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 ALA Remembers Thad Collum
2016 was a tough year for the ALA as we lost a number of great folks. Most recently, long time League Club member, Thad Collum. Thad and his wife Barbara have been great supporters of the ALA for many years. Thad loved the meetings and the opportunity to tell a few jokes. He was an avid fisherman who enjoyed making his own flies. He also was generous of his time to support a number of Wounded Warrior events that were hosted at the League Club. He and Barbara warmly welcomed the soldiers into their home with classic Adirondack hospitality. His contribution and dedication to the Adirondack Park will be missed by all who love this special place. Click here to read his obituary.
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.
2016 ALA Winter Meeting Report
The Adirondack Landowners Association held their winter meeting recently at the Adirondack League Club. As usual, we had some winter weather…a little snow…a little ice…but that’s what you get in Old Forge in December. The cold weather didn’t stop us from having a great event that was enjoyed by our members and special guests.
Friday afternoon featured a tour of the Cornell Research Facility which is located at Little Moose Lake. Participants learned about the 60 plus year history of cold water fisheries research that has been done by Cornell in partnership with a number of ALA members, most notably the Adirondack League Club.
Friday evening was a busy time…we held our annual auction event where folks could bid on a wide variety of Adirondack items and other interesting gifts. We had a nice social hour followed by dinner and then a presentation of the ALA Stewardship Award. This year’s recipient was the Adirondack Lakes Alliance…the ‘other ALA’ was represented by Ed Griesmer and Jane Smith. This relatively new group on the Adirondack scene has been a real leader in the fight against aquatic invasive species. They have a broad base of supporters and members all across the Adirondack Park and do excellent work.
We had a number of special guest including NYS Senator Betty Little, APA Chairman Sherman Craig, DEC Region #5 Director, Bob Stegemann, and Reg #6 Director, Judy Drabicki, NYS Assemblyman Dan Stec , Deputy Executive DEC Commissioner Ken Lynch and Fred Monroe, Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board.
Our Saturday morning meeting featured a discussion panel which included Ken Lynch, Sherman Craig, Fred Monroe and Dan Stec. ALA members interacted with the panel on important issue related to private stewardship in the Adirondacks. This was followed by the membership business portion of our meeting and a delicious lunch.
The ALA spring meeting will be held the first weekend in May, at Minnowbrook Conference Center in Blue Mt. Lake. Check back for more information.
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.