The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is a New York State government agency, consisting of 54 staff and an eleven-member board. In 1971 the APA was created by the State Legislature to develop long-range public and private land use plans for the largest park in the continental United States.
In remembrance of Richard Persico 1933 – 2021
The Adirondack Park Agency extends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Richard Persico who passed away on August 5th, 2021. Dick Persico had a distinguished career as an environmental lawyer which included drafting the legislation that enacted into law the Adirondack Park Private Land Use and Development Plan. As the first Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Agency, Richard Persico’s leadership ensured the Agency survived the tumultuous early years. Richard Persico’s career included serving as Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and as General Counsel to the Olympic Regional Development Authority. The Adirondack Park Agency is forever grateful for the momentous accomplishments of Richard Persico.
2020 APA Annual Report
APA Executive Director Terry Martino said, “We will always remember 2020 as a year of crisis when individuals, communities, organizations and businesses faced relentless change due to a global pandemic. I am pleased to share with you the accomplishments of the Adirondack Park Agency for the year 2020 which document resiliency, adaptability and achievement. I express my appreciation to the staff and Board who remain committed to the high standards expected of the Agency by all of us who love the Adirondack Park.”
Please click 2020 Annual Report to download report
Following current State directives and guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Adirondack Park Agency has implemented precautionary protocols for staff and their interactions with the public. To achieve the most efficient response, please call our main number at 518-891-4050 or please email your inquiry to [email protected]
The Agency is closed to walk-in consultations at this time. Please call the Agency regarding any consultation needs.
The Agency continues to electronically accept jurisdictional inquiries, applications, and related submissions. Please submit all jurisdictional inquiries to [email protected] The new electronic jurisdictional inquiry form cannot be completed online. Instead, to complete the Agency's electronic jurisdictional inquiry form please download the form, fill it out completely, sign electronically per the instructions provided, save the form, attach a copy plus any other required documents to an email, and submit to [email protected] If you are unable to submit via email, hard copy submissions are accepted, although delays may occur. Please be advised that many email systems may automatically filter .gov emails to junk mail. Please alter your email settings to accept emails ending in @apa.ny.gov or frequently check your junk file.
Please send applications and submissions by email to [email protected] All applications and submissions should be in PDF or similar format and be legible. Electronic copies of plans must be fully scalable. Applications must contain scans of signatures affixed by hand or electronic signatures consistent with the Electronic Signatures and Records Act.
The Agency will continue to evaluate wetland delineations and soils analysis/deep hole test pits provided by private consultant professionals. Confirmation of results through staff inspection may be required. The Agency maintains lists of consultants in the Adirondack Park that perform these services. The lists can be found at www.apa.ny.gov/Forms/index.cfm, under the “Help for Applicants” link.
Please direct all media inquiries to the Agency’s Public Information Officer Keith McKeever via email at [email protected] or by phone at 518-354-9698.
Link to Governor Kathy Hochul's COVID-19 Updates
2019 Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan
The August 2019 version of the APSLMP contains the latest State Land Classification and Reclassification Actions including the final tract of the historic Finch Pruyn & Company land deal – the 20,543 acre Boreas Ponds parcel. The State’s unprecedented, multi-year land transaction with The Nature Conservancy resulted in the acquisition and classification of nearly 65,000 acres of globally significant forests. This represents the largest Forest Preserve expansion in the history of the Adirondack Park.
In addition, revisions to the definition of the Travel Corridor Classification and related management guidelines are included. The Travel Corridor revisions maximize public recreational opportunities, broaden economic impact and ensure the protection of the Park’s unique natural and historic resources.
To download the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan please click here
Was the Adirondack Park Agency duped?
To the editor:
The Adirondack Park Agency mandate is to “ensure compliance with the laws the Agency administers,” including the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Act. Instead, the APA did the exact opposite with a recent decision permitting the virtual destruction of a Category 1 Wetland — the highest designation for a wetland — on Lot 9, Deerwood, Upper Saranac Lake. For no apparent reason, other than convenience of the new landowner, APA issued an amended permit.
This ecologic system is extremely valuable to maintain USL water quality as two freshwater streams feed the lake via this strategic wetland. The site is replete with old-growth trees and native plant species not often found elsewhere. Bobcat, fox, turkey, and deer use the property while bald eagle sit atop highest trees often as heron fish at the shore. In the recent annual loon count, eight loons were counted directly in front of Lot 9, often the case. This is a rare and special habitat that must be responsibly managed not damaged.
No one disputes the development of a new home on this site consistent with existing environmental regulations and building constraints known to the new owner before purchase. This issue galvanized the entire community. Over 70 letters from homeowners, USLA, USF, Adirondack Council, Center for Loon Conservation, wetland ecologist, environmental scientist, and engineers all are simply asking that any development permitted must comply with original restrictions and conditions of the Deerwood APA Permit 87-74.
However, based on communications, obtained by Freedom of Information Law, between applicant, or his representative, and APA employees prior to ruling, the APA assured approval before a permit amendment request was submitted. Could this be a case of preferential special interest treatment? Of course, we all hope not, but something is amiss here.
Curiously, APA staff spoke casually about the application leading most to feel this was nothing to be concerned about. On the contrary, this is a precedent setting decision that will open floodgates to a wide range of ecological destruction.
<> APA decided in error and failed to consider objective, science-based technical information on permit amendment.
<> APA was presented with incomplete and inaccurate plans that failed to delineate water bodies even though streams and a connecting network of freshwater beneath the bog mats existing on the lot, topography and other information to make an informed decision.
<> APA ignored independent, outside experts including 2 licensed professional engineers, an environmental scientist, and a wetland ecologist- all advised against proceeding with the project.
<> APA failed to consider any of these comments and refused to meet with adjacent property owners, professionals, concerned residents and lake associations before rendering their decision.
Was the APA duped? They have the authority to reevaluate the application with verifiable documentation. The APA must right this wrong. They must also send a clear message of “never again” by pursuing legal action, if warranted, against anyone knowingly submitting a deceptive application.
APA, do your job managing the Adirondacks from reckless destruction by reversing this decision.
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Adirondack Park Agency Board Appointments Improved: Adirondack Clean Water, Air and Wildland Preservation Advocates Say Thank You
John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340
Ben Brosseau, Adirondack Mountain Club, 518-217-8072
Raybrook, NY – June 9, 2020 – The Adirondack Park’s largest conservation and recreation advocates today thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for nominating a full slate of candidates for the Adirondack Park Agency’s decision-making board that includes individuals with experience in environmental law, science, planning, and wilderness preservation.
The new slate is expected to be approved by the NYS Senate this week as the Legislature returns to address police brutality and accountability.
Currently, the APA board has no chair. Of the eight citizen members of the APA board, nominations are needed to fill three vacant seats, four expired terms and one seat whose term expires at the end of this month.
“We urged Governor Cuomo and the Senate to agree on, appoint and confirm a full and diverse slate that combined new and returning candidates including conservationists with experience in land use, planning, environmental science, wilderness management and conservation law, who would together improve the Park Agency,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “We are thankful. No one got everything they wanted, but everyone benefits from a full board with diversity and that is what we got.”
“This is much improved over the options the Senate was given in 2019, which was an incomplete slate of candidates,” said Michael Barrett, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. “Last year’s list contained some good people, but it was not possible to judge how the whole board would look. This time is different. This list contains people with many of the skills that we were hoping to see on the board, and we look forward to working with them all to sustain the success of the Adirondack Park for everyone.”
Nominated by the Governor were environmental scientist Zoe Smith; Former Supervisor for the Town of Fine Mark Hall; Supervisor for the Town of Johnsburg Andrea Hogan; Lake Placid resort owner Art Lussi; former Lake Pleasant Town Supervisor Dan Wilt; recently retired former Central New York Regional Director for the Dept. of Environmental Conservation, and lawyer, Ken Lynch. Re-nominated to a new term was Elk Lake Lodge owner and environmental philanthropist John Ernst. Wilderness preservation author and college professor Chad Dawson’s term doesn’t expire until June 30.
“Despite difficult times, we thank the Governor for listening to the Adirondack environmental groups and offering an improved full slate of candidates,” said Ben Mastaitis, Chair of ADK’s Conservation Committee.
Adirondack Council Chair Michael Bettmann said “We appreciate the Governor for understanding that the Adirondacks are a unique national treasure that needs strong protetions and a full diverse Adirondack Park Agency board to address unprecedented threats.”
The Adirondack Park encompasses 9,300 square miles of public and private forest lands covering one-fifth of New York’s land mass. It comprises the world’s largest intact temperate, deciduous forest and is the largest park in the contiguous United States.
It includes 2.7 million acres of constitutionally protected public Forest Preserve; more than 750,000 acres of private forest protected from development by state conservation easements; and 90 percent of the wilderness and old growth forests remaining in the Northeast.
The park agency oversees land-use, planning and zoning on both public and private lands, in cooperation with other state agencies.
Serving as an APA board member is a complex task. It requires a detailed understanding of 14 separate public and private land use classifications and how they work together to protect the wild character and ecological health of the park. It requires skill and experience to protect this national treasure while also hosting 12.4 million visitors per year and serving as a home to more than 130,000 year-round residents, and nearly twice as many seasonal residents.
The APA board at full capacity includes 11 members: three represent state agencies, three must live outside of the Adirondack Park, and five must live in one of the 12 Adirondack counties and be full-time residents of the Park. The eight citizen members are nominated by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate. APA Board members serve four-year terms, two of which expire each year. No more than five of the eight members can be registered with one political party. No county may have more than one citizen board member.
The structure of the appointees is designed to represent statewide interests in the Park, while protecting local rights.
When the Legislature created the APA in 1971, it sought to make it independent from the Governor’s day-to-day influence by granting board members four-year terms during which they couldn’t be removed from office, except for official misconduct. However, APA board members whose terms have expired may be replaced with new nominees any time the Senate agrees.
Adirondack Park Agency
|Headquarters||Ray Brook, New York|
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) was created in 1971 by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as a governmental agency that performs long-range planning for the future of the Adirondack Park. It oversees development plans of private land-owners as well as activities within the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Development by private owners must be reviewed to determine if their plan is compatible with the park. The agency is headquartered in Ray Brook, New York.
From its inception in 1892, the six-million-acre (24,000 km²) Adirondack Park, which is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and Everglades National Parks combined, has been a battleground between those who would preserve wilderness and proponents of the development rights of property owners. The Adirondack Park Agency was created in an attempt to settle many of these longstanding issues. It has been controversial from the outset.
The Adirondack Park is unique in that more than half of the land in the park is privately held. The APA was formed in response to a perceived threat to the integrity of the privately held portion, which, at the time, was in the hands of only a few hundred owners. The completion of the Adirondack Northway in 1967 drastically increased the pressure brought by developers for second home developments. The agency's first task was to create a master plan, followed by a zoning map and land use plan. This zoning map breaks the park up into different sections, and the land use that will be allowed on that particular piece of land is determined by the classification that it is given. The classifications are broken up into two sections, private land classification, and state land classification. Private land classifications are the most controversial because they determine what people can do on their own land. The different classifications for private land include hamlet, low-intensity use, moderate intensity use, rural use, resource management use, and industrial use. Citizens living in the park believe that much of the land is incorrectly classified. This is partly because the entire 6 million acres were classified in only eight months. A land classification can be changed through the APA, but it is a long process. Many[who?] argue that the whole map should be remade.
The land use plan, in particular, ignited a storm of controversy. The idea of non-residents from Albany and New York City dictating to residents of the park what they could and could not do with their own land caused a great deal of resentment among the traditionally independent-minded "Adirondackers". Anonymous phone calls threatened to burn the homes of APA members, truckloads of manure were dumped on agency land, a man was caught in the act of attempting to burn the new agency headquarters, and one town voted to secede from the park. While most park residents were opponents of the APA, some, notably Clarence Petty, supported it.
Initially, the APA handled matters poorly, and sentiment ran strongly against it. Then, in 1972, the Horizon Corporation of Tucson, Arizona, purchased 24,000 acres (97 km2) within the park and announced plans to build 10,000 new homes, along with golf courses, and ski areas. Other plans for 4,000 homes on 18,000 acres (73 km2) were under development. Suddenly the Park Agency's land use plan looked much more reasonable to many more people,[who?] and the continued existence of the agency assured.
The work of the APA remains controversial, however, with many of its actions drawing lawsuits from one side or the other. Recent issues have revolved around cell phone towers along the Northway and on Lake George, all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile access to park lands, floating camps and/or houseboats, and, as always, subdivisions. A number of organizations continue to monitor its actions, including the Adirondack Council, the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Land Trust.
- Angus, Christopher, The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8156-0741-5.
- McMartin, Barbara, Perspectives on the Adirondacks, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8156-0742-3
- Zinser, Charles I., Economic Impact of the Adirondack Private Land Use and Development Plan, State University of New York Press, 1980. ISBN 978-0-87395-399-3.
"Maps & Geographic Information Systems (GIS)." Adirondack Park Agency Maps and GIS. NYS Adirondack Park Agency, 2003. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. <http://apa.ny.gov/gis/>.
Agency adirondack park
Remembering an Adirondack legend
Richard Persico led the Adirondack Park Agency through its tumultuous early years
By Tim Rowland
In 1973, years’ worth of exceedingly painstaking scouting, planning, mapping, theorizing, lawyering, writing, editing, re-editing and counter-editing had been distilled into one typewritten sheaf of paperwork, the finely crafted legislation authorizing that would become magnum opus for top-down zoning in the Adirondack Park. It was scarcely hyperbole to say that this document would directly affect the lives of everyone living in or visiting that park forevermore.
And it was missing.
This of course was in the days that preceded file sharing and Google Docs. Last minute changes were penciled into the margins of the one copy of existence, and then the whole shebang was typed up and stuffed into the briefcase of Bill Kissel, who, along with fellow attorney and state planner Richard Persico, decided to celebrate the end of a long exhaustive process with a nightcap.
The briefcase, destined to become the Amelia Earhart of attachés, made it to the bar, then vanished forever without a trace. Only one thing saved them: At the last minute, Persico had decided to make a copy — a time-consuming process on the relatively new technology known as the Xerox machine. “It was quite late, and those days when you finished you went out for a drink,” Kissel said. “We were literally out of the door when he said, ‘I think I’ll make a copy.’ I said, ‘no, no, let’s do it in the morning,’ but he insisted.”
It would not be the last time that Persico, who passed away last month at the age of 88, would ride to the rescue of Adirondack land use law and the agency charged with its enforcement.
Later named the Adirondack Park Agency’s first executive director, he took the reins of “a very underfunded agency that had a ridiculous assignment,” said Brad Edmondson, whose book “A Wild Idea” documents the birth of Adirondack land-use planning, and recounts the briefcase story. “He steered the APA along a sustainable path that allowed its continued existence.”
During his impactful career, Persico was at the center of other environmental flashpoints, including the cleanup of Love Canal and Hudson River PCBs, which he addressed while serving as deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In 1987, he worked on the constitutional amendment expanding Whiteface Mountain ski trails, while serving as general counsel to the Olympic Regional Development Agency.
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But for all his many and varied accomplishments, it was his involvement with what former APA lawyer and Executive Director Bob Glennon describes as the “Big Bang” of Adirondack land-use law for which Persico will be most remembered.
Persico not only drafted the legislation, he became the first executive director of the agency charged with enforcing the new law, which was effectively a zoning ordinance for a territory the size of Vermont. Hated by locals, viewed with suspicion by hard-line environmentalists, Dick Persico was the essential leavening agent for achievable wilderness protection, and the embodiment of the axiom that if both sides are irritated with you, you must be doing something right.
To those who knew him best, Persico was a skilled strategist with a warm sense of humor who mentored and cared deeply for those with whom he worked.
“As the first Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Agency, Persico’s leadership ensured the agency survived the tumultuous early years. “The Adirondack Park Agency is forever grateful for the momentous accomplishments of Richard Persico. All staff are motivated and inspired knowing that we truly follow in the footsteps of giants.”— Keith McKeever, APA Public Information Officer
To the people who lived it, this is not an overstatement. “We definitely had the sense that something big was happening,” said Glennon, whose resume includes surprising and tackling a would-be arsonist who was trying to burn down the original APA headquarters.
Native Adirondackers in the early ’70s realized that something big was happening as well, and weren’t terribly pleased about it. Many felt they were losing the right to do with their private property as they pleased, and part of Persico’s job was to absorb their blows.
“He was the embodiment of the big, bad state,” Edmondson said. “But he was very, very skillful, and it was this cunning that allowed Persico to succeed.” For example, he would quietly meet with town supervisors and develop some level of understanding, even as the people in their towns were shaking their pitchforks.
Unlike some of the environmentalists, Persico felt that at least a small amount of local buy-in was crucial to the law’s overall success. “He would say the plan needs to be balanced, and that we needed to take local concerns into consideration,” Kissel said. “He would say it’s not as much what the message is, as much as how you deliver that message.”
The strategy was successful, but barely. “A lot of the anger was directed right at him; I don’t know how he did it sometimes,” Kissel said.
The son of blue-collar glove makers living in Gloversville, Persico was not a child of privilege, as were many leading environmentalists at the time. This perhaps gave him a better understanding of the great crowds of angry people who would descend at public hearings demanding the whole land-use plan be scrapped.
“He spent a lot of time mending fences and building bridges,” Edmondson said. “He took the wind out of the sails of the APA haters.”
But that took compromise, and some felt the Adirondack wilderness was too valuable to play politics with. Peter Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of Adirondack land-use law, said he and Persico worked closely in drafting the early legislation, an area in which Persico was remarkably skilled. But as the future law was being written, “I would get thrown out of the room because I wouldn’t agree to concessions,” Paine said.
But once the law was passed, Persico’s political skills were invaluable. “He had the genius of (avoiding) areas that he knew would be a dead end,” Paine said. “He became executive director of the APA when its very existence was at stake. In those critical early years, I don’t think it would have survived without him.”
The APA’s beginnings
Read our nine-part series that tells the story of the at-times contentious campaign to create the Adirondack Park Agency, which marks its 50th anniversary this year. Adapted from the new book “A Wild Idea: How the Environmental Movement Tamed the Adirondacks,” author Brad Edmondson interviewed more than 50 people who fought for and against the APA, some of whom have since died.
Those who worked with him described him as a friend with charm and humor who was never too busy to sit down and explain complex concepts to newbies. “He was an incredible guy, very talented and very committed,” Kissel said. “There wasn’t anyone more qualified than him, and beyond that he was just a swell guy.”
And he understood the value, when events warrant, of tiptoeing out of the room.
Glennon recalled standing at the back of a packed auditorium at the Clifton-Fine Central School during a speak-out sponsored by the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board. There were “hundreds of people, all loudly proclaiming the evils of the APA,” Glennon said. “We were very glad to see a number of State Troopers standing in the back with us.”
Especially when the executive director of the board made note of their presence, and hundreds of heads turned to face the enemy. With renewed energy the angry comments kept coming until the meeting’s end — at which point the two bureaucrats noticed that the troopers had disappeared.
“We somehow made it to Dick’s little two-seater car in the unlit parking lot,” Glennon recalled. “Just at that very second, with one foot in the car, there came a voice out of the pitch black: ‘Hey fellas, could I talk to you?’ My life flashed before my eyes, but it turned out the guy was civil — just had a few questions.”
Which Dick Persico, as always, was more than happy to answer.
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Tags: adirondack park agency, adirondackers, regulators and rebelsSours: https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/stories/remembering-an-adirondack-legend
The Adirondack Park Agency Collection at St. Lawrence University has three sections. The first section consists of the papers of George D. Davis who served as Wildlife Ecologist for the Temporary State Commission on the Adirondacks.
The second section of the Adirondack Park Agency Collection consists of clippings about the Adirondack Region, the Adirondack Park Agency and the Horizon Development planned for Colton, NY.
The third series of the Adirondack Park Agency Collection consist of additional materials obtain from various sources. The materials include pamphlets, booklets, Newsline editions, annual reports, etc.
The Adirondack Park Agency was created July 1, 1971 by executive law article twenty-seven program bill #102. The purpose of the APA was to insure conservation, protection, preservation, development and use of the scenic, historic, ecological and natural resources of the Adirondack Park. Collection consists of the papers of George Davis who served as Wildlife Ecologist for the Temporary Study Commission on the future of the Adirondacks. Mr. Davis' papers are concerned with the Commission and the numerous studies and background information gathered in reaching the conclusion to establish the Adirondack Park Agency. The second series includes several scrapbooks of clippings on the Adirondack region, the APA, the proposed Horizon Development one planned for the Town of Colton, and New York State and St. Lawrence County clippings. Most material in the scrapbooks are from 1970-1973.
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You want. I thought a little and said: Okay, Helen. She nodded to me and I left the office. Nastya was standing in front of me.