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FIELD NOTES: SAFEGUARDING THE WILD

Adirondack Wild Comment:

Draft EIS on Proposed Assessment of Alternatives To Amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan Related to Fire Towers on St. Regis and Hurricane Mountains

August 9, 2010

Jim Connolly Director of Planning
NYS Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 9
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Dear Jim:

The Adirondack Park Agency should adopt the DEC Unit Management Plan recommendations to have the fire towers within the St. Regis Canoe Area and Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area removed. As a partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve I urge the Agency and the Department to move ahead with Alternative # 4, which accepts the State Land Master Plan directive to remove these two fire towers because they are non-conforming structures within areas (Canoe and Primitive) which are to be managed as wilderness. The DEC was correct this spring to recommend their removal under the pertinent unit management plans and plan amendments. I strongly support their relocation within nearby valley communities where the fire towers can be restored and used for educational and cultural purposes.

Retaining these fire towers through reclassification of their footprint on the mountains, or by amending the APSLMP’s guidelines to permit them within Canoe and Primitive Areas seriously dilutes and compromises the values and objectives which underlay the Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Area definitions and guidelines. Those values and objectives are to retain and manage for wilderness-like conditions for the benefit of this and for future generations, and to establish management plans and practices which accomplish that goal. The historic designation of these towers is completely irrelevant. The Agency has a duty under the APSLMP to plan and manage these areas in their entirety as wilderness. The APA would be derelict in one of its fundamental duties were it not to support the DEC’s recommendation for removal.

The towers are not only nonconforming structures today, but their presence will inevitably induce permanent measures to restore them for safe public use through the use of helicopters, mechanized tools, vegetative cutting and by encouraging mass hiking to a destination. By themselves, these rehabilitation measures, tools and inducements to a destination would continually violate accepted wilderness guidelines. It simply is not realistic to expect that fire towers retained because of their historic significance would not eventually undergo significant rehabilitation to permit public use. At the moment, the two fire towers present serious public health hazards from people tempted to climb them in their current dilapidated condition, or from guy wires that have come loose. The Department has long had a duty to remove them for this reason alone.

Accepting alternatives other than fire tower removal on these two mountains also violates a fundamental principle of wilderness management whereby wilderness should be managed as a comprehensive whole, and not as its component parts. Adopting Historic areas on the tops of these mountains, and managing everything around the towers as Wilderness, Primitive or Canoe violates this basic principle, which is cited and given credence in every Wilderness and Primitive Area UMP.

Removing the tower on Hurricane Mountain also removes a major barrier to Wilderness classification for this 13,000-acre Primitive area. The summit itself provides nearly 360 degree views and its rocky pinnacle is the most visible marker at the core of these unique state wild highlands. Removal of the tower will justly move this wild land unit towards Wilderness designation.

Thank you very much for considering these comments.

Sincerely,
David Gibson, Partner, Adirondack Wild


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4] Posted 10/06/10
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2010

12/06/10 Law Judge rules on Adirondack Wild  read more >

10/21/10 Adirondack Wild, Fire Towers and Wilderness  read more >

10/12/10 Comment: Proposal to Reclassify…Fire Towers  read more >

10/07/10 Wild Action Now: Moose River Plains  
read more >


10/07/10 Comment: Moose River Plains   read more >


10/07/10 Comment: Public Hearing, Fire Towers on St. Regis and Hurricane Mountains  read more >
10/07/10 Comment: Alternative Actions for Fire Towers on St. Regis and Hurricane Mountains   read more >
10/07/10 Comment: State-Owned Conservation Easements  read more >
10/07/10 Safeguarding the Wild   read more >

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The mission of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is to advance New York’s ‘Forever Wild’ legacy and Forest Preserve policies in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and promote public and private land stewardship that is consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research.

Top left, Whiteface Mountain © Ken Rimany; Pond Reflections © Janet Marie Yeates

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Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
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Terry Jandreau, Chair
terry.jandreau@yahoo.com
 
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