15. Adirondackers for Access
(Latest update 2002)
P. O. Box 385
Warrensburg, NY 12885
Key Personnel (No officers)
Maynard Baker (5l8) 623-9303
Not a membership organization
Informally allied with local veterans associations. Maynard Baker is allied with the local property rights groups, also.
Adirondackers for Access is an informal coalition of hunters and fisherman that coalesced in 1997 to make it possible for disabled individuals to use motorized vehicles to enter the Adirondack Park. They are focusing on the rights established under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Their slogan is that they are: "Devoted to providing access for our physically challenged to our state forests."
Board of Directors
Not a formal organization
(1) Newcomb Lake Trail Protest
Several dozen trails and roads in the Adirondacks are closed to motorized vehicles. Seeking to obtain access to the disabled, Ted Galusha and Tena Willard worked on a task force in 1995 with top DEC and APA officials and advocates for the disabled. The task force decided on a compromise to open up dozens of trails and roads to disabled individuals, and these were opened for a short time. But under pressure from environmental groups, DEC revoked the compromise and closed off these roads and trails. DEC also revoked the motorized access permits that it had issued to the disabled.
Although generally referred to as trails, the accesses include some graded roads, such as the Newcomb Lake trail. DEC workers drive vehicles down the road while the public, including the disabled, are banned. In June 1997, a crowd of disabled individuals and supporters held a protest at the barricade placed on the Newcomb Lake trail, but did not proceed further when confronted by the DEC police.
(2) Federal Lawsuit
In 1998, Adirondackers for Access sued in Federal District Court for an order for the State of New York to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by allowing motorized access to the Sate Lands in the Adirondack Park by disabled individuals.
The plaintiffs, Ted Galusha of Warrensburg, Tena Willard and Bill Searles, sued DEC, John Cahill in his official capacity as DEC commissioner, Daniel Fitts in his official Capacity as APA director, George Pataki as governor, John Doe individually, and the State of New York. (John Doe is the unknown person who made the final decision not to go with the previously agreed May 1996 policy.) The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph Baum, director of the litigation clinic at Albany Law School, and Alvin Sabo and Joshua Sabo.
Environmental groups and environmentally minded individuals moved successfully to be defendant intervenors. These are the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, Environmental Advocates, Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, Graham Cox, Lisa Genier (a Residents Committee member with multiple sclerosis).
The environmental groups then sued the State to close all State maintenance roads to motorized maintenance vehicles and the disabled plaintiffs joined the State in defense of this cause of action.
U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn settled the lawsuit was settled with an agreement signed on July 5, 200, which assures that the disabled will have more access to state-owned lands in the Adirondack Park, including more motorized access, over the next five years.
The Hamilton County News reported a few days later:
"The settlement means that 21 roads totaling 67.28 miles of 'forever wild' lands in the Adirondack Park will be open to motor vehicle use by disabled people holding special permits issued by DEC.
"The agreement says DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will recommend opening 11 roads, totaling 19.54 miles, in the state Forest Preserve's Adirondack and Catskill parks to motor vehicle use by the disabled as unit management plans for the areas involved are developed.
"Such use is already allowed on 10 roads in the Adirondack Park, totaling 47.74 miles, opened by court order during the lawsuit. The road to Great Santanoni in Newcomb was one of those roads, but under the settlement motorized vehicles are not allowed.
"The roads will provide access to activities such as fishing, hunting, canoeing, bird watching and sightseeing, according to DEC. They will not be open to motor vehicle use by the general public.
"In addition, DEC will spend nearly $4.8 million to make parting areas, restrooms, fishing access sites, boat launches, campsites, picnic areas, equestrian mounting platforms and DEC offices in Warrensburg accessible to the disabled."
The entire settlement is posted on the PRFA web site at: link