For Immediate Release
November 17, 2022
Contact: David Gibson
518-469-4081 or Ken Rimany, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adirondack Wild and Sierra Club Draw Court’s Attention to Lake Carrying Capacity
Albany, NY — A Friend of the Court brief has been jointly filed by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter in the legal appeal of Thomas C. Jorling v. the NYS Adirondack Park Agency, (APA), and NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Permission for the brief was granted by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Albany on November 3. Mr. Jorling is challenging the State of New York’s 2020 permit for a significantly expanded private boat marina on Lower Saranac Lake.
The organizations believe that the legal proceeding before the Court raises issues of important public and environmental interest because the APA and DEC authorized the growth of intensive waterfront recreational development without first determining the carrying capacity of the affected lake. The brief was written and filed for the nonprofits by their attorneys at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. Oral arguments by the plaintiff, Mr. Jorling, and by the State of New York are expected later this year.
Attorneys for the nonprofits ask that the court take note of the mandate for analysis of the carrying capacity, or the ability of the lake’s physical, biological and social characteristics to withstand human use in the APA Act. “Without the carrying capacity analysis, the APA could not have evaluated the marina project’s potential ‘undue adverse impact’ upon Lower Saranac Lake, as required under the Adirondack Park Agency Act,” the groups’ brief argues. “As such, the lower court must be reversed, and the approval must be annulled” until completion of the mandatory carrying capacity analysis.
“In reviewing private development like this marina, APA is obligated to consider environmental impacts on adjoining landowners, including the public’s Forest Preserve. Most of Lower Saranac Lake’s shores and islands lie within the Forest Preserve,” said Adirondack Wild’s Managing Partner David Gibson.
“Without completing the mandatory carrying capacity analysis, the APA and DEC are shirking their responsibility to ensure that this marina project will have no adverse environmental impact upon the Adirondack Park,” said Mia Petrucci, who drafted the brief as Student Attorney for the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic.
“The APA has jurisdiction over both land and water areas of the Adirondack Park,” said Chad Dawson, a board director with Adirondack Wild. “The APA Act defines land as ‘the earth, on or below the surface of the ground, including water and air above, the flora and fauna.’ Water is the life blood of the Adirondack ecosystem and protecting its quality is a legal obligation of both the DEC and APA. You cannot protect water if you remain ignorant of its condition and how human activity impacts that condition.”
“The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan clearly states that ‘the water resources of the Adirondacks are critical to the integrity of the Park.’ For the Adirondack Park Agency to continue to ignore their obligation to determine the carrying capacity of water bodies of the Park makes a mockery of their primary duty to protect the natural recourses of the Park,” stated Roger Downs, Conservation Director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.
The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic provides student interns with the opportunity to represent public interest environmental groups bringing citizen enforcement actions in state and federal courts on a variety of environmental and land use issues.
Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club is nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 60 chapters and over 1.3 million members dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth. New York State’s Atlantic Chapter has over 47,000 members.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not-for-profit, membership advocate acting to safeguard wilderness and to promote wild land values and stewardship. More is found on the web at adirondackwild.org.