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North Country News
Tue April 9, 2013
Adirondack Snowmobile Trail Lawsuit Allowed To Continue
Protect the Adirondacks has received permission from the New York State Appellate Court to continue with a lawsuit challenging a state snowmobile trail building plan in the Adirondack Park.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has created nearly 13 miles of community connector snowmobile trails between Inlet and Raquette Lake in the midst of the Adirondacks. Protect the Adirondacks filed a lawsuit challenging both the policy and construction of the trails in February, and the State Appellate Division has granted its motion to continue. Protect Executive Director Peter Bauer says New York is violating the state constitution.
Bauer admits that the state did utilize old pre-existing roads to construct the trail system.
The head of the New York State Snowmobile Association disputes the description of the trails and “bulldozer sized” groomers. Executive Director Dominic Jacangelo has ridden at least one of the trails at issue in the lawsuit, and says it’s small.
Jacangelo also questions the lawsuit’s claims that the state is violating the forever wild clause due to the land classification where the trails are located.
The Snowmobile Association did an economic study during 2011-12 in which Jacangelo says the sport generates 868-million dollars annually to the state, with the greatest amount from within the Adirondacks at 245 million dollars.
Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe says local communities are disheartened about the lawsuit coming after five years of compromise between the state and environmental groups to create the trail plan.
The Appellate Division consent is considered procedural, but a critical step in moving the case forward. Any individual or group in New York State that alleges a violation of the state constitution must get clearance from the Appellate Court in order to officially file such a lawsuit.