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Adirondack Explorer

January, 2011

Editorial on Shingle Shanty

The Times Union ran an editorial this morning on the navigation-rights lawsuit filed against me by the Brandreth Park Association and the Friends of Thayer Lake. “Is it, and should it be, against the law to paddle through what’s posted as private property?” the editorial asks. “Or should centuries-old common law prevail, and with it the notion that waterways are just like highways?” The editorial points out that the state Department of Environmental Conservation agrees with us that the waterways in dispute—Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet, and a private stretch of Shingle Shanty Brook—are open to the public under the common-law >>More


January, 2011

DEC move called risky

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to move its Adirondack emergency dispatchers from the Lake Placid region to Albany is creating quite a stir. Critics contend the move will make the public less safe. The argument is that dispatchers in Albany will be less familiar with the Adirondack—and its bewildering nomenclature—and this could slow the response time of search-and-rescue crews. State Senator Betty Little, who represents the North Country, is among those questioning the change. “Obviously, the state is looking at ways to be more efficient all the time,” she told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “but in the Adirondacks, >>More


January, 2011

New twist in McCulley case

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has granted a request by its own staff to clarify an agency decision that the Old Mountain Road in Keene—now part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail—had never been legally abandoned and therefore could be open to motorized use. The decision by DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis in 2009 raised questions about the status of other old woods roads in the Forest Preserve.  Many such roads are now foot trails and closed to vehicles. DEC attorney Randall Young had filed a motion for clarification, contending that Grannis misinterpreted the law and that the decision could lead >>More


January, 2011

Explorer answers paddling lawsuit

The Adirondack Explorer has filed an answer to the lawsuit accusing me of trespass for paddling through private property on my way to Lake Lila in May 2009. Essentially, we argue that the waterways in question—Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet, and a stretch of Shingle Shanty Brook—are open to the public under the state’s common law. The common law, inherited from old England, allows the public to travel any inland waterway deemed “navigable in fact.” But what makes a waterway navigable in fact? The complainants—the Friends of Thayer Lake and the Brandreth Park Association—contend that the common law applies only >>More


January, 2011

Politics and preservation

A coalition of environmental groups has issued a list of policy recommendations to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature. Among them is beefing up the Environmental Protection Fund, the primary mechanism for funding land preservation, water-quality protection, and other green objectives. The coalition—which includes the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the Nature Conservancy—notes that the EPF has been reduced from $255 million to $134 million since 2008. In addition, the state over the years has diverted about $500 million in EPF monies to the state’s general fund. In “Green Memos to the Governor and State Legislature,” the >>More


December, 2010

Martens next DEC chief?

Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute, may be the state’s next environmental conservation commissioner, according to the Albany Times Union. The newspaper reported on its Capitol Confidential blog that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is looking at Martens, who in the early 1990s served as an environmental adviser to then-Governor Mario Cuomo, the incoming governor’s father. Asked to confirm the report, Martens told the Explorer today: “I’m being considered, that’s about all I can tell can tell you.” Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto could not be reached for comment. Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said he is not >>More


November, 2010

‘Explorer’ hires lawyer in paddling dispute

The Adirondack Explorer has hired Glens Falls attorney John Caffry to defend me against alawsuit filed by landowners who claim I trespassed when I paddled through their property near Lake Lila last year. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has said the waterways in dispute—Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet, and Shingle Shanty Brook—are open to the public under the common-law right of navigation. Caffry represented the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) in another navigation-rights case, Adirondack League Club v. Sierra Club et al. That lawsuit resulted in a landmark decision in 1998 by the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, >>More


November, 2010

ADK objects to Moose River Plains plan

The Adirondack Mountain Club is objecting to the state’s recommendation to allow mountain biking on an old road in a portion of the Moose River Plains that has been proposed to be designated Wilderness. ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth said the mountain-bike corridor would set a bad precedent and could open the door for other uses, such as snowmobiling, normally prohibited in Wilderness Areas. “The harder it is to get into the Wilderness, the more protected it is,” Woodworth said. The state Department of Environmental Conservation proposes to establish the biking corridor in the latest version of its draft management >>More


October, 2010

State answers floatplane suit

The November/December issue of the Explorer will contain an article and a debate on a lawsuit filed against the state by five military veterans who contend that the state’s ban on floatplanes in Wilderness Areas violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Today, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed an answer to the suit. Most of the document is filled with standard legalese (“Deny knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief …”), but it provides insight into the state’s defense. Assistant Attorney General Susan Taylor contends in the answer that the federal law does not require the state to provide >>More


October, 2010

Reaction to Grannis ouster

The ouster of Pete Grannis as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner has shocked and outraged green groups. A former Manhattan assemblyman, Grannis was seen as a friend of the environment long before he was appointed by Governor Eliot Spitzer to head the Department of Environmental Conservation. Grannis’s biography and photo were removed from DEC’s website this morning. The Albany Times Union reported that Grannis was fired Thursday after the leak of a DEC memo protesting Governor David Paterson’s demand that the department lay off 209 employees by the end of the year. In the memo, DEC says the department has >>More