Cellular "Frankenpine" won't blend into park, critics say

by Associated Press

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

ALBANY, New York — Modern technology could alter a pristine Adirondack landscape that's captivated artists for more than a century.

Nextel Partners is proposing a 114-foot tower to provide cellular phone service for its customers along the eastern part of Lake George, including an area known as the Million Dollar Beach. The tower would be painted brown, with fake branches attached to camouflage it as a white pine, even though it would be 30 feet taller than any surrounding tree.

"We think this will be very unobtrusive," said Michael Rapp of Nextel, based in Kirkland, Washington. "The mountain continues to climb up and it will blend into that background."

But critics are dubbing the faux tree "Frankenpine." The tower would soar from a forested peninsula known as Pilot Knob in the town of Fort Ann up Buck Mountain, a subject painted by Georgia O'Keefe and others in works hanging in galleries from Manhattan to Washington, D.C.

"Placing a steel and plastic cell tower above the tops of every tree in the forest on Pilot Knob would be like painting a beard and mustache on the Mona Lisa," said Brian Houseal of The Adirondack Council, an environmental group. "The landscape around Pilot Knob is an American icon."

Hearings are being held on the matter, and authorities won't vote on it before September.

Those who favor keeping the Adirondacks free of modern intrusions scored an unrelated victory on July 9 when the state Adirondack Park Agency banned the use of all-terrain vehicles on trails in sensitive wild forest areas in the western park. The action bans ATVs on 26 roads covering 44 miles in the Aldridge Pond wild forest area; 31 roads covering 44 miles in the Black River wild forest; and 68 roads covering 66 miles in the Independence River wild forest area.

The ruling leaves no public area for ATVs in the 6-million-acre park, which is made up of public and private land. ATVs will still be allowed in the area for disabled riders, owners on their own property, and some hunters with state permits.

Conservationists say high-powered ATVs have caused ruts and erosion and destroyed trails. Riders say banning the vehicles will hurt the local economy.

Source: Associated Press



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