Park’s local governments give historic Adironack land deal mixed reviews

The last forty-eight hours have seen a series of strong statements, pro and con, for the 69,000 acre land deal signed Sunday by Governor Andrew Cuomo.  One of the most interesting conversations is happening within local government.

At least three prominent local officials have come out in support of the $47 million dollar deal, including Essex County chair Randy Douglas and Minerva town supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey, both Democrats.

The official press release also included positive comments from North Hudson town supervisor Ronald Moore.

“The Boreas Ponds tract could be a big draw for people to hike, fish, hunt, and camp. It is a truly magnificent area that will at some point be open to the public,” he said.

But the Park’s two big local government groups — the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages have both issued strongly worded statements opposing the deal.

The Review Board calls the deal “unprecedented in its overall fiscal irresponsibility,” while AATV president Brian Towers suggested that the land effort would put “a boot across our necks.”

Towers described the deal as continuing “a long history of questionable land acquisition supported by extreme environmentalists and ignorance of the fragile Adirondack Park economy.”

The differing views here continue a long debate within local government over the Finch Pruyn project.  Many communities negotiated closely with the Nature Conservancy, and arranged side deals allowing them to purchase land for local projects.

When the Finch Pruyn effort was unveiled in 2007, not a single town voted to exercise the veto-power that communities hold over projects funded through the Environmental Protection Fund.

But later, after the AATV and the Review Board began campaigning to revise the deal, some communities passed resolutions calling for the land purchase to be scaled back or canceled.



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59 Comments on “Park’s local governments give historic Adironack land deal mixed reviews”

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  1. Peter Hahn says:

    So – what is their objection? taxes?

  2. Pete Klein says:

    I do have a question. If the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board was established in the 1970s to provide oversight and feedback to the Adirondack Park Agency, is it in violation of its charter to provide oversight and feedback on the governor and the DEC? Has it overstepped the intent of state legislation and become a political action committee?

  3. myown says:

    Yes a PAC – funded by the State. It is time to pull the plug on the LGRB and stop wasting taxpayer dollars.

    Further, the LGRB Director, Fred Monroe, is a member of one of the private, elite hunt clubs that will lose their exclusive rights when the property is purchased by the State. But he never mentions that when he denounces the TNC deal.

  4. The LGRB was created AND REMAINS FUNDED BY TAXPAYERS for the purpose of providing oversight to the APA, not the DEC. If the committee’s rogue director is incapable of following the Board’s legal mandate, then he should be removed. Absent that, taxpayer money should no longer be used to fund this agency if it won’t follow the law.

  5. Walker says:

    “So – what is their objection?”

    Fred Monroe says it’s about the loss of logging jobs. Oh, and also about the hunting camps– Monroe just happens to belong to one of the hunting club that owns one of those camps.

  6. Larry says:

    “The Review Board calls the deal “unprecedented in its overall fiscal irresponsibility…”

    Sounds like one hell of an objection to me!

  7. John Henry says:

    I once had a hunting camp that the was swapped and made forever wastefull. Now a few will ever use a area that could provide jobs in the future. Oh and they will not spend even a $100 total on the way in and out…

  8. Walker says:

    Well it would be if he wasn’t just grousing over the loss of his hunting camp. Does it look to you to be “unprecedented in its overall fiscal irresponsibility…”

  9. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Boy. it is pretty hard to set a new precedent for fiscal irresponsibility. I remember not too long ago when $50 million seemed like a lot of money and a billion seemed like an astronomical amount. Now I think you can be a billionaire and not even make the Forbes list.

  10. Peter Hahn says:

    Logging jobs??? That’s a marginal industry at best in this many of these jobs are we talking about? 12?

  11. Paul says:

    Peter I agree that argument doesn’t hold much water. But when you have land addded to the FP in the future nothing can ever change. It is what it is.

  12. Walker says:

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

  13. Walker says:

    And your statement applies equally to building housing developments– put one in, and the land it’s built on is never going to be part of the Forest Preserve. Look at all the lake front that has been chopped up in the last 40 years.

  14. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Maybe I missed it somewhere, but exactly how much of this acreage will include logging easements and how much won’t? Anyone?

  15. Peter Hahn says:

    I think they did easements on the land that had a potential future as timberland.

  16. Peter Hahn says:

    In today’s global economy you have to do what has the potential to be best in class. Those lands will never be competitive with Canadian timberland or Georgia yellow pine , for that matter. But as outdoor recreation they can be part of the best west of the Mississippi.

  17. Peter Hahn says:

    What we could do is have a timber harvest permit system where only residents of the Adirondacks were eligible to harvest in some of the forest preserve lends.

  18. Larry says:

    Well, the consensus seems to be that the $49M price tag is no big deal, that ongoing costs should not be worried about and that forestry jobs are not important because it’s a marginal industry. Another huge financial hit to New York state, unknown financial ramifications and a few more marginal people and their families will be leaving the Adirondacks. I am truly amazed by the callous lack of concern some have displayed for human issues.

  19. Paul says:

    “And your statement applies equally to building housing developments– put one in, and the land it’s built on is never going to be part of the Forest Preserve.”

    This isn’t accurate. Lots of current Forest Preserve land had all kinds of development on it in the past. Great camps, hotels, trains stations, you name it….

    Walker, the fact is that it only goes in one direction. Private land is slowly (or quickly in this case) added to the Forest Preserve. It never goes the other way. Maybe I am wrong. Please tell me some land that has been taken from the Forest Preserve and made private?

  20. Paul says:

    Walker, just look at this parcel. How much private development is going to be razed on this land now that it is being added to the Forest Preserve?

  21. Walker says:

    Let’s try this again: From the Enterprise article:

    “DEC Commissioner Joe Martens defended the acquisition and said the original 161,000 acres of land was looked at to determine which land is suitable for logging. He noted that the state put a conservation easement on 89,000 acres of timberland already.

    “When we looked at the entire suite of parcels and the overall 161,000 acres, we did exactly what the critics said should be done,” Martens said. “We looked at the most productive timberlands and the best timberlands and kept them, and acquired an easement on those lands so they would be kept in production. And we looked at these parcels and we determined that these were the ones that had the highest recreational value, the highest public values or the most sensitive resources, and that these should be set aside for the Forest Preserve, so it was a very careful balancing act based on the attributes of the land itself, which we think is a very intelligent way to approach a big project like this.”

    In other words, the state started by putting easements on the best timberland. This is the final piece of a multi-part deal. The logging easements were done earlier. That’s why they aren’t involved in this, final step in the process.

    Try reading.

  22. mervel says:

    It would be interesting to look at the whole economic impact. Exactly how many logging jobs exist now dependent on this land and how many would be lost? That should not be a hard number to find.

    In the grand scheme of the NYS budget, 49m is a rounding error, its the best 49m the state spent this year.

  23. Larry says:

    Outdoor recreation? Do you mean the kind of activity that produces the hordes of people, piles of litter and hundreds of vehicles that can be seen lining the shoulders of 74 near Chapel Pond on any nice day? How’s that working out from an environmental point of view? $49M of taxpayer money spent so that we can have more scenes like that?

  24. Dave says:

    Larry, so now your main concern is the environment? You seem to be flip flopping quite a bit on this. I thought your concern was the economy and the livelihoods of those of us who live in the Park…

    Well, at any rate, that “scene” at Chapel Pond is working out wonderfully for the towns nearby. So when your position flips back to the economy, you will be happy to know that restaurants and businesses have been packed this summer thanks to those “hordes.”

    And the environment there is doing just fine as well, certainly better than if it had been open to development.

  25. myown says:

    TNC bought 161,000 acres from a paper company that no longer wanted to hold the land. TNC held public meetings for input on a plan for the acreage. All the more than two dozen local governments approved the plan.

    Of the 161,000 acres 89,000 (55%) are committed to continued forestry to supply the paper company’s local mills which will maintain local logging and mill jobs. In addition, there will be recreational opportunities including important snowmobile connector trails.

    69,000 acres (43%) will be added to the Forest Preserve creating new and unique public recreational opportunities and local economic opportunities.

    1,100 acres will be sold to local municipalities to allow hamlet expansion and other development needs.

    How can anyone seriously object that this isn’t a reasonably balanced plan that takes into account local needs, local jobs, maintaining forestry and logging while adding to the Forest Preserve the most ecologically valuable and vulnerable acreage?

  26. Larry says:

    Dave, I’ve never NOT been concerned with both the environment AND the needs of Adirondackers. I’ve been writing a lot about the need I see for a balanced approach to conservation. I am taken aback by the attitudes I see from those who think the recent land purchase is an unqualified success. I feel they are disregarding many important aspects of the deal, one of which is the degradation of over used public lands, one example of which is the “scene” at Chapel Pond. By the way, I think you may be overestimating the economic impact of those “hordes”. How many new hotels or restaurants have opened in Keene, Keene Valley or E-town? That, by the way, is a sincere question.

  27. Jim Frenette says:

    Brian.. What happened to my post ? It appeared yesterday but disappearedmtoday .

  28. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Larry, I’ve always been concerned with government spending. I want the government to spend wisely on projects with long term benefits to all the people. I think this qualifies, maybe you don’t.

    About jobs, I make my living working mostly in the Park, and I know lots of loggers. I’ve grown up with many of them, see them at Stewarts in the morning, and am friends with a number of them. To me there are no harder workers or more down to earth practical people than loggers and farmers. And to survive as a logger take some good business sense, along with the hard work. I’ve never heard any of them complain about not being able to find woodlots to cut, but I have heard them complain about the low price of logs. And if you talk to them a little bit you get to find out about the dangers of cutting trees in the woods. They all know plenty of guys who’ve been crippled or killed. I don’t know anyone who got out of logging because of the APA — except maybe a few of the crooked ones.

  29. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    Thanks for the clarification on the details, Walker and myown…..It sounds like much more effort was put into this project with regard to the timber assets than previous land purchases by the state.

    One of my elder brothers is a self employed logger here in the North Country and another is a trained Forester (graduate of Paul Smiths’s College Forestry program in 1981) and so I’m looking forward to discussing this latest land purchase with their much more expert minds. In the past, they’ve both been critical of the state and its purchase of large former timber producing areas of the Park for a number of reasons. I’m anxious to hear their thoughts on this latest purchase.

  30. EB says:

    So here’s some data. Someone asked how much employment there is in logging.

    The census no longer reports forestry as it’s own occupation. It’s grouped with farmers and fishermen.

    The census estimates that the occupational category Farming, Fishing and Forestry employs 198 people in Essex county, 31 people in Hamilton County, and 391 people in Warren County. There is quite a bit of error in these estimates because so few people have these occupations. Anyone interested in digging deeper occupation estimates can be found in Table C24010 of the 2006-2010 Estimates of the American Communities Survey.

  31. Paul says:

    I agree that the number of jobs we are talking about is quite insignificant. (Larry I also understand that the region cannot afford to lose any of what jobs it does have). But this whole part of the discussion is irrelevant. Any of the land that goes into easement can be used to generate tourist related income (the public could have access) as well. The land cane be hiked, fished, hunted on, paddled whatever. It can also be logged if that makes sense now or in the future. The easement concept itself is already the balance that is needed. Given that I think it is fair to consider what might also be better ways to generate economic activity on the land while still allowing it to be preserved. Private back-country resorts would probably produce more revenue than a public free-for-all. Basically in places you could change the “hunting club” concept to a “back-country club” concept (or whatever you want to call it). Like what the old guides used to do with the remote camps they had but on a different scale. The public can also use the land to recreate. Then we all hold hands and break into song and and it rains gum drops and candy canes! (I doubt that last part will ever come to pass).

  32. Peter Hahn says:

    Paul – the economic argument is that more jobs are created this way than are lost. (since the number lost is so small, its hard to argue against this) And, since the easements were made on the lands that had potential for timber harvesting jobs, I dont really seen what the downside is – other than some people lose their hunting camps after a few years.

  33. Dave says:

    “How many new hotels or restaurants have opened in Keene, Keene Valley or E-town? That, by the way, is a sincere question.”

    Exactly how many restaurant type businesses do you think an area like this should have? Right now there 6 just in Keene/Keene Valley (that I can think of) and another one is on the way.

    But it sounds like you measure economic benefit based solely on growth. If so, then we have a much different view of what economic success should look like in the Adirondacks.

    What I can tell you is that almost all of the businesses in Keene, Keene Valley are doing well and everyone I know is happy as can be with how this summer has gone for them. “Best weekend ever” and “set a record last night” are the types of things I keep hearing over and over while out and about talking to people at these businesses.

    And this coming from a community that was hammered last year by Irene. They rebounded, are back on their feet, and doing fantastic… because of those hordes.

  34. Paul says:

    “What we could do is have a timber harvest permit system where only residents of the Adirondacks were eligible to harvest in some of the forest preserve lends.”

    Peter this is a great idea.

  35. Paul says:

    “What I can tell you is that almost all of the businesses in Keene, Keene Valley are doing well and everyone I know is happy as can be with how this summer has gone for them. “Best weekend ever” and “set a record last night” are the types of things I keep hearing over and over while out and about talking to people at these businesses.”

    Sounds like growth to me. That is great. There are lots of kinds of growth. This is one. Our economic system is based on growth that is a one of those cold hard facts.

  36. Dave says:

    I wish more people would consider sustaining current, local businesses as ‘growth’, and think it is great.

    More often than not though (as Larry’s question implied), when people talk about improved Adirondack economies they are talking about growth in the actual number of businesses, jobs, and/or development.

  37. Larry says:

    OK, so the economy can only improve for those who already have businesses and jobs? When did growth, especially when used to describe more jobs, become such a dirty word? And you accuse conservatives of being inconsiderate of economically disadvantaged people? Some of the people on his blog are starting to remind me of the old joke about a conservationist being someone who built their cabin last year.

  38. mervel says:

    It seems to me that most of these large land deals are neutral as far as business goes. As far as recreation goes, there are no trails in a good portion of this land, and probably will not be any trail system for quite some time. I doubt it will see much recreation, maybe some snowmobiles, maybe some cross country skiing, but it will be minor compared to the established trail systems.

    Is there a large negative tax impact for local governments? That would be a legitimate issue.

  39. myown says:

    The State will pay the equivilent of property taxes to the local governments and school districts. This is usually a good deal for them since very little in services will be required from the Forest Preserve lands. They may actually see an increase in payments from what the Nature Conservancy and Finch Pruyn were paying previously since there are all sorts of tax incentives for private forest owners that the State isn’t eligible for.

  40. Dave says:

    I can’t quite reconcile your two positions today. First you were complaining about too many people coming to visit this area… and now you are complaining that the area isn’t growing the way you think it should.

    Anyway, to address your question, growth – especially the type of growth you are talking about – can be a dirty word when the goal is balance. That is the goal of the Adirondacks, and something you said you support.

    And lets stop acting like if someone is in favor of small, stable economies instead of constant growth that they must therefore be inconsiderate of the disadvantaged in those areas. Every area, no matter how grown out, has economically disadvantaged. Growth does not solve that problem – in fact, in some cases it clearly makes it worse.

    Finally, communities are never frozen in time like the scenario you suggest. Businesses come and go, people retire, move, die… there are always opportunities in small, stable economies.

  41. Larry says:

    Dave, you seem to be focused on rhetoric and on words: growth and development are always bad words; conservation and preservation are always good words. Liberal is always good; conservative always bad. I ask a sincere question, you reply with a sarcastic remark. I think you’re more interested in polemics than debate.

  42. Paul says:

    Dave, One of the main arguments for adding land to the Forest Preserve is to grow the tourist related economy. If you support these acquisitions you support growth (if you follow the logic that this will bring more tourists to the area and this will create more economic activity than we have now). I assume that you do since you talked about how you are seeing that type of economic activity in and around Keene. The idea here is not to promote stagnation but growth. If you support stagnation or “stability” as call it then you should support the continued logging of these lands as private tracts, the private club concept, and keeping the tourists away from the area.

  43. Pete Klein says:

    News flash!
    The Glens Falls Post Star endorsed the deal in an editorial today.

  44. Larry says:

    I’m surprised it took them this long. Who wrote it, Will Doolittle?

  45. Peter Hahn says:

    Dave – The human population in many parts of the Adirondacks has been declining and so have the jobs. Probably sustainability is a better concept than stagnation, but we need more jobs. Everyone does. We need at least as much economic growth as is required to replace the losses from old industries that have gone under.

    If there were more tourists to sustain more restaurants etc. in Keene/Keene Valley, that would be a good thing, I would think.

  46. Pete Klein says:

    Just to stir the pot a bit. I’m a bit surprised that the Republicans up here who endorse the idea of “the survival of the fittest” and rugged individualism when it comes to the economy are looking to the government to create jobs. I thought everyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps no matter what the government does or doesn’t do.

  47. Paul says:

    Peter I agree. To accomplish even sustainability you need to have some growth. That is just the nature of our system.

  48. Walker says:

    “To accomplish even sustainability you need to have some growth.”

    Explain please? No sarcasm intended. I just don’t see why you can’t have sustainability without growth.

    Let’s say I have a woodlot and you have a truck garden. Each year we produce the same amount of stuff and sell it to our neighbors. Steady state, no growth. Problems?

  49. Paul says:

    None taken.

  50. Paul says:

    Sorry don’t have time right now. You like Wikipedia right? Do a search and you will find the answer there.

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