Conservation Archive

Conservation Report

April, 2011

Vice-Chair, Conservation: Peter O'Shea, 315-848-2178

  1. The Adirondack Club and Resort A public hearing is set for March 16th with full hearing to start in April and continue until completion probably in May or June. The environmental groups are set to present expert witnesses in various fields at considerable personal expense. Included among the groups sponsoring witnesses are the Adirondack Council, Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild. The developer and other groups are at present waging a campaign of personal vilification against the environmental groups and all other opponents of the project. The implications of this project are enormous, because it may make a precedent for future development in the Adirondack Park. Our support during the hearings will be important.

  2. Finch-Pruyn and Follensby lands A partial success has been achieved here with New York State purchasing a conservation easement on 89,000 acres of the former Finch-Pruyn lands which includes the granting of some new recreation rights for the public. The remaining 65,000 acres which is to be conveyed to the Forest Preserve is meeting with a concerted opposition from the usual anti-environment groups, some of whom have vested interests here. Our support here in the coming months will also be vital.

  3. Proposed State Constitutional Convention A new convention has the potential to be used by foes of the environment to attempt to seriously weaken the Adirondack Park and the Forest Preserve (which was established by another Constitutional Convention in 1894). Vigilance is called for, if the convention does come to fruition, to ensure that no damage occurs to the park or the Forest Preserve.

  4. Conservation Easement Lands Some of these lands in our region in which New York State paid for explicit recreation rights have still not been opened to public access. Included here among others is public access to the Raquette River in the Sevey’s tract and access to the North Branch of the Grasse River in the former John Hancock parcel. DEC is understaffed and under-funded locally but generally there is no excuse for the public still being excluded from lands purchased at public expense three years after the purchase.

  5. Eastern Cougar The catamount or mountain lion has been declared officially extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which proclaims that the cougars present locally are escaped pets and wanderers from western populations. There have undoubtedly been escapes and wanderers here, but the Adirondacks in particular have experienced many sightings of these elusive felines since early in the 20th century. There probably has been an intermingling of all three gene pools, so the animals being seen locally are carrying some of the DNA of the original population. It is imperative that they be protected for this reason and for being an integral component of the Adirondack ecosystem.

    There are two options for protection: 1. A state law signed into existence in the 1980s that protects all sub-species of cougar in New York state. This law should be retained and implemented to the fullest. 2. The cougar might also be placed in the same category as the moose: currently protected as “a game species with no open season.” This declaration appears to be working, because our moose population is increasing and expanding its range. Both of the above options may be necessary.