A review of the documents, prepared by the Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, dealing with the 2002 version of Conserving Open Space in New York leads thinking readers to believe that they are confronted with a blueprint for the progressive nationalization of all open space and other choice real estate in the State of New York. The so-called plan calls for the purchase of an additional one million acres of land over the next decade. This to supplement the total of roughly 394,000 acres acquired since 1995. Of course the monarchs were in possession of quite a kingdom long before that date.
According to Governor Pataki, the politician who foisted the notion that he was a conservative on a trusting electorate, the State is reaffirming its commitment to preserving valuable lands and natural resources. Undoubtedly, big brother is the only one capable of conducting the proper stewardship. Although there is the usual bureaucratic lip service, mention of the role that the private sector plays is minimal. And, history has shown that governmental agencies do not have a great record in regards to stewardship of the land and its natural resources.
The master document is referred to as a plan, but is this a serious misnomer? To be acceptable, especially when plotting the expenditure of hundred of millions of dollars of someone else's money, it must include all of the key elements, presented in an objective and logical manner. There is a horribly inadequate statement of problems, often totally lacking. The public must demand answers. True needs are not clearly identified, but rather a proliferation of wish lists based on what big brother thinks is the way New York State should look is the norm.
There appears to be a gross neglect of supply to demand relationships. A county by county breakdown offering a numerical rating of supply to demand for various recreational needs is presented in Appendix D of the massive 539-page plan document, but no explanation of how the ratings were derived is offered. It is very apparent that, in respect to human carrying capacity, the State is grossly under populated and possesses a wealth of open space, much of which is rarely intruded upon by humans. The plan certainly does not convey this impression. Yes, there is sprawl and congestion around the cities, and this is where the focus should be. And, certainly there is some congestion in isolated locations along some roads in the so-called open spaces, but this represents an extremely low percent of the total land area. The infrequent mention of costs to benefits is anemic. General statements do not suffice. Just saying that something is nice, should not carry much weight. Such lack of discipline allows bureaucrats to put their claws into anything they so desire.
A superficial statement of goals is provided in the so-called plan. Goals must be specific and relate directly to problems, needs, supply to demand, costs to benefits; but since these items were glossed over the task is difficult. The first goal is to protect water quality. It seems that there is a plethora of governmental regulations. Are they not sufficient to meet objectives, not enforceable, or what? The second is to provide high quality outdoor recreation. Who decides what is high quality? Are not there sufficient opportunities on private and public lands at the present time? If adequate supply to demand ratios reveal a distinct need, then focus on and address those. The third goal is to protect and enhance those scenic, historic, and cultural resources which are part of the common heritage of New York's citizens. They must be aware that this includes everything.
The fourth goal is to protect habitat for the diversity of plant and animal species. This is meaningless unless some bounds are provided. It is not necessarily desirable to have wild flora and fauna everywhere. How much of each of their so-called ecosystems must be protected to meet their goals? And this idea that diversity is wonderful suggests a rather liberal approach. The fifth is to protect habitat to sustain hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing. Anyone versed in these matters knows that the supply of such drastically exceeds the demand. The sixth, to maintain critical and natural resource-based industries, smells of big brotherism. Is not this the realm of the private sector and a matter of markets? Yes, big brother should provide a healthy climate, and unfortunately this has been one of their great failures. The seventh deals with places for education and research. What is the problem? The public is not brain-washed enough? Finally, there has to be one dealing with open space and air quality. They neglected to mention the global warming baloney.
The list of proposed projects is overwhelming. There are some that stand out in respect to sensibility and the meeting of a real need. One such endeavor is the acquisition of parcels to provide access to land-locked portions of Long Island Sound. New York and most other states that border on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have long neglected this issue. Oregon was the exception, years ago providing access points and parking areas the entire length of their state, so that the public could enjoy one of their prized possessions. Yes, there are certain things that rightly should be in public ownership, but the line must be drawn at the proper time and place.
The chapter entitled "Recommendations for the Future" is even scarier, with the following sections: "Creating Effective Partnerships," "Open Space ConservationA Cornerstone of Quality Communities," "Enhancing the Role of Local Governments," "Enhancing the Role of Land Trusts, Conservation, Recreation and Preservation Organizations," "Enhancing the Role of the Federal Government." And, they pretend that in all this mess they will enhance the role of the private landowner. Let us be serious. Can the individual possibly believe that he will have any role left after the social engineers have finished building their monster? And, the way liberals play up the way Indians were treated. Yes, Indians, and if anyone bothered to ask them, they would prefer to be identified as a member of a particular tribe.
The documents state that the public response was overwhelmingly positive. But they also note that a grand total of nearly 900 comments were received. Wow, that indeed is impressive. Of course there were numerous hearings, but it is well known that these are disgustingly loaded. They certainly do not provide a measure of the sentiment of the populace.
The thought came to mind that many of the problems and needs of this modern age resulted from dramatic increases in human populations and their mobility. And, obviously the open space problems are most critical in the cities and the surrounding sprawl. Elsewhere there is an overabundance of open space. Would it not be desirable then to realize zero human population growth? This would be very easy to achieve, or actually over-achieve, by bringing immigration from foreign countries to a screeching halt. Unfortunately, these same people who cry about loss of open space and are dedicated to the micromanagement of people's lives are the same ones who fight any efforts to change immigration policies.
The people of New York must wake up and allow their cranial tranquility to be disturbed. There is a horrendous level of bureaucrat intrusion that threatens the traditional American way of life. God knows what the future has in store.
October 3, 2002
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