Lawsuit has merit

Recent opinion pieces by supporters of the Adirondack Club and Resort project have done their best to blur the reality of the current legal action by Protect the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club and local landowners that challenges the approval of this project by the Adirondack Park Agency. ACR supporters talk about a lot of things, but they never talk about the law or the merits of our lawsuit.

The reason that Protect is in court is that we believe the law was broken. Protect’s lawsuit details 29 causes of action. Our lawsuit is making its way through the courts and will be decided at some point this year. ACR supporters tried to have this lawsuit dismissed, but the courts found that our lawsuit had merit and should be heard.

Protect manages an active, independent public oversight program of state agencies and local governments that manage natural resource use on the public and private lands of the Adirondack Park. We intervene in various issues and projects all across the Adirondack Park. The history of private organizations that work to hold public agencies accountable is long in the U.S. and this work is an important part of American civic life.

The APA has been sued often. In its last 40 years, the APA has been sued well over 100 times, the overwhelming majority by developers who believed they were wronged (which the APA overwhelmingly won). The APA was unsuccessfully sued several years by nearly every local government in the Adirondacks over rule changes. The APA was sued again last month with an Article 78 lawsuit by a group of private landowners on Lake George who believe that the APA failed to uphold its laws in approving a new subdivision there, which they believe will negatively impact their properties.

Protect has a successful track record in its litigation. We successfully sued the state to ensure that Lows Lake will be managed as wilderness and that APA decisions comply with the law. Protect is also currently in litigation over a Forest Preserve management issue with the APA and Department of Environmental Conservation.

Protect’s independent public oversight program monitors Forest Preserve management decisions and proposed developments on private lands throughout the Adirondacks. But that is just a small part of our work. We also manage the biggest water quality monitoring program in the Adirondacks, advocate for water quality protections, stand up for wildlife, combat invasive species, help private landowners with sustainable forestry, advocate for public policies to meet the challenges of climate change, and engage in a series of different research projects.

Across the Adirondack Park there are many different organizations with thousands of people engaged in a variety of civic work. Some deal with the arts, many with economic development, and others with health care and education, among other parts of Adirondack life. Protect’s focus is on natural resource protection. We stand up for the “forever wild” Forest Preserve, for clean water, for wildlife, for wild places – things that have no voice but are vital and important for the future of the Adirondack Park.

Peter Bauer is executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and lives in Lake George.