About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is an award-winning journalist covering environmental policy for the Explorer since January 2020. She also takes photos and videos for the Explorer's magazine and website. She is a current member of the Legislative Correspondents Association of New York. Gwen has worked at various news outlets since 2015. Prior to moving to upstate New York, she worked for a D.C. Metro-area public relations firm, producing digital content for clients including the World Health Organization, the Low Income Investment Fund and Rights and Resources Initiative. She has a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has bachelor's degrees in English and journalism, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, from the University of Connecticut. Gwen is also a part-time figure skating coach. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. Sign up for Gwen’s newsletter here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Keith says

    Tax dollars fund the audit of a program administered by DEC.
    Tax dollar funded DEC excuse for allowing the obvious fraud is that DEC is under funded.
    I live adjacent to Day, NY “Livingston Lake Club”, an 800 acre Fisher Act tax exempt property that has 7 vacation homes surrounding a magnificent state lake.

    DEC seems especially sensitive to any action that would be contrary to influential landowners.
    Crack down on this fraud against NYS taxpayers. DEC excuse is outrageous.

  2. JT says

    My property is 82 acres so I meet the 50 acre requirement. I looked at the 480a program and decided I did not want to make the commitment to hire a professional forester and scheduling periodic harvests, that will benefit the local economy. I feel I do not have enough valuable timber at this point in time to to make it worthwhile.
    I guess having to follow the forest management plan is not a requirement to be in the program based on this article. I have heard the assessors do not like the program because the tax breaks people receive must be made up for by remaining property owners in the towns.

  3. John says

    This program has been around for 40-plus years, And I’ve been a participant for that long. Initially, some assessors were not enthusiastic about it because they did not control it, and feared that it would eat into local tax revenues. That turned out not to be true, because the management requirements put off most landowners. A forest owner must take the long view to realize any benefit. That’s a hard sell. Compliance costs money today, and the benefits — which are real — may not be seen for several years.
    Since 480-a is not widely used by landowners, many assessors are unfamiliar with the program with the result that adherence varies — as the Comptroller’s audit shows.
    My own impression, based on many years of participation, is that the majority of abuses have come about because of lack of coordination between DEC and local assessors. Related to this is the lack of DEC forestry staff. Warren County once had 3-4 service foresters working with landowners; now there is one.

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