Attention to Tony Sparacino, forester 1, team leader and author: I look forward to attending your open house July 25 at 6 p.m. at the Potsdam Central High School auditorium for the purpose of providing public input on the St. Lawrence Foothills Management Plan.
As you know in 1885 the New York State Legislature established the Forest Preserve of New York State, "setting aside land in the Adirondacks and Catskills to be protected as "forever wild" and establishing regulations and guidelines governing the use of the land.
On page 4 of the Unit Management Plan you have included the DEC's Mission and Vision Statement as follows....
"The quality of our environment is fundamental to our concern for the quality of life. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State of New York to conserve, improve and protect its natural resources and environment and to prevent, abate and control water, land and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well-being"
State Forests on the St. Lawrence Foothills unit will be managed in a sustainable manner by promoting ecosystem health, enhancing landscape biodiversity, protecting soil productivity and water quality. In addition the State Forest on this unit will continue to provide the many recreational, social and economic benefits valued so highly by the people of New York State. DEC will continue the legacy which started more than 80 years ago, leaving these lands to the next generation in better condition than they are today.
I must say that after reviewing your Unit Management Plan I am very concerned that out of 170 pages you have only a short paragraph that simply acknowledges the plan by Avangrid to build 40 industrial wind turbines that would be 500 feet tall and border Whisky Flats State forest and Catherineville State Forest.
Why is the DEC not taking a more proactive role in protecting these state forestlands? What are the effects of miles of new roads? New buried and above ground transmission lines? The dynamiting and pile driving? The clear cutting, removal and replacement of every culvert to meet the needs of heavy equipment? Power lines and possible structures located on state forestlands? And the fact that Avangrid, according to there maps filed with the Public Service Commission, do not intend to abide by the 2,500 foot setbacks as prescribed by local law with regards to state forest boundaries.
It is going to be too little to late if the DEC allows this project to move forward without addressing the issue of setbacks form state forest lands. Avangrid's purposed North Ridge Project violates the DEC's mission and vision statement at every turn. Some might point to the "economic benefits" clause as justification for this project...I would argue that economic benefits for a few dozen lease holders does not outweigh the rights of almost 20 Million New Yorkers for whom these lands were acquired for with the intention of preserving and protecting for future generation to enjoy.
I have spoken to several DEC employees and some have indicated that they are not free to voice their true opinion or concerns about this project. I hope that in the end common sense and decency will prevail over politics and greed. Renewable energy is great but not when it threatens the very lands, ecosystem and wildlife the DEC has been tasked with protecting and preserving. I hope some retired DEC officials or other credible, knowledgeable individuals will bring attention to these issues because turning the St. Lawrence County foothills into an electrical generating facility with 500 foot towers is not "leaving these lands to the next generation in better condition than they are today.” Thank you for your time and consideration.