Press-Republican

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April 12, 2013

Court approves move to sue DEC, APA

RAY BROOK — Environmentalists are pursuing litigation to stop snowmobile-trail grooming on connector trails in the Adirondacks.

Protect the Adirondacks, based in Lake George, gained approval from the Appellate Division to file a lawsuit in a lower court.

Protect Executive Director Peter Bauer said the “lawsuit is narrowly constructed (and) does not challenge snowmobiling or motor-vehicle use in the Forest Preserve or use of large groomers on roads.”

“This lawsuit focuses on how the APA (Adirondack Park Agency) and DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) manage and groom snowmobile trails on the Forest Preserve.”

CLEARING

The lawsuit also contends that 12-foot-wide community connector trails built in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest violate the Forever Wild clause of the State Constitution by “widening, clearing, grading, flattening, tree removal, rock removal, destruction of bedrock, bench cutting, use of gravel and bridge building,” according to materials provided by Protect.

In related documents, Protect alleges that DEC cut “more than 2,200 trees over the 11.9 miles of the new Class II community connector snowmobile trail” and that such cutting “exceeds permissible limits.”

Protect also says state law allows only “snowmobiles on a designated snowmobile trail,” challenging the use of groomers on connector trails.

CONNECTOR TRAILS

Beyond Moose River, connector trails are being built in the Wilmington and Jessup River Wild Forest areas as part of planning process that endured a decade of discussion.

They are meant to provide snowmobilers with maintained routes between towns and villages in the park.

But Protect asserts that, as they are being built, connector trails require clear-cutting some 50 acres of State Forest preserve, estimating more than 8,000 trees will be removed in the process.

WINDING, NARROW

Dominic Jacangelo, executive director of the New York State Snowmobile Association, said their group has no immediate plan to engage the court proceeding.

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