State Land Use Policies

Commentary on the use of public land use in New York State and other places.

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Public Lands Policy
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NY State Consitution
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DEC Exploring Lodging and Dining Facilities at Boreas Ponds

This is a terrible idea. I don't think there should be developed areas within the forest preserve. I oppose the creation of all new intensive use areas, because we don't need to be turning our woods into new city parks. If people want to go to developed city-like parks, I suggest they try the developed parks maintained by NYS OPRHP outside of the Adirondack Park.

If the state needs more money to maintain these areas, they should open them up to controlled logging and natural gas production, like with the state reforestation areas. Logging is a sustainable business that provides an essential economic product. It doesn't bring large crowds to the woods, nor does it generate much waste or pollution. It helps maintain a young, vibrant forest that will attract a wide of species. Such revenue should be dedicated solely towards the maintenance of state lands, such as trails, roads, parking areas, docks, primitive campsites, picnic tables and outhouses.

Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources should be NY State's model. They maintain 2.2 million acres of state forest but also harvest it for timber and natural gas -- and put that money back into maintenance of rustic facilities for all of the public use. Their lands are litter free, their primitive parks are clean and well maintained, their roads are pothole-free and trails kept in top shape.

The Greatest Good

"From the timbered shores of the Pacific Northwest to the marble halls of Washington DC, the choices about how we use our rich natural heritage are filled with controversy. Whether it is the protection of endangered species or meeting the needs of a growing public, the fate of public lands is constantly challenged by the constraints of democracy. Visionary foresters Gifford Pinchot and Aldo Leopold shaped the debate over land stewardship for a hundred years. Their journey from the “wise use” of resources to the idea of a “land ethic” has defined the evolution of the Forest Service and the management of National Forests and Grasslands."

Wilderness Act at 50: the economics of open space

Wilderness Act at 50: the economics of open space

I think this article points out a false dichotomy. There can be a sustainable harvest of forest products while preserving the forest.

Not every piece of public land needs wilderness protection. Indeed, much public land does not fit the criteria for wilderness -- old growth forest, undeveloped, untrammeled by man.

Most public land can be used for forest products, oil and gas production, and other economic uses -- while providing forest and watershed protection and public recreation. Managed forests often provide a better habitat for many game species and offer great ability for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and other activities.

The National Forest and State Forest systems -- which generally are not wilderness but still forever in the public trust -- often get ignored by the various environmental groups, but they are an important portion of our protected lands.

As Gifford Pinchot once said, "where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run."