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Adirondack Explorer

January, 2010

War of words over Lows Lake

The Albany Times Union recently ran a story in which Protect the Adirondacks blamed Governor David Paterson for the Adirondack Park Agency’s refusal to classify Lows Lake as Wilderness. “To our knowledge, this represents an unprecedented level of interference from the governor’s office,” said Dave Gibson, the environmental group’s executive director. “The governor not only failed to appreciate this magnificent region of Lows Lake, but then … apparently allowed his staff to actively twist arms.” The article drew a strong response from Fred Monroe, the executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, which lobbied against the Wilderness >>More


November, 2009

How big is the Forest Preserve?

Local officials in the Adirondack Park have long complained about the amount of land owned by the state in the Park. The state constitution decrees that this land, the Forest Preserve, “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” In other words, no development. The critics see this as bad for the region’s economy. Environmentalists, however, argue that the Preserve attracts tourists and boosts the economy. This debate shows no signs of letting up. During the Pataki administration, the state started saving vast tracts of timberlands not by acquiring them for the Preserve, but by purchasing conservation easements. Such easements >>More


November, 2009

DEC’s vote on Lows Lake

  You haven’t heard the last of Lows Lake controversy—at least not from me. Unfortunately, I missed the discussion that preceded last week’s vote by the Adirondack Park Agency on the proposed classification of the lake. (The APA changed its schedule at the last minute, so I arrived after the vote). As you may recall from my earlier post, the agency commissioners voted 7-4 to reverse a decision in September to classify the lake as Wilderness or Primitive. The reason the classification proposal failed last week is that the three designees representing state agencies—namely, the departments of environmental conservation, economic >>More


November, 2009

Lyon Mountain: Wilderness or Wild Forest?

The Adirondack Park Agency is poised to classify Lyon Mountain as Wild Forest—a decision that would run into opposition from the Adirondack Council, one of the Park’s leading environmental organizations. Brian Houseal, the council’s executive director, said he would like to see the Lyon Mountain tract classified as Primitive, with an eye toward eventually classifying it as Wilderness, the strictest of the APA’s nine state-land zoning categories. “There’s no Wilderness now in that sector of the Park,” Houseal said after the APA’s meeting last week. Located in the northeastern Adirondacks, west of Plattsburgh, 3,830-foot Lyon is one of the Park’s >>More


November, 2009

About-face on Lows Lake

In a victory for local government, the Adirondack Park Agency voted 7-4 Friday to renege on an earlier decision to give a land-use classification to the waters and bed of Lows Lake. The APA board did the about-face while redoing a vote taken in September. At the earlier meeting, the commissioners voted 6-4 to classify the waters, bed, and surrounding lands of the lake either Wilderness or Primitive. Because of a legal snafu, that vote was later deemed invalid, and so the board took up the matter again at this week’s meeting. In the original decision, the board agreed to >>More


November, 2009

APA snowmobile plan called illegal

The Adirondack Park Agency could face legal action if, as appears likely, it approves new snowmobile-trail guidelines at its meeting on Friday. The APA’s State Land Committee voted this afternoon (Thursday) to permit the agency’s full board to consider the guidelines at its Friday meeting. Afterward, the executive directors of the Park’s three major environmental groups—the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), and Protect the Adirondacks—argued that the proposed guidelines violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Their objections pertain to the character and maintenance of a new class of trails known as “community connectors,” intended to link >>More


November, 2009

Farmer still angry at APA

This week I was forwarded some heated e-mails written by Sandy Lewis, the outspoken owner of a large farm in Essex County, and his antagonist at the Adirondack Park Agency, lawyer Paul Van Cott. Lewis has been vociferous in his disdain for the APA. He sued them and won after the agency contended he needed a permit to build worker housing on his organic farm in the Champlain Valley. In one e-mail, Lewis says the APA needs an overhaul and questions Van Cott’s competency. In a reply, Van Cott writes. among other things: “Mr. Lewis, you are a sociopath. Please >>More


September, 2009

Paterson urged to reject Lows proposal

The executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board has written Gov. David Paterson to urge him to reject a proposal to classify part of Lows Lake as Wilderness. At its September meeting, the Adirondack Park Agency voted 6-4 to classify the western part of Lows Lake as Wilderness and the eastern part as Primitive. Adjacent lands also were placed in one or the other of the two categories. To take effect, the proposal must be approved by the governor. Fred Monroe, director of the Local Government Review Board, argues in a letter to Paterson that the proposal >>More


September, 2009

Lows Lake proposal OK’d

The Adirondack Park Agency voted 6-4 Friday to classify most of Lows Lake and adjacent lands as Wilderness, despite objections from local politicians. Under the proposal, which requires approval from the governor, Lows Lake west of Frying Pan Island will be designated Wilderness. The rest of the lake, which is much narrower, will be designated Primitive. The two classifications do not differ much in their management guidelines. Both classifications forbid motorized use by the general public. In this case, the Primitive classification reflects a recognition that the eastern part of Lows Lake abuts private lands, access roads, and a large >>More


July, 2009

APA loses court fight

A state appellate court has ruled against the Adirondack  Park Agency in its battle with an Essex farmer who constructed worker homes on his property without an APA permit. The APA had levied a $50,000 fine against Lewis Family Farm, owned by Salim “Sandy” and Barbara Lewis. The Lewises contend that farmworker houses are exempt from APA regulations that apply to other single-family homes. On Thursday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court ruled 5-0 in the farm’s favor. The court noted that the state constitution and various state laws reflect an intent to encourage agriculture. “Nothing in any of >>More