Clear-cutting permit highlights APA agenda

RAY BROOK – The state Adirondack Park Agency is scheduled to vote this week on a controversial proposal that would streamline the review of clear-cutting proposals for landowners involved in forestry certification programs.

The agency’s Regulatory Programs Committee is scheduled to consider General Permit 2012G-1, titled Silvicultural Treatments for Sustainable Forestry in the Adirondack Park, at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The APA has argued the general permit would improve the health of the Park’s forests by incentivizing landowners to adopt sustainable forestry practices.

An earlier version of the general permit drew sharp criticism, especially from environmentalists. Protect the Adirondacks said it would “likely lead to a new era of clear-cutting in the Adirondack Park” while the Adirondack Council said it’s possible that “hundreds, or even thousands, of acres could be cut bare without public notice or participation.”

In late January, the APA held a meeting with timber companies and environmental organizations. It has since modified part of its proposal, but the Council says the plan is still badly flawed.

“For example, the APA offered no evidence to back its assertion that this would encourage landowners to seek permits or enroll their lands in green-certification programs,” Diane Fish, the group’s acting executive director, said in a press release. “Many landowners say they can’t afford those. While there is a new, three-year time limit proposed on the life of each permit, there are no criteria for judging whether a permit caused ecological damage. The time limit serves no purpose if the results are not tested.”

Fish also said the permit would curtail public notice and participation “so severely that each is effectively eliminated.”

Others have argued in support of the permit.

“The problem with the current permit process is that it is lengthy; the one permit the APA issued took 14 months,” Cadyville resident Gerald Delaney wrote in a letter to the editor of the Enterprise, which was published Monday. “The APA is not abandoning its responsibilities, as some groups have claimed. It is trying to streamline its processes.”

Among other business to come before the agency Thursday, APA Executive Director Terry Martino will deliver her monthly report at 9 a.m. and present the board with the agency’s 2012 annual report.

In addition to the proposed general permit, the Regulatory Programs Committee will also discuss the creation of a waste disposal area in the town of St. Armand. Roughly 650 cubic yards of waste, generated by the demolition of the town’s municipal garage, would be disposed of on a 25.3-acre parcel of private land off Roosevelt Road.

At 1 p.m., Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau will deliver a Community Spotlight presentation on his village.

At 2 p.m., the Economic Committee will hear an informational presentation on wood pellet boiler heating systems. Saranac Lake Central School District Assistant Superintendent of Business Dan Bower and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Lee Daunais will discuss the replacement of Petrova Elementary School’s fuel oil heating system with a high-efficiency wood pellet boiler. ACT Bioenergy President Dave Dungate, whose company installed the system, will overview its wood pellet boiler systems and discuss the market for this product.

At 3:15, the State Land Committee will hear a presentation on Alpine Zone Vegetation in the Adirondack Park.

At 4 p.m., the full agency board will assemble to take action as necessary.

The meeting will be webcast live at Meeting materials are also available for download from the agency’s website.