Local governments not ready to endorse land acquisition

LAKE PLACID - Despite pleas from the environmental community, Adirondack local governments were hesitant last week to drop their calls for a moratorium on state land acquisitions.

At a panel discussion on the future of the Adirondack Park Economy, Open Space Institute Board member Joe Martens said Gov. David Paterson chose to strip $67 million from the Environmental Protection Fund tagged for land purchases not because of budgetary constraints, but because Albany is sick of the constant ranker caused by the land buys.

"Is it just because the state's broke? Maybe. I would be the first to admit that land acquisition is a tough sell when the state has a $10 billion deficit," Martens said. "But I think it's more than that. Could it be that some of the contentiousness about snowmobile plans, agency appointments and UMPs have soured Albany's appetite for buying more land in a place where people would rather fight than win?"

The state Senate has proposed to reinstate the EPF funds.

Environmentalists argue state land acquisitions are the essential component of the region's economy and the resource that draws people and cash to the park.

But Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Farber noted the chances of local officials jumping on the "buy Forest Preserve bandwagon" isn't likely in the near future.

"That would be a heavy lift, it's not to say it would never happen," Farber said. "Right after the proposed moratorium came out we met with the environmental groups and I said look, if we don't stop fighting over everything and start to break down to the pinch points, it's always going to be absolute opposition - your side versus our side."

Adirondack Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe lauded the Nature Conservancy's 2007 purchase of 161,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn property because significant local government input was taken into account.

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