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Facing Another Attempt to Foreclose the Future of the Adirondacks

By Carol W. LaGrasse

Comments on
DEC'S Draft ATV Policy for the Forest Preserve
May 2, 2005

Blocking roads and having them grow over and wash away by deliberately not maintaining them is one of the three keys to forcing people out of the Adirondacks. The other two are state land acquisition and extreme regulation. The DEC'S ATV plan, or, I should say, non-ATV plan, is a powerful surrogate for the overall goal of the wealthy environmental groups, APA and DEC to destroy the local culture and economy and depopulate the region.

Whether you support this plan or not has nothing to do with whether you ride an ATV or not. Supporting this plan means that you want the people out. Opposing the plan is a vote for the people of the Adirondacks.

You may be a well-paid DEC staffer claiming to be only a communicator and admonishing the people of the Adirondacks to "respect" their opponents with silence while they speak, while you spit in the people's eyes by completely disregarding their earnest, honest pleas to keep the so-called trails — really old town roads — open.

You may be a nature lover who doesn't understand the issues, knows nothing about the history of the Adirondacks and the long campaign of land acquisition, road closing, and crass, unjust, selective regulation to drive the people out.

You are taking a stand to eradicate a culture, to destroy the future of an economy and families in their hometowns if you support the DEC's non-ATV plan.

Like me, you may have never sat on the seat of an ATV; you may delight in solitude broken only by the sound of a bear's screeching howl or the chirping of the peepers in the spring; but, if you care about your neighbors, and want to save their communities from being inexorably eradicated by the rapacious green agenda; if you want to save their roads, their culture, their economy; if you want their schools to stop closing and the children to return; you will stand loud and clear against this plan.

The plan has ATV's as its target, but closing roads and blocking what would be a popular way for local people and visitors to enjoy the Adirondacks is the meaning of the non-ATV plan. Today's ATV's are the practical means of transportation to enjoy what are called "trails" by the fanatical environmentalists and bureaucrats.

We walked John's Pond Road in the town of Indian Lake on April 28, expecting to investigate and photograph the old Little Canada Cemetery. We saw the growing destruction of the old, well-built town highway, not by ATV's, but by hikers and mother nature's inexorable onslaught in the face of zero maintenance.

After passing the large boulders that DEC placed to block the road, this is what we viewed and experienced: Culverts lying uselessly in open stream channels while spring's floods rushed around them on both sides. Sections of road gullied by new stream routes down the narrow trench worn by hikers. Open gullies and streams full of water over which we nervously hopped, stone by stone. Long stretches of ponding and mud, some with by-pass trails cut by hikers. Trees fallen across the road, sawn off just minimally enough to allow a narrow pass. Balsam fir thickets closing in from the edges of the road. Side roads to other settlements, once touted as hiking rails in a well-known guidebook, growing over and becoming indiscernible.

DEC calls it "trail" maintenance and preserving the spirit of the wilderness for the public. What a lie! The road is being destroyed just as deliberately as if a town fired its highway crew and stopped ditching and grading its gravel roads each summer. The goal is keeping people out.

Closing roads, closing off the way into the woods, keeps out hunters, ordinary people like myself who are not young, and the disabled and anyone beyond the very physically fit.

By keeping people out, not only are the ancient Little Canada cemetery, John's Pond beyond, and any historic remains of settlement blocked from public access, a violation of law, but the economy and culture suffer a decline. People who would visit the area do not come. DEC and the extreme environmentalists know that hunters and users of motorized vehicles, who would enjoy these old town roads — now called "trails"—, spend the mount of money to make an impact on the local economy, and that hikers and canoeists have little positive economic impact. That is why the goal is to keep ATV's out.

DEC preaches that trails for ATV's will be developed on conservation easement land and ordinary private land. But they are again misleading the people, neglecting to point out the liability to private property owners. The General Obligation Law is often zero protection from liability, judging by numerous cases where property owners have been treated just the same as if the General Obligation Law did not exist. The real issue is keeping the old town roads open!

Don Sage has collected the names of 300 town highways closed by DEC. In my town of Stony Creek alone, there are several such roads not even on Don Sage's list. Many more town highways remain to be listed-and then opened.

Ted Galusha's group monitors DEC's failure to create disabled access to the Adirondack Forest Preserve as agreed in a court-ordered settlement of his group's lawsuit, opposed by the extreme environmentalists. This settlement has tremendous potential to open roads.

Essex County Supreme Court Judge Andrew Halloran ruled in March against DEC and in favor of Jim McCulley to keep open to snowmobiles the Old Mountain Road, a 195-year old highway created by the State Legislature in Keene and other towns in Essex County. Judge Halloran held that this road had become a public way, and was illegally closed by DEC regulation, not by proper procedure under the highway law.

We must turn the tide. We must drive out the extreme, destructive APA, DEC and environmental groups from their control over our future.

Turning away the DEC's non-ATV plan is the step we must now take.

We must open our town roads taken illegally by DEC — to pickup trucks, fire engines, ambulances, jeeps, ATV's, and snowmobiles; to hunters and all sorts of people, to protect, strengthen and ensure the future of our local economy and heritage.

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