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Environmental Organizations Raise Alarm Over Plan to Allow Unlimited Clear-cutting Without Public Review

December 14th, 2012 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Park Agency Board & Public Would be Cut Out of Review of Clear-Cuts

Adirondack CouncilRAY BROOK, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park Agency is considering a plan to eliminate the requirement for a formal environmental review before the state grants permission to undertake major clear-cutting in the private forests of the Adirondack Park.

The damage done to the forests and waters of the Adirondack Park by widespread clear-cutting was the reason why the public voted to protect the park’s public forests via the NYS Constitution, declaring them to be “forever wild” in 1894. Private forests have been under the jurisdiction of the Adirondack Park Agency since 1971.

“The Adirondack Park is the first region of the United States where we learned what awful damage de-regulated clear-cutting can do,” said Diane W. Fish, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “Our forests, our water quality and wildlife all suffered. All of the park’s major rivers got muddy and slow. The Erie Canal and Hudson River were in danger of drying up.”

“Public notice of plans to clear-cut a forest would be eliminated under this proposal,” said Roger Downs, Director of Conservation for the Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter. “That would make it impossible for the public to react before the trees start to fall. No one outside the agency will know until after the permit is issued. Once a staff member declares an application is „complete’ he or she will have only 10 days to issue a final clear-cutting permit. If the APA doesn’t act within 10 days, the applicant can demand automatic approval under the current rules.”(Section 809-6a)

“Worse yet, the new plan contains no restrictions on how many acres may be clear-cut under a fast-track permit,” Fish of the Council explained. “So it is possible that hundreds, or even thousands, of acres could be cut bare without public notice or participation.”

“If that were not bad enough, these permits would never expire,” she said. “Once a permit is issued, the landowner is free to clear-cut that parcel over and over again. There are no limits to allow for regrowth and no requirement for future site visits by agency staff.”

The Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on the fasttrack permit proposal at its January 10 meeting. The organizations urged the public to contact the agency and ask it to reject the plan.

Currently, timber companies and other landowners must get a permit from the Adirondack Park Agency for any clear-cut above 25 acres on non-wetlands. Clear-cutting is the practice of removing all of the trees from a parcel of land. An acre is about the size of a football field without the end zones.

In order to get that permit, current applicants must undergo a formal environmental review that includes public notice and public participation and approval by the Adirondack Park Agency’s Board of Commissioners. The new plan would eliminate those requirements by allowing agency staff to issue permits, without a vote by the board of commissioners.
This new fast-track approval process would apply even to lands where the state has purchased a conservation easement to ensure that the lands are managed responsibly and sustainably.

“Frankly, we are not persuaded that anyone really needs this expedited, general permit,” said Fish. “Over the past 20 years, timber companies have only requested permission for major clear-cuts from the park agency three times. All three permits were granted. All three resulted in numerous public complaints about abuse of the forest. People get mad about smaller ones too, much smaller than 25 acres.”

“If anything, that proves that the threshold for permits is too lax, and ought to be lower than 25 acres,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment. “Large clear-cuts in the Adirondack Park tend to outrage the public. Issuing permits in secret won’t hide a landscape devoid of trees, covered only in stumps and mud and tire tracks. It won’t stop the mud and silt from drifting downstream, burying trout spawning beds along the way.”

“Perhaps clear-cutting is a tool that some timber companies favor to regenerate a certain species of tree,” said Fish. “But in places like the Adirondack Park, with such steep slopes and thin soils, it can do real damage when it is not tightly supervised. Going from a formal review to having staff issue fast-track permits is not tight supervision.”

Under the plan, park agency staff members could accept as adequate almost any forest management plan, including those overseen by the timber industry (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) rather than independent third parties (Forest Stewardship Council).

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the wild character and ecological integrity of New York’s 9,300-square-mile Adirondack Park. Founded in 1975, the Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Council members live in all 50 United States.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) was formed in 1985 by a small group of concerned citizens who recognized the need to provide public involvement to advance stronger environmental policy. Today, after 25 years as a not-for-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization, CCE has grown to an 80,000-member organization with offices in Farmingdale, NY, White Plains, NY, Albany, NY, Syracuse, NY, Buffalo, NY, and Hamden, CT. CCE continues to work to empower the public by providing members with opportunities to participate in the political process and thereby advance a strong environmental agenda.

The Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.

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Final Draft Management Plan for Hoffman Notch Wilderness Released

February 15th, 2012 · No Comments · Adirondack News

Plan Identifies Improvements to Public Access and Recreational Opportunities

ALBANY, NY – The release of the Proposed Final Draft of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP) was announced by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) today.

NYSDEC LogoDEC staff will present the Proposed Final UMP to the APA Board at their monthly meeting on February 16. A first reading of the UMP will be presented to the State Land Committee at 1 pm for them to consider the UMP’s compliance with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP). A determination of compliance with the SLMP will be made by the APA Board at their monthly meeting in March. APA will accept public comments on SLMP compliance for the proposals contained in the draft UMP. Public comments will be accepted until 12:00 PM on Wednesday, March 7. The final step in the process is approval of the UMP by DEC.

“The release of the final draft unit management plan for the Hoffman Notch Wilderness is another significant milestone in DEC’s efforts to improve public access and ensure the protection of the Adirondacks for future generations,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Input from the public and local representatives assisted greatly in the development of the plan. If approved, the proposals in the plan will better protect the natural resources of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness, make the wilderness more enjoyable for visitors and become more of an asset to area communities.”

“The Agency eagerly looks forward to hear from all stakeholders regarding Master Plan compliance for this unit management plan,” said APA Chairwoman Leilani Ulrich said. “The Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area is a magnificent place deserving of a well thought out and comprehensive plan. We applaud DEC and APA State Land staff for their efforts in developing this Unit Management Plan. ”

Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area - LocationThe Hoffman Notch Wilderness consists of 38,500 acres of forest preserve lands in the Towns of North Hudson, Minerva and Schroon Lake in southern Essex County. It is situated near the communities of Newcomb, North Hudson, Schroon Lake, Minerva and Olmstedville. The unit is generally bounded on the north by the Boreas Road, on the east by the Adirondack Northway, on the south by Hoffman Road, and on the west by the boundary of Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.

The Hoffman Notch Wilderness offers many recreational opportunities, including but not limited to hiking, cross country skiing, camping, canoeing, hunting, trapping and fishing. With more than 18 miles of marked trails available, the public can easily reach a variety of natural attractions such as Hoffman Notch and Mt. Severance, as well as popular fishing locations at Bailey Pond or Big Pond. Other scattered water bodies providing additional recreational uses include Big Marsh, North Pond, Sand Pond and Marion Pond.

The UMP proposes to develop an approximately 12.5-mile segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST), including 6.6 miles of newly constructed trail, through the southern portion of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness. Associated to the NCNST, the plan also proposes to construct a lean-to near Platt Brook and a primitive campsite on Bailey Pond.

NCNST is a proposed 4,600 mile non-motorized trail system from Lake Sakakawea, ND to Lake Champlain, NY. One of eight federally designated National Scenic Trails, the Adirondack portion of the NCNST will stretch 140 miles and connect with a number of Adirondack communities. More information on the Adirondack portion of the NCNST can be found at:

Additional management actions proposed by DEC in the UMP include:

  • Officially designating the path south of Big Pond as a DEC trail that connects to the Big Pond Trail, creating a hiking and cross country skiing loop trail system between Hoffman Road and Loch Muller Road;
  • Constructing foot bridges over Hoffman Notch Brook near north end of Hoffman Notch Trail and over East Branch on the Big Pond Trail;
  • Rerouting 1/4 mile portion of Hoffman Notch Trail north of Big Marsh to west side of Hoffman Notch Brook;
  • Constructing an approximately 4-mile section of trail on eastern portion of unit connecting Hoffman Road with Route 9 which may also serve as part of the NCNST;
  • Constructing an improved parking area along the Blue Ridge Road to serve as the northern trailhead for the Hoffman Notch Trail;
  • Constructing an improved parking area with signs and trail register along west side of Route 9;
  • Designating two primitive tent sites on Big Pond and one primitive tent site on North Pond; and
  • Improving the accessibility of trails to Bailey Pond and a portion of the Big Pond trail.
  • UMPs are required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan for each unit of State land in the Adirondack Park. The plans integrate the goals and objectives of the State Land Master Plan, related legislation, and resource and visitor use information into a single document.

The UMP is available for viewing or downloading from the Adirondack Park Agency website at:

Please address all written comments pertaining to State Land Master Plan compliance to:

Jim Connolly
Deputy Director of Planning
NYS Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Comments must be received by 12:00 PM on Wednesday, March 7.

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King Day Ski and Snowshow Fest

December 29th, 2008 · 1 Comment · News


PAUL SMITHS, NY – The Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Centers (VICs) at Paul Smiths and Newcomb will combine three popular festivals into one Agencywide festival on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, creating the Chilly Ski & Snowshoe Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17 at both facilities.

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