and capability to improve our lives was ebbing fast. But Senator Smith, a Republican, believed strongly in that capability and responsibility.
His belief found expression in numerous laws to protect our environment, laws which had to pass through his Committee on Environmental Conservation.
The Adirondack Park Agency (1971) and its organic act (1973), the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act (1972 and ‘75), the Environmental Quality Review Act, the law creating the Department of Environmental Conservation (1972) and its organic act, the Environmental Bond Act of 1972 and many other bills all found a lead sponsor and champion in Senator Smith. » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks has launched a new project Cougar Watch to record public sightings of cougars (Puma concolor) in and around the Adirondack Park. There are regular reports of cougar sightings throughout the Adirondacks, but there has not been a publicly available repository to record these sightings. PROTECT will work to organize and map these reports and provide regular updates.
The purpose of the Cougar Watch project is two-fold. First, there continue to be regular reports of cougars across the Adirondacks. Jerry Jenkin’s Adirondack Atlas features a map of cougar sightings on page 51. PROTECT will manage a database about all reports made available to us. We will investigate sightings that include information, such as pictures, pictures of tracks, scat samples, etc. Second, if there is a cluster of reports in a specific geographic area, PROTECT will work with cougar experts to try and assess the presence of cougars. » Continue Reading.
Three green groups are taking the Adirondack Park Agency to task for failing to provide an analysis of the environmental impacts and legal ramifications of its classification of forty-two thousand acres of state land in December—including twenty-two thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn land purchased from the Nature Conservancy.
At its monthly meeting, the APA board voted unanimously to create two motor-less tracts, the 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area and 9,940-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area, with a snowmobile corridor (classified Wild Forest) running between them. (You can read about the decision in the latest issue of the Adirondack Explorer.)
An Adirondack Park Agency commissioner has written a twenty-one-page legal analysis that concludes that the Essex Chain Lakes cannot be classified Wild Forest under the State Land Master Plan.
Dick Booth, a lawyer who teaches at Cornell University, has distributed the memo to his ten fellow commissioners, but it has not been made public.
Booth declined to discuss the memo in detail, but he told Adirondack Almanack thatit focuses on the Essex Chain, a string of seven linked lakes at the heart of a 17,320-acre tract that the state purchased from the Nature Conservancy, along with two smaller tracts.
Basically, he contends that the nearly pristine condition, remoteness, and interconnectivity of the lakes make the Essex Chain “a very, very special resource” where motorized use and motorized access would be inappropriate.
Like many readers of the Adirondack Almanack, I have been closely following the public meetings, discussions, editorials, and position statements concerning the land use proposals for the former Finch-Pruyn lands encompassing the Essex Chain of Lakes and the Upper Hudson River. I do have my favored position, as does everyone who loves and appreciates the Adirondacks. But my intent here is to talk about the “near losses”. That is to say the geographic area of our concern, over the many years, would have been very different, if a few politicians, and engineers had their way.
Of course a near loss would have been if the State of New York had not purchased the land from the Nature Conservancy. Another near loss would have been if the Nature Conservancy had not purchased the property form the Finch-Pruyn Paper Company in the first place. The citizens of New York State could have lost it all.
But there was another potential loss, in the mid-to-late 1960’s that would have mooted all of the present discussions. There was a plan to dam the Upper Hudson in order to supply water and hydro-electric power to the parched, urban, metropolitan area of New York City. » Continue Reading.
This week’s Adirondack Park Agency public hearings in Minerva and Newcomb about the classification of new Forest Preserve land along the Upper Hudson River, Essex Chain of Lakes, Cedar and Indian Rivers were well attended and informative. At Minerva Central School, there was no applause, no heckling. Folks listened to differing viewpoints respectfully, and several speakers noted a fair amount of common interests.
While most speakers favored a Wild Forest classification which would allow motorized access through an area long closed to public use, one former Finch, Pruyn manager noted the damage done to the roads by all-terrain vehicles. There was only one speaker in Minerva who favored unrestricted, unregulated, all-out motorized use from the Goodnow Flow to the Cedar River. Most appreciate the havoc this would cause to a region they know, or wish to get to know. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park is held up as the great wilderness area in the eastern United States. It’s the place where people come for a wilderness experience and to enjoy the great outdoors. One great myth about the wild Adirondack Park is that there is an abundance of motor-free lakes and ponds. In fact, the Park faces a scarcity of quiet waters where one can paddle a canoe or kayak without interruption from motorboats, jet skis, floatplanes, and other types of motorized watercraft.
Of the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, from Lake Champlain, with 262,864 acres, to Round Pond in Indian Lake, covering 134.9 acres, the overwhelming majority of big lakes and ponds provide abundant opportunities for motorized watercraft—but scant opportunity for quiet, motor-free waters. » Continue Reading.
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