Posted on November 12th, 2010 3 comments Add a comment >>
Jim McCulley traveled to Albany this week to testify against the state’s continuing subsidization of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. A short article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise generated a lot of online comments from readers. Click here to read the article.
McCulley, the president of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club, wants to see all or most of the tracks pulled up to create a corridor for biking, hiking, and snowmobiling. Snowmobilers do use the corridor, but McCulley says the rails and ties limit its usefulness.
Proponents of the train argue that removing the tracks would be shortsighted at a time when the nation is, or should be, embracing mass transit to reduce our dependence on oil. But is reviving the train a for freight and/or passenger service a realistic option? That’s a question that we will look at in a future issue of the Adirondack Explorer.
For background on converting the railbed into a recreational corridor, see this earlier story in the Explorer.
Posted on September 2nd, 2010 7 comments Add a comment >>
A state judge has dismissed the Adirondack Council’s complaint that guidelines for snowmobile trails, adopted last year, violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and the forever-wild clause of the state constitution.
The guidelines authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation to construct extra-wide “community connector” trails between hamlets and allow tractor groomers to maintain them.
The Adirondack Park Agency approved the guidelines in November, saying they complied with the State Land Master Plan.
Brian Houseal, the council’s executive director, said the council will decide whether to appeal after reviewing the judge’s opinion.
Houseal said the council recognizes the economic importance of snowmobiling and supports the concept of community connectors, but he raised several objections to the guidelines.
Community connectors are supposed to avoid the interior of the Forest Preserve, but Houseal said the trails will be permitted up to two miles from highways. The council contends community connectors should be located no more than five hundred feet from roads.
Houseal also argues that the Master Plan needs to be amended to define “community connector,” “mechanized groomer,” and other novel terms found in the guidelines.
State Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly dismissed most of the council’s claims on the ground that they were not “ripe” for litigation. The guidelines will be implemented only through unit management plans (UMPs) for individual tracts of Forest Preserve. The time to sue, the judge reasoned, is when UMPs are adopted.
The judge dismissed one of the council’s claims on procedural grounds.
Click the link below to read the full decision.
Posted on November 12th, 2009 3 comments Add a comment >>
The Adirondack Park Agency could face legal action if, as appears likely, it approves new snowmobile-trail guidelines at its meeting on Friday.
Afterward, the executive directors of the Park’s three major environmental groups—the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), and Protect the Adirondacks—argued that the proposed guidelines violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.
Their objections pertain to the character and maintenance of a new class of trails known as “community connectors,” intended to link hamlets.
The trails would be nine feet wide in most places and up to twelve feet wide on curves. Also, most protruding rocks would be removed to create a smoother surface. The critics say such trails would violate the State Land Master Plan’s mandate that snowmobile trails retain “essentially the character of a foot trail.”
The guidelines also would permit grooming tractors on the trails, which the green groups contend would be an illegal use of motor vehicles on the Forest Preserve.
“The State Land Master Plan carries the force of law,” said Brian Houseal, head of the Adirondack Council. “A community-connector trail with tractor groomers is beyond the definitions” of permissible uses found in the State Land Master Plan.
Houseal and his two colleagues—Neil Woodworth of ADK and Dave Gibson of Protect—said they would consider filing a lawsuit if the guidelines are approved.
They said they would not object to the construction of community connectors or to the use of tractor groomers if the State Land Master Plan were appropriately amended.
APA Commissioner Dick Booth was the only member of the State Land Committee who argued that the master plan should be amended. The full board will take up the issue at 10:45 a.m. Friday.
The New York State Snowmobile Association backs the proposed guidelines, according to Dave Perkins, the group’s trails coordinator.
Click here to review the guidelines and related documents.
Posted on June 10th, 2009 Add a comment >>
An attorney in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Watertown office has asked DEC’s commissioner to clarify his decision to dismiss a complaint against Jim McCulley, who was ticketed for driving a truck on the Old Mountain Road in the Sentinel Range Wilderness.
McCulley contends that the Old Mountain Road, now part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, remains a town road and therefore DEC has no right to exclude from it snowmobiles or other motor vehicles.
In May, Commissioner Pete Grannis ruled that DEC’s lawyers had indeed failed to prove that the road had been legally abandoned by the towns of Keene and North Elba. The ruling has created doubt about the future of the Old Mountain Road and other old roads in the Forest Preserve.
In a motion dated June 5, DEC attorney Randall Young asserts that “specific aspects of the decision should be clarified to ensure proper care, custody, and control of the lands under the administration of the Department.”
Young says the department’s staff believes the decision “misapprehended or misapplied the applicable law.” He argues that improving the road for motor vehicles would violate the forever-wild clause of the state constitution, the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, and Environmental Conservation Law.
The attorney is asking only for clarification. He is not asking Grannis to reverse the decision.
”DEC is appealing to itself,” McCulley said after receiving the motion papers. “It’s so dumb it’s scary.”
I found out about this too late in the day to contact DEC for comment. I’m attaching the motion documents below. Be forewarned that some pages are missing. I hope to get a complete set soon.