Monday, December 7, 2009

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: The Battle of Crane Pond Road

Two decades ago, some Adirondackers forced the state to back down from a decision to close Crane Pond Road inside the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness.

A few weeks ago, I went to Crane Pond Road to take photos for a story that will run in the next issue of the Adirondack Explorer.

The dirt lane became a cause celebre two decades ago when the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) tried to close it.

The road penetrates nearly two miles into the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area, ending at Crane Pond. Yet the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan forbids motorized use in Wilderness Areas.

When DEC placed boulders across the road at the Wilderness boundary in 1989, masked men removed them. Members of Earth First later set up tents to block the road and were confronted by local residents. The Warrensburg town supervisor threw a punch at one of the environmentalists, and footage of the encounter ended up on 60 Minutes.

Crane Pond Road was quiet on the day of my visit, but there were still reminders of the old battle. An American flag hung from a tree near the state-land boundary. I also spotted a rock with some spray-painted red letters. I scraped off the moss to reveal what they said: “Adirondack Homeland.”

On the road to Crane Pond, I saw three parked pickup trucks, including one that made it all the way to the pond.

John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council contends that DEC is obligated by state law to close the road. However, a DEC spokesman indicated that the agency has no plans to do so.

This appears to be one battle that the locals won.

Photo of “Adirondack Homeland” boulder by Phil Brown


Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.




37 Responses

  1. Dave/Towns and Trails says:
  2. Tony Goodwin says:
  3. Tony Goodwin says:
  4. Tony Goodwin says:
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  7. Adk says:

    “Adirondack Homeland” about says it all! Keep Crane Pond Road open forever.