For Immediate Release
June 7, 2022
Contact: David Gibson
Growth in motorized uses as well as miles on the Adirondack Forest Preserve is “material,” Park advocates say.
Adirondack Wild calls on the Adirondack Park Agency to account for motorized uses on private as well as public land.
In their comment letter to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) last week, the nonprofit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve urges the APA to interpret the “no material increase” provision of the State Land Master Plan as an issue of motorized use as well as mileage.
APA is soliciting public input about one guideline in the State Land Master Plan that requires the mileage of snowmobile trails and motorized roads on the preserve shall not be materially increased from what they were fifty years ago when the Master Plan first became law. The deadline for public comment to the APA is July 12. For details, go to the APA’s website www.apa.ny.gov, public comment opportunities.
“APA is asking the public to tell them what specific percentage increase in miles on Wild Forest since 1972 should be deemed a ‘material’ increase. But that narrow question fails to see the forest through the trees,” says Adirondack Wild’s managing partner David Gibson.
“The APA and DEC data show that motorized road miles on Wild Forest have grown by at least 15% since 1972, from 212 miles up to 245 miles. But a different guideline of the Master Plan states that motorized uses on the Forest Preserve must be constrained, not just the miles. So, if you add up all the newer parking areas, access roads and motorized uses as well as miles since 1972, the increase has been substantial.”
“There has been a material increase in the mileage and uses of motor vehicles on the Forest Preserve since 1972. That growth exceeds 15%. The question should be asked: what will the Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency do about a material increase? “
“There are some places where motorized uses on dirt roads through Forest Preserve Wild Forest are causing or inducing resource damage. There should be an ongoing inventory and review of places where severe damage to natural resources or the character of the Wild Forest is being caused by motor vehicle use. The Master Plan states that motorized use must not adversely affect the essentially wild character of the land.”
Moreover, one of the greatest changes since 1972 has been the growth in motorized opportunities on private lands. Adirondack Wild believes the APA should also be mapping and assessing data about the motorized miles and uses on the roughly 800,000-acres of private lands in the Park under some form of conservation easement where some dirt roads have been opened by some private landowners, either year-round, or seasonally, to motor vehicle use.
“This is one Adirondack Park and the APA is the sole planning agency for the Park,” Gibson continued. The Master Plan specifically mandates (page 3) that the APA in its planning take into account actual and projected uses on private land and consider that information in context of reducing pressures on the “forever wild” Forest Preserve. Reducing pressure on the Forest Preserve while providing motorized access opportunities elsewhere is one reason why DEC has negotiated many private conservation easements.”
Adirondack Wild’s letter concludes that “reducing the increase in motorized miles and uses on Wild Forest portions of the Forest Preserve since 1972 to less than 15% and imposing a hard cap now are especially justified because the 800,000 acres of private land under easement have significantly increased overall public motorized opportunities in the Adirondack Park.”
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.