For Immediate Release:
November 13, 2001
Carol W. LaGrasse
OPEN SPACE PLAN REVEALS THE SAME OLD ILLEGALITIES
DEC Fails to Reveal Full Extent and Impact of its Land Acquisition Plans
If anybody else presented a project the same way as DEC has presented its voluminous draft 2001 Open Space Conservation Plan, they'd be unceremoniously shown the door. At the very least, assuming that they had not started work on their project, they'd have no chance whatever of getting a permit. This will be the theme of the statement by Carol W. LaGrasse, president of the Property Rights Foundation of America, at the public hearing held by DEC at its Ray Brook office on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 p.m.
A group of plaintiffs organized by LaGrasse sued DEC in 1999 for a number of reasons, including the fact that the agency failed to abide by its own rules under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA. The State failed to perform the legally mandated analysis of the social, cultural and economic impact of its decision to demolish 298 hunting cabins owned by 45 hunting clubs on the 139,000 acres of land it acquired from the Champion International Corp. that year.
The new Open Space Plan continues the same pattern. DEC's perfunctory generic environmental impact statement glosses over the impact on the rural culture and economy of the continuing onslaught of land acquisitions.
Perhaps even more seriously, the Open Space Plan omits a quantitative disclosure of the State's acquisitions so far and a disclosure of the State's intended acquisitions in the next five, ten, twenty, fifty, and one hundred years. "The State's land acquisition goals are a moving target," said Ms. LaGrasse. "This is in violation of SEQRA because it amounts to segmenting the State's project of land acquisition."
The State has made a baby step in abiding by the rules under
the 1993 Environmental Trust Fund Legislation and the 1996 Clean
Water/Clean Air Bond Act by finally setting up a procedure for
requesting local town resolutions of approval before acquiring
land in the towns.
But it is not possible for towns to knowledgeably evaluate State acquisitions because the information is piecemeal, or "segmented."
LaGrasse will argue that New York should put a hold on the draft Open Space Conservation Plan until the full disclosure of land acquisition statistics on a current basis are presented for each town, county, and region (such as the Adirondack Park) and until the future plans for the next one-hundred years are presented, broken down by reasonable increments. "Because of the 'Forever Wild' clause in the State Constitution, land acquisitions in the Adirondacks are essentially permanent and their impacts are cumulative and irreversible for all practical purposes," pointed out Ms. LaGrasse. "The State should institute a policy of full disclosure as required under SEQRA."