These questions and answers are taken from a phone interview with Joe Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and State Forester Rob Davies, director of DEC's Division of Lands and Forests, Monday on a deal Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Sunday for the state to buy 69,000 acres from The Nature Conservancy, land formerly owned by the Finch, Pruyn and Co. paper company, to add to the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
ADIRONDACK DAILY ENTERPRISE: Why was the announcement made at this time?
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens
(Enterprise file photo)
MARTENS: "All I can tell you is the governor was ready to make the decision and he decided that we were moving forward. We had basically teed it up recently and said we're ready, and he decided Sunday in the Adirondacks was when he wanted to announce it. We were given the word, and we got ready."
ADE: Will the state have enough people to provide stewardship of the land?
MARTENS: "I think, when we approach any management in the Park, we are trying to look at the full range of opportunities for management. I'm not trying to be evasive about the question, but the department relies on partners. We rely on the Adirondack Mountain Club for trail maintenance. We rely on towns in some cases to help us patrol parking areas and do road repair jobs. So when we look at how we are going to manage these properties, we're going to be looking to the partners, the full range of partners that we can count on to help us in the process. I don't think we're going to have any major influx of staff any time soon. But we're trying to fill spots where people have left, and you know, it's a big responsibility, and we are going to look at it very carefully and make sure that we are taking maximum advantage of all the partners we can get."
DAVIES: "In the past few years we have really tried to expand those partnerships, in terms of utilizing some very important and valuable programs that exist out there, like the Student Conservation Association. We've got some great assistance from the (federal government) for our backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers that you mentioned. We've got additional, existing programs that we've been trying to take advantage of these last few years."
ADE: What if the money to purchase land isn't available in the Environmental Protection Fund in future years?
MARTENS: "There is no guarantee, just like there is no guarantee with virtually any state project. It depends on annual budget appropriations. If the money's not there, we can't buy it. We're anticipating and hoping the EPF, that the state's economy will continue to improve, that the EPF land acquisition funds will remain intact and obviously the administration is committing to acquire the lands over five years, so that's our expectation. But it's no different than any project the state commits to, whether it's a construction project or anything else. If the funds aren't there, then it could have to be halted or delayed. We could go back and try to renegotiate the contract with TNC, but we're not anticipating that this will be the case."
ADE: Will the properties outside the Blue Line be included in the Forest Preserve?
DAVIES: "They will be in Forest Preserve counties, but they will not be Forest Preserve lands. For instance, there's the Daniel Road tract, outside of Saratoga. That will be a state forest."