Proposal: Debar Lodge
A new constitutional amendment, sponsored by Assemblymember Jones (A7535), was put forward recently. This proposal would remove Debar Lodge and some surrounding acreage from Debar Wild Forest and the Adirondack Forest Preserve, creating a private land inholding in what is currently an intact block of Forest Preserve.
ADK has not been in favor of preserving the lodge and has supported DEC’s decision to remove it from the shore of Debar Pond. ADK has not taken a formal position on the new amendment.
Proposal: Catskill Park Coordinator
Over the summer, an interesting piece of legislation was sponsored by Senator Hinchey (S6421) and Assemblymember Gunther (A7753) that would establish the position of a Catskill Park coordinator was introduced and passed in the Senate. The legislation “establishes the position of Catskill Park coordinator within the department of environmental conservation to build partnerships between the department and other state agencies, municipal governments, businesses and nonprofit entities that will develop a community-based tourism strategy for the forest preserve to help fortify the regional economy and to coordinate implementation of the public access plan and other approved or adopted Catskill park-wide plans.”
The idea of such a coordinator has been promoted in various studies and focus groups. The introduction this session of the proposal reflects the awareness of high recreation use in the region and the value of a dedicated office and staff to address high use issues. A similar recommendation was made by the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group (HPAG), as the need to create new positions within DEC “to coordinate between offices and initiatives and staff for executing HPAG Recommendations.”
Update: Save the Bluestone Wild Forest
In late June, the Town of Kingston held a virtual public hearing on the development proposed for an inholding in Forest Preserve lands of the Catskill Park. The lakes, ponds, and trails in the Bluestone Wild Forest are threatened by a developer who wants to build a concrete and steel fabrication plant on a parcel of land surrounded by the Wild Forest in the Town of Kingston. The proposed fabrication plant would be located at 850 Rt. 28, adjacent to Onteora Lake, Pickerel Pond, and immediately east of the Ashokan Reservoir and the Ashokan Rail Trail. Some of the effects from the proposed plant include increased noise and industrial traffic levels in the area, visual impacts, and potential changes to the aquifer and to Pickerel Pond from water withdrawals. More than a hundred individuals and organizations including ADK spoke out against the project or submitted comments.
During the hearing, the company presented their plans for addressing concerns that conservation groups have raised, such as mitigating the noise of blasting, crushing, and grading with visual and sound barriers and improving water quality on the site. Conservation groups continued to request that the planning board require an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a full analysis of the potential impacts of the proposed development. ADK and other groups were very pleased to learn that in July, after reviewing comments and materials from the June hearing, the Kingston Planning Board issued a positive declaration in terms of the potential of a significant adverse impact of the project on the environment, which is the next step toward preparing an EIS as part of the State Environmental Quality Review process (SEQR).
Announcement: New Conservation Committee Chair Named
Bob Conway has been named chair of ADK’s Conservation Committee. Conway retired in June 2019 from his position with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after more than twenty-five years in the environmental/conservation field. Previously, he spent several years as a National Park Service law enforcement ranger at NPS units including Yellowstone, Mount Rainier, Cuyahoga Valley, and more. He moved to the EPA in 2009, working throughout Upstate New York.
Bob looks forward to meeting and working with other ADK members and chapters on conservation issues. “I plan on attending chapter gatherings, meeting new people within and outside of the club, and continuing to work with ADK staff,” he said. “Key issues facing the Adirondacks in the next decade include global warming, heavy visitor use, trail construction and maintenance, outdoor education/Leave No Trace, and conservation funding and investment. I welcome the challenge of addressing these issues and fulfilling the club’s goals and mission.”