In a legal decision seen as a blow to snowmobilers in the Coast, a 4-1 New York State Appellate Court ruling found the construction of snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Park Preserve violated the state Constitution.
Two environmental groups, Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, sued the state in January over a 12-foot-wide snowmobile bridge over the Cedar River in the Essex Chain Lakes that would be part of a trail network to connect the communities of Indian Lake and Newcomb, according to the Post Star.
The groups argue that the construction of 27 miles of “connector trails” causes the destruction of too many trees. The groups contend the bridge would violate the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act. They also say the department failed to follow proper legal steps before issuing itself a permit for the bridge. A previously held ruling by New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Muller was seen as an interim victory for Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild, halting construction that was to begin in mid-June.
“The total number of trees the state was looking to cut down was far in excess of what is allowed under the constitution,” said Peter Bauer, Protect The Adirondacks executive director, via North Country Public Radio.
Under the new court-mandated standard, the number of defined trees impacted by the snowmobile connector trails jumped nearly 6,000 to around 25,000.
“The Court’s decision… has severely undermined years of planning by both the state and local government,” said New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) Executive Director Dominic Jacangelo in a letter to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. “If allowed to stand this decision will have significant negative impacts on every project planned for state land within the Adirondack Park. Its impact will go well beyond snowmobile trails. It has the potential to undermine the outdoor recreation economy that has been building.”
In an issued statement, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said is reviewing the court’s decision and working to determine the best option going forward.
What do you think of the lawsuit and court rulings? Where do you draw the line between preservation and economic progress? Leave your comments below to discuss the possibilities of the lawsuit outcome!
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.