Better ways to manage state forests

I have seen articles expressing the lack of analysis or study of the impact that development in the Adirondacks will have on wild animals. I have been interested in the proper propagation of wildlife since I was a young boy.

I grew up on a small farm in Tupper Lake with European grandparents and their daughter, my mother. We raised vegetables for the community and sold our milk to the local dairy. I fished, hunted and trapped whenever I had completed my chores. Later, I made my career building roads and bridges throughout northern New York and eventually was involved in a trappers’ group and even trading furs. I would meet thousands of sportsmen every year from all facets of life. I was active in the local rod and gun club.

I honestly believe the greatest environmentalists are the sportsmen and -women. These are the people who want to see wildlife flourish, both to support their activities and to enjoy seeing the activity of the wildlife. In the winter, spring and summer, these same sportspeople enjoy watching the trails and animals as they raise their young and expand into the forests and waterways. In the fall, my grandparents were always proud when I brought home some game for the table.

My experiences with the trappers taught me of many of the secrets for the best propagation of these animals. If the animal was a predator, then it was more important to understand if there were sufficient rodents for the predators to survive on. The same was true for migratory birds. They need healthy waterways and swamps. These swamps produced small fish, frogs, clams and bugs for herons and larger fish. The same locations provided roots, swamp grass and other foods for the ducks and geese and muskrats. I could go on and on; however, the important issue is, without the best propagation of the environment, there could not be continuing expanses for the volumes of wildlife.

It is essential for some controlled activity to abound in the woods, streams, lakes and swamps for wildlife to survive and abound. In the forever-wild lands, the trees get so large that they form an umbrella to the ground, preventing sun and rain from growing the vegetation that is necessary for the smaller animals to live on. The grass and vegetation provides food for the deer and shelter for the fawns. There is no place for frogs and insects to live. Without insects, the songbirds have no food. There is no protection in these areas to prevent runoff from severe rains. Larger predators like the coyote can run fast under these forever-wild umbrellas and wipe out the fawns, deer and small game. What do I suggest should be done?

I believe that the New York state forest lands are not at all properly managed. I would like to see the ranger forces doubled and tripled. These men and women are trained to manage the forests. Programs for selective cutting can be managed whereby appropriate percentages of wood lands can be harvested for the good of the state. These monies can go to reduce the cost of government. They will more than cover additional costs for management. The selective cutting will open the grounds to sunshine and vegetative growth. Dirt roads will be built that will allow access to areas in case of severe forest fires. Just look at the thousands of square miles of forest lands lost each year out west. Some of the poor wood can be harvested for fuel. Some better wood can be harvested to make railroad ties. Benson Mines in Star Lake can be rebuilt to process these ties, and they can be shipped out to improve our railroads. Tahawus and other locations can be resurrected. Small Adirondack towns will come alive again. Tourists and sportspeople can get into areas not ever seen by anyone other than government officials in helicopters. Areas can be left untouched in sculptured terrains and around lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks. A small percentage of the finer woods can be taken and used productively. Areas can be set aside for timbering only by the old horse methods. Other areas could be managed with lightweight and efficient equipment that won’t damage the forest floors or streams. Studies can be done on various harvesting and environmental management.

The development of areas such as the Adirondack Club and Resort will be showpieces, and we all know that well managed homes in the forests become a draw for deer, bear and many small animals. The prospering villages will provide protection for squirrels, deer, racoons and other manageable wildlife. Songbirds will increase as will hawks, falcons, eagles and others.

The state must manage and control the infestation of coyotes that are devastating large and small game alike. They are devastating the domestic pets treasured by home owners. We don’t need mountain lions, 150-to-200-pound timber wolves or grizzly bears – especially when we don’t even manage coyotes that weigh about 20 to 40 lbs each.

Have we as a people lost all sense of intelligent management of our forests? Do we not understand that this wonderful land can perish in just one dry season? The area has its own potential for improving the financial health of its residents. We can and will manage the Adirondacks and/or the Catskills and even farmland around these manageable treasures.

Finally, it must be said that the one critical element of the management of the Adirondack Park Agency is very simple: In my experience, there never was a set of rules for anyone to follow that wanted to do any building within the perimeters. It was always, “Tell us what you are going to do, and we will determine it if it acceptable.” That’s hogwash for everyone except the people who don’t want any development and call themselves ENVIRONMENTALISTS. If the APA is even going to be a dependable and honored organization, there must be a sensible set of rules that any person or developer can meet, in advance of any applications. The Adirondacks and other forested lands are what they are due to the conscientious caregiving of those who got us to this time.

Terry Perrigo lives in Tupper Lake.