New round of papers filed in major Forever Wild lawsuit that will shape the future of the Forest Preserve

November 8, 2016

Protect the Adirondacks recently filed a new round of legal papers in our lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the construction of 9-12 foot wide class II community connector snowmobile trails across the Adirondack Forest Preserve. For many reasons, PROTECT saw these trails as violating Article 14, Section 1, the “forever wild” provision of the State Constitution, due to the vast number of trees being cut and the immense alteration of the Forest Preserve to build these road-like trails. This lawsuit was started in 2013.

To date, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have completed, started or planned over 36.5 miles of these road-like trails resulting in clearing of between 40-53 acres of forest lands and the destruction of over 31,000 trees. The state has cut down over 15,000 trees so far during construction of the trails.

class-ii-trail-2
class-ii-trail-3
Three pictures of recently constructed and damaging class II community connector snowmobile trail built from the Santanoni Historic Area to the Harris Lake Intensive Use Area. All pictures show portions of the trail much wider than the 9-12 feet allowable.  These trails often see cutting down of over 1,000 trees per mile and extensive grading with heavy machinery to flatten the trail surface area into a road-like corridor.Three pictures of recently constructed and damaging class II community connector snowmobile trail built from the Santanoni Historic Area to the Harris Lake Intensive Use Area. All pictures show portions of the trail much wider than the 9-12 feet allowable. These trails often see cutting down of over 1,000 trees per mile and extensive grading with heavy machinery to flatten the trail surface area into a road-like corridor.
 
Click here to read about PROTECT’s legal successes to win a temporary injunction that forced the state to stop cutting trees on the Forest Preserve for much of the summer. Trail construction and tree cutting is currently suspended. A decision on a permanent injunction will be determined sometime this winter.

Click here and here to read about how the Forest Preserve is harmed during construction of road-like class II community connector snowmobile trails.

On August 31, 2016, Protect the Adirondacks and the State of New York submitted filings for Motions for Summary Judgment in State Supreme Court in Albany. These papers enumerate the positions of each side on the constitutionality of the state’s network of class II community connector snowmobile trails and their impacts on the Forest Preserve.

In early November, both sides submitted their “Replies” to the October filings. Below are the second round of filings on behalf of Protect the Adirondacks:

John Caffry, Caffry & Flower Law Office, Answering Affidavit
Philip Terrie, PhD, historian, Answering Affidavit
Steve Signell, forest ecologist, Answering Affidavit
Signell Exhibits
Peter Bauer, Protect the Adirondacks, Answering Affidavit
Bauer Exhibits
William Amadon, Trails Specialst, Affidavit
Amadon Exhibits
Ron Sutherland, PhD, Forest Ecologist, Affidavit
Sutherland Exhibits
Robert Glennon, Attorney, Affirmation

Here are the filings on behalf of the State of New York:

Loretta Simon, NYS Office of Attorney General, Memorandum of Law
Loretta Simon, NYS Office of Attorney General, Affirmation
Josh Clague, NYSDEC, Answering Affidavit
Tate Connor, NYSDEC, Answering Affidavit
Rob Ripp, NYSDEC, Affidavit
Timothy Howard, PhD, NYSDEC, Answering Affidavit
Maxwell Wolkenhauer, NYSDEC, Answering Affidavit

Both sides will submit “Answers” in late November. Oral arguments are scheduled for December.

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