As if we needed another reason to shake our heads at the true
ineptness of New York state.
(Personally, I’ve stopped shaking my head. It really began to hurt
and everyone thought I had developed some kind of muscle
I don’t know what finally pushed me over the edge with the latest
moment of insanity. Having lived in the Adirondacks for more than
14 years now, I’ve seen some pretty unbelievable things – including
the 2007 statewide referendum that was necessary for a small town
to drill a water well because the state health department said they
had to boil their water – for something like FOUR YEARS. (I still
wonder about the 24,700 people who voted “no” and how they would
like to have to boil their water for everything for even four
days.) All the way to the reading and writing about the people who
have died – died – in car accidents on the Adirondack
Northway because they couldn’t call for help on their cell phone.
Because we couldn’t put up cell towers. Because some groups didn’t
want to have to look at them as they drove through the “park.” Ask
the wife of the 63-year-old Brooklyn man who froze to death
following an accident on a remote stretch of interstate if she
wanted to look at that instead.
Now consider the plight of the spruce grouse – a species the state
of New York has, essentially, managed to near extinction.
A true boreal species, they’re pretty quiet and when it comes to
habitat, it turns out they’re pretty specialized. They like the
northern boreal forest and bogs, and those places are disappearing.
I’m sure climate change isn’t helping, but ask anyone who lives in
the Adirondack “Park” and they’ll tell you the real reason – a walk
through many parts of this “park” is like walking on concrete.
There’s no undergrowth. The bottom layers of the forest don’t exist
any longer because we’re not allowed to cut down the large trees
that shade the forest floor.
State land? No way. Can’t cut it. Have to leave it “forever wild,”
even if nothing wild ever lives there again.
Enter the spruce grouse. Its numbers are down to between 100 and
200. Biologists guess that those numbers are still dropping. The
“Our studies suggest that the spruce grouse may be declining now
because of changes in forest structure and composition related to
the maturation of coniferous forests,” said one such
Gee, ya think?
So now they have a plan to save the spruce grouse. And it may
include habitat restoration by removing the old trees to let young
ones grow in the understory – something that responsible forest
landowners around the world have been doing for eons.
But there’s the problem. New York state is hardly a responsible
So now, it’s going to cost us.
We’re losing the spruce grouse, and I don’t want to even think
about the ripple effects for other species – songbirds,
white-tailed deer, the ruffed grouse, turkeys, the list goes on and
on and on and on.
But what will it cost us in terms of dollars that the state doesn’t
even have to spend?
A state agency enforces the laws that say we can’t cut trees. A
state agency does a study that says we’re losing habitat because
there are no young trees. A state agency creates a plan to cut the
trees the other state agency says we can’t and oh, by the way,
they’ll have to do that on private land, probably with some other
state agency providing grant money. And yes, there is a state
agency that will maybe even try to import more spruce grouse from
other northern forest areas to the Adirondacks, where we still
can’t cut any of those state trees.
It’s New York state.