APA approves fire towers as historic

"I think these towers are absolutely a part of the history of the region," Booth added. "While there is an impact on the surrounding areas, other than aesthetic impact, it's an extremely limited impact."

DEC Region 5 director Betsy Lowe indicated that, with the state in the midst of a financial crisis, funds for the towers' restoration would likely have to come from community fundraising efforts.

The resolution enables maintenance of the fire towers but "does not require, obligate, or anticipate state funds for restoration."

One fundraising group, the Friends of Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower, claim they have already amassed $10,000 to assist in restoration of that tower.

"Obviously, we're very pleased with the decision," said David Petrelli, president of Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower, who estimates it would cost between $5,000 and $15,000 to make the tower safe and accessible for hikers.

But not all were as keen on reclassification as a solution.

"What the agency is doing is abandoning its responsibility towards wilderness," said Dan Plumley of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. "The further they stray away from their obligation to protect these areas, the closer they steer to their own oblivion."

"You can't be next door to a five-story metal structure and call it wilderness," he added.

Plumley said the better solution would have been to relocate the tower in a conforming area where it would be more accessible as an educational and cultural icon. He noted how the town of Keene passed a resolution offering a different location for the Hurricane

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Mountain tower.

"The agency failed to consider what we thought would have been a win-win situation," Plumley said.

According to Plumley, the postage-stamp historic classifications in the middle of vast wilderness areas set a dangerous precedent that could open up both public and private lands in the park to other non-conforming structures, such as cell towers and wind turbines.

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