Posts Tagged ‘snowmobile trails’

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Court’s Snowmobile Connector Decision in Perspective

The NYS Court of Appeals has just decided by a 4-2 majority, that New York State agencies under Governor Andrew Cuomo have violated Article 14, Section 1 of our State Constitution by impermissibly constructing snowmobile community connector trails through the ‘forever wild’ Forest Preserve, removing rocks, grading the trails, bench cutting the trails, and cutting thousands of trees.

Bitter comments about the court’s decision notwithstanding, snowmobiling continued in the Adirondack region during the years while this case was being appealed by state agencies up to New York’s highest court, and will again.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Is the Adirondack Park dying for recreational activities?

Class II Snowmobile connector trailBy Harsh Vaish, Skidmore College

The Department of Environmental Conservation – henceforth referred to as DEC – has been developing plans for major community connector snowmobile trails between Adirondack communities for a number of years. Protect the Adirondacks first sued the DEC in 2013, contending the trials cause significant environmental damage and violate the Constitutional clause for the ‘forever wild’.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, the environmental organization that sued to block the construction said the litigation is about Class 2 snowmobile trails and not hiking trails. He specifically called out the Adirondack Mountain Club and Open Space Institute’s concerns “specious claims.”

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tree cutting lawsuit: A timeline and background

Class II Snowmobile connector trailA timeline of events that lead to today’s court decision:

  • Protect the Adirondacks launched this lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency in 2013 alleging that Class II trails violated Article 14, Section 1, of the New York State Constitution due to excessive tree cutting and terrain alterations.
  • Protect the Adirondacks and its expert witnesses undertook extensive fieldwork in 2012-13 and in 2015-16 to document abuses to the Forest Preserve. Counts of over 16,000 tree stumps on Class II trails, with diameter measurements and GPS locations, including photographs of over 12,000 tree stumps, were made.
  • In the summer of 2016 Protect the Adirondacks obtained a temporary restraining order that stopped all tree cutting by the state on Class II trails after the first 34 miles of trails were in various stages of development. The DEC and APA had approved plans for a network of hundreds of miles of Class II trails in the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks.
  • In early 2017, a 13-day trial was held in state Supreme Court in Albany. In December 2017 the trial judge ruled against Protect the Adirondacks. In 2018, Protect the Adirondacks appealed to the Appellate Division, Third Department, which in a 4-1 decision overturned the lower court’s ruling in July 2019. In 2020, the DEC and APA appealed to the Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held in March 2021 at the Court of Appeals. Today, the Court of Appeals ruled 4 to 2 in favor of Protect the Adirondacks that the DEC and APA have violated the forever wild clause of the New York State Constitution.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Court of Appeals: Snowmobile trails violate state constitution

  • Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Protect the Adirondacks, Finds Cuomo Administration Violated Forever Wild Clause of State Constitution
  • The Cuomo administration’s plan to expand motorized use on the public Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks by building hundreds of miles of wide Class II snowmobile trails was ruled unconstitutional by the state’s highest court.
  • This historic decision will shape Forest Preserve management for decades to come.

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Saturday, February 6, 2021

When is a tree a tree?

Peter BauerIn the midst of our cold winter, a debate has been heating up around tree cutting for trails.

With the NYS Court of Appeals set to hear a case next month, environmental groups are taking sides. See this recent article by Adirondack Explorer’s policy reporter Gwen Craig: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/adirondack-advocates-clash-over-lawsuits-possible-effects-on-trail-work.

From the article, here’s an overview of the issue:

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