JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton County Board of Supervisors is urging the Adirondack Park Agency to appeal a recent court decision classifying Lows Lake as wilderness because it might set a precedent for the rest of the Adirondack Park.
"It's a (legal) expansion of the APA's jurisdiction," Bleecker Supervisor David Howard said of the state Supreme Court decision.
Lows Lake is a man-made lake created by the construction of two large concrete dams located within the towns of Colton and Clifton in St. Lawrence County, and the town of Long Lake in Hamilton County.
In September 2009, the APA board voted to classify the Lows Lake area, including the lake's water and its bed, as wilderness. That decision was later scrapped after it was determined that the vote made by Empire State Development designee Chris Walsh was invalid because he wasn't an ESD employee at the time. A revote in November 2009 classified areas around Lows Lake as wilderness but not the lake's water and bed.
Two environmental groups - the Adirondack Mountain Club and Protect the Adirondacsks - took the APA decision to court, arguing that the first wilderness vote classification should stand. In August of last year, state Supreme Court judge Michael Lynch agreed, saying the APA erred when it left the lake unclassified.
The Fulton County Board of Supervisors' action Monday asks the APA to appeal the decision so the court can uphold the agency's second vote, not classifying the lake and its bed as wilderness - the most restrictive APA land-use category which prohibits the use of all motorized vehicles.
The resolution approved Monday by the Board of Supervisors at the County Office Building noted private parties own an island and portions of the shoreline of Lows Lake. The private landowners use motorized water vessels, motorized vehicles and floatplanes to access their private lands.
Howard said if the wilderness classification is extended to other parts of the Adirondacks, other private property owners will be "economically impacted." He said of most immediate concern for potential changes in classification would be for areas around the Great Sacandaga Lake and Peck's Lake.
Enterprise reporter Chris Knight contributed some background information to this report.
Michael Anich is a reporter for the Leader-Herald of Gloversville.