Let me state up front that I have the highest regard for most of the work accomplished by the DEC. My late father was once a proud employee. Without them there’d be anarchy in the woods and on the water. However, they’re not as infallible as they might want us to believe. Without ever acknowledging who made the decision to remove the stumps and that the decision was a boo-boo, the public affairs wheels began to spin. The final DEC judgment, “The stumps were a safety hazard.”
Hey, in my previous life as a bureaucrat I used that escape clause myself. Only if I said it I was required to prove it. I worked in Arlington, Virginia which is populated by congresspersons, senators, federal bureaucrats, astronauts and more lawyers than fleas on a junkyard dog’s patootie. I played to a tough crowd my friends. They only believed what they said.
The safety hazard shtick deflects criticism in many instances. However in this case, the stumps were located 200 feet from the boat channel leading to the boat launch and 70 feet inside the nearest hazard buoy marking the shallow sandy area. Shame on any boater that comes inside hazard buoys. Don’t hazard buoys mark hazards? Boaters would be more likely to go aground before they hit the stumps. The safety hazard shtick smells like a CYA duck. I asked the Public Affairs guy to provide me with historic Seventh Lake boating accident reports which include the Buck’s Hollow stumps, knowing full well there aren’t any. I kinda did it for fun to be honest.
I did receive some attitude from the poor Public Affairs rep. Thanks to me, I truly believe that the guy thinks there are people in Inlet who worship stumps. His exact words were that we “have an attachment to stumps.” Kinda like shelf fungus I guess. I believe he thinks that the hundreds of folks who have enjoyed the view in and around Remus and Romulus for the past century belong to some kinda stump cult. Well, I do sport a beard and my eyes sometimes glaze over like Charlie Manson. The DEC rep went so far as to tell me that they are willing to move the stumps come winter/spring when lake water levels are down, to somewhere else on the shoreline. For the “stumper cult” that’s like saying we’ll move the Statue of Liberty to Central Park. Hey, same city.
I attempted to explain that once the stumps were moved, their cultural and historical value was lost. Now they’re just like any other beached stumps thanks to you safety conscience DEC guys. Wink, wink. The fact is the stumps are now a greater “safety hazard” on the beach where they’re easily accessible to climbing kids and beach vandals. You might just as well cut them up and get them the heck off our beach this summer before someone really gets hurt. Why not hire an Inlet tree company to do the job so you can at least claim that the demise of the stumps helped the local economy. It’s a stretch but what’s a public affairs office for.
Honest Express subscribers, I never intended to prolong the agony of the “2012 Great Buck’s Hollow Stump Rip-off.” I figured by making an issue outta leaving a couple of historic stumps in a Region 5 lake, I could help alleviate potential work overload for DEC crews. But now there’s an increased potential for safety minded citizens to request that the DEC come to their lake and haul away ostensibly dangerous stumps, trees, boulders and great blue herons. Great blue herons can poke out your eyes. Removing naturally occurring lake features is obviously a higher priority in Saranac Lake than we imagined.
If you’ve ever been to the DEC’s Too Long Lake boat launch you know there are a hundred stumps in the cove immediately adjacent to the boat ramp. I sure hope Sigourney never wrecks on one of those Too Long Lake stumps. There’ll be hell to pay. I thought about how many boats must have piled up on those stumps over the past century and considered complaining, but I believe I’ve worn out my welcome at Region 5. I’m pretty sure that the Region 5 Public Affairs Office no longer appreciates the fact that I’m still breathing.
Anyhow, I promised myself that I would write one more “Stumper Cult” column and let the chips fall where they may. This is the column. I’ll now return to my silly insignificant life, sit on the beach in my folding chair, have a brewski, peek around hazardous Remus and Romulus out across lovely Seventh Lake and dream up DEC conspiracy theories. Maybe people who fight authority and win can pick up my trampled guidon. As for me, my record remains unblemished. I fought authority and authority won. I’m, once again, but a beaten hulk. I shall drown my sorrows in a vat of Guinness Extra Stout.
Like Lieutenant Dan, it’s my destiny.