|On July 30th 2002, the New York State DEC and OPRHP held their initial hearing on the new Unit Management Plan (UMP)
regarding the 8 Lake Champlain Islands owned by the state. The hearing, in
this writers opinion, was a success and a excellent start along the road
to making a difference for Crab Island.
While I personally was somewhat disappointed that attendance wasn't
higher, the crowd did fill up probably 3/4 of the auditorium at Clinton
Community College in Plattsburgh. I was pleased when one DEC
official told me that per capita, this was the most successful UMP hearing
he had attended by way of number of comments/remarks by the public. He
also commented at how impressed he was with the passion expressed by the
public in their comments.
To their credit, state officials were there in
abundance. I don't have all their names and titles but I did have
the opportunity to speak with Kevin Kieff, Regional Director of
OPRHP's Thousand Islands Region (which has jurisdiction over Crab Island
because it lies outside the Adirondack Park). Stuart Buchanan,
NY DEC's Regional
Director of Region 5, was there, as was Charles Vandrei,
DEC's historic preservation officer. The meeting was set up to allow for
plenty of interaction with the state officials before and after the
session, an opportunity that seemed to be well-used.
Not surprisingly, Crab and Valcour Islands were the main focus of
public comment. Those who spoke about Valcour addressed issues such as
boat mooring, campsite issues and 'loving the island to death'. I'm happy
to say that many comments were made regarding Crab Island, including (of
course) passionate remarks by this writer. Roger Harwood spoke as
only he can
about the island, John Rock, who has worked so hard to get the flagpole
back in place, addressed the crowd, as did CCHA Director John Krueger.
Addie Shields, Clinton County Historian; one of the most loved and respected local historians
in the area, spoke on the historical significance of our region and the
sanctity of war graves. One of the highlights of the evening was when
Vietnam Veteran Jim Dooley (seriously wounded in that conflict and
an American hero in his own right) stood up to share his views about
leaving those who died for their country in an unmarked, mass grave.
Despite the fact that Mr. Dooley spoke softly, enough heard and were
touched by his words to have been moved to sustained applause.
The state officials explained the UMP process in a series of PowerPoint
presentations. Mr.Vandrei and Daniel Levy presented an overview of
the islands; with short histories. There were exhibits and displays set
up; including photos, maps, and one of the plaques recently released for
display at the Clinton County Historical Association Museum.
I'm optimistic folks. We can keep our fingers crossed but that won't do
it. We need to continue to work together. Please consider sending your
written remarks to DEC and OPRHP officials. In my opinion, nothing would
help like having a prominent politician on board. If you know one of the
key NYS members of Congress, even if you don't know one of the key
NYS members of Congress, please help enlighten them about the plight of
Crab Island. They are the key to releasing funds and making things move
along in a timely fashion.
You can accomplish a lot. Your views matter, and NYS officials
have assured us that your written remarks hold weight and are considered.
Refer to our Crab Island Action Page for contact information-
Thank you for reading, thank you for caring, and thank you for your
support of Crab Island and America's Historic Lakes.