Reward offered for arsonists
By VIRGINIA GERMER
OLD FORGEThe Adirondack League Club is advertising a $5,000 reward in several Adirondack newspapers to anyone who provides information resulting in the identification, arrest and conviction of the person(s) who burned two of the club's camps to the ground within the last year.
Both were located in Hamilton County, along the South Branch of the Moose River.
The Adirondack League Club (ALC) was established 111 years ago, in 1890. Since its inception the club has been a leader in forest management and wildlife preservation, known for its fish hatcheries in conjunction with Cornell University, and a pioneer in the restocking of lakes within the Adirondack Park and research on acid rain.
Despite these achievements, someone either has something against the club or something against log cabins in Adirondack forests.
The ALC was organized as a 100,000-acre forest, game and fish preserve. The lands, known as the Anson Blake Tract, were located in both Hamilton and Herkimer counties.
By 1894, merger with the Bisby Club and purchase of the Wagner Tract had increased the lands controlled by the club to 191,000 acres, of which 128,000 acres were owned outright, making it the largest private preserve in the Adirondacks.
The prospectus for the original offering included directions: "By wagon route from Prospect Station, nineteen miles north of Utica." This necessitated a drive over a "tolerable" road for some 24 miles. The trip from Utica took a day and a half.
Today as then, The Club, as locals call it, adheres to the same basic principles. The primary directive is "... the assurance of [the tract's] perpetual preservation as forest land, and the protection of the game and fish within its borders."
By 1990, the club's holdings were down to 53,000 acres, still in both Hamilton and Herkimer counties.
In 1991 the club sued five canoeists and the Sierra Club for $5 million after the canoeists, led by the Sierra Club, trespassed by canoeing the South Branch of the Moose River, including some 12 miles running through ALC property in Hamilton County.
The Sierra Club made the trip to provoke a lawsuit over whether or not the river is "navigable" under state law and to assert right of recreational passage on the waterway.
After a nine-year battle, the state's highest court ruled recreational not commercial travel of a waterway determines its navigability. The Court of Appeals also directed the issue of the recreational value of the South Branch of the Moose River go to trial.
Rather than continue the litigation, the two clubs reached a settlement June 26, 2000.
During the course of the lawsuit, the ALC's attorney said a
decision for the Sierra Club "would open every private river
to every canoeist and white water terrorist that exists."
He may have been right. One month before the settlement was announced, the Proctor Camp burned.
The second casualty was Camp Nine, which burned June 22 of this year.
Both camps were close to boundaries of the ALC's holdings along the contested 12 miles of the South Branch of the Moose River.
The cause of the fires is not yet known.
Readers with information on either fire are asked to call the club's general manager at (315) 369-3025 or write to: ALC, Attn: General Manager, POB 8, Old Forge, NY 13420.