Vice-Chair, Conservation: Gene Kaczka
Recently, local environmental concerns have been focused on the Raquette Boreal area and the DEC's draft Unit Management Plan, which includes the Raquette River Wild Forest and the Raquette Jordan Boreal Primitive Area. At the public hearing held by the DEC in Colton on September 28, John Omohundro, Mark Simon and I voiced concerns about the environmental damage that would be caused to the primitive area if motorized traffic gain increased access via the proposed Colton bridge. The later project is being enthusiastically supported by ATVers, snowmobilers, and several local politicians.
Contrary to previous hearings I have attended, those speaking with environmental concerns outnumbered advocates of motorized access by 12 to 6. Several, including current camp owners from the Jordan River Club, cited significant environmental damage and abusive behavior despite the fact that ATV access is currently very limited.
ADK's Conservation and Legislative office submitted extensive comments on the Draft UMP to the DEC. A key portion of ADK's argument is that "the majority of DEC's proposed alternatives for a community connector snowmobile route through the unit would involve the construction of a bridge across the Raquette River south of the Carry Falls Reservoir. If built, the bridge would provide a means for snowmobile and ATV riders to gain access the Raquette River Wild Forest along the Lassiter Main Haul Road, which borders the Raquette Jordan Primitive Area. Currently, DEC does not even have access rights to complete the bridge and the associated connection routes." ADK also argued that "DEC could not choose a preferred alternative without a complete environmental analysis of the impacts of such connector trails on the ecologically sensitive Raquette Boreal area."
The latest report is that the DEC has revised the UMP to state that no alternatives will be considered at this time except the "no action" alternative advocated by the ADK. If the DEC gains access rights to complete snowmobile and motor vehicle connection routes it will need to go through a formal UMP amendment process with public review. So a conservation Christmas present has been delivered. Thanks to the several Chapter members who submitted letters to the DEC expressing concerns about the Draft UMP. Chapter input is valued as community concerns are an important factor in DEC's considerations. Your input is a key part of our collaboration with the Club's conservation efforts.
On the national scale, attention is being directed to the Supreme Court's consideration of the EPA's actions in enforcing The Clean Air Act. While major attention is focused on the regulation of green house gases and global warming, ADK has been involved in submitting a "friends of the court brief" relating to the New Source Review requirements of the Clean Air Act. Power plants that were grandfathered from the Act were required to install modern pollution control devices when major modifications were made to those power plants. Plants have made significant modifications which they argue were legal (not major). The Supreme Court's decision will have significant impact on New York and other Northeastern states air quality as we are receiving increased output from newly refurbished power plants operating without pollution controls.