What Is a Tree? NY Court Sets Out to Decide

ALBANY (AP) -

The definition of a tree is at the heart of a lawsuit claiming new snowmobile trails being carved through the Adirondack forest violate the “forever wild” clause of New York’s constitution.

The environmental group Protect the Adirondacks sued the state in 2013 over so-called “community connector” trails being built by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The group contends the 9-to-12-foot-wide trails are more like roads than typical snowmobile trails, and will destroy more than 31,000 trees. They claim that violates the state constitutional clause forbidding substantial removal of trees from the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

The DEC, which counts only trees at least three inches in diameter, says the number cleared is far lower than Protect contends.

State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly heard arguments Monday in Albany.