by Mart Allen

FORESTRY PROGRAM GONE AWRY INVOLVED SOME WITH NO CHOICE

December 4, 2001

 

This is the last of a series of sad commentaries on a forestry program gone awry. The depressing aspect of the whole glitch is that it did not have to happen.

It, like most enterprises that are plagued with problems, starts and begins with people who do not do their jobs. In this case, it was a whole series of people in a chain that eventually involved four entities. It was the classic tangled web that, unlike a paper trail, is difficult to erase and whose effects can haunt one for years.

The case of the Adirondack League Club it started years ago and culminated in the focus of this series of articles. Maintaining water quality is the most basic and important aspect of any timber harvesting operation. This is true in every case and in particular with an organization whose whole reason for being is water quality and the environment. When this mien is ignored on a regular basis it's a good indication that the rest of the program is in disarray.

Those who have been following this series will recall that early on in the first article I reported "to receive unsolicited complaints periodically from individuals mostly long-time forestry associates. Many of the complaints concerned repeated questionable timber harvesting practices being carried out on Club lands." The logging community is not that large and it does not take long to establish a reputation which in the case of the Club, piqued my interest.

I did not have to look hard or long to confirm that the rumors were true or that my concerns were being discounted or ignored. I gave up trying until the total degration on the West Canada Creek. I soon learned that even my efforts in that regard were not only unappreciated, but were used to further depreciate my own reputation.

A skid trail located directly on the shore of Sand Lake and used during the winters of '93, '94, and '95-'96 was the beginning of a series of bad examples. In the winter of '95-'96 a skidder was used to cross the auxiliary outlet to Woodhull Lake to skid a few trees between it and the main outlet. No stream crossing permits were displayed at either of the locations.

The gaffe that really defines the tone and attitude the ALC management has displayed in the face of damning evidence reared its ugly head once more on Shanty Brook. Shanty Brook is a spring-fed stream located southwest of Green Lake in the heart of the Club. In the winter of '99-'00, an undocumented, no permit, skid trail was made across it one quarter mile above where it enters the South Branch of the Moose River. A check with both local rangers confirmed my suspicions that no permits were asked for.

Beginning with the 1995 forestry reports to the membership, they have been replete with inaccuracies and downright fabrications. They range from misrepresenting reasons why various logging contractors severed relations to how past operations were conducted poorly. I do not know how many times I have read that "all cuts are now on marked trees". This is contrary to fact and one of the easiest things to verify. None of the trees harvested, as far as I could determine, on the West Canada sale, or any other in the Honnedaga area, were marked.

Contrast this to the mandate by the APA on the YMCA edicts issued nine days after the edict of non-jurisdiction was given to the ALC. When incompetence is coupled with misinformation you really do have a system in shambles. It's a perception I have of a system I feel I left intact and in compliance with the "Sustainable Forestry Initiative" which all forest land owners should subscribe to.

In conclusion, I apologize to all those who through circumstance had a role, but no responsibility or control of the actions I have outlined. They include the field personnel in both the APA and DEC and in particular, the Rangers and EnCon officers. I know first-hand of the compromises they have to make

Next are the loggers who take their direction and others from professional foresters if they want to keep working. They many times are the first to blow the whistle when they see inappropriate operations that give the whole industry a black eye.

Finally and most importantly, a special apology to my friends (if I have any remaining) at the Adirondack League Club. I truly hope you can understand why I felt compelled to take this action. First of all, I believe we have been betrayed. Our property and its resources are not being managed in a manner consistent with objects as outlined under our Club constitution.

You bestowed upon me the greatest honor in my life by making me a Life Member. In spite of this, management has never tendered me the respect or consideration due all members. I feel this is a further betrayal of your original intentions and wishes, which I am sure you meant to be included in the gesture.

Finally, after over 40 years of working in my profession I cannot ignore something as far out in left field as the practices I have observed.

And a "first" word: This and the preceding four columns are the start of a campaign to "Take Back America!"

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