Conservation Archive gene

Conservation Report

April, 2007

Vice-Chair, Conservation: Gene Kaczka

The North Country Scenic Trail was authorized by Congress in 1980. Its development is a partnership of volunteer organizations and government agencies. When complete the trail will cross seven states and - at 4,600 miles - be the longest of eight national scenic trails. It will wind its way from North Dakota in the west to the eastern boundary of New York. There are 260 miles ready to hike in New York's trail segment, with 365 miles left to complete (mostly, the northeastern part of the trail that crosses a portion of the Adirondack Park).

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the North Country National Scenic Trail Draft Adirondack Park Trail Plan and Generic Environmental Impact Statement and is seeking public input on this plan.

The North Country National Scenic Trail Association and ADK would like to see the North Country National Scenic Trail integrated into the Adirondack Park. Both organizations support the central route (approximately 140 miles) that has been proposed within the DEC plan, because less trail construction is required by the central route than the northern and southern route alternatives. The action alert issued by ADK notes that this central route follows approximately 70 miles of existing foot trail in the park. Approximately 47 miles of new trail construction will still be required to complete the central route. Another 27 miles of temporary connectors will be used initially to link sections of the route. The DEC's draft plan can be viewed at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/39658.html.

Hearings were held on December 5, 6, and 7 in Warrensburg, Boonville, and Albany, respectively. ADK's action alert encourages supportive comments on this plan and encourages its implementation. Please send your written comments by January 4, 2008 to:

Peter Frank, Bureau Chief
NYSDEC
Bureau of Forest Preserve Management
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4254

Or e-mail them to: lfadk@gw.dec.state.ny.us with a copy to marisatedesco@nycap.rr.com.

Points you might make in a letter include:

  • Support for the central route through the Adirondack Park.
  • It has been determined to be the best overall route for the trail across the park and requires the least amount of new trail construction of all identified and viable trail alternatives.
  • This proposed route will intersect 9 units of public land in the Adirondacks and should be integrated into those unit management plans as appropriate.
  • The proposed central route identified in this plan is a route befitting a congressionally-designated national scenic trail and invites the hiker to experience the spectacular central region of the Adirondack Park.

Hearings on the relicensing of the dams on the Oswegatchie continue; Bob Wakefield plans to continue attending. Unfortunately, he will miss the presence of a powerful and knowledgeable voice in the area of waterway regulation and protection. Betty Lou Bailey, who was recently presented with ADK's Conservation Award, and who has played an invaluable role in guiding conservation efforts to protect public access to waterways in the Adirondack region, passed away in November. Betty Lou was a key worker, for example, in the Raquette River settlement that improved recreation from Carry Falls to the St. Lawrence River. She is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed.

Most chapter members who attended our annual meeting in November learned of the proposed Bion project for the first time. In the interim there have been several reports in the local news. The project seeks to create an 84,000-head cattle feedlot and ethanol production facility somewhere in St. Lawrence County. The lure of the project includes jobs and tax revenues. The proposed number of cattle will be divided among six farms with 16,000 head each. The total number of animals is more than double the number presently in the county and proposed farms dwarf any existing farm.

The ramifications of the project promise to be quite large for agriculture, economy and environment, tourism, and the quality of life. The amount of energy to be generated is in question. From an economic point of view, government subsidies and stable corn and petroleum prices appear to be assumed in the plan. There are questions also regarding the impacts of moving cattle and feed in and out of the county and there are comparisons with the impact that industrial pig farms had on the surrounding regions in the Carolinas.

Given the limited detail available on this untested process, the potential impacts, and the many uncertainties for our region, it only prudent that we urge careful study and analysis by our legislators and fellow citizens before any further action is taken on the Bion project.