Promoting Sustainability of Ownership and Stewardship of Private Lands in the Adirondacks Since 1990.
The Adirondack Landowners Association is focused on the unique responsibilities, challenges and opportunities of owning private land in a region that in both principle and practice is a park. Learn more. Consider joining today.
The Wheels of Government Move Slowly, But They do Move.
By Ross Whaley, Senior Advisor to the ALA
We have now caught our breath since the final marathon that ended the 2016 legislative session in June. The Adirondack Landowners Association had two wins, one loss, an unexpected surprise and a big disappointment.
The first win was the State budget included a substantial increase in the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Of the $300 million that was appropriated to the EPF for the 2016-17 fiscal year, $12.8 million will be dedicated to prevention and treatment of invasive species. This has been center stage for ALA since Tom Williams has been President.
The second win was in the waning hours of the legislative session. It was a bill for a constitutional amendment that would expedite expansion of broadband if it were necessary to cross the Forest Preserve along roadways for short distances, and would create a 500 acre land bank in the Adirondacks for community water projects or roads, bridges and culverts aimed at reducing flood damage or other safety concerns. In no instance would the Forest Preserve be used if there was a feasible alternative. For those projects when the land bank would be needed, the applicant would have to pay for the land and the money would be deposited in a fund to purchase additions to the Forest Preserve. There are serious limits on the land bank--no project could use more than 5 acres, no town could use more than 10 acres and no county more than 15 acres. This is too brief a description of the details in the proposed amendment, and a separate bill with implementing language will have to wait until the next legislative session. Prior to passage of the amendment bill, there were six meetings which resulted in what appeared to be a consensusbetween environmental groups, land owners, and local government officials from both the Adirondacks and Catskills. Subsequently there were “end-runs” to undo the agreement. A compromise proposed by Senator Little carried the day, but the final version only allowed a 250 acre land bank. There are more details regarding implementation to be resolved in the future.
The surprise was a last minute bill in the Assembly to change the APA law to require “Conservation-Design” considerations on subdivision plans. This idea has merit, but the bill was not well thought out, hasty and a surprise to almost everyone. It did not pass, and we will be watching for another bill during next years legislative session.
The disappointment was that we expected legislation to revise Real Property Tax Law 480-a which offers a property tax break for managed forests. The revision would have given an added benefit for forest practices that were third part certified as best practices, would expand eligibility to forest management for environmental purposes such as watershed protection or wild habitat improvement, would streamline the administrative hurdles and would eliminate the stumpage tax that must be paid under the current 480-a tax law. As of last December, we were confident that the proposed revision would be part of the Governor’s State of the State and budget messages. That did not occur, but ALA along with many others will be working toward passage of a bill in 2017.
Since the end of the legislative session there were a couple of other activities of interestto ALA members. The state finished its purchase of Finch Paper lands that were destined for the Forest Preserve when the Governor announced the state’s acquisition of the Boreas Pond tract. The next step will be classification of these lands which is anticipated by the end of this year.
Several ALA members participated in this years Common Ground Alliance Forum held in July. The topics at the forum ranged from leveraging changing demographics, to APA reforms, climate change, encouraging economic investment, health and wellness in the Park, community distributed power, to women in leadership positions. The next step will be distilling the rich discussions into legislative and executive branch actions that will be captured in a document called a Blue Print for the Blue Line.
The ALA Mourns the Loss of Norma Wickersham
The ALA sadly lost another member recently, Norma Wickersham. Norma's passing comes about 2 years after that of her late husband, Ted. Norma and Ted were both extremely active participants in ALA meetings and events. She was a soft spoken lady who truly enjoyed time with her family and friends at their special place, The Northwoods Club. Norma will be remembered for her great smile and willingness to help protect and preserve the Adirondacks. Click to read her obituary.
From the ALA President,
As I write this it seems more like August than October...but, no complaints, I know what is coming soon! The ALA is gearing up for our annual winter meeting to be held December 2 & 3 at the Adirondack League Club in Old Forge.
Following a successful spring meeting the ALA board has been busy on a number of items including; working to expand our leadership role in the fight against invasive species, trying to move forward legislation to revise the forestry tax law [480a] and as always we work on adding new members and promoting the good work done by private landowners in the Adirondacks.
Our Senior Advisor, Ross Whaley, attends a variety of meeting representing the interests of the ALA. This summer I had the opportunity to join Ross at the Adirondack Lakes Alliance Symposium held at Paul Smith's. The efforts of the 'other ALA' have a gained great recognition by everyone across the Adirondacks...we are pleased to be presenting them our Stewardship Award.
New York State recently completed the last purchase of the former Finch lands owned by the Nature Conservancy. One of the featured parts of this is the Boreas Ponds Tract located primarily in the town of North Hudson. Public hearings will soon begin regarding the classification of this property. The APA is responsible for the classification process and that is followed by the Unit Management Plan thru the DEC. As usual in the Adirondacks there are a wide range of views and thoughts on how these newly acquired lands should be classified and managed. Folks representing the interests of local government have formed a new organization called Access the Adirondacks to help promote their vision for these lands. There are also a number of the leading environmental groups offering their ideas on how to best preserve and utilize the property. There will be a series of public hearing and a dedicated comment period...so if this issue is of interest, I encourage you to attend a meeting or write a letter.
I would ask that all ALA members make an effort to attend the winter meeting and be part of the fun and education that this event will provide.
Hope to see you in Old Forge.
ALA Winter Membership Meeting to be held December 2-3, 2016 at the Adirondack League Club in Old Forge.
On December 2nd and 3rd we will once again be holding our winter meeting at the Adirondack League Club in Old Forge. This meeting is always a favorite among our members and sort of acts as ‘kick-off’ for the holiday season. The meetingis an opportunity to get an update on Adirondack Park issues, give your input on how ALA can best serve its members, learn from invited speakers and enjoy good food, a delightful location and camaraderie with friends, ALA members and government officials.
This year ALA will be presenting its Stewardship Award to The Adirondack Lakes Alliance for their outstanding stewardship efforts to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Of course, something would be missing if the winter meeting didn’t have our annual auction. This is always fun, is a great opportunity to purchase a Christmas gift for someone special and to raise money which goes toward improving the effectiveness of the Adirondack Landowners Association.
We plan to have some special guest speakers at the meeting….additional information will be posted very soon.
Every year one or more attendees at the winter meeting will claim “this has been the best one ever”. This sets a high bar, but we are working toward making this the best winter meeting ever.
We hope to see everyone in Old Forge.
Here are some photos from our Fall 2015 meeting at Minnowbrook: