Posts Tagged ‘Trails – Access – Navigation Rights’

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jack Drury: A Proposal For Rail AND Trail

Rail.locator (2)(1)I’ve been an advocate of more recreational trails throughout the park for a long time. I also feel that we’ll be cheated if we don’t try our damnedest to try to have a rail and trail, side by side where possible and intersecting when not.

In a March 16 letter to the Utica Observer Dispatch respected trail advocate Tony Goodwin noted that a rail with trail, “… is not physically possible” and that:  “Periodically leaving the corridor is so far just talk. A year ago, Tupper Lake rail supporters formed a committee to look at a parallel trail from Tupper Lake to the campground at Rollins Pond. I know committee members made field inspections, but so far there’s no plan showing that a parallel trail could feasibly be built.”

I decided to take a deeper look. I talked with some folks from Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake who have explored the rail corridor in greater detail than I have. I took their information and combined it with my own experience and I made a map of a possible trail from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake.  » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dick Beamish Commentary On Rail-Trail Debate

Rail.locator (2)(1)Words of wisdom can be found in the latest issue of the Conservationist magazine, published bimonthly by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. In his introductory letter to readers, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens makes the following comments that have special application to the proposed Adirondack Rail Trail that would run 90 miles between Old Forge and Lake Placid. Following the Commissioner’s comments are observations of our own. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Community-Based Trails And The Rail – Trail Debate

The Adirondack Rail Corridor in Ray Brook (Jack Drury Photo)Is it just us or is there something missing from the discussion of rails and trails? Why is the discussion of trails limited to one rail bed (of many within the park) rather than exploring the larger question of, “What are the trail needs park wide?”

Rather than looking at the rail – trail debate in isolation from the larger issue of creating and enhancing recreational opportunities within the Adirondack Park, we should focus on exploring the idea of an Adirondack Park Community-Based Trail System.

The rail – trail issue can and should only be addressed after we have acknowledged and prioritized our park-wide trail needs. What follows is a vision for such a trail system in the Adirondack Park and, although the process for such an effort needs to be determined and articulated, it is a vision that would benefit the entire Adirondack Park and its communities. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Unanswered Questions About Essex Chain Proposal

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapThe Adirondack Park Agency began deliberations Wednesday on the classification of 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands, with staff members explaining why the agency’s staff settled on a Primitive classification for the Essex Chain Lakes. However, some questions were left unanswered.

The staff had considered proposals to classify the Essex Chain as Wilderness, Canoe, and Wild Forest. As reported earlier on the Almanack, the staff rejected the Wilderness and Canoe designations largely because local towns own the floatplane rights to First Lake, which is part of the Essex Chain, as well as Pine Lake, which is located a mile and a half south of the chain.

“The presence of floatplanes landing and taking off would detract from the sense of wilderness,” Kathy Regan, a senior natural resource planner, told the APA board.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Proposed Snowmobile Trail Raises Questions

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapTown leaders lobbied hard for a snowmobile trail through the Essex Chain Tract that would connect the hamlets of Indian Lake and Newcomb, and it appears they may get their wish.

Although the Adirondack Park Agency staff has recommended keeping most of the 18,230-acre tract motor-free, it would allow a snowmobile trail to traverse the property.

Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, praised the staff’s proposal. “It was an attempt to protect the natural resources and make some reasonable compromises for the economy and the local communities,” he said.

Monroe said the towns need the trail to spur the winter economy. “It’s one thing to have a business and survive in the summer, but it’s very different in winter, and snowmobiling is huge,” he said.

Yet the proposed trail raises a number of legal and policy issues that the APA board likely will grapple with this week as it deliberates on the classification of the Essex Chain Tract and three smaller parcels acquired by the state over the past year.

» Continue Reading.



Monday, December 9, 2013

Peter Bauer: Local Activists Hold ATV Laws in Check

Local government leaders in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties have tried for years to rapidly expand the use of public roads and public lands for All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) recreational use. This has been controversial and has resulted in a series of legal challenges. The most recent action was in the Town of Colton, where the Town just announced it plans to withdraw its local ATV law passed in August after a legal challenge by affected property owners was filed.

For more than a decade in the western Adirondacks and Tug Hill, local residents have repeatedly gone to court to stop aggressive local and county governments from illegally opening public roads to ATV riding. These same local governments also seek access to nearby Forest Preserve, state forests and conservation easement lands for ATV use. Three ATV law related lawsuits are currently pending in Lewis County. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Exploring Essex Chain Lakes On ‘Day One Of Forever’

Paddler on Essex Chain LakesAs Sue Bibeau and I drove down the long dirt road west of Goodnow Flow, we wondered if many people, if anybody, besides us would be paddling the Essex Chain Lakes. Although it was the first day the chain would be open to the public in more than a century, the state had done little advance publicity.

It turns out we were late for the party. When we arrived at the newly created parking area, we were hard-pressed to find a spot. There were nineteen vehicles already there—one from the Florida, the rest from New York State. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Waterway Navigation:
The Moose River Lumber Company Cases

Moose River Logging Navigation CaseThe books of Henry Harter and Harold Hochschild discuss the building of the short-lived Raquette Lake Railway, its millionaire owners and probable origins.  These include Mrs. Huntington threatening not to visit Collis Huntington’s Pine Knot Camp if she had to continue using the Fulton Chain steamers, riding on buckboard and boat carries beyond Fourth Lake.

Maybe Mr. Huntington, not finding an empty seat, got the idea after sitting on a keg of nails on one steamer ride. No doubt tycoons as Durant, Morgan, Vanderbilt and Whitney envied Dr. Webb’s ability to ride a private train to his Nehasane Preserve from New York. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, August 4, 2013

New State Lands: A Trip To OK Slip Falls

heilmanphotoatokslip-600x800Gazing on OK Slip Falls as the waters plunge 250 feet into the gorge at our feet, it’s easy to give in to a rush of impressions. This cataract, the tallest in the Adirondack Park, has true grandeur and raw power. But it also displays surprising subtlety. The falling torrent divides into bands of white foam and darker water, moving in undulating patterns before crashing onto the boulders below.

For the visitors in our group, there is a sense of excitement. We’re a vanguard for a public that has long been unable to view this wonder. Until this year it has been hidden on private property. Located amid woodlands near the Hudson River Gorge, OK Slip Falls is now part of the publicly owned Forest Preserve and will soon be accessible by a new hiking trail. It’s one of the premier destinations in the former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands recently purchased by New York State from the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, June 15, 2013

Commentary: ARTA Rail Trail, Economic No-Brainer

Elroy Sparta TrailHere’s a classic Adirondack contradiction of the kind that drives me crazy.

For a thousand years we have had a perceived face-off in the Adirondacks (sometimes perception is reality, sometimes not, right?), one which plays out every day on the pages of the Almanack – and everywhere else there is an outlet for opinion.  In the green corner we have the the preservationists and environmentalists who want more wilderness, more protection for the ecology of the park and less development.  In the blue corner we have many local residents, businesses and government leaders who want to see healthier communities.  They see the restrictive policies of DEC, the APA and the preservationist agenda as a big problem and they see the balance between preservation and the welfare of the residents of the park as out of whack.  They love the wilderness too but they would like fewer restrictions on development, a green light for the ACR and a wider variety of recreational uses for the Forest Preserve.  Okay.  Whichever of the myriad of associated positions and disputes may be rhetoric and whichever may be real, everyone knows this story. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paddling: The Myth of Motor-free Adirondack Waters

Shannon PhotoThe Adirondack Park is held up as the great wilderness area in the eastern United States. It’s the place where people come for a wilderness experience and to enjoy the great outdoors. One great myth about the wild Adirondack Park is that there is an abundance of motor-free lakes and ponds. In fact, the Park faces a scarcity of quiet waters where one can paddle a canoe or kayak without interruption from motorboats, jet skis, floatplanes, and other types of motorized watercraft.

Of the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, from Lake Champlain, with 262,864 acres, to Round Pond in Indian Lake, covering 134.9 acres, the overwhelming majority of big lakes and ponds provide abundant opportunities for motorized watercraft—but scant opportunity for quiet, motor-free waters. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bicyclist: Don’t Share The Road

bike-page1I have just re-entered the cycling fold after a hiatus of 25 years. Growing up in Ottawa, I used to ride everywhere.  Back in the day, Ottawa was already pretty bike-friendly and a bicycle was my only real transportation. Weather permitting, I would ride dozens of miles a day  – to school, work, to the homes of friends – I never thought about distance. I had no car, no license, and lived in a city with affordable and convenient public transportation.

I resisted the temptation to succumb to Canadian progressivism though, and I couldn’t wait to begin burning fossil fuels with abandon. Just before my 17th birthday I did just that, first on a ’79 Yamaha XS400, a motorcycle bought with my summer job money, and eventually with a hand-me-down Buick Skyhawk. I don’t remember what happened to my old bicycle. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rails AND Trails:
10 Trails We Should Build Before Tearing-Up Rails

Map_all_trailsA few years ago, I was talking with Adirondack Explorer publisher Dick Beamish when he asked me, “What do you think about the railroad? Should we have a train or a trail?” I thought for a second and responded, “I think we deserve both.” His response was simple. “We can’t have both. I think we should remove the rails and build a recreation trail.”

I didn’t think much about it for a year or so until I started reading about Adirondack Recreation Trail Advocates’ (ARTA) efforts to create “a contiguous recreation trail from Lake Placid to Old Forge.” I recalled my original perspective on the issue, and it had not changed. We deserve both a railroad and a recreational trail. This triggered a blog post on the topic in September of 2011 in which I argued that there are many more foolish wastes of money than supporting a railroad line and that the residents of and visitors to the Adirondack Park are deserving of both. Although ARTA argues that maintaining the rail line is a boondoggle I am reminded of the proverb, “One man’s waste is another man’s treasure.” » Continue Reading.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

Improving The High Peaks Wilderness

Great Range from the First BrotherThis week I am getting my mountain fix in the Pacific Northwest, where Amy and I are attending a school in wilderness woodcraft.  That circumstance will make this week’s Dispatch mercifully short.  It will have to serve as a prelude to a more substantial missive I have been working on for a few weeks, one  which will offer suggestions – some of them certain to provoke disagreement – for improving the wilderness experience in the High Peaks, better protecting the Forest Preserve in general and sensitive high mountain terrain in particular.

Regular readers know that I am a proponent of expanding the State’s wilderness holdings.  I have written a number of Dispatches on this topic, so will not repeat my justification for this position here.  But equal to that desire is the desire to see existing wilderness holdings become wilder and healthier over time.  It should be said right at the forefront that the people of the State of New York have done extremely well with that.  Tony Goodwin, commenting to me this week on a number of topics that will be part of my coming Dispatch, gave me a useful and important perspective on this when he described the conditions when he first climbed Mount Marcy, in 1957: » Continue Reading.



Friday, April 5, 2013

Landowners Will Appeal Shingle Shanty Paddling Case

shingle shanty web photoThe owners of a remote Adirondack waterway who lost a bid in court to keep it closed to the public will appeal the decision, their lawyer told the Adirondack Almanack on Thursday.

Dennis Phillips, a Glens Falls attorney representing the Friends of Thayer Lake and the Brandreth Park Association, confirmed via email that his clients intend to file an appeal. He did not explain the basis behind it. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peter Bauer: The Unbearable Wrongness of Will Doolittle

Moose River PLains Road Signs (Dave Gibson Photo)Will Doolittle’s column in the Post Star (“Protecting their Preferences” February 28, 2013) gets a lot of things wrong – really wrong.

We all know that Doolittle is antagonistic towards Adirondack Park environmental groups, but this column sets a new standard for careless editorializing. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

John Caffry: Decision “A Good Victory” For Paddlers

shingle shanty web photoNow that attorney John Caffry has successfully defended the public’s right to paddle a remote waterway near the Whitney Wilderness—at least for the time being—he hopes the case will have broader benefits for canoeists and kayakers.

“It’s a good victory for the rights of the public and the rights of paddlers that the judge upheld the right to use this waterway,” Caffry said. “Hopefully it will discourage other property owners from trying to close off streams through their property that are navigable, so people don’t have to go court.”

The Glens Falls lawyer represented Adirondack Explorer Editor Phil Brown, who paddled the disputed waterway in May 2009 while traveling between tracts of the state-owned Whitney Wilderness. Brown later wrote an article for the Explorer about the trip and the issue of navigation rights. » Continue Reading.



Monday, February 25, 2013

Why PROTECT Is Going To Court Over Connector Trail

MRP-Snowmobile-Trail-3Why PROTECT is suing the state over its policy, design and construction of new road-like snowmobile trails

Protect the Adirondacks has started a new lawsuit against the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to challenge recent snowmobile policy and trail construction practices in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Moose River Plains Multi-use Community Connector Opened

Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple use Trail (Moose River Plains Connector)The 12.8-mile Seventh Lake Mountain Multiple Use Trail (the Moose River Plains Connector) between the communities of Inlet and Raquette Lake through the Moose River Plains Wild Forest in Hamilton County is now open for public use.

The trail will provide a four season trail connection (including snowmobiles and mountain bikes) between the communities of Raquette Lake in the Town of Long Lake to the towns of Indian Lake and Inlet. The new trail connects with the existing Moose River Plains Wild Forest trail system which connects to Newcomb in Essex County and Old Forge in Herkimer County. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Battle Over Historic Railroad Corridor

Adirondack Scenic Railroad -Nancie BattagliaThe battle over use of a historic railroad corridor through the heart of the Adirondacks escalated this fall, with a growing number of local government leaders questioning the value of an excursion train that would operate from Old Forge to Lake Placid.

Regional development officials, meanwhile, affirmed their support for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, describing it as an important tourism attraction and suggesting that the entire line could be back in regular use within two years, carrying visitors from as far away as New York City.

As of press time, six towns and villages along the line—along with St. Lawrence County’s legislature—have passed resolutions raising doubts about that vision. Some have urged state officials to reopen a unit management plan, written in 1992, that governs use of the state-owned corridor. Others have simply urged the Department of Transportation to tear up the tracks. “To keep the snowmobilers, that’s a key thing for Tupper Lake,” said Supervisor Roger Amell after the town board voted in October to ask the state to revisit the plan. » Continue Reading.



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