Letters to the Editor
The Adirondack Explorer
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve
Ballston Lake, NY
Letter to the Editor – Adirondack Explorer
In your May/June issue, Brad Edmondson, author of A Wild Idea, reviews another book just out, Inside the Green Lobby, by Bernard Melewski. Brad’s book review is factually misleading in several ways. He describes Melewski’s account of Adirondack Park legislation being “killed” by (the late) State Senator Ron Stafford at the behest of Harold Jerry. Edmondson is wrong about the year. It was 1992, not 1993. I was at the State Capitol frequently during that Park Centennial year of 1992 as the executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. It is true that Park legislation was introduced and passed by the State Assembly and had the support of Governor Mario Cuomo. The bill was then subject to negotiation with the State Senate. The bill was not about, as Edmondson reports, “funds to buy a few choice parcels to add to the Forest Preserve.” It was about amending the Adirondack Park Agency Act to better protect private lakeshores and Resource Management areas. My organization was, like the Adirondack Council, intensely interested in its passage because the 1973 APA Private Land Use Plan’s protections for lakeshores and backcountry forests proved several of its greatest weaknesses. It is true that Senator Stafford held all the cards for its passage in the Senate and also true that Harold Jerry had an influential relationship with Stafford, and asked Stafford not to support the bill because of Stafford’s insistence on a poison pill, which Edmondson gets wrong. Stafford did not insist “to move the Adirondack Park Agency out of the executive budget and make it an independent commission.” APA has always been an independent agency in the Executive branch of government. Instead, Stafford insisted that in return for stronger lakeshore and backcountry protections the APA become an arm of the Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC. That was what Harold Jerry objected to so strenuously because since the APA’s inception many within DEC had been hostile to the agency. And, despite my organization’s advocacy for the bill and my shock when Stafford abruptly ended negotiations, Harold Jerry was absolutely right to do what he did. As weak as APA may be today, its land use planning map and powers would have been eviscerated within the NYS DEC. Stafford’s poison pill was truly a bridge too far for Harold Jerry – and for me. The Adirondack Council’s leadership was OK with folding APA into the DEC in return for stronger Park protections in the law. Because he held the line on the independence of the APA, Harold Jerry was unfairly shunned by the Adirondack Council and was forced to leave its board. Fortunately, Jerry remained an influential board member of my organization until his death in 2001. Much as I wanted the bill’s lakeshore protections to pass, I will always admire Harold Jerry’s influence with Senator Stafford on that memorable day in 1992.