Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From the desk of Walt Paul – NYS Conservation Council

From: "wpaul"
Subject: Status of UMP's and other land use plans
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 12:17:31 -0500
From the desk of Walt Paul – NYS Conservation Council
Good morning:

Below find a summary of some pending UMP's and land use plans developed by the DEC and the APA; the Final Draft UMP for the Moose River Plains is particularly disappointing.
I am going to offer some opinions on the DEC's lack of responsiveness to the sporting community, the examples are countless. For me it is hard to understand how a group, the sporting community, can contribute 53 million dollars a year to conservation efforts in N.Y.S. and have so little impact on land use policy. Along parallel lines The Adirondack Park Agency Review Board recently let it's white paper (paper is an attached) "Under the Influence and In Need of Detoxification" referring to the Adirondack Park Agency being under the influence of the environmental groups and needing a cleansing. Following the upper level DEC administrations lack of response to tremendous public input from the sporting community on the future of the Moose River Plains and other land use plans, and their continued propensity to develop plans that seem to favor the agenda of the protectionist groups, (more and more wilderness, shutting down access and more and more roads closed and now actions to protect the wilderness) one has to conclude that some key leadership in the DEC is also under the "influence" of the green groups as well.

They want our money, but do little to support us! At this point sportsmen I talk with are feeling taken advantage of ! My opinion new leadership is necessary in the DEC's Office of Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources.The old saying "a new broom sweeps clean" appears to be a necessary approach to detoxify that office. An equatable approach to working with all stake holder groups has been lacking now for some time!

From the desk of Walt Paul – NYS Conservation Council
Access and Land Use Specialist
This past year has been a busy one regarding sportsmen's access and land use issues. The Counsel has taken an active role advocating for maintaining and expanding sportsman’s access on easement and state lands. The Moose River Plains UMP, the APA/DEC MOA regarding Easement Lands and the DEC Strategic Plan for State Forest Management all will have a significant impact on our ability to access hunting, fishing and trapping locations.
The Status of these plans is as follows:

Moose River Plains - First for the bad news!

  The Draft Final Plan is out and has been approved by the Adirondack Park Agency. Despite tremendous public opposition to closing the Indian Lake Road (access to some of the best trout fishing in the northeast) and opposition to creating additional wilderness, the DEC has put forward a final plan to expand the wilderness by 14667 acres and shut down two miles of the Indian Lake Road starting at a parking lot which will be created one-half mile from Squaw lake. This means the public will have to walk two and one-half miles to get to Indian Lake to fish, canoe and enjoy nature. It is my understanding that discussions are under way to designate the last two miles of the Indian Lake Road as part of the North Country Scenic Trail, a hiking trail.

The 14667 acres wilderness expansion will be removed from existing wild forest and designated wilderness creating a new wilderness area of 12,270 acres south of the main Cedar River Road. The new wilderness would be formed on the North side of a mountain biking trail that will have Wild Forest designation. The other 2, 397 acres will be added to the West Canada Wilderness area.

Roadside Camping on the Moose River Plains will continue with some adjustments to site locations As I understand it the designation of an intensive use corridor within the Adirondack Park will require an addendum to the State Land master Plan. Let us not forget this was a preexisting condition and as such we gained very little. It also appears that agreement has been reached where none of the existing sites will be removed until new sites have been constructed. Floatplanes will be allowed.

The UMP now goes to the Governor for his approval. The outcome in general is very disappointing for the sporting community when we consider this land was gifted to sportsmen by a timber company and many of the roads were actually deeded to insure access. The change in classification of the 14,667 acres of wild forest to wilderness requires the approval of the Governor; thus the future of the entire plan hinges on the Governors sign off and approval by the DEC Commissioner. Next steps are being considered.

Adirondack Park Agency / Department of Environmental Conservation MOA regarding Management of Easement Lands has been approved. A major concern was that the APA would be involved and would have to approve use of existing trails and roads for snowmobile and ATV use for sportsmen involved in hunting, fishing and trapping. It appears the DEC recognized that easement lands are private lands and that existing uses should not fall under the APA's purview. Following negotiations it appears APA oversight will be limited to new use and development and when the intensity of use by the public reaches a certain level. The Council provided extensive comments and it appears the comments supported the Department of Environmental Conservations thinking and helped facilitate a positive outcome. It now appears the traditional use of trails and roads on easement lands by sportsmen utilizing trucks, ATV's and snowmobiles will continue, contingent on easement language. The outcome appears positive for the sporting community.

DEC State Land Use Strategic Plan – A high number of public comments have been received on the plan and the Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing and preparing responses to the comments. As I understand it the Dec Commissioner must sign off on the plan. At this point it does not appear the plan will be approved during the current administration. The Council weighted in heavily on access issues pertaining to State Lands. The impact on sportsmen is unknown until the plan is finalized.

Champion Camp Retention – 200 camps occupied by Sportsmen are scheduled to be torn down per the Easement Agreement. Club members and the sporting community have lobbied, litigated and negotiated to see that the camps remain. The DEC after careful deliberation decided to support the camps remaining and is awaiting a final review from the APA. Environmental Groups are opposing the action and it would appear continued pressure from the sporting community is important at this point. The decision will be precedent setting in terms of keeping hundreds of camps on other easement lands. It seems people are realizing that the traditional hunting clubs have been good stewards of the land. Current outcome unknown.
Thank-you - As we conclude the year I would like to thank everyone that took their time to weigh in with Public and Elected Officials on the critical land use and access issues facing the sporting community. Our efforts are yielding some results; visit the Council’s website frequently for action alerts. If you are not a member of the N.Y.S. Conservation Council an application can be accessed at http://www.nyscc.com/ and click on "get involved".

Happy New Year!
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