Posts Tagged ‘snowmobile trails’

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

12 Ways Indian Lake Supervisor Brian Wells Gets Historic Forever Wild Decision Wrong

connector trail

In an op-ed run in the Albany Times Union on August 1, 2021 and in the Adirondack Almanack, Town of Indian Lake Supervisor Brian Wells got many things wrong about the recent historic forever wild court decision. He makes serious accusations, yet he twists, bends, and distorts reality to fit his narrative. The one thing that he got right was that “Class II Community Connector Snowmobile Trails” were struck down by New York’s highest court because they violated Article 14, Section 1, of the State Constitution, the forever wild clause.

Here are a dozen ways that Brian Wells plays fast and loose with the truth.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

“Staff should rely on this policy.” Really ?

essex chain stakeholders

Forest Preserve stakeholders meet with DEC staff to discuss management alternatives, Essex Chain Lakes, 2012. Photo by Dave Gibson

The NYS Court of Appeals ruled on May 4 of this year in favor of plaintiff Protect the Adirondacks and against the State of New York, deciding that Snowmobile Community Connector trails as planned, permitted, and constructed by the Department of Environmental Conservation during the first term of Governor Andrew Cuomo violated the “forever wild” clause, Section 1 of Article 14, NYS Constitution.

It took the DEC until June 30 to formally respond to the Court’s ruling, and that formal response came in the form of an internal DEC memorandum issued by DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos and handed out at a recent meeting of the DEC’s Forest Preserve Advisory Committee on which I serve as a representative of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

In his first paragraph, Commissioner Seggos wrote that:

» Continue Reading.


Monday, August 2, 2021

Sabotaging Trail Deal Was No Way to Protect the Adirondacks 

snowmobile trail

By Brian Wells 

This is a story that should have had a happy ending. 

A story of five Adirondack towns working with state government and environmental non-profits on an agreement to expand the taxpayer-owned Forest Preserve, improve public recreation and bring new economic growth to the area. 

The Community Connector Trails agreement would have helped turn the page on decades of Adirondack Region job losses brought on by industry disinvestment and Forest Preserve expansion, and established a model for the type of common-sense, compromise solutions needed for many problems confronting the Adirondack Park. 

Instead, it’s a sad story of misplaced trust and lost opportunity, ending with the towns and the people who live there getting left out in the cold. 

» Continue Reading.


Friday, July 16, 2021

DEC And APA Have A Big Task To Get Back On The Right Side Of Forever Wild

tree cutting lawsuit

The May 4, 2021, decision by the New York Court of Appeals ruled that Class II Community Connector Snowmobile Trails violated Article 14, Section 1, of the New York Constitution. This ruling capped an 8-year legal challenge by Protect the Adirondacks against the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Adirondack Park Agency (APA). In the end, eight of the twelve judges who looked at the evidence found that Class II trails were unconstitutional.

For two decades, Protect the Adirondacks, its predecessor organizations, and many others, took the position that Class II trails, or anything like them, violated Article 14, Section 1, the forever wild clause of the State Constitution. Few at these state agencies heeded our concerns.

» Continue Reading.


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.

» Continue Reading.


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.”

» Continue Reading.


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.

» Continue Reading.


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.

» Continue Reading.


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:

» Continue Reading.