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Who are the environmentalists?

March 8, 2010 - John Stack

ATTN: The second show of 'Just Talking Politics' is running today at 3,5,7,9 and 2 and 5 in the morning on TWC channel 2 in Saranac Lake.

I used to think this was a self evident question. People who liked to be outdoors and didn’t want all those awful big companies polluting our lakes, rivers and streams and the developers who wanted to clear cut the forests for Walmarts and race tracks. Its not quite that simple these days. Its like politics. You aren’t a Democrat – you are a left wing bleeding heart liberal ACLU lover. To be associated with a group like the Adirondack Council, it seems like you have to be a tree hugging anti-growth chain-yourself-to-a-tree to save the Karner Blue butterfly.

 I had thought I was an environmentalist, but not that kind. I moved here 10 years ago (10 year anniversary last week) to LIVE in the Adirondacks. I’ve hiked my share of 46ers. I downhill ski. I snowshoe. I love to ride my mountain bike. I love to hike up to fire towers. I also like to ride snowmobiles and 4 wheelers. I thought this would make me an environmentalist. If the snow wasn’t here, or mountains, trees and trails, what would be the point of my pursuits? I have to hope global warming doesn’t melt my snow. I need the trees or I could just ride my bike in a parking lot. Without the woods, trees and trails I might as well just ride indoor bumper cars. So, the well being of the environment is in my very best interest. But it seems a lot of my views are directly in contrast with much of the environmental agenda. But I think I am like most people. We aren’t radical environmentalists, but we don’t burn car tires in our back yard or dump our used motor oil into the Saranac River.

A few year’s back, the canisters that were placed on the trailless peaks were removed. Why? They were like 16 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter (I’m guessing). They had been greeting hikers for decades without as much as a sniffle. Then, they were deemed non-conforming structures sometime in the 70’s. It was 30 years later that they were taken out of commission. I thought that was the height of absurdity. A canister smaller than any log you would ever throw on a fire. They took up one one trillionth of the land area of the Adirondack park (give or take a few billion). Environmentalists saw this as a great victory. Close to a decade later, I’m still tryingto find out what this victory was over. Was it the incredible slippery slope argument that if these were allowed, its just a matter of time before someone sites a McDonald’s on top of Marcy? Even though no one had actually tried to add any new man made structure to the state owned wilderness in decades? Are these people just incredible sticklers for the law that they never drive even 1/1000th of a mile over the speed limit? Do they deduct from their own paycheck for the time that they spend saying good morning to people every day because its not part of their job description?

When you get a 48 square inch item removed forever from the park, its just time before they come after the fire towers. Dave Gibson recently wrote a guest commentary about how the fire towers on Hurricane and St Regis should be removed by the DEC. One of his arguments is the ‘symbolic’ value. He claims ‘These are areas which must remain untrammeled, meaning unconstrained, unhindered and unshackled from our human tendencies to manipulate the environment’. Ya know, as I drive through the park , or hike any of the hundreds of peaks without fire towers, I don’t think ‘Now, this would just be perfect if just there weren’t those towers on those 2 minor peaks of Hurricane and St Regis.’ Seemingly, his argument is also that the towers bring too much unwanted attention and traffic to these mountains. Maybe there will be many fewer hikers up Hurricane, but removal of the St Regis Tower will probably not make much of a difference in the environmental impact on that trail. I don’t think people will be planning a trip to the Adirondacks, but choose to stay home because they can’t hike up and see the Hurricane or St Regis towers. Plus, I have spent a few nights on top of St Regis to watch the stars and such. As night falls, Tupper lake to the South West slowly com,es alive with light like a slow starting birthday cake. So much for stopping‘human tendencies to manipulate the environment’.

Finally, it seems like Hornbeck’s appointment to the APA has maybe hit some major hurdles. I really don’t think the APA needs to be anymore represented by not just environmentalists, but from someone who is currently waging a lawsuit against the APA! I don’t think that we Democrats need to toe some party line about environmental extremism. It is a subject poorly understood outside the Park. But, to be against Hornbeck’s appointment isn’t a reflection on his character, or of his desire to help the Adirondacks. I don’t have to be siding with James Watt (who I think wanted to drill for oil under the Washington monument) to not want this type of ‘environmentalist’ one the APA board. 

addendum - Today's paper has a letter from Tony Goodwin about taking down the fire towers. He claims it would cost too much to keep them there. Funny, I was just thinking 'why are we spending any State money on taking DOWN towers that have stood for decades?

 
 

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