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Change the Finch land acquisition to a conservation easement purchase.
  • Petitioned Andrew Cuomo

This petition was delivered to:

Governor, New York State
Andrew Cuomo

Change the Finch land acquisition to a conservation easement purchase.

    1. Peter Heckman
    2. Petition by

      Peter Heckman

      Cortland, NY

New York State has targeted 80,000 acres of valuable and productive forestland in the Adirondacks for acquisition, for addition into the “Forest Preserve”. The plan calls for a “fee title” purchase, which would cause the land to be permanently governed under constitutionally mandated “forever wild” guidelines. This means that forest management and protection would be prohibited forever, and dozens of important Family Recreational Clubs would be forced to close.

The forests on this land are sustainably managed to the highest standards with Forest Stewardship Council certification and the resulting forest products operations are quite significant to the state’s economy, accounting for over $35 million in annual revenue for New York’s GDP.

The recreational clubs, many of which have been around for nearly a hundred years, are some of the most important small businesses in the region, bringing tens of millions of dollars to the rural small towns, many of which are on the brink of economic destitution.

A “fee title” purchase would cost the taxpayers $60 million in the first year, and over $400 million in the first ten years, when property tax payments, management expenses, and lost opportunity costs are considered. A conservation easement purchase, on the other hand, would cost the state only $18 million, with no ongoing expenses or lost opportunity costs.

A conservation easement purchase would protect the land from development, would allow reasonable public access, would help keep the recreational clubs intact, and would promote sustainable and healthy forest management and forest protection practices.

The “fee title” plan was designed, promoted, and supported by wealthy and strong special interest environmental groups. Their lobbying efforts are well-funded and powerful. The plan has little to do with “protecting nature”, but more to do with funding portfolios for their big contributors. The plan is economically irresponsible, environmentally unsound, and morally unjust.

So far, our voices have fallen on deaf ears. We are the towns and villages of the Adirondacks, the businesses, families, outdoorsmen and women, conservationists, naturalists, environmental stewards, concerned constituents, and taxpayers. We want our state to do the right thing for our economy, for our environment, and for our access to nature.

Use this petition to help Governor Cuomo understand there is a better decision. Tell him that a conservation easement purchase is better for New York. Compel Governor Cuomo to direct DEC to change the plan to a conservation easement purchase.

Recent signatures


    1. PROTECT! The Adirondacks; hypocrisy from an extremist environmental group.

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      In a recent Press Release by Protect, they state, " It appears to PROTECT that the decision to pursue a General Permit for this issue is an abdication of the APA’s regulatory responsibility. "

      My problem with Protect is that they condemn the APA's negligence in self-serving issues, but ignore APA's negligence in issues they oppose. Specifically, APA is supposed enforce this land acquisition guideline: Due to the importance of the forest products industry to the economy of the Adirondack region, bulk acreage purchases in fee should not normally be made where highly productive forest land is involved...However, conservation easements permitting the continuation of sound forest
      management and other land uses compatible with the open
      space character of the Park should be acquired wherever possible...

      Which way should it be, PROTECT?

    2. The opposition grows!

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      A recent article on NCPR, Green groups want big new wilderness in Adirondacks, has elicited intense opposition to the State's plan. Have a look at these comments. Let's hope Governor Cuomo reads them too!


      Green groups want big new wilderness in Adirondacks | NCPR News

      Adirondack green groups generally agree that a big chunk of the former Finch Pruyn timber lands should be formed into new wilderness areas, but their visions and key details differ widely. Let's start with Protect the Adirondacks, based in Lake George, which is calling for a new wilderness of roughly 39,000 acres that would be formed along the upper reaches of the Hudson River.

    3. Adirondack State Land Master Plan: It's the law!

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      The State Land Master Plan clearly states:

      “Due to the importance of the forest products industry to the economy of the Adirondack region, bulk acreage purchases in fee should not normally be made where highly productive forest land is involved, unless such land is threatened with development that would curtail its use for forestry purposes or its value for the preservation of open space or of wildlife habitat.”

      The question is, how much of this land is "highly productive forest land"? Nearly all of it is, according to senior level foresters. Here is a link to a GIS map that shows the productive areas:


    4. Reached 750 signatures
    5. One of the club's goodwill effort

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Here is an article about one of the clubs reaching out to DEC in an effort to create goodwill and it has provided a better solution. DEC has ignored the club's offer, which you can read in the article.

      DEC should make every effort to keep the clubs in operation.

    6. Northern Boreal Forests at Risk

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Through a Freedom of Information request, DEC admitted to me that they have no control plans for invasive species outbreaks in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. For most insect infestations, the preferred control prescription is removal, that is, logging (A.K.A. mechanical control), which is strictly prohibited under State Constitutional Law. That leaves two options, biological control and chemical control. To date there are no biological controls for Emerald Ash Borer or Asian Long-Horned Beetle. Both species are an imminent threat to Adirondack forests. Chemical control brings many questions. Who would like to see tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of acres sprayed with insecticides?

      Demand forest protection! Demand that the Governor allow this land to remain in private ownership!

    7. Natural Succession Forestry; a cop out.

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      New York State Forest Preserve forests are unmanaged by law; they are unprotected and vulnerable, and they are Natural Succession Forests by constitutional mandate.

      John Gordon, former Dean Yale School of Forestry, speaks about forestry and forest management.

      The Forest Preserve model is flawed, and no fee acquisitions should be made until the management issues can be resolved.

    8. Put EPF Funding to Better Use

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Local governments oppose the fee purchase plan and recommend better uses for the Environmental Protection Fund monies. Note the municipalities that have adopted formal resolutions OPPOSING the fee plan.

    9. "We've got to start figuring out the (Adirondack Park) differently"

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Prior to his appointment at DEC, Joe Martens was the president of the Open Space Institute, who invested $25 million in this deal. During his interview with North Country Public Radio, Joe said that we should rely more on communities for management, and that we should use non-traditional ways that DON'T INVOLVE GOVERNMENT, implying that a greater private sector involvement should be realized. This is my point exactly.

      The State should not purchase this land. The state should not even purchase development rights; those should be transferred in the private sector. At the most, the state should purchase some recreational access easements, and they should be structured to protect the private clubs, and provide general public access to some canoe routes.

      Joe, where are you now with your recommendations for " non-traditional ways that don't involve government"?

    10. Let's have a look!

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Here is one of the clubs that contributes a lot of money to the local towns. Perhaps DEC doesn't know what these clubs are all about!

    11. Legal access versus practical access; what the taxpayers really get.

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      The general public is granted legal, but not necessarily practical access to Forest Preserve Land (mud season ended 3 weeks ago on private land):

      As of May 10, 2012: The following roads or road systems remain closed for mud season. Hikers can still travel past gates and on muddy roads.

      Moose River Plains Wild Forest
      Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands
      Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands – all roads except the Fishhole Pond Access Road
      Darling Ford Road (Hudson River Recreation Area, Lake George Wild Forest)
      Buttermilk Road Extension (Hudson River Recreation Area, Lake George Wild Forest)
      Gay Pond Road (Hudson River Recreation Area, Lake George Wild Forest)
      Pikes Beach Road – campsite repairs are scheduled for summer
      Schofield Flats Road – access path and campsite repairs are scheduled for summer
      Bear Slide Access Route – access path washed out, repairs are scheduled for summer

    12. United Nations guidelines in the Adirondacks?!

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Did you know that the Adirondack Park is part of an international United Nations program called a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program (MAB)? This was promulgated by a number of environmental organizations.

      Excerpted:...The primary goal of the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve is to use education, research, and demonstration projects to encourage social and economic vitality and to preserve and improve the environmental health of the region... MAB combines natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and safeguard natural ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that is socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable...

      My question is, why then would the state want to eliminate the renewable natural resource base that the Adirondack population is so dependent upon for a restorative sustainable economic plan? Convince Governor Cuomo to purchase easements, not productive land!

    13. Managed Forests Soak Up More Greenhouse Gasses

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Managed Forests sequester up to four times the amount of CO2 than unmanaged mature forests. If DEC really wants to help the environment, they would allow this land to be sustainably managed under private ownership. Forest Preserve law PROHIBITS this type of management FOREVER.

      From an article about Ontario's forests:
      By law, Ontario’s Crown forests must be managed to provide for their sustainability.
      Sustainability means long term forest health that meets social, economic, and environmental
      needs. Before trees can be harvested, a forest management plan must be prepared. Foresters and biologists work with representatives from natural resource-related industries and citizen volunteers. These teams plan for healthy forests into the future to provide sustainable benefits such as timber and commercial products, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities for the people of Ontario. To do this, they plan forest harvesting to conserve biodiversity.

    14. Predictable economic crisis.

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      I read this quote today and thought it relevant to this issue:

      “I think today we face the most predictable economic crisis in history,” he told an audience on April 24 at the Council on Foreign Relations -- an audience that might actually be able to help do something about the problem. “Fortunately, I think it’s also the most avoidable. I think it’s clear, if you do simple arithmetic, that the fiscal path that the nation is on is simply not sustainable.” Irskine Bowles

      A fee acquisition will trigger a predictable economic crisis. Do the arithmetic. Fortunately there is a simple solution. Governor Cuomo, do the right thing; purchase conservation easements instead.

    15. Reached 500 signatures
    16. Senator Little's pending legislation to protect recreational clubs!

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      New York State Senator Betty Little has introduced legislation that would protect the recreational clubs as a condition of state easement or fee acquisition.

    17. The Economic Importance of New York's Forests

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      From New York's DEC Divisions of Lands and Forests: The total values per forested acre basis. This describes the annual value per acre of working forests in New York State as $477.30 per acre per year. Why then would the state want to remove 80,000 acres from the economy? Help Governor Cuomo understand that a state taking is a bad decision, and that an easement purchase would better accomplish the goals of environmental protection and restorative economics.

    18. Reached 250 signatures
    19. An excellent and compatible use for northern forests

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Another reason why forests should remain in sustainable management!

    20. The Wild Center saved $30,000.00 in the first year with a new wood boiler.

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      This is a rapidly developing market for the forest products industry. Support sustainable forest management.

    21. Myth-busting scientist pushes greens past reliance on 'horror stories'

      Peter Heckman
      Petition Organizer

      Proof that "conservation" doesn't work. Stop a useless waste of tax dollars. Forward this petition to as many people as possible please.

    22. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Dave corr NEW HARTFROD, NY
      • 11 months ago

      We need to preserve our hunting/fishing heritage and keep a vibrant upstate economy.

    • Ronald Casscles SEQUIM, WA
      • 12 months ago

      My family were members of the Santanoni Club from it's early years untill 1985. Our children grew up in those mountains and I would hope that others would have the same chance that our kids did, please do not let the state take over that club lease land

    • Ed Barbagelata BALLSTON LAKE, NY
      • about 1 year ago

      I want to keep my hunting camp.

    • greg campbell OXFORD, NY
      • over 1 year ago

      I have a similar setup on Mud Pond through the Blue Mountain Club

    • elaine mchargue TROY, NY
      • over 1 year ago

      My husband and I have a camp there and love it. We pay taxes while hikers pay nothing to trample the land.


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