As state jobs continue to disappear in the Adirondack Park, leaders here will continue to grapple with ways to replace them.
Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, believes one way to boost the economy in the Park is to create more opportunities for logging companies, including by providing more opportunities for them on state land. She petitioned state Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Joe Martens on the subject at a recent Senate Environmental Conservation Committee meeting and has re-introduced several bills this year to this effect.
"I think it's more important to develop more private-sector jobs within the Adirondack Park as we continue to see government downsize, which everyone says it wants it to do in order to reduce the tax burden," Little told the Enterprise. "Our economy in many ways is based upon government jobs, and we need to see more private-sector jobs. And one of the big businesses within the Adirondack Park is the logging business."
A naturalist walks through the woods of Follensby Park in July 2010. A bill introduced state Sen. Betty Little would allow logging on this property (it has been logged in the past) if the state buys it from The Nature Conservancy and adds it to the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
(Enterprise file photo — Mike Lynch)
Little has at least two bills related to logging in the Adirondack Park. One would prohibit the state from buying any land other than forest conservation easements, which often allow logging (bill No. S1501). The other (S1499) would allow logging under DEC management on newly acquired Forest Preserve lands. The state is currently looking at buying 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Co. land in the central Adirondacks and the 14,600-acre Follensby Park located in the towns of Harrietstown and Tupper Lake in the coming years. Both are owned by the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Logging does take place on state lands throughout New York but is prohibited on Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill parks.
"The reason the logging is important is that that's a lot of individual loggers within our area, but it's also important for our paper mills," Little said. "They are located in this area because of the natural resource and the renewable resource of the forest. So the more you tie up those forests, at some point, you may kill those paper mills, and I would hope not."
It is hardly new for Republican state senators in the Adirondack Park to fight against adding to the Forest Preserve and to push for more logging, but Little holds out hope that with the state of the economy, the bills could gain support they might not have had in the past. She is also in the majority party in the Senate this year after spending the last two years in the minority. The Assembly is still controlled by Democrats.
"The number of jobs available within the Adirondack Park certainly has decreased, and I think ... people are beginning to understand it that we have to have more private-sector growth within the Adirondack Park. And in doing so, you can't continue to gobble up and restrict all the land that is available," Little said.
Little also has a forestry-stewardship and habitat-conservation bill (S346) that would give landowners a 25 percent tax credit on their land if they put it in this program. The land would have to be at least 25 acres, inspected by the DEC or a fisheries biologist certified by the American Fisheries Society.
There is one bill related to forestry and the Adirondack Park that Little isn't sponsoring. State Sen. John J. Bonacic, R-Mt. Hope, has a bill (S2140) that would create a task force to coordinate between government agencies and the forestry industry. The task force would be formed by the commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development and would consist of six members and include designees from the state Agriculture and Markets, and New York State Energy Research and Development. The governor would also appoint two representatives from the state forestry industry and one local government representative from each of the Adirondack and Catskill parks.
Contact Mike Lynch at 891-2600 ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.