A tale of Schroon Lake, New York, that sounds a little like Libby, Montana
Updated: 11:54 am, Fri Aug 2, 2013.
Letter to the Editor,
Why being from New York has given me a clear eye to what is happening to Montana:
I’m an “outsider” or as a friend from Libby used to call me, “an immigrant.” I’m reminded of that from time to time with both jest and suspicion I fully understand this and have no problem accepting it.
I didn’t have the luck to be born in Montana, but I had the common sense to find my way to Montana so I can live out the rest of my days here. I love Montana, especially Libby. That is why I need now to warn my fellow neighbors as to the changes I see happening here.
I didn’t move here to change Montana into another New York, or California. I came here to enjoy the common-sense freedoms I could never have known in New York. I came here to be left alone. I didn’t move here to shove the madness that I escaped back east down the throat of Montana.
So, it breaks my heart so see Montana, and my beloved Libby, morphing into everything I hated about progressive New York.
Libby is presently being turned into the town of Schroon Lake, New York. It’s a change that has been happening long before I moved here, but I see it clear as a bell. I’ve warned a Lincoln County Commissioner that Libby is being shaped into what Schroon Lake is today. There seemed no concern on his part so now I’m telling it to you, my neighbors, directly.
For Schroon Lake, like in Libby, lumber was the backbone of its early economy. That all changed after the well-off businessmen found the area. Like Libby, Schroon Lake is now situated in a park, the Adirondack Park. This is where the similarities between the two towns ramp up.
Wikipedia describes the park this way; “The Adirondack Park is a publicly protected, elliptical area encompassing much of the northeastern lobe of Upstate New York, United States. It is the largest park and the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States, and the largest National Historic Landmark. The park covers some 6.1 million acres, a land area roughly the size of Vermont and greater than the national parks of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Great Smoky Mountains combined.”
That’s a lot of land under the thumb of government. The Adirondacks became the lab from which other parks and preserves would follow regarding “forever wild” laws and management. Those who started this push for the park were the businessmen of the mid-1800s. They wanted to curtail the timber industry fearing it would have an adverse impact on water and the Erie Canal, the lifeblood of their empires. They soon involved government and conservationists to push their agenda. (Any of this starting to sound familiar yet?)
Eventually, New York developed the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1970, which today lords over all who live, play and work within the park. The DEC decides everything for the good people of Schroon Lake and the Adirondacks; from how many tourists can walk trails (“limiting group size will minimize impact to the natural resource and will protect the experiences of other wilderness users.”) to how a private property owner may and may not cut and sell trees from his land (DEC must review and approve proposals for: Harvesting near wild, scenic or recreational rivers, etc., etc.)
Schroon Lake beat Libby by having both sustainable development and smart growth plans. Yes, the DEC hired true outsiders, with green agendas to become planning consultants. These planning consultants allied up with well-connected families in the area to get help in pushing their green agenda.
Those consultants made buying and developing land around Schroon Lake and other small towns in the Adirondacks into something that became very complicated and too expensive for the average local people to do.
Once again, Big Brother government picking winners and losers. Eventually, only wealthy outsiders could afford to jump through the DEC’s expensive hoops to build and pay taxes on fancy mansions sprinkled throughout the Park. Only they could afford to pay for the lawyers, designers, green products, permits and the rest of the circus needed to build a home or develop land.
So, what has become of the local “everyday Joe” of Schroon Lake? Well, basically, the same thing that has happened to us. With no industry to speak of, except for that of lower-paying jobs in the tourist industry, most of the younger generation has moved on to places where they could have careers.
Multiple government agencies hired small armies of outsider bureaucrats to implement all the DEC’s laws and regulations. Families that lived there for generations struggle to stay, make ends meet and pay their property taxes.
Politicians crow about getting grant money that will be used to promote and further more green agendas, (“$123,000 to Hamilton County for the ‘Adirondack Park Economic Development Strategy,’ utilizing smart growth principles in a park-wide action plan to improve economic conditions. Partners in the project will include: Adirondack Community Housing Trust, Adirondack Landowners Association, North Country Chamber of Commerce, Paul Smith’s College, The Center for Economic Growth, Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Commission and The Adirondack Council.)
Like the metal artwork depicting logging trucks that used to welcome visitors on Highway 2 into Lincoln County, the true culture and heritage of the people of Schroon Lake has been eradicated.
Their mills are long gone and forgotten. The seasonal vacation home owners indulge their egos by changing names of places to sound more “trendy” (Long live St. John’s Hospital). They then hire “the locals” to shovel the snow from their roofs over the winter and fly back home at the first sign of fall.
In their wake they leave the rest of us behind to struggle with their rules and regulations on how we should live, heat our homes and work our land. I love the people of Schroon Lake. They are good, hardworking people who sadly lost the war before the first battle was ever waged.
But it isn’t too late for us here in Libby. We need to stand up and stop this in its tracks, here and now.
All I ask of you is to not take my word on any of this. That’s right, don’t trust this former New Yorker, but don’t listen to those who may tell you there is nothing to this letter.
Do your own homework. Go research the facts of this letter. Go to and read what New York’s DEC has done (http://www.dec.ny.gov/index.html) and know that these things are “something wicked this way comes.” Then stand up to your elected officials and tell them you want to take back Libby’s future. Tell them you don’t want them turning Libby into Schroon Lake, New York. I know your brothers and sisters in Schroon Lake are cheering you on. They told me so.
Now, network together and take back your future.