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APA reverses course on Lows Lake decision

RAY BROOK - In a precedent-setting move, the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners overwhelmingly struck down a proposed state land ruling Friday that would have classified the waters and lakebed of man-made Lows Lake as wilderness.

It would have been the first time the agency had so classified a water body. Local government officials had argued that the APA was attempting to expand its authority and could set a precedent with sweeping ramifications throughout the park.

But the board designees from three state agencies - the Department of State, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Economic Development - reversed their prior stances and killed the proposal.

Several APA commissioners said that they weren't comfortable with the proposal to classify the waters and lakebeds.

Art Lussi, who lives in the park, was one of the rogue seven who didn't think the move to classify the lake itself was appropriate - especially considering the several privately-owned parcels with grandfathered motorboat access on the shoreline.

"The chairman spoke about how the Boy Scouts are not going anywhere, and their continued non-conforming use of motorboats in this proposed wilderness area clearly violates this clause," Lussi said. "I don't see how we could ever approve this resolution with that fact."

The pending ruling that included the water and lakebed classification as wilderness was then defeated seven to four - with Chairman Curt Stiles and Commissioners Jim Townsend, Dick Booth and Cecil Wray making up the dissenting opinion.

A resolution to classify only the 10,000 acres surrounding the lake as primarily wilderness was adopted with the same seven-to-four vote.

The entire classification package - including the water and lakebed - was passed in September by the APA in September, but the decision was nullified after it was discovered that state Economic Development Corp. designee Chris Walsh was no longer a valid voting member of the board.

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