Press-Republican

Local News

July 29, 2010

APA finds four options for fire towers

RAY BROOK — Staff planners at the Adirondack Park Agency have spelled out four options for fire towers on Hurricane and St. Regis mountains.

The first option reclassifies land under the towers as Historic Areas, allowing them to stay in place and be restored.

The second would revise the State Land Master Plan to allow a fire tower in the St. Regis Canoe Area, permitting the structure to be restored.

The third would revise the Master Plan to allow fire towers in Primitive Areas without restoring them.

The fourth choice — an option to "do nothing" — allows the Department of Environmental Conservation to take the fire towers down.

MORE HEARINGS

The fire towers were tagged for removal by DEC, a possibility that drew large public outcry at management-plan hearings this spring.

APA spokesman Keith McKeever said their Draft Environmental Impact Statement, indicating possible changes to the State Land Master Plan, now enters a similar public-comment period.

"We will hold three public hearings, and then we'll review all of the public comments, summarize them and bring a staff recommendation to the commissioners."

The final recommendation would be brought to the APA Board meeting in September at the earliest, but more likely in October.

PROTECTION

"Some of the alternatives proposed would make amendments to guidelines in the State Land Master Plan for canoe areas and primitive areas," McKeever said.

The Master Plan is the benchmark for APA decisions.

"The underlying principle of the State Land Master Plan and its protection of natural resources is paramount," McKeever said.

"Several decisions made by the Attorney General's Office in previous cases on the Forest Preserve indicate, regardless of human advancement and recreational pursuit, protection of the Forest Preserve needs to be a priority."

FIFTH OPTION REJECTED

APA Environmental Planner James Connolly wrote the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which says a fifth alternative considered designating fire towers as a conforming use in Wilderness.

"However, no fire towers exist on state lands classified as Wilderness within the Adirondack Park. No revisions to existing Wilderness guidelines are therefore being proposed or evaluated as part of this action."

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