To the editor:
As a former resident of Syracuse, I have spent some time skiing and camping in the Adirondacks. Though I now live in Woodstock, Vt., I enjoy Mountain Lake public television. This past Friday evening I watched with more than passing interest a discussion on Mountain Lake PBS on the rail or trail proposal for the Adirondack corridor.
As I listened to the points made by each party, I could not help but conclude that the rail proponents seemed far more sensitive to effects of each proposal on the pricelessness of such an irreplaceable wild area. A rail line would tread far more softly and be so much more effective in allowing access to a sensitive area with minimal deleterious sequeli. I thought to myself a point no one made: That is that a rail line is dead silent for likely 99 percent of the minutes in a day. Compare this to the almost constant cacophony and noxious air of a typical, busy snowmobile trail, and there is no comparison. A trail occupied by snowmobiles is not going to be a venue that would be pleasant, or safe, for skiers or anyone seeking a wilderness experience. And how does anyone access on foot or bicycle a trail of some 100 miles? It is hard enough to get many to walk across a parking lot to the mall. Also, a rail line would serve all comers: young, old, handicapped, athletic, not so athletic, economically well off and, with some aid, the less fortunate. It would permit access without reliance on automobiles and the congestion and suburban-like sprawl they bring. By contrast, a rail station encourages more walkable, concentrated development that is more consistent with environmental consciousness and a stress-free experience that may well differ in very positive ways from one's usual suburban life. Anything that facilitates or encourages walking has to be considered as very positive. And to the extent that the experience differs markedly and positively from one's day-to-day life, visiting an area such as this has positive contrast value. This can only encourage more visitors.
The trail people mentioned nothing about any of what I have mentioned above. Their only argument was money. It would bring money into the area. Well, need I say that this a just a bit short-sighted. They mentioned that local residents also favored their trail position. My question to that is, are local residents well informed? Do they understand the ecological and environmental implications of each proposal? How well educated are they? What is their level of consciousness of all these effects? The trail proponents strike me as self-indulgent, thrill-seeking, adolescent-like individuals who care not at all about the implications of their proposal. I cannot help but ask myself if these people are no more than narcissistic thrill seekers. The simple truth is that a 100-plus-mile trail is not going to allow the general public to partake in a wilderness experience the way rail access would do for all in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable manner.
For the sake of preserving a priceless and wild asset, I sincerely hope reason, sensitivity and knowledge prevail and the rail option is selected.