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Extreme Policies May Have Roused Brooding Opposition
IS THERE AN ADIRONDACK AWAKENING?
Lawsuits, Resolutions, and Citizen Speakouts Express Mounting Anger

By Carol W. LaGrasse

The State of New York is subjecting the communities within the twelve-county Adirondack "Blue Line" to a high intensity stress test. However, this is not a simulated test, but rather an actual series of denials of life-essentials, forced straight jackets, amputations, and donations of life-blood by the communities within a very short time frame. These assaults on the future of the communities are the state's regulatory impositions, prosecutions of landowners, obstruction of economic development, removal of land from private ownership, closing of travel and recreational access and campgrounds, and the attempted imposition of unbearable new taxes. The Adirondack Park Agency, Department of Environmental Conservation, and Governor David Paterson himself have combined to launch this new barrage at the already bludgeoned people of the Adirondacks. However, the potentially thriving region is not comatose yet, and is grasping for life and air, struggling for civil rights and freedom.

The Gray Cloud of Uncertainty
The governor-appointed, radical Adirondack Park Agency's machinations may be testing too far the tolerance of the local population of this region where it has zoning power in northern New York. One of the biggest clouds that hangs over the heads of local property owners is that old, often accidental violations of the thirty-six-year-old Adirondack Park Agency law will be detected and prosecuted. Offenses ranging from an unpermitted house in the forest to a dock on one of the many lakes can be discovered and, as a result, the property owner can face fines and requirements that it be modified or removed. This often happens when property is put up for sale or when neighbors settle grudges by snitching.

Last year, instead of promoting a way to relieve this cloud hanging over people's heads, the agency announced an enhanced enforcement program based on its unsurpassed computerized mapping, or "geographic information systems," known as GIS. The program would be able to find and facilitate the prosecution of violations of the Adirondack Park Agency law back to its effective date of 1973. The announcement came on the heels of the failure by locals to get action in the state legislature on even a quite limited bill to set a statute of limitations on violations of the law, which was sponsored by representatives from the region.

APA Imposes Rules Beyond Its Legal Powers
In November, after tedious deliberations, the APA, as the agency is known locally, issued new regulations about what it considers to be sensitive areas. The new restrictions, which could affect many property owners, were especially directed against lakeside owners and hunters. One new rule curtails extensions parallel to the shoreline of lake-front houses that were built before the APA law went into effect in 1973, although the law broadly grandfathered that type of extension. Simultaneously, the agency issued regulations making it harder for people to use the special exception put into the APA law during Assemblyman Glenn Harris's negotiations with Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1973 that deliberately kept small hunting and fishing cabins out of the APA jurisdiction. The new rules for the cabins add many requirements for "primitive" living and for very limited use that are not stipulated in the statute.

Under these rules the APA is apparently attempting to extend its power beyond that bestowed on it by the law. The imposition of the new rules restricting extensions to lakeside cottages is especially sensitive because the most valuable real estate is along lake shores. Development along the shorefronts is already strictly controlled by the APA law. Additional restrictions would cut into the future expansion of the tax base of revenue-starved local towns. And the non-jurisdictional clause for hunting and fishing cabins would be virtually wiped out with the new regulation, cutting deeply into the potential for the future of this important part of the hunting life-style.

Local town officials broke with their usually consensus-oriented mood. Nine counties and ten towns in the region banded together and sued the APA. Fred Monroe, the chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors and the executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board announced in January that the new APA regulations restricting lateral expansion of lakeside cottages, grabbing jurisdiction over almost every new hunting and fishing cabin, and assuming new wetland regulatory powers will be challenged on behalf of the municipalities. Dennis Phillips, the Glens Falls attorney who is representing the localities, remarked during an interview that under the APA's regulations, the agency amended the legislation to reverse 35 years of jurisprudence.

The APA is not the only governor-appointed agency regulating land use within the Adirondack region. The Lake George Commission has overlapping jurisdiction along the shores of that 34-mile lake at the southeastern edge of the mountains. About a year ago, the commission put up a sign signaling its presence at the summit of the watershed boundary on Route 9N west of Lake George. Perhaps this was meant to announce the limits of the commission's jurisdictional power. However, it appeared to merely be a tourism billboard until last year when the agency announced a round of land use regulations that would affect construction along all streams feeding into Lake George. The "stream corridor plan" would institute a 100-ft. buffer of natural vegetation, preferably forest, along each side of every stream feeding into the lake.

The plan precipitated the most thoroughly prepared, vociferous, organized opposition to a regional regulatory proposal in years. At a hearing attended by about 170 people in Lake George in February, one opponent said, "If you don't believe in the Boston Tea Party, you fellows hang on." Calling the legislation "top-down," and a "taking," George McGowan, former director of the Warren County Soil and Water District, pointed out that highway construction, rather than home building, has been identified as the source of pollution of the lake in a number of studies. Several people contended that the regulations were the work of "environmental extremists." The Lake George Town Board formally opposed the regulations, as did the Warren County Board of Supervisors. Disciplined studies by citizens and legal experts were presented by opponents. One thread in several remarks was that a non-profit organization, the Fund for Lake George, was given unwarranted power to draft the regulations.

The issuance of the proposed stream corridor regulations, which would amount to a Fifth Amendment taking of an acre-wide strip along every stream feeding into Lake George, was an awakening for property owners in the watershed, who were generally amazed to discover that they were within the bounds of a land-use regulatory body. Most people had thought the commission regulated the lake itself, including waterfront and docks. And people knew that the commission was not shy about wielding the club of extraordinary fines, as it had just found its way into newspaper headlines by fining a Queensbury man $591,000 for allegedly illegal dock construction.

APA Tries to Undermine Agricultural Exemption
A four-year battle is raging in Essex County over farm housing that was built without an APA permit. The APA fined a popular new farm $10,000 for the housing built the year before, then later raised the fine to $50,000 during the dispute. The 1,100-acre organic crop and beef farm owned by Salim ("Sandy") and Barbara Lewis is a locally treasured project that promises a new source of employment. The offense charged against the farm, which is located in Essex, is that the Lewises had built new modular homes for their employees, rather than the ordinary trailers that are typical of farm housing. However, the farmers chose the better homes with the intention of attracting higher caliber help. The case is being argued on technicalities of the special privileges for agriculture under the APA law. In addition, the farm is protected by New York State right-to-farm law, which exempts agriculture from much zoning.

The APA faced both the Lewis family farm and the New York State Farm Bureau in the Essex County Supreme Court and roundly lost in April 2008, when Justice Richard B. Meyer held that the APA made an "error of law." Unrelenting, the Adirondack Council, a powerful environmental group, called for an appeal or an act of the legislature to give the APA jurisdiction. Just before Christmas, the APA appealed to the appellate division, where the farm's attorney John Privitera will face off against the state attorney general. Meanwhile, the plans to bring in additional workers were on hold early this year.

Enviro Lawsuits Try To Obstruct Attempts at Local Prosperity
The Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake is a development of a skiing resort and condominiums planned for the site of an old resort, Big Tupper Ski Area, which closed in 1999. During the permit application process, the APA and environmental groups pared down the scope of the promising project. Then the agency pulled another fast one. It relegated the project to secret mediation instead of going immediately to public hearings. Parties allowed in the mediation process were strictly limited to assure secrecy. To an outsider this looked like a new stage of high-pressure tactics out of public view to whittle down the project further.

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and various residents brought a lawsuit against the Town of Tupper Lake on the grounds that the town itself should also have done a separate environmental study for the project, even though the lengthy APA review is deemed legally sufficient as an environmental review. The Franklin County Supreme Court dismissed the case a year ago. However, the case was appealed. Then the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) brought another club in court against the developer: The state attorney general filed a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of DEC in support of the opponents of the skiing development. The case is now before the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court.

State legislator Paul Maroun (R – Tupper Lake) released a statement in December that he was disturbed that DEC is "suddenly taking a position against the Town of Tupper Lake and the Adirondack Club and Resort." According to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, he said that it is "disturbing and actually disgusting" that the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks could convince DEC officials to get involved during the appeal process. David Gibson, the director of the association, denied that they influenced the DEC.

If there is promise of economic renewal, the environmentalists will often attack to crush it. The Gore Mountain Ski Interconnect is one such modest project. Located at North Creek in Warren County, the project to connect the state-owned, well-known Gore Mountain ski slope and the smaller Little Gore skiing area trail system is hailed locally as a "dream come true." But the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks sued the Adirondack Park Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority to stop the construction of the chairlift that would connect Gore Mountain and the North Creek Ski Bowl. The executive director of the Residents' Committee, Michael Washburn, claimed that the Gore Mountain Interconnect included "stunning violations" of the state land master plan.

In January, the Lake George Chronicle quoted Sterling Goodspeed, the supervisor of the Town of North Creek, expressing what are likely the feelings of many local people. The interconnect project is "an incredibly good one and represents a glimmer of hope in the Adirondacks where the recession has hit particularly hard," he said. "The interconnect promises economic vitality for our region in a manner that is consistent with economic and environmental goals."

Fighting to Defend Everyday Life and Safety
The extreme environmental regulation has severe effects on the daily lives of people in the Adirondacks. For many years the APA refused to permit towers needed to have cellular telephone service along a stretch of the Adirondack Northway (I 87). In January 2007, a 63-year-old Brooklyn man, Alfred B. Langner, died of exposure because he and his wife could not call for help during sub-zero weather when they were trapped in their car after it skidded off the highway near North Hudson. Another man died at about that same time as Mr. Langner from a heart attack when he couldn't get a call through to an emergency service from that stretch of the Northway. Outrage over Mr. Langner's death spread across the country from the Adirondacks and Brooklyn.

Only after loss of human life were cell towers along the Northway able to slowly squeak through the APA permit process. Many areas of the Adirondacks are still denied cell service, handicapping emergency services and business operations.

The APA also obstructs electric transmission lines. Recently the agency mandated that National Grid, the utility company serving much of the area, in effect waste funds to detour transmission lines around a stretch of highway that the agency deemed too environmentally important to host electric lines. The utility also has to dispute with the APA over safe right-of-way clearing widths. Occasionally, families cannot get electric power at all, because the APA will claim jurisdiction over the right-of-way to their house to stop electric power access, as happened this year with a family in Benson.

Beginning in 2007 the APA stopped reconstruction of a road in Westport for two years after it washed out, because the replacement highway, which the town intended to move further from Boquet River than the original highway for safety and engineering reasons, would still be within 150 ft. from the river. The town refused to apply for a variance, because it would set a precedent that a highway was a "structure," which the APA had never asserted before.

Locals Battle Aggressive Land Acquisition
A brave stand against the state's unrelenting land acquisition was brought in March 2007 by the Town of Black Brook in Essex County to stop the state from buying the International Paper Company lands within the town's borders. This lawsuit represents a challenge to part of just one phase of the tidal waves of state land acquisition during the past twenty years. The lawsuit was based on the fact that the town had passed a resolution to veto the purchase, as provided in the state law that sets the funding mechanism for Forest Preserve acquisitions. However, in the end, the DEC did not tolerate the town's statutory right to veto land acquisition within its borders and devised a way to try to circumvent the town's power. Instead of using funds from the Environmental Protection Fund to acquire the 15,000 acres of International Paper land within the town, the DEC apparently used funds from the Empire State Development Corporation and the Mellon Foundation (which once founded the Conservation Fund, the entity that acquired the vast Champion lands and divided the ownership for the state). Even so, the town was victorious in the lower court, but the state is now appealing the decision.

Seaplanes Are Targeted, Locals Respond in Court
The Adirondack Park Agency has been working non-stop to block access to the Forest Preserve, by closing roads, camp sites, and access to lakes, as well as by restricting snowmobile use, eliminating four-wheel drive access, forbidding ATV use, and virtually banning seaplane use. Last October, the APA again targeted the traditional use of seaplanes to reach isolated lakes in the Adirondacks by deciding to reject a DEC plan allowing their continued use for ten years on Lows Lake on the border of Hamilton and St. Lawrence Counties. As this article went to press in mid-April, the agency made a final ruling that all seaplane landings on the popular fishing destination of Lows Lake will be phased out in three years. The same allegation of violations of the state land master plan that is being used in court by environmentalists to attempt to block the Gore Mountain Interconnect was applied in May 2008 to block seaplane access to Lows Lake, even though a significant part of the shoreline of Lows Lake is private property. The groups that brought the lawsuit to eliminate seaplanes on Lows Lake were the Adirondack Mountain Club, Association to Protect the Adirondacks, Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, and Sierra Club. The key was to designate Lows Lake as "wilderness" supposedly "within" the Forest Preserve.

The lake had always been open to landing by seaplanes. The APA ruling is the latest in a controversy that has continued since the passage of the Adirondack Park Agency law. Decades ago, according to the Adirondack Journal in October, there were seven seaplane businesses in the Adirondack Park, but now only two remain, Helms Aero Service in Long Lake and Payne Seaplanes and Air Service in Inlet.

The irony is that Lows Lake is not pristine. It is man-made, has houses along the shore, and is accessed by motor vehicles via an established road. Three hundred boy scouts live there during the summer. Thomas Payne, "a fourth generation bush pilot whose family has been transporting outdoor enthusiasts to Lows Lake for nearly a century," according to the Adirondack Journal in February, expressed the feeling of the local people at a DEC hearing in Warrensburg about the new regulations. "Why doesn't the agency try to keep some of the natives around, who are attempting to make a living in the Adirondacks?" he rhetorically asked.

The APA "wilderness" classification ruling against seaplanes hit a nerve. New actions in response to the harsh state regulatory developments gathered steam. In February, 78-year-old Maynard Baker, who is a private pilot, a businessman, and a former Warrensburg town supervisor, announced a lawsuit to be filed in federal court by attorney Matthew D. Norfolk of Lake Placid against the APA's prohibition of seaplane access to lakes in the Adirondacks that were open when the APA was established. Mr. Baker, who is a veteran, said recently during an interview, "Forty large, remote lakes that would accommodate a seaplane have been closed to the disabled American veteran and the mobility impaired people of our nation." Mr. Baker believes that everyone should be able to enjoy the Forest Preserve.

Some advocates for the rights of the people of the region suspect that lawsuits brought by the environmental groups are sweetheart lawsuits that are not well-defended by the state attorney general. One quietly executed lawsuit of preeminent importance was brought by the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. It resulted in the APA entirely closing down all-terrain vehicle (ATV) access to the state Forest Preserve lands.

Snowmobile and ATV Access Discriminated Against
The grievance felt by sportsmen about the prohibition of ATV use of the Forest Preserve is accentuated by the raw treatment of snowmobilers. The total amount of snowmobile trails is capped at only 848 miles even though the state has acquired hundreds of thousands of additional acres of land for the Forest Preserve since the mileage of existing trails was established in 1972.

Restricting the mileage doesn't satisfy the radical environmentalists. In December 2007, the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks announced a legal victory for "forever wild" Forest Preserve when the DEC and APA signed a settlement with four environmental groups (the Association to Protect the Adirondacks, Adirondack Council, Residents committee to Protect the Adirondacks, and the Adirondack Mountain Club) to rescind APA and DEC approval of tracked grooming of snowmobile trails. The lawsuit sought a ruling that only snowmobiles could be used to groom trails.

After he took office, DEC Commissioner Grannis initially stated that the snowmobile trail mileage cap might not apply to land acquired after 1986, but he later announced that he was misinformed and changed his mind after the Association for Protection of the Adirondacks contacted him. The cap is based on the inventory by Norm Van Valkenburgh, a radical retired director of the DEC Division of Lands and Forests who has written that snowmobiles, campgrounds, and other ordinary man-made things that facilitate the enjoyment of the Forest Preserve are illegal intrusions. Pent-up rage at this unfairness rushes to the surface when ATV users or four wheelers have a chance to speak.

Land Acquisition Accelerates, But People Protest
During the same decade that the state was expanding its holdings with giant fee simple and conservation easement purchases, it was aggressively closing public campsites and access roads within the Forest Preserve. The two most gigantic acquisitions were the 139,000-acre Champion International Corporation lands and the 260,000-acre International Paper tracts. The state now owns in fee simple nearly three million acres in the Adirondacks, approximately half the land within the six million-acre region, up from about forty percent about twenty years ago. In addition, the state has acquired about 700,000 acres of conservation easements within the Adirondack "Blue Line," as the boundaries of the region for the APA regulations are known. But the acquisitions haven't slowed down. During the past two years, the state and The Nature Conservancy have been announcing the state's stages in acquiring in fee simple and conservation easements virtually all the pieces of the 161,000 acres of forestland formerly owned by the Glens Falls paper manufacturer, Finch, Pruyn and Company. State land acquisition is squeezing the local land base in the region, whether the central Adirondacks, the isolated northwest, or even the relatively well-situated southeastern region.

The bottled up tension that local people feel about the state land acquisition, which is accomplished by secret prearrangement with the land trust surrogates, was expressed at what was to have been an unnoticed public hearing about the proposed issuance of $45 million in tax-exempt bonds by the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority to The Nature Conservancy to reduce the cost of its borrowing to acquire the Finch, Pruyn lands. A single fine-print legal notice for a December hearing at the Glens Falls City Hall appeared in only the Glens Falls Post-Star and The New York Times, but the Property Rights Foundation of America and a couple of local people helped publicize the hearing at the last minute.

A crowd of forty, all but three or four of whom came to oppose the issuance of the bonds, exceeded by many times the space allowed in the conference room where the hearing was to have been held. Those who came had to meet in a makeshift space in the city hall's second floor lobby. Several of the local people carried protest signs such as "No Bailout for TNC." The statements were from the heart and some were quite moving. Two families told their stories of being pressured by the APA and the conservancy to sell their property. One man who spoke, John Maye, said he was approached several times by The Nature Conservancy to buy his property. Afterwards, he said he was hit by the APA with $2,962,000 in fines for alleged violations of the camp in which he and his wife lived. The fines were entirely dropped when the Town of Black Brook, represented by Councilman Howard Aubin, stood up for him. This hearing in Glens Falls may have been the first time that citizen opposition has been raised at a public hearing for any such bonding by the Colorado authority.

Cap on State Tax Payments Threatens Region
However, nothing threatened the normally quiescent rank and file local government officials of the one-hundred-odd towns and villages within the twelve counties than an announcement by Governor Paterson in December that his budget would cap state tax payments on the state-owned Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks and Catskills at the level of the previous fiscal year. A savings of $9 million was envisioned by this shift of the tax burden to the localities for the 2009-10 fiscal year and of $16 million the next year. The proposed cap would be a reversal of a policy to pay local real estate taxes established almost 125 years ago by the legislature when it established the "forever wild" protection of the Forest Preserve. At that time, the legislature had commissioned lengthy hearings and reports that concluded that fair policy toward the localities was essential because the Forest Preserve was for the purpose of benefiting the state as a whole by providing a reliable watershed for commerce on the Erie Canal and Hudson River, while posing an economic burden to the localities by greatly preventing development and logging.

Coupled with the threat from his proposed tax shift, the governor's budget demonstrated the environmentalist agenda to continue to dissect the future of the localities in the region by budgeting still more funds for land acquisition, a total of $58 million during the fiscal year. In stark contrast to the covenant of fairness established by the legislature during the nineteenth century, the plan to spend six times as much for land acquisition this year than would be saved by the tax cap proved the callousness of the budgetary process. In fact, DEC and The Nature Conservancy announced last year that approximately one hundred square miles of land from the former holdings of Finch, Pruyn and Co. would be relegated to the "forever wild" Forest Preserve, permanently prohibiting all economic productivity and use. If accomplished, this proposed addition to the Forest Preserve will be the largest ever.

Immediately after the tax cap was announced, members of the legislature who represented areas with large state land holdings got to work to push against it. Local newspapers, officials, and citizens spoke out. Resolutions made the circuits around the county legislatures and town boards.

Local officials held a press conference in Albany in February in opposition to the tax cap. According to the Adirondack Journal, Linda Kemper, chair of the Intercounty Legislative Committee of the Adirondacks, warned:

"In Fulton County, statistics show that 89 percent of our families are struggling. Already families are leaving, our young people drive far to find jobs, we're losing our homes, and our businesses are closing—we can't afford to shoulder this new burden."

In January, State Senator Elizabeth O'C. Little (R, Queensbury) said, "The proposed tax cap is just so patently unfair and such a terrible precedent that I was surprised that it was not eliminated from the executive budget."

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R, Willsboro) took the offensive and asked that, since fees were increased for fisherman and hunters, fees should be added for hikers. She called on DEC Commissioner Grannis and other commissioners involved with state land ownership to disclose how they set environmental priorities.

Most revealingly, the environmental organizations raised intense opposition to the tax cap proposal. They fretted publicly that a state policy to avoid paying full taxes on the Forest Preserve lands would threaten relations between the state and localities within the Adirondack Park. Joined by a few prominent local officials during December, virtually every environmental group that is active in the Adirondacks issued a unified press release in opposition to the tax cap.

In the press announcement, Adirondack Mountain Club Director Neil Woodworth made the most revealing remark of all, "This is not only unfair, it is bad public policy that would undermine local support for open space protection in the Adirondacks and Catskills."

The tax cap's appearance in the governor's budget proposal raised the local of angst to a level of intensity that all of the major land acquisitions had failed to precipitate. People began calling for logging the Forest Preserve, for selling parts of the Forest Preserve, and for halting land acquisition.

In a letter during February to the Adirondack Journal, Roger Friedman of Schroon Lake wrote, "One thing is crystal clear: if the state cannot afford to pay the taxes on land it owns, it definitely should not be buying any more land."

Late in March, the final budget bills presented to the legislature rejected Governor Paterson's Forest Preserve tax cap proposal. Locals rejoiced. Not only the Adirondack region, but also Ulster and Schoharie Counties, where Catskill Forest Preserve land is located, and counties even further south, including Rockland County, would have been affected. These regions had brought in their own legislators to the cause. Statewide organizations such as the New York State Association of Counties also lobbied against the proposal. Environmental groups such as the Adirondack Council that typically work against local Adirondack interests claimed credit for the victory, on the basis that they had formed a "Common Ground Alliance" a few years ago with local officials on issues where they could work together, and that this helped to defeat the proposal. However, at the same time they claimed to have "common ground" with local people, these environmental groups brought the lawsuits mentioned in this article to stop use of the Forest Preserve and stop local economic development.

Recession Stimulates Reaction to Fanatical Preservation
Late last year, some members of the Legislature called for a moratorium on state acquisition of private land and for managing timber from the Forest Preserve for productive harvest. Senator Little called for a moratorium on the state purchase of land in the Adirondack Park. According to the Glens Falls Post-Star in December, she said that delaying land purchases would be preferable to cutting state jobs.

State Senator Joseph Griffo (R, Rome) said he would go further, suggesting a statewide moratorium on buying land and conservation easements. "From an economic perspective, at this point in time it makes all the sense in the world, as we're trying to deal with significant deficits, to put a moratorium on state purchases of land, and I would go throughout the whole state," he said, according to the newspaper. He said that he may propose legislation to limit the percentage of land that the state could own in any municipality.

Assemblywoman Sayward was quoted at the same time suggesting that efforts be made toward a constitutional amendment to allow logging on some state-owned Forest Preserve land in areas where logging would not threaten the environment. In addition to providing jobs in the forest products industry, stumpage from logging of the Forest Preserve could bring in millions of dollars annually in state revenue.

A well-thought proposal for logging the Forest Preserve was raised in February. Tom Bartiss, Jr., the owner of Woods-Edge Forestry in Vermontville in the northern Adirondacks, wrote a proposal to Governor Paterson, which was summarized as a guest commentary in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise of Lake Placid.

"The issue of 'forever wild' property retention by the state is now threatening our most important resource, healthy forests and their ecosystems," he wrote, and pointed out that times have changed since "forever wild" was an intelligent choice for restoration after careless destruction of forests by the land-management practices in the nineteenth century.

"The current health of the 'forever wild" lands is not ecologically good," he observed. "Forests that are managed and periodically harvested in an ecologically viable way produce a forest of mixed-age trees with the best genetics outcompeting the less hardy trees. This means you always have young, growing trees and lots of species diversity."

"If you can produce a forest with different levels and ages of tress, you create habitats for multitudes of different animal species and growing habitat for different plant species. Healthy, growing forests convert more carbon dioxide into oxygen and tie up more carbon than stagnant, weak forests. Healthy forests protect our waterways and water quality by acting as a buffer for runoff, sedimentation and flood control. Healthy forests also create long-term revenue and lasting jobs for local communities."

Mr. Bartiss entreated the governor to plan for the future:

"Please consider my plea to properly manage and harvest 'forever wild' lands for the benefit of our future and to give our community lasting jobs, financial stability and some pride in spending our hard-earned money locally. It is the correct choice, and the time is now."

Tom Bartiss is not alone. Throughout the Adirondack region and beyond are many people who believe that the time to fundamentally change state policies has arrived. These people would like to see the time soon when the fanatical, unrealistic ideas of the environmental organizations are put to rest. They would like to see the APA tamed and its powers limited. They would like state land acquisition stopped right now. They would like laws to limit state land ownership in each county and town. They would like the Forest Preserve opened up to the enjoyment of all the people. And they would indeed like to see the Forest Preserve managed for sustainable timber production, local jobs, state revenue, and fire protection.

The realism that is setting into the country as a whole has a parallel local embodiment. The dark future that the radical environmentalists envision for the Adirondack region is starkly clear. Harsh reality is emboldening the people who have watched their rights and the future of their communities eroded by the interests and extreme views of that small sector of influential wealthy individuals mainly from outside the region. The possibility of an effective Adirondack awakening has arrived.


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© 2009 Carol W. LaGrasse
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