The Adirondack Park Agency recently approved amended management plans for areas in the central Adirondacks. But some conservation groups are critical of the move.
In March, Governor Andrew Cuomo approved the Adirondack Park Agency’s land classification recommendations for the MacIntyre East and Boreas Ponds lands in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. The Department of Environmental Conservation then crafted amended Unit Management Plans to provide for additional recreation and access. At its July meeting, the APA board unanimously approved the plans.
Several environmental groups have been critical of the revisions. The Adirondack Council filed comments saying there are numerous flaws in the UMP’s that violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.
Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer says the APA approval was controversial because of an abbreviated review. “While there certainly was adequate time for the public to review these plans the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency took short cuts in how they did their review of these Unit Management Plan amendments and the public did not get the benefit of some of the documentation that the agencies are supposed to prepare and make public. So all of that was consolidated into a very rapid fire and we think inadequate public hearing and review process.”
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve Managing Partner David Gibson says the agencies took only 45 days to approve what he calls the first significant amendment of the High Peaks plan in 20 years. “They should have taken more time to determine compliance and to determine if the natural resources could withstand the expected increase in public use which is really what the priority of the Master Plan is and unfortunately the department put recreational access ahead of natural resource protection.”
Gibson adds that the amendments do offer some progress as the state Department of Environmental Conservation commits to study, monitor and assess public use of the lands. His partner at Adirondack Wild Dan Plumley is guarded about trusting the two agencies. “We’re extending our trust. We’re giving them a chance. Their UMP’s were somewhat deficient but they did offer a ray of hope in recognizing the need for what’s called Wildlands Monitoring Plans and proof of permits and use of controls, at least for the Boreas which we feel is necessary, and maybe a model for the future for the eastern High Peaks.”
Following the Park Agency’s vote to approve the management plans, Commissioner Chad Dawson acknowledged that not everyone would be happy. “My sense is that though not everyone’s going to be wildly enthusiastic about what we just did I hope it’s a step to move through these UMP’s to a larger process across the Park to do monitoring at a larger scale, to think more broadly about it as opposed to just units, thinking about how it all fits together.”
The Adirondack Park Agency has begun taking public comments on an Adirondack Park Generic Travel Corridor and also for a proposed amendment to the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex Unit Management Plans.