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Galusha renews legal fight for disabled access to Adk. woodlands

Vows he'll go to jail to prompt state to live up to legal mandates

Armed with posters, visual aids, videos and documents, Ted Galusha of Warrensburg was headed for local town Court Wednesday morning Oct. 10 to continue his fight to open up access to Adirondack woodlands.  Ticketed this summer for driving a vehicle a matter of only yards into an camping area that he believes was illegally blocked off, he’s ready to go to jail to promote his cause. In 2001, Galusha won a federal lawsuit that was settled in an agreement that forced the state to open up over 100 miles of roads they closed and make $4.8 million in improvements to recreational areas to improve access for the disabled.

Armed with posters, visual aids, videos and documents, Ted Galusha of Warrensburg was headed for local town Court Wednesday morning Oct. 10 to continue his fight to open up access to Adirondack woodlands. Ticketed this summer for driving a vehicle a matter of only yards into an camping area that he believes was illegally blocked off, he’s ready to go to jail to promote his cause. In 2001, Galusha won a federal lawsuit that was settled in an agreement that forced the state to open up over 100 miles of roads they closed and make $4.8 million in improvements to recreational areas to improve access for the disabled. Photo by Thom Randall.

— DEC officials have told the media in recent years that their closure of roads, campsites and recreational areas has been due to lack of funds to adequately maintain and patrol them, a claim that Galusha disputes.

“They say they don’t have the money, but they just keep acquiring land and shut it down,” he said, referring to the recent state purchase of 69,000 acres of former Finch-Pryn lands for nearly $50 million. “The state should be putting some of that money to taking care of what they’ve already got and keep it open to the public.”

Armed with photos, detailed posters and video recordings of conditions at Buttermilk, and the nearby Bear Slides — places his family has enjoyed for generations — Galusha is ready to take the state to task again.

Eighteen years ago, he was in the same Warrensburg court for violating a DEC rule not to drive a vehicle into the campsites — the action that triggered the landmark suit and the settlement.

Tuesday, he said it has particularly angered him that DEC employees were empowered to drive their motorized vehicles over dirt and gravel roads they’ve blocked off not only to the public, but to people with disabilities, who they were ordered to accommodate through special access privileges.

‘The DEC’s attitude, is, ‘No people, no problem,’” he continued. “But chasing people out of the woods like they have is wrong.”

Galusha continued that camping in the woods is important to him, not only for relaxation, but for a sense of spiritual renewal — and he thinks the government shouldn’t be interfering with the rights of citizens to enjoy the experience.

“I personally need to get out in the woods,” he said. “It’s vital for people to connect with nature.” he added.

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