The Adirondack Council is asking the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to reject a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposed snowmobile trail plan saying that it would allow mechanical groomers on Forest Preserve land and also what the council called the “illegal widening of snowmobile trails on state owned land.”
The APA is considering today and tomorrow in Ray Brook whether the plan, known officially as Management Guidance: Snowmobile Trail Siting, Construction and Maintenance on Forest Preserve Lands in the Adirondack Park, is consistent with provisions of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The proposed changes include the building of mechanically groomed “Community Connector” trails nine feet wide (12 at curves).
“While we have endorsed the concept of ‘Community Connector’ trails, we have asked DEC to seek an amendment to the SLMP,” Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal said in a press release, “As it stands now, snowmobile trails must have the ‘character of a foot trail.’ This has always been interpreted to mean less than 9 feet wide. We want DEC to follow the correct process.”
Here is the rest of the press release, outlining the specific concerns:
DEC is also seeking the authority to allow self-propelled grooming tractors to groom these wider trails and to permit private citizens who sign stewardship agreements to drive motor vehicles on the Forest Preserve. These changes would be carried out when DEC develops Unit Management Plans (UMPs) to manage sections of state-owned land and Work Plans for private groups who sign stewardship agreements with the state.
“DEC should not be allowed to carry out these changes until the SLMP has been amended,” added Houseal. “In 2004, DEC acknowledged that amending the SLMP might be necessary to carry out its plan. Then in 2006, DEC had a change of heart and said it would not be needed.”
In addition to the legally deficient alterations, DEC had also made numerous other changes which contradict its Conceptual Snowmobile Plan, which was finalized in 2006, that will lead to significant environmental degradation. For example:
Rather than requiring that new “Community Connector” trails be built within 500 feet of an existing road corridor, as recommended in 2006, the new plan allows them to be as far away as two miles. Almost all of the Adirondack Forest Preserve is within two miles of a road, so this would allow widening to 20 feet nearly any trail in the Park;
More rock and stump removal would be allowed;
More frequent maintenance vehicle use would be allowed; and,
More tree-cutting would be allowed outside of the trail itself.
The draft document is available from the APA here. The public comment period ended October 16th.
In 2008 we posted Adirondack Snowmobiling Resources here.