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Logging truck in the Adirondacks. Photo: <a href"http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellenm1/">ellenm1</a>, CC <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">some rights reserved</a>
Logging truck in the Adirondacks. Photo: ellenm1, CC some rights reserved

APA delays new clear-cutting rule for Adk loggers

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State officials are delaying consideration of a new plan that would ease clear-cutting rules for loggers working in the Adirondack Park.

The measure was expected to be taken up at the Adirondack Park Agency meeting next week in Ray Brook.

If approved, it will allow some timber operators to clear-cut stands of trees larger than 25 acres without a full review by the Adirondack Park Agency.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

The proposal from the APA has sparked fierce opposition from environmental groups.

"One of the concerns with the general permit is that there would be no period of time where there is a public comment period," said Diane Fish, acting director of the Adirondack Council.

"We think that people should have the opportunity to know what clearcutting projects are being proposed and to weigh in on it."

APA officials have argued that the measure wouldn't lead to more clearcutting in the Park.

"The general permit absolutely does not open the forest for clearcutting," argued APA spokesman Keith McKeever in a statement issued in December.

"It will work to stop the practice of cutting right up to the APA jurisdictional threshold by incentivizing landowners to use sustainable forest management treatments."

The proposal requires landowners to submit their projects to oversight by certification programs designed to promote sustainable forestry.

But critics countered that those programs don't provide the same level of review as state regulators.

Agency spokesman Keith McKeever confirmed Thursday night that the measure has been pulled from the schedule for this month's meeting.

Peter Bauer, head of the group Protect the Adirondacks, issued a statement praising the decision to shelve the proposal.

"The APA got the message that this new general permit to make it easier to clearcut Adirondack forests is not a good idea" Bauer said.

"It was clear that the APA was trying to rush this through without any supporting evidence and by not holding a formal public hearing."

The proposed rule change has drawn support from the state's timber industry.

Eric Carlson, president of the Empire State Forest Products Association, told the Albany Times Union that oversight by non-profits, including the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forest Initiative, would limit the amount of clearcutting.

"These are very high standards, that the groups audit annually," he said. "These are the best of the best and the criteria to stay certified is getting more stringent every year."

The APA's public comment on the proposal ended Dec. 28, 2012. It's unclear when the clearcutting rule will be taken up again by state officials.

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