Adirondack Wild Takes APA to Court for Bypassing Park Wetland Laws

For Immediate Release
August 14, 2023
Contact: David Gibson, 518-469-4081

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has filed an Article 78 lawsuit in State Supreme Court to contest the failure of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to assert its responsibilities for Value 1 wetlands, the most protected class of wetlands, on Lower Saranac Lake.

The Article 78 papers are available online at the New York State Court Electronic Filing (NYSCEF) website, New Cases, under “Adirondack Park Agency” as party in Warren County Supreme Court.

In June, APA failed to require a wetlands permit while authorizing private marina redevelopment in the lake’s Ampersand and Crescent Bays. In authorizing the marina’s redevelopment, APA stated that it lacked authority over the wetland, so no permit was needed. The lawsuit asserts that decision violated APA’s freshwater wetland law, and regulations that have been in effect since 1983.

Earlier this year the APA lost its case in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court because the agency failed to properly value the wetlands in Ampersand Bay where part of the private marina is under redevelopment. APA should have known, said the court, that these wetlands had a value rating of 1, the most valuable and protected. The court annulled the prior permit issued by APA in 2020. Adirondack Wild submitted a Friend of the Court brief in that case, as well as comments to the APA.

The 15 pages of APA wetland regulations are highly detailed and specific. According to the regulations, all development in Value 1 wetlands must preserve the entire wetland and not result in loss of any part of the wetland. To quote APA’s website, the Agency has “stricter standards for activities in high value wetlands . . . development is generally prohibited in wetlands with a value rating of ‘1.’”

However, in its June 15 order approving the marina, APA made no reference to the court’s prior ruling or to that stricter standard of wetland review. While APA acknowledged these were Value 1 wetlands and that there would be some impacts on those wetlands from the project, it ruled that the project had mitigated enough impacts and required no permit application and agency review.

“On the 50th anniversary of the APA Act and for the first time to our knowledge, APA has ignored potential development impacts upon the most sensitive wetlands in the Adirondack Park,” said Adirondack Wild’s managing partner David Gibson. Wetlands are crucial to conserving water quality, mitigating flooding, and harboring fish and wildlife.

“It is astonishing and disturbing when an agency charged with protecting Adirondack wetlands simply chooses to ignore its job to safeguard such significant natural resources. Wetland protection is core to the APA’s job responsibilities assigned to it by the state legislature. In this case the agency shrugged at its lawful duties, regulatory responsibilities, and the Appellate Court’s decision. That legal carelessness cannot be tolerated or other wetlands elsewhere in the Park will be at immediate risk. We take this action as a last resort and only because the APA’s arbitrary, unlawful actions harmful to Park wetlands compel us to do so.”

Adirondack Wild is asking the court to vacate the June APA order and remand the project back to the APA for a legally required wetlands evaluation and permit review. The organization is represented in court by the law firm Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, LLP.

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