Morning Read: Post Star editorial embraces massive Adirondack conservation deal

Over the years, no one has been a more resolute watchdog of state management of the Adirondack Park than the Glens Falls Post Star.

The newspaper’s editorial page has often cast a skeptical eye on the relationship between key decisions inside the blue line and the influence of environmental groups.

So it’s noteworthy, to say the least, to see the Post Star embracing the massive Finch Pruyn land deal, which at roughly 160,000 acres is the largest single expansion of the forest preserve and of conservation easement protected land in the Adirondacks in a century.

The land is invaluable. It lies in the heart of the Adirondack Park and includes 180 miles of rivers, 175 lakes and ponds and six mountains, along with various bogs, fens and forests and a lovely waterfall, the highest one in the Adirondacks.

We have often criticized the state’s land policies in the Park, but we have nothing but praise for the way the 161,000 acres of former Finch Paper woodlands — purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 2007 — have been handled

Read the full editorial here.

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48 Responses to “Morning Read: Post Star editorial embraces massive Adirondack conservation deal”

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  1. John Warren says:

    “no one has been a more resolute watchdog of state management of the Adirondack Park than the Glens Falls Post Star.”

    They have in fact, been among the WORST watchdogs, obfuscating the facts, pursuing personal vendettas, and misinforming their readers.

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  2. Paul says:

    Comparing this to Yosemite valley? This is beautiful country for sure but it is not “unique” on a scale with the Yosemite valley?

    But it would be nice if the Feds picked up the tab on this one!

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  3. Paul says:

    “The Nature Conservancy first sold 89,000 acres to a Danish pension fund for timbering, while also selling conservation easements on the acreage to the state. The easements ensure the land will not be used for a commercial purpose other than logging.”

    This may also ensures that at some point in the future the state will be the only potential buyer when it is time for the pension fund to cash out.

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  4. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    If I remember correctly there is a sunset on the timber operations after 20 years already built into the sale. I believe that was one of the original terms of the woodlands sale by Finch-Pruyn to Finch Paper, the new owners. Don’t have the time to research it now. Maybe someone else here knows.

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  5. Paul says:

    Knuck, they did also sign a 20 year contract to provide Finch with pulp. That could be renewed or not. So it isn’t necessarily the end of logging on those parcels. Might need to find a new customer if Finch doesn’t need pulp.

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  6. Paul says:

    I think that in specific you have to say that this outcome is on balance better than some other outcomes. Many folks, like myself, have argued that an easement for this land would have been a better outcome fiscally speaking but perhaps not ideal from a preservationist perspective. But like I said above an easement that allows only logging (given the timber market trends) may be one that in the end facilitates all the land into state ownership. Is that something that the state can afford? That is a question that we should consider on the whole. Is there a limit to the amount of land we want to add to the forest preserve? The TNC struggled with (continues to struggle) the holding costs for this land. The 50 million dollar price tag is only the beginning of a very expensive long-term (constitutionally required) cost that comes with this land. That will come with the the Follensby tract when we buy that, and on and on… What we don’t want to see is what almost occurred a few years back where the state was threatening not to pay localities for the taxes on these parcels. As they grow the chance for that problem to come back again grows as well. So some folks that argue that this must be done and that it must be done more better take heed in what could happen when we get ourselves overextended. If it comes to that and we cannot cover the tax bill on FP land the only solution I can see is to eliminate much of the infrastructure that local municipalities are dependent on. When it comes down to, do we sell the Forest Preserve or do we sell out the small towns surrounding it, the answer form downstate voters is pretty predictable.

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  7. Walker says:

    Paul, you’re writing as if the present downturn will continue forever.

    Remember the business cycle. The sun will shine again some day on Wall Street, and state tax revenues return to normal levels, and then all will be well again (until the next big downturn).

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  8. Mick says:

    The fiber contract was for 5 years, self-renewing for 3 additional terms, for a total of 20 years. The volume of fiber was never publicized, but I understand TNC logged the land so hard that they met the entire agreement already. The agreement is concluded.

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  9. Mick says:

    I think it’s very dangerous experimentation with socioeconomics and natural resource management. A proven economic system is being replaced with one that statistics just don’t support; private recreational leases versus public access tourism. A recent tourism report indicated that the vast majority of users are residents from within a 50 mile radius, so the tourism users for this land will likely be residents of Newcomb, Indian Lake, and Minerva, and their demographics , i.e. an aged population, just don’t fit the wilderness user group profile.

    The land is, for all intents and purposes, currently being managed under a global definition of the highest levels of stewardship; the forests are FSC certified for sustainable, environmentally-conscious management, and the recreational clubs are exemplary stewards. The current management provides forest protection and nurturing. The new model of natural successional forests does not allow forest protection, not does it sequester greenhouse gasses nearly as efficiently as managed forests. NYS public access stewardship has a dismal record, and I expect there will be a lot of pollution and litter, and possible introductions of invasive species by the general public.

    The real costs to the taxpayers are:

    $50 million direct payment.
    $1.7 million annual property tax payments.
    $27 million lost opportunity costs contribution to NYS GDP from forest products utilization (annually).
    $10 million lost economic input from recreational leases (annually).
    75% reduction in CO2 sequestration.

    I think that 10 years from now, a lot of Adirondack politicians will be wondering why there is so much poverty and destitution.

    As for the Essex Chain of Lakes tract, a parking area was bulldozed by TNC to allow the public to drive within a mile of 6th lake. They will have to carry and hike in from there. I expect APA will designate this tract as “wilderness”, with the 3 mile dirt road being classified as “wild forest”. That parking area is 4 miles to the 3rd lake put-in, and 5.5 miles from the Cedar River put-in, which is unnavigable to the Hudson, with steep banks, and very few egress points. A paddler can not reach the Hudson from the Essex Chain.

    After the second year of public access, I expect that the gate at the Goodnow Flow road will be locked and the road blocked, and that will add another 3 miles of hike for a user. I expect the roads will wash out, like they did last year, and will never be repaired, making canoe dollies impossible to use.

    Frankly, Governor Cuomo has made some logical, rational, and sound decisions in his administration, but I think this is not one of them. I believe he encountered enormous pressure from investors on this deal, and was forced to appease them.

    The fee purchase is a big mistake.

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  10. Paul says:

    Walker, not really. These are large costs even when you have a good economy. Costs for the department are going to keep rising. Plus as you add the land you have many more costs you have to deal with. But all it will take is that one big downturn you describe. But as things improve on the stret the Opn Space Plan will be updated, more properties will be added to the wish list. As tax payers we are like kids with a credit card.

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  11. Pete Klein says:

    People, we are talking peanuts in the money department. The state is not broke.

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  12. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Sounds like Mick has been paying attention to this deal.

    I always become suspicious though when people start bringing up carbon sequestration – as if the hunting clubs and paper mill folks (sorry, investor groups) really cared all that much about carbon sequestration.

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  13. Paul says:

    Pete, The state has to get its fiscal house in better shape, we are still pretty deep in the woods. The real threat is to local governments. Hopefully these deals will have a positive effect but we are headed toward some serious stuff:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/nyregion/ny-state-comptroller-warns-of-perilous-local-finances.html

    If the state ever reneged on its tax obligations in the Adirondacks it would only take one year for it all to collapse. Places like where you live are entirely dependent on those payments.

    None of those folks care about carbon emission but we do and what he describes has some impact. I think that it is pretty undeniable that the paper company and the hunting clubs have proven themselves as excellent environmental stewards over the last century and a half.

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  14. mervel says:

    I don’t mean to sound dense, not usually a problem for me, but are the forests that are under long term leases with hunting camps, paper companies etc, in better or worse shape than forests designated forever wild and managed by the State?

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  15. mervel says:

    I mean we kind of have a history and a controlled experiment in the adirondacks on this issue.

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  16. Paul says:

    Mervel, Not quite sure I get the question. But I think this land that was under long term leases and managed for wood fiber by Finch was what the TNC described as a “gem” when they purchased it. So maybe not better but certainly not worse. It had logging which you can describe as less protected but it also had limited recreational use which you could describe as good from a preservation perspective. Also remember these are not necessarily “hunting camps” only many are used for fishing and paddling and hiking (as well as hunting). Anyone who wanted to could have joined the Gooley Club I think they have openings now. Under these leases it is just maybe (and that is a big maybe) that this land was seeing less recreation (we will have to see what kind of public use we see). The leases are in a sense a way to limit the numbers of folks using the land. But if you look at the comments from Joe Martens I listed way above, the point for them is to get as much public use as quickly as possible now.

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  17. Walker says:

    Mervel, since the late 1800s, “scientific foresters” like Gifford Pinchot have believed that they could manage a forest better than nature could. From the point of view of maximum timber yield, they are probably right. But from an ecological point of view, it is essentially impossible to improve on the natural forces at work in a forest, taking into account the needs of all the species that live in an area. For example, there are critters that live in rotting wood that are important to other critters that live off of them, etc., etc.

    Mick would seem to be coming at this from a forester’s point of view, but his point about carbon sequestration is, I think, correct in any case. But the Forest Preserve is about preserving wilderness rather than maximizing timber production or carbon sequestration.

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  18. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Plant life that is in a rapid growth sequence will maximize carbon sequestration. Old growth forests have pretty much maxed out their ability to sequester carbon. Some people actually make the argument that it is good to cut mature forests in order to allow the more rapid growth that will replace old trees and therefor sequester more carbon. It is a pretty shallow point of view often held by the same types of people who were in favor of the exploitative types of industries that caused us to have to worry about carbon sequestration in the first place.

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  19. Alan Gregory says:

    Preserving wild nature – the native land – is arguably the single greatest legacy a generation can passs on to the coming generations.

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  20. mervel says:

    Walker I guess my question was not the choice or comparison of nature managing a forest versus private foresters managing a forest. The comparison I was thinking about was between the State of New York managing a Forest versus private foresters managing a forest.

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  21. mervel says:

    What Paul I think is saying is that the forest may actually see less use and abuse if it is owned privately than having it open to all sorts of people running about doing what they please on the land once the state owns it.

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  22. Paul says:

    knuck, “shallow point of view”. Wow. People have to figure out how to fix some of the problems we encounter, that isn’t “shallow”. What are you blaming global warming on Mick? This debate really seems to bring out the worst in some.

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  23. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, unwind your knickers a minute. There, do you feel better?

    Shallow point of view because there are very few old growth forests left and we should be protecting what we have of those while at the same time sequestering carbon in other ways that are less destructive and more productive.

    I have no problem with logging forests in a sustainable and sensible manner. From everything I have heard and seen Finch Pryun did a very good job of harvesting timber while at the same time providing good habitat for wildlife. But there is also a need to provide future generations with areas that maintain wild environments while at the same time working the problems of human caused climate change.

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  24. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul: “What are you blaming global warming on Mick? This debate really seems to bring out the worst in some.”

    Don’t be a twit. I didn’t say anything about Mick. I don’t know anything about Mick.
    I assume that Mick is pretty smart and I don’t pretend to know what Mick’s point of view is. I did say that I became suspicious about a particular point Mick had. Big deal.

    I happen to agree that old forests don’t capture as much carbon as the rapid tangle of new growth after a clear-cut. And I agree that sequestering carbon is important.
    That doesn’t mean that I think we should clear-cut forests.

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  25. Walker says:

    “I guess my question was not the choice or comparison of nature managing a forest versus private foresters managing a forest. The comparison I was thinking about was between the State of New York managing a Forest versus private foresters managing a forest.”

    Mervel, it’s basically the same comparison: New York is going to leave the forest growth to natural processes: if a tree falls, it will be left to rot, providing food a shelter for all manner of creatures. A private forester is going to harvest mature timber– something that is good for some wildlife (deer), but not for others.

    As for knuck’s use of “shallow,” I imagine he meant “narrow,” in the sense that cutting old growth to foster carbon sequestration would be seeing only the carbon issue, while ignoring the fact that old growth forests are increasingly rare, and provide important habitat for some species.

    As for “all sorts of people running about doing what they please on the land once the state owns it,” if you get off of established trails in the state’s wilderness areas, you will find very little abuse, or even any sign of other people. In my experience, litter is almost entirely at trail heads. Certainly there is erosion on trails and at camp sites, but it covers a trivial fraction of the total acreage, and if trails were re-routed, the damage would disappear in a few years.

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  26. Mervel says:

    Walker,

    Yeah that is my experience as well. I just was not sure what was going on in the grand scheme of things. I know the five ponds for example which is my personal favorite, seems to have very little problems with overuse from a recreation standpoint.

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  27. Mervel says:

    I am not a forester though so I would not know the true “health” of a forest just by my own use.

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  28. Walker says:

    Different folks have different ideas of a healthy forest. Foresters think a forest with a substantial number of trees well past their prime is not in the best of health. Woodpeckers think a forest with a fair number of standing dead trees is just right. Mushrooms think a forest with a lot of fallen, rotting dead trees is ideal. Ecologists think a forest that has been left entirely to its own devices is ideal.

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  29. Paul says:

    Knuck, accusing someone of shallow thinking is an insult. Mick obvioussly supports logging or “exploitative industries” as you call them. I don’t think you should make comments like that but if you think that makes me a twit than fine. Who suggested “clear cutting forests” I missed that part?

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  30. Paul says:

    The tree may “be left to rot” or be burned up by a camper in this case. Logging doesn’t necessarily rob acreage of some of this type of thing. But there is a difference between a managed forest and one that is not, not question about that. Is a well managed forest more biologically diverse. That is a debatable point.

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  31. Walker says:

    ” Is a well managed forest more biologically diverse?”

    How would one go about doing that?

    And “burned up” and “left to rot” have the same outcome only vis-a-vis carbon sequestration. To a fungus or an insect that lives on or in the wood, or to a creature that lives on other critters that live on or in rotting wood, they are very different processes.

    Turning wood into boards or paper that will not be burnt or rot is good for carbon sequestration, but not for forest ecology broadly viewed.

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  32. Walker says:

    The idea that we could manage a forest better than nature can smacks of hubris. It is the kind of idea that has been proven wrong again and again.

    Finally, saying that a particular idea is a product of shallow thinking is not, I think, necessarily insulting the individual that has posted it. We have all spouted off here on subjects on which we are not authorities and on which we have more or less shallowly thought out opinions– I will be the first to admit that I have done so. I don’t think that having done so means that one is a shallow thinker generally.

    If we all limited ourselves to comments that we had thought through thoroughly, there would be a lot fewer posts.

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  33. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    No Paul. Don’t accuse me of insulting someone who I had no attention of insulting.

    I did not make any accusation against Mick except that I said “I always become suspicious though when people start bringing up carbon sequestration…” Mick is free to clarify or not. I believe the statement about carbon sequestration is factually correct.

    I also said “Some people actually make the argument that it is good to cut mature forests in order to allow the more rapid growth that will replace old trees and therefor sequester more carbon.It is a pretty shallow point of view often held by the same types of people who were in favor of the exploitative types of industries that caused us to have to worry about carbon sequestration in the first place.”

    I very carefully did not say that I believe Mick was making that point because I am not trying to put words into Mick’s mouth in the way that you are trying to put words into mine.

    I also said “I have no problem with logging forests in a sustainable and sensible manner”, so you are accusing me of saying something negative about Mick that I have clearly said I support myself.

    Nor did I say that anyone supported clear-cutting, though some people do. I merely used clear-cutting as an example.

    So, yes, I think you’re being a twit. Notice that I didn’t say you are a twit. I didn’t say that you aren’t intelligent. I didn’t say anything about your mama. I said I think you are being a twit in accusing me of insulting someone else. If Mick wants to call me out I’ll have the discussion with Mick.

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  34. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I did not see Walker’s post before posting myself, but I agree that we are all guilty of shallow thinking at times — all of us perhaps except those who may read but don’t comment. Maybe they are the only sensible ones. But what fun would this be if nobody commented.

    So allow me to make an apology of sorts. Just because I said Paul is being a twit doesn’t mean that I don’t respect or value his opinion. He seems like a pretty smart guy. But in this case he is being a twit.

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  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Sometimes I’m a twit. Maybe that is now.

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  36. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Forget my last post. I take it back. Shallow thinking????!!
    Damn right there are dopes with shallow thinking and lots of them (though I am not accusing Mick). For decades – decades!!!!!- many of us have been warning about the affects of CO2 in the atmosphere, of Global Warming, of Climate Change, and we’ve had to listen to moronic responses like “sure was a cold winter” (when it wasn’t even a cold winter) from innumerable dopes, idiots, and ignoramuses. For a while we’ve had to listen to the drivel about how “you can’t ascribe any particular weather event to Global Warming.”

    Newsflash folks – you heard it here first and you can quote me … EVERY SINGLE WEATHER EVENT TODAY IS A RESULT OF THE CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE! Man made climate change is here and it has been here for a long time and once the weather is changed by human actions then ALL weather is affected by human actions.

    I’ve been warning (and many others too) about the escalation of the National Debt since Ronald Reagan but Republicans didn’t want to hear about it until a bunch of Teabaggers who worship Reagan took up the banner too late.

    I was on the street protesting the War in Iraq with millions of others warning that the evidence was being fixed, that Iraq didn’t have WMD’s. I was posting on the internet that George Bush was telling lies when he said that the Iraq war wouldn’t even cost $200 billion in his debate with Kerry. It has, in fact added $1 trillion to our national debt.

    Now it is time for me to tell you that Paul Ryan is a shallow thinker. Sure, he may be a smart guy but his plan to reduce the debt is stupid and shallow thinking.

    Shallow thinking!!! Tell me about shallow thinking.

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  37. Paul says:

    “Newsflash folks – you heard it here first and you can quote me … EVERY SINGLE WEATHER EVENT TODAY IS A RESULT OF THE CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE! Man made climate change is here and it has been here for a long time and once the weather is changed by human actions then ALL weather is affected by human actions.”

    And I think that all ideas related to mitigating the rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere should be considered post haste.

    If logging forests in a sustainable and sensible manner can help mitigate this than maybe we should consider it. Not deep or shallow here, just thinking!

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  38. Pete Klein says:

    Dragging global warming into the debate about the state buying land in the Adirondacks is going far off track.
    But speaking about global warming, nothing will do more to combat it than lowering the human population.
    More and more people equals more and more demand for energy and causes more and more pollution. It is as simple as that.
    Same goes for water shortages and food shortages.

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  39. Walker says:

    A story in today’s Enterprise headlined Helldiver moose says

    “In all the areas that we searched, that was the highest concentration [of Moose sign] that I saw,” Lee said about the Boreas Ponds. “I saw fresh tracks in the road. There was fresh tracks in the lake, there was fresh tracks everywhere there. We didn’t see any moose, but they were all around us all the time.”

    Boreas Ponds is owned by The Nature Conservancy, but the state recently announced it would purchase the land within the next five years to make it Forest Preserve.

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  40. Paul says:

    Walker, this is true and a good point. So say goodbye to the Moose. Once this land reverts back to old growth forest it will not be very good Moose habitat. These lands that are being logged are ideal for Moose. Some of the land that I hunt that is been very actively logged over the past several decades is excellent Moose habitat. You should see all the pictures of Moose I have seen from a friends trail camera. I have been lucky enough to see one bull moose in that area but they are surprisingly hard to catch up with. The Forest Preserve land I also hunt on has no moose or any sign. But again that is a management issue, we are not talking about managing this land for wildlife.

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  41. Paul says:

    Pete, just like turning off the lights. Maybe we should do anything we can to try and solve the problem since the population is not going down. Since more and more people is something we have to deal with we better figure out how to solve these issues without changing that part of the occasion.

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  42. Paul says:

    Sorry “equation” not “occasion”!

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  43. Walker says:

    Paul, there’s wildlife in the Adirondacks that prefers old growth forest; they just aren’t big game animals. And incidentally, moose don’t thrive where deer populations do because deer carry a brain worm that is fatal to moose. I would guess, then, that the Boreas Ponds area has not been logged much of late.

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  44. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    (Extreme eye roll)

    Logging is and has been happening continuously in this country. As some people are want to point out we have an economic system that rewards harvesting based on supply and demand. Are you suggesting that we intervene in the Market, Paul?
    Should we artificially drive up the market for wood products through government intervention?

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  45. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Pete: “Dragging global warming into the debate about the state buying land in the Adirondacks is going far off track.”

    Yeah, Pete, I think I was in part getting at that point when I mentioned the bit about carbon sequestration some number of posts ago.

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  46. Paul says:

    “Should we artificially drive up the market for wood products through government intervention?” Sorry I don’t get this comment? I just was commenting that this type of forest management may play a small part in effecting carbon emissions, and that everything we can do to improve this problem could be part of a comprehensive solution. I have solar panels on my cabin, I drive a hybrid, I do whatever I can to make a difference. This is is the same thing. As you have see from other comments I have made I am a strong supporter of carbon sequestration technology. It is something that is proving effective and one effort that moves the debate away from “blame” to maybe fixing the problem. And at the same time it is one that can and should get bipartisan support (it appears to be getting some now). Even gas companies that can use sequestered carbon to improve gas extraction are starting to come on board. When you can convince a industry that is based on fossil fuels that carbon sequestration is a good idea you are really starting to make some progress. So my hope is that this and other similar technology will continue to be developed while others protest and argue in the background.

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  47. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay Paul, I completely agree. Every little bit that we do that helps and doesn’t hurt is a good thing. I also congratulate you on doing your part. If everyone tired to do a few simple things we would be much better off.

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  48. Paul says:

    My views on the best way to deal with human induced climate changed have evolved over time. I think the issue should really be reduced down to its core. The issue is that we are putting more carbon into the atmosphere than the environment can get rid of. The normal cycle is out of whack thanks to us. How to fix this? It seems to me like the key issue is how to get (at the very least) the carbon we are putting into the atmosphere back into the earth to restore the balance. The only way to do that in the face of a growing population is to come up with ways to sequester carbon. We are working on this and I am hopeful that we can win the race. This should be coupled with emissions reductions but these will only slow and not solve the issue. Eventually we will again have a problem with too much carbon emission despite efforts to reduce it. So the key is to find a way to quickly restore the balance and come up with ways to slow the growth of emissions. The former being more urgent than the latter in the short term. The problem is that too much effort is focused on emissions reductions. It is too late for that bandaid.

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