ADK-ON Conservation Committee
Highlights from 5/7/16 meeting
Mary Coffin & Kathy Disque Co Chairs
1. Essex Chain Final approved UMP: There will be a motorless Primitive corridor. Floatplane use is permitted in First and Pine Lakes but there is very little plane traffic. Mountain biking is available in Blue Mountain Wild Forest on 9 miles of old logging roads. The eastern part is classified as Hudson Gorge Wilderness, western part as Wild Forest and the Pine Lakes to the south as primitive. ADK did get approval for non-native materials in Cedar River Bridge; lightweight steel frame, much less imposing than pressure treated lumber and less expensive and smaller footprint. ADK opposed to use of Polaris Bridge over the Hudson based on prior use and building new N-S snowmobile trail in Wild Forest up the middle when there is already a parallel one to the west but lost these battles. ADK can file suit in future and possibly will to prevent this grandfathered use from setting precedent for other areas. A suit is pending from Protect the Adirondacks and ADK Wild.
2. Boreas Pond Classification Options: If these purchases (Boreas Wilderness, Casey Brook Tract, MacIntyre east and west) are added as Wildernesses to the adjacent Dix Wilderness and High Peaks Wilderness then 280,000 acres of contiguous wilderness, largest in the east, will be created. The expanded High Peaks Wilderness Area would be comparable in size to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and would be twice the size of Zion National Park in Utah.
The five towns in the area want the area around and north of the ponds and road to the ponds to be open for motorized use, boats, autos, snowmobiles, float planes and bikes. ADK supports mostly Wilderness except for Gulf Brook Rd. to LaBeir Flow and Wild Forest south of Gulf Brook Rd. Paddlers and hikers will still need to hike/portage to the ponds by foot for 0.7-1 mile, like Lake Lila. A snowmobile trail is supported close to Blue Ridge Road in the Wild Forest. The primitive strip along the road concept is not supported by ASK.
Watch for meetings and hearings throughout the state including Syracuse and Utica. A large turn out of ADKers is expected. Watch for the Action Alert. ADK needs your support.
3. Wilderness Economy and 5/12/16 CLARKSON UNIVERSITY STUDY: Contrary to what local towns think Buyers Pay 25% More for Homes, Businesses & Land Near Adirondack Wilderness Areas. “Clarkson’s study showed that people seeking to purchase homes and businesses in northern New York paid more for the same property inside the Adirondack Park than they would have outside of it. Buyers paid up to 25 percent more if that property was close to a wilderness area. Specifically, we find that properties within 0.5 to 6 miles of wilderness are valued at up to a 25-percent premium. The study analyzed more than 77,000 real estate transactions over a decade in the 12 counties that comprise the Adirondack Park. The Clarkson study also confirms the findings of a recent tourism study of Essex County in the Adirondack Park, which found most visitors spent their time and money on non-motorized recreation. It found that lands where visitors were allowed to drive their vehicles, snowmobiles, or seaplanes didn’t have the significant positive economic impact of Wilderness in terms of impact on local property values.
4. Taxes paid to towns by State: NYS pays real estate to the towns and schools on all State land including the Forest Preserve. Taxes are based on estimated timber value even though no logging is permitted in the FP. There is no difference between Wilderness, Wild Forest, State Forest, WMA, campground etc.
5. SLUMP Land Bank Amendments: Land in the Adir & Cat FPs can be set aside “banked” for future uses by the DOT to widen roads or bridges, remove a curve, add utilities, bike lanes etc. on STATE roads. Since 1950s land has been used by DOT sparingly from the land bank with 140a remaining but only for State roads. TOWNs would like to create a similar land bank (750a proposed) and this requires an amendment to the State Land Master Plan, SLMP. Towns would like to use land from a land bank on TOWN roads for bike lanes, pipelines, public wells, broadband, cable and other utilities but also firehouses, town halls, school expansions, airports, cemeteries, sewage treatment plants. There is greater support for the former utilities uses along the road corridors than the other public works/infrastructure projects. Amendments must be approved by two legislative sessions and they must be separately elected (same group can’t approve amendment twice). And then goes to vote of the people.
6. Taconic Crest Trail: Staff has hiked sections of this trail and its side trails and noted the huge, old hemlocks in danger of wooly adelgid infection and red & white pines slated for logging. ADK is trying to protect this area along the NY MA/VT border.
7. Invasive species and Back Country Monitors: Training sessions will be on June 4th (Pine Bush Discovery Center, Albany) and at Heart Lake on July 30 & 31. The hemlock wooly adelgid is moving north from the Smokies (1% survival) and is infecting trees in the Catskills and Finger Lakes. Hemlocks play an important environmental role in shading streams, keeping them cool to support trout and fish that require lots of oxygen, prevent eutrophication and their roots hold the soil on steep hillsides an stream banks. Scientists are working on a beetle predator of the adelgid.
8. ATV Legislation: Thanks to all who responded to legislators. There is still pressure to open all state lands to ATVs. We dodged a bullet this spring when ADK and other trail supporters sent 5000 responses from 1200 individuals. Letter writing carries more weight than petitions and if you add a few words or sentence to a prepared letter ex. from ADK Action Alerts it also more significant. But just the number of letters or calls for or against an impending legislation sways our legislators. The salsa.com program helped a great deal.
This will occur again this year or we will need your help again.
9. Rail Trail Compromise: Gov Cuomo, yesterday 5/17, approved the proposed compromise regarding the NYS owned Adirondack RR tracks vs. multiuse trail and to remove the tracks from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, 34mi., and build a multiuse trail and to restore the tracks between Tupper Lake and Bug Moose, 45 mi.
10. Final State Budget and EPF: The final budget included a $300 million Environmental Protection Fund, an increase from $177 million last year. The EPF helps fund Summit Stewards and ADK’s professional Trail Crew. Next purchase to promote will be the Follensby Pond tract, “Philosopher’ Camp”, the largest undeveloped lake in the Park, home of lake trout in its deep waters. It is located east of Tupper Lake, West of the Sewards and just off the Raquette River near Stony Creek.