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Adirondack Park Agency To Consider Changes To State Land Master Plan

WAMC/Pat Bradley

During its October monthly meeting, the Adirondack Park Agency board agreed to begin a public process to consider changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

The State Land Master Plan is the document upon which the Adirondack Park Agency bases classification and management of the lands within the park. The agency is in the process of classifying land recently acquired by the state. During the October meeting, Board Chair Lani Ulrich explained that as part of the Essex Chain Lakes classification resolution, the APA committed to consider changes to allow all-terrain bicycles and to allow non-natural materials use on a Cedar River bridge.  “Both of those commitments will require amendments to the State Land Master Plan. We know there may be other topics of interest that may be presented during these sessions. We will review and discuss all of that input as a part of a public process that we’ll be rolling out in the upcoming year.”

Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth notes that the agency could do an area-specific change or could make changes to the entire plan. He cautions that the agency is not beginning a State Environmental Quality Review Act process that would lead to comprehensive changes.  “They’re very careful to characterize these as listening sessions for the two issues. The public will be allowed to comment on other amendments that they might like to see.  But these will not lead to a formal amendment process. The way it’s been explained to me by the agency. These are a way for the agency to find out what issues might be out there and see whether consensus can be reached on some of these issues.”

Adirondack Council Spokesman John Sheehan says the Park Agency must move forward with a formal classification for the Essex Chain and the only way to accomplish that is to slightly modify the management plan.  “The APA can’t make changes to the State Land Master Plan without asking for public comment. So while it can define what scope it would like to take a look at in terms of what issues it wants to open up, the public is certainly free to talk about any part of the State Land Master Plan if the agency intends to amend it.”

It has been over 25 years since the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan was amended, and a review is supposed to occur every five years, according to Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer.  “It seems the agency is being very deliberate and once they collect what the concerns are of the public then the agency will determine what issues they will move ahead with in a public process to change the State Land Master Plan. One of the reasons that the State Land Master Plan has been able to go 25 years without a serious policy revision is that it’s really one of the strongest documents for comprehensive natural resource planning  for public lands in the country.”

Four listening sessions are being planned in Ray Brook, Old Forge, Warrensburg and Albany prior to Thanksgiving. Written comments will also be accepted.

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