Express News Staff
LAKE PLEASANT - The decades old fight between many Adirondack residents and the Adirondack Park Agency and its environmental group supporters appears poised to be renewed, because of discussions concerning the classification of some 46,000 acres of newly acquired state lands that took place at the regional zoning agency Aug. 8.
When the Lake Pleasant Town Board met Monday, Aug. 19, it unanimously adopted a resolution that takes aim at APA staff and APA Counsel James Townsend for what it views as bias toward more land zoned as Wilderness and less zoned as Wild Forest.
The board based its decision on information on the APA meeting received from Town of Indian Lake Supervisor Brian Wells.
This reporter followed the APA meeting in real time online, and Wells' comments appear to be fair and accurate.
Wells, who attended the meeting, wrote a letter to APA Chairman Leilani Ulrich in which he stated, "I have never attended an informational meeting that was so slanted and biased towards one side of an issue, from [APA Planning Director] James Connolly beginning with his personal agenda showing, through [Special Assistant, Economic Affairs] Dan Kelleher's economic study that was so contrived to represent one point that it was totally useless to use as an economic guideline.
"There were so many inaccuracies that were presented during this State Land Committee meeting that I am truly suspect of what was prepared for you and the commissioners."
Wells continued, "From the [public] hearings you attended, you heard the local people speak out for access and connectivity to other communities. I feel none of this was presented in a fair way; only after the most restrictive solution was announced in a loud voice, the least [restrictive] was announced in a whisper."
A loud voice from local governments began when Supervisor Neil McGovern offered a resolution stating the Lake Pleasant Town Board "asserts that the desires and the direction of the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub (the towns of Indian Lake, Long Lake, Newcomb, Minerva and North Hudson) are absolutely consistent with the Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks' stated vision for a more sustainable / usable Park."
The resolution also says, "the [Adirondack Partnership Recreational Work Group] asserting the need for more recreational opportunities; the Adirondack Futures vision for a more usable Park; the highly touted success story involving the Moose River Plains partnership and the governor's stated vision for the purchase of these lands [require the Wild Forest classification]."
The resolution calls for a network of roads sufficient to support higher levels of use and maintaining existing bridges. Much of the property is already riddled with logging roads.
The town also supports continued motorized use through 2018 for hunting / fishing club leaseholders and through 2019 for The Nature Conservancy, from which the State of New York bought the property; and calls for an Intensive Use corridor similar to that in the Moose River Plains, including roadside camping to entice use away from more environmentally sensitive areas.
The resolution concludes with the town board going on record "with the strongest level of support possible for the Governor's vision that these lands provide recreational opportunities for all recreational users..."
START OF A TREND?
It is likely other towns within the Adirondack Park will follow suit with similar resolutions, especially those around the area to be classified: the Hamilton County Town of Indian Lake and the Essex County towns of Minerva and Newcomb.
The lands to be classified are the Essex Chain of Lakes Tract (18,888 acres), Indian River Tract (945 acres), OK Slip Falls Tract (3,015 acres) and OSC Tract (160 acres). Some Forest Preserve lands adjacent to these tracts are being considered for reclassification.
The argument is basically over how much of the lands will be closed to motor vehicle use.