Property Rights Foundation of America®

Update on APA/DEC Disregard for Court-ordered Access Policy

By Ted Galusha
Adirondackers for Access

Fourteenth Annual National Conference on
Private Property Rights
October 23, 2010
Holiday Inn Resort, Lake George, N.Y.

Because of my physical limitations (multiple sclerosis and back injury), I have come to accept that there are places in the Adirondacks that I will never be able to access. In fact, I have never seen any of the lands that the state classifies as Wilderness, Primitive, and Canoe Areas except from roads, from an airplane, or in photographs and videos.

But a lawsuit over floatplane use gives me hope. The use of planes on the forty-plus lakes that could accommodate them (and did without problems for over fifty years) in Wilderness and the other "motorless" lands would provide me and others with disabilities an opportunity to enjoy remote wilds. I can only imagine the adventures (every trip to the woods is an adventure) that await me in the lean-tos and tent sites on the shores of these lakes. These water bodies offer some of the best fishing in the Adirondacks. Taxes pay to stock the fish, and people with disabilities pay taxes.

I don't understand what the big deal is. Allowing seaplanes won't cost the state a dime. These planes are virtually non-polluting and cause no damage to the lakes or shorelines. Hikers (and in some cases horses) are allowed, and they undeniably cause more environmental damage.

I suppose a floatplane or helicopter landing and taking off would disturb the peace and tranquility that we all seek when we go into the forest, but the disturbance would not detract much from our overall outdoor experience. Let's be reasonable. It takes less than five minutes for a plane to land or take off. The planes are not going to do laps around the lake like a water-ski boat. Most of these lakes would not see a plane on a daily basis. Usually, planes drop off clients and their gear and come back several days later to pick them up (along with their garbage).

The state agencies that control the land in the Adirondacks need to adopt a reasonable, balanced approach to the regulation of the Forest Preserve. It seems that certain environmental organizations are selfish and don't want to share public land with the public, and unfortunately the state yields to their wishes. It's time to face the fact that we humans are part of the environment, and we ought not to be denied access to the wilderness for unfounded "environmental" reasons.

State Environmental Conservation Law says, "All lands… in the Adirondack Park … now owned or which may hereafter be acquired by the state, shall be forever reserved and maintained for the free use of all the people." Note that it doesn't make an exception for lands classified as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe. It says "all lands" owned by the state. Nor does it make an exception for the disabled. It says "all the people."

How do state officials circumvent this law? They use the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and various regulations and policies, none of them voted on by the people or the legislative bodies that we elect to represent us. State officials are turning our right into privileges, bestowed by a few agencies and the greedy environmentalists who control them.

Please be mindful that anyone can become disabled in a heartbeat. You could be hit by disease, suffer a stroke, get injured in a car accident, or be wounded in a war. If any of these terrible things happened to you, would you be willing to give up your right to enjoy half of the state land in the Adirondacks? I would hope you wouldn't have to.

Ted Galusha, a Warrensburg resident, once sued the state to win greater access to the Forest Preserve for the disabled.

Back to:
PRFA Property Rights Conferences PRFA Home Page

© 2010 Property Rights Foundation of America®
All rights reserved. This material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.