by Mart Allen

APA RECORD ON ENFORCEMENT LEAVES PLENTY TO BE DESIRED

November 27, 2001

 

This is the fourth in a series of columns on what I believe are illegal skidder crossings on the West Canada Creek. I maintain they were illegal for several reasons.

First they required a permit from both the APA and DEC. This has been the case for the past 27 years. The applicant, Adirondack League Club (ALC) did not apply for a permit from the APA until eleven months after using one of two crossings. They did so only after repeated warnings from myself that they were required to do so.

Second, after filing for one after the fact, the ALC, on October 4, 1999, was informed by William J. Curran, Director of Regulatory Programs, that in their case it "non-jurisdictional" from the APA's standpoint. This determination was made well after the APA was made aware in a written complaint, with photos, that a crossing had been made months prior. The APA had two options: fine the ALC and order the site restored to its original pristine condition or weasel out by disclaiming any jurisdiction. In my humble opinion their actions were a clear and distinct violation of restrictions they were directed to comply with in the edict of October 4, 1999 from the APA as follows:

"No timber harvesting activities are proposed to take place within 100 feet of the river." The landing for the timber occupied the entire 100 feet of riverbank as well as extending into the stream itself. Logs, sawdust and oil eroded into the river from the landing, which was located on a 10 percent slope to the stream.

"The bridge will be constructed and used in the winter. The skid trail and approaches to the bridge will be frozen at the time of use." The bridge and work were started the last weeks of October and early November, long before frozen conditions prevailed. In addition, a second crossing was established some 60 to 70 feet below the first, not covered by any permit and obviously used without benefit of the aforementioned bridge.

Nine days after issuing his edict to the ALC,, the same William J. Curran issued a permit to the YMCA Association of Rochester and Monroe County for a skidder crossing on the North Branch of the Moose River. The YMCA was a client on whose behalf I was acting for a timber sale on its property at Dart's Lake. We were put through the hoops and expense of obtaining the permit for which the APA has become infamous.

For the layman to more fully understand the situation, a comparison should be made bearing in mind they are identical in every respect with one exception. The ALC applied for its permit after the fact.

Begin the comparison by referring to the first column in this series on November 6 to see how the APA went out of its way to define its jurisdiction in the YMCA permit. None of the language used appears in the ALC edict.

The following are conditions contained in both applications and those involved in the YMCA's are conspicuous by their absence in the ALC's. Note how the conditions were treated by the respective applicant' representatives. "No timber harvesting activities shall take place within 100 feet of the river."

YMCA: None occurred whatsoever.

ALC: A log landing occupied the entire 100 feet of the adjacent riverbank and extended out into the water as well.

'The proposed timber harvesting on the project site will be supervised by the applicant's forester and all trees to be harvested will be marked by the forester. Except for the cutting authorized herein for the river crossing, no timber harvesting activities will occur within 100 feet of the mean high water mark of the North Branch of the Moose River and Dark Lake and logging equipment is to be stored more than 100 feet from the river. The logging operation is to be completed in the Winter of 1999 before spring runoff. All timber harvesting is to conform to recognized silvicultural systems as defined in Terminology of Forest Science Technology, Practice and Products (Washington: Society of American Foresters, 1971)."

YMCA: All above conditions were met and adhered to.

ALC: Little or none of the above was contained or mentioned I n the APA directive. None of the harvested timber was marked.

"The Adirondack Park Agency notified all adjoining landowners and those parties as statutorily required by S809 of the Adirondack Park Agency Act and published a Notice of Complete Permit Application in the Environmental Notice Bulletin. No comments have been received."

YMCA: Included in their permit.

In addition to the above, the YMCA crossing site was visited twice by the APA representative. To the best of my knowledge and belief, the APA before or after the fact has never visited the ALC site.

In the transgressor had been some poor small hard-to-keep-his-head-above-water logger, they would have been all over them like a cheap suit. Their reaction has been typical and consistent since its beginnings and cause for many Adirondack residents to view the APA as the foremost "criminals" in the Adirondacks. What else would you call an agency that refuses to enforce its own regulations and mandates? One that tramples citizens civil and constitutional rights with impunity? If the Attorney General's Office refuses to question the APA's actions, who then? The Office of the Inspector General perhaps? Now, what's the old saying "You can't fight city hall". As far as the ALC is concerned you who may have been following this scenario will recall early on in the first column, I began personally checking some of the logging operations. I soon determined they reflected none of the good stewardship pronouncements emanating from the numerous ALC self-eulogizing missives disseminated from management.

Unfortunately, to date, only one member of the Board of Trustees or officers serving in 1999 and 2000 when much of this problem came to light has shown any inclination to learn the truth of the matter. Some of the old guard have moved on and who knows, there may yet be someone truly interested in seeing that the Constitution and Bylaws of what I once left the best job in the State to serve, will rise up to regain the ground they have lost.

In the final installment of this series next week, I will report on some of the other gaffs in what has been reported to be the membership as a "forestry program which is serving the club and its membership very well".

At the same time, I will explain that not all members of the four entities embroiled in this fiasco are at fault and should be exonerated from having any responsibility or played any part.

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