Area officials anticipate new debate over Park's Master Plan

He noted that although local veto power over state land acquisition exists on paper, the state has circumvented in 2007 by using the governor's discretionary funding.

Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal also thinks its time for the Master Plan debate to begin.

"We could consolidate units of the forest preserve and come up with a much more functional type of management that meets both objectives of ecological management and public use," he said.

For the Adirondack Council, the main concern is finding methods of maintaining viable populations of indigenous animal and plant species through forest conservation.

But Houseal doesn't expect the Master Plan to actually be reopened for a couple years.

"I think environmental protection and economic development are two parts of the same coin, you can't do one without the other," Houseal said. "It's probably time to go through the park with a finer comb and decide what our economy should look like in 10 or 15 years."

Houseal said there are opportunities to consolidate existing forest preserves and maximize the state's ability to protect them.

Also, Houseal said a land bank would also make sense.

"I think a second aspect that needs to be defined in much more detail is a land swap or land bank," he said. "I think we know from the Adirondack Regional Assessment Project that some communities feel that the Forest Preserve has passed a tipping point and is infringing on the economic viability."

The land bank concept is also being championed by State Senator Betty Little as a method to circumvent a state Constitutional amendment when a municipality needs to install infrastructure on state land or when land ownership is contested by the state and private individuals.

For Houseal, it would be a reasonable way of bringing the needs of local communities and the environment together.

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