Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Commentary: Give The People Wilderness Peace and Quiet

Essex ChainWith good reason, a large coalition of organizations interested in preservation of New York State Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks is today trumpeting a four to one margin in written comments made to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) that supports banning motorized vehicles from newly acquired state lands.  The second most popular option was allowing motorized access.

An analysis by PROTECT’s Peter Bauer here at the Adirondack Almanack three weeks ago reached a similar conclusion. The APA received about 3,600 comments, totaling nearly 5,000 pages, and petitions totaling about 2,500 signatures. Although not included in the analysis of written comments received, eight public hearings were also held (only three outside the Adirondacks), at which around 200 people spoke – they were largely divided.

“The 4 to 1 ratio of comments to preserve the Essex Chain of Lakes ‘motorfree’ demonstrates that prospective users comprehend that that the fragile ecology and fishery of these 10 small lakes and ponds would be exposed to invasive species, overuse and the loss of remoteness and quiet if floatplanes, motor boats and all terrain vehicles are permitted,” Neil F. Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said in a statement sent to the press.

Nine organizations signed on to that statement, including the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter,  the National Wildlife Federation, Hudson Riverkeeper, Environment New York, Environmental Advocates, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Adirondack Council, Protect the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Some representatives from local towns have pushed hard for motorized access – to open roadways, and install parking lots and boat launches – but statewide organizations are right to argue that the classification decision should be based on statewide support for a Wilderness classification that would ban floatplanes, snowmobiles, ATVs, and cars and trucks.

These unique lands are owned by all the people of this state, from Montauk to Buffalo. Time and time again since the late nineteenth century citizens in this state have expressed their desire to protect the Adirondacks as ‘Forever Wild’ and have rolled back attempts to weaken protections.  Every year recently, for example, State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) has introduced a bill in the NYS Legislature to log the Forest Preserve – every time it’s been defeated.

Cynically our (suburb-dwelling) state representatives Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) play on 30-year-old anti-environmentalist animosities to garner votes, forgetting their pledge to protect the state’s constitution and its historic “Forever Wild” clause, and abandoning the promise made by the people of this state nearly 125 years ago.

One of the most vocal proponents of motorizing the Essex Chain Lakes, Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey, argued in her comments to the APA that local towns were promised motorized access.

That’s quite a revelation.  The law requires public input into the classifications of new state lands. If the Minerva Town Supervisor, or anyone for that matter, believes they were promised a secret backroom deal that would negate the will of the people and abandon that process, they’ve got some explaining to do. It takes some real guts to flaunt a back-room deal while the rest of the state is pretending their comments matter in a legitimate process.

Whether the fix is already in or not, local pandering politicians have a lot of gumption in complaining that a wilderness classification leaves their interests out.

They need a reminder that most of these lands – about 89,000 of the 161,000 – went straight to motorized access and forestry as easement lands. That was a gift to the motorized access crowd long before the public had an opportunity to weigh in. The easement deal offered the private clubs an opportunity to keep their private playgrounds, provided for new snowmobile trails (the Newcomb -Indian Lake trail for example), and lots of other motorized access, including for floatplanes.

They need a further reminder that most Forest Preserve land is already fully-motorized and every spot in the Adirondacks (including in the wilderness areas) is within 5.3 miles of a road.  By a margin of about 100,000 acres, most Forest Preserve land is already classified for motorized access and that doesn’t include some 800,000 acres of easement lands.  Also, the vast majority of large Adirondack lakes are open to motorboats – those are lakes you can literally drive directly in to, forget about up to.

So the motorized access crowd has already won the larger debate over motorizing the Adirondack Park.

For this small piece of exceptional lands it’s time they stopped being greedy and give the people what they want: a little wilderness peace and quiet.




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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.

54 Responses

  1. SLMPdefender says:

    well said, friend! I love your point about the numbers, as I have noticed this truth myself. Local Government propaganda from Bill Farber, Fred Monroe, and Brian Towers!

  2. Paul says:

    John a Wilderness classification may be the right choice here. It may even be the optimal for economic impact given the data on user preference. One of the big questions is will those folks not come if it is a Wild Forest versus a Wilderness, I think that is an open question. People looking for some easier access certainly will not since it will not be available. The hiking will be there either way.

    The analysis of public comment always has to be tempered with the fact that you are looking at just those who commented not on some broad stroke of the state population. Special interest groups whether motorized use advocates or environmental groups are always the squeaky wheel. Who to give the grease to is always a tough decision.

    “They need a reminder that most of these lands – about 89,000 of the 161,000 – went straight to motorized access and forestry as easement lands.” Are these lands open for public motorized use and access? Is this accurate?

  3. TiSentinel65 says:

    John, your argument may hold water, but you should be less condescending in your delivery. Your argument should be based on fairness. Would it be fair to set aside substantial acreage for wilderness? Probably, your math adds up, but, just because people do not participate in the commentary period of the land classification process does not mean a majority of people support that classification. Remember the silent majority? The fact that politicians like Little and Stec get elected is telling. To be fair and balanced we should definitely classify some land as wilderness. The actual acreage will have to be determined. In the end I am sure it will be substantial and it will be a compromise.

  4. […] PROTECT and eight other groups speak out for a Wilderness classification. The Adirondack Almanack reports on strong public support for Wilderness. […]

  5. Pete Klein says:

    3,600 comments out of 18,000,000 New York residents and not all comments coming from New York residents shows how much interest there is in the Adirondacks.
    That is what I take away from all of this classification noise.
    It would be interesting to know how many comments came from year-round residents of the Adirondacks, how many came from New York residents and how many came from residents of other states.
    I would love someone to explain the difference between hiking on wild forest lands and hiking on wilderness land.
    Also, it would be interesting to know if such numbers are available, how many hike in more than four miles on a trail, be that trail in wild forest or in wilderness.
    I use four miles as a point of diminishing use for a trail because very few people are willing to take more than an eight mile hike in one day and fewer still who want to do any back-country over-night camping to go further in.

  6. Paul says:

    Why is the Adirondack Mountain Club allowed to build this type of gargantuan structure in the High Peaks “Wilderness”?

    I am not sure that the classification really has any meaning when I see something like this or wire cables driven into the side of Gothics?


    • John Warren John Warren says:

      The Adirondack Mountain Club does not have any facilities in any wilderness area. Their facilities are all on private property.

      • Paul says:

        John, I didn’t say their own it I said they built it. The whole story, if you care to read it, is here at the ADK blogspot with other photos of the facilities they constructed and all of them are in the High Peaks Wilderness not on their private in-holdings:


        • Paul says:

          Nothing wrong with the construction of these things but they are hardly compatible with a Wilderness classification.

          • dave says:

            That story is about a trail ladder.

            As most everyone knows, structures such as ladders, and stone or wooden steps, and corduroy logs, and bridges, etc. are occasionally a part of trail construction to help reduce impact and preserve wilderness ecology in areas where public use would otherwise harm it.

            They do not violate the legal definition of wilderness, or the spirit of that definition.

            • Paul says:

              Obviously they don’t. My point was perhaps they should. Look at that baby. It is on rock that you can climb up if you know what you are doing. If you can’t then perhaps you should find a different trail that is easier perhaps something near the Essex Chain lakes? These just don’t seem compatible with Wilderness in my book. It looks more like a jungle gym. “Stairway to heaven” was a good description in the mountains you should be climbing mountains not ladders. It is ridiculous. If you want those there classify it as a Wild Forest or an Intensive Use area which it really is anyway.

              • Avon says:

                What people “should” do, or where and how they “should” climb, is not what actually happens. People should slosh through mud on a trail, rather than fan out and crush the vegetation alongside where it’s less wet – but they don’t. People “should” climb rock safely and smartly without cables, but they don’t (endangering not only wide areas of lichens and grasses, but also rescuers’ lives). People “should” ascend steep spots delicately without ladders, rather than erode around tree roots and promote eroded gullies, but in their numbers, they can’t.

                Floatplanes and motorboats won’t preserve wilderness that would otherwise be damaged, but cables and ladders will.

                • Paul says:

                  Avon, all the “should(s)” in your comment means those are enforcement issues. If you can’t protect the vegetation (and lichens etc.) without building what is really the equivalent of a “paved” road up the mountainside then close the trail. The alternative is to have sufficient enforcement and education. That is impossible in the Adirondacks since the state has purchased far more land then they can manage and protect. Yet many people who claim to care about the place continue to encourage the state to get themselves in deeper.

                  These lands that John describes are a classic example of the problem. These lands should have all been encumbered by a conservation easement and protected as private land with limited access.

                  Avon, wouldn’t someone flying in on a float plane landing on the water without leaving a track preserve wilderness better than the “numbers” of hikers you describe “fanning” out and “crushing” the vegetation on their hike in?????

                  • Alan Senbaugh says:

                    It appears to me you are correct about the DEC not having the budget to enforce the regs and patrol the Preserve. However, if classified as wilderness I think they have fewer enforcement issues than if Wild Forest. I have hiked almost every weekend this summer, from Pharaoh to Five Ponds and have met but one Ranger in the woods.

              • Alan Senbaugh says:

                Paul, I despise those new ladders! The Ranger explained to me they are really to protect the vegetation more so than the hikers, as the slide is easily walkable in summer with regular boots and winter with proper gear. People apparently trample the veg scurrying away from the nice route god created. I guess it’s the same with the useless cables on Gothics. Those also greatly deter from my wilderness experience.

  7. Paul says:

    ““The 4 to 1 ratio of comments to preserve the Essex Chain of Lakes ‘motorfree’ demonstrates that prospective users comprehend that that the fragile ecology and fishery of these 10 small lakes and ponds would be exposed to invasive species, overuse and the loss of remoteness and quiet if floatplanes, motor boats and all terrain vehicles are permitted,” Neil F. Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said in a statement sent to the press.”

    One part of this comment is totally misleading and really unfair to inject into the debate. It is probably done as a way to rile up support from folks that don’t really understand the options.

    The part I am talking about it this:

    “all terrain vehicles are permitted”. Under none of the proposals will ATV use be permitted. NONE, ZERO, NADA. AYV are banned from the Forest Preserve on all classifications. They are banned from all roads administered by the DEC as these roads would be if left open under a Wild Forest designation.

    Now I can support a Wilderness Classification but it should not be accomplished by sending out totally bogus statements like this. And they should not be perpetuated here at this site if we want to have an honest debate.

  8. Phil says:

    Preserve the Essex chain of lakes motor free. Since when has that area been motor free. There has been tractor trailers through most of that land and skidders through all of it. I love college professors who live in their make believe world and think that that the rest of the world should make believe along with them. If you shut those gates and allow nothing in there that four mile hike will soon be double. Beavers will soon plug up every crossing and the ponds will all be flooded. The shorelines will be filled with down trees and if you think you will be able to paddle through there your crazy. There won’t be one in a thousand New Yorkers who will be able to cross the lakes and even those who do won’t do it twice. Then the cost to the taxpayers getting all those people who think they are Daniel Boone out of there will be even worse. That area has been a working forest for 150 years and for the betterment of all New Yorkers it should have access. Maybe we should put a fence around Central Park so New Yorkers down there can have some peace and quiet. They could also observe how nature reclaims itself in a very short time.

  9. william Deuel,Jr says:


    The easement properties were bought by ATP Timber Invest and managed by F&W. They are the folks who lease to the remaining clubs, which are private in the sense you need to join the club , but the public can join them. They also have a fiber supply agreement with Finch Paper. Most of these lands would not be open to public motorized use and access.

    • Paul says:

      William, Thanks. That is what I thought. I am glad to see these lands treated in this way. But they are a far cry from land that is open for free motorized public use like you might have on some Wild Forest lands if they are designated as such. Yes, the clubs (assuming they have openings) can be joined by the public (depending sometimes on particular rules for example one club I belonged to for many years had a waiting list and sons and brothers had preference on the list). The last time I heard a membership to the Gooley club was about 600 or 700 dollars per year. That was higher than where I belonged. But many clubs are at least 300 or 400 per year per member.

  10. Charlie says:

    Yo Phil! There’s nothing make-believe about the damage motorized access creates.Make-believe is pretending that what is not real is real. I’m a rational person who has been around long enough to know that the way us earthlings (not all of us,but too many of us) go about our business is morally wrong and future generations are going to pay dearly for it.The Adirondacks are a very special place and I would like to see them remain that way. Unfortunately each generation is being born into a society who sees a football being tossed around in a field as more important than wildflowers growing in a field.
    Our problems are multiplying Phil and one of the reasons this is (I believe) is because of our disconnection from the natural world. Few people even know what a cricket sounds like anymore.We are living in an increasingly material world while the natural world cries out all around us.To not preserve what remains of our ecosystems is pure insanity.I don’t know what it’s going to take to wake people up but more people certainly need to wake up,and soon. I’m from the camp opposite yours evidently and my hopes are that your wishes do not come to fruit. My concerns are unselfish concerns and always i’m praying for future generations to be living in a world better than the selfish, cruel, destructive one we are living in now!
    Time will tell what will come of these new public lands.In the meanwhile I just wish that those people who have sway in this matter are more futuristic than your average Joe and Mary. This land should be about our progeny,not about some local politician who plays on the desperation of his or her unemployed,poor,short-sighted constituency.

    • Paul says:

      Charlie, all that may be true but Phil has an excellent point. This land is now and has been for the last 150 years a “gem” under the type of management and use he describes. To say that changing that will somehow lead to its destruction defies logic. Can you please explain to us why it was “morally wrong” to have protected it this way for 150 years and now it will somehow fall to pieces?

      • Alan Senbaugh says:

        If they have a drive up boat launch for motor boats that would be a dramatic and devastating change.

        • Paul says:

          Alan, are you sure about this? I think the Gooley Club has been driving up and launching motor boats on the Essex Chain for decades. But I would not want a drive up launch for motor boats personally. I would advocate for a Canoe area that has drive up launches for paddlers only like we have now in the St. Regis Canoe area. (Little Clear pond and Upper St. Regis landing).

          • Alan Senbaugh says:

            Gooley did have motor boats but that is far different than if there is a public launch. I am not saying there will be one if wildforest but that activity is consistent and permitted with a Wild forest classification. If it’s wilderness the waters have to be motor free.

            • Paul says:

              It is true about a public launch. The Gooley Club (from what I have heard) stewarded that fishery quite well even while using motor boats on the lake. In saying there has been motor boat use (including a drive up launch) I was mainly talking about “character” of the land as it has been for sometime now. That is supposed to be a consideration under the SLMP when classifying new FP holdings. Again maybe this is an enforcement issue. If there is proper enforcement the land can perhaps maintain the same uses that it has had traditionally without harming the resource. To just say that you can’t do it because we don’t have enough money is a sort of a short term cop out. Leaving the land under a conservation easement and private ownership posted for use by only a small number of users is clearly the cheapest and protective designation.

              But like I said having a Canoe Area designation like I prefer would ban motors as well. Being able to bring boats right to the shore in a few places would seem like a compromise that most people could live with? In fact in a perfect world I would argue that the Gooley Club should stay right there on a small private in-holding and continue to Steward the land as we all have access would have been ideal. In exchange they would handle the enforcement. When you have a stake in the land you care more than the folks being described above who tend to “fan out and crush” things like is described in the High Peaks Wilderness above unless they have their stairway.

  11. Nature says:


    No forest preserve land, no matter the classification, is “fully motorized”. I would argue that most forest preserve land, including wild forest,is non-motorized. All the maps I’ve looked at seem to verify this.

    I do respect your position regarding wilderness. I personally would argue for wild forest to increase potential access opportunities. Not necessarily to increase the amount of access. If increasing opportunities for access is not so important, then the wilderness proposal should not allow a road to the chain of lakes.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, if it is going to be wilderness than keep it as wild as possible. These are new lands that have never been open to the public. If you want to create a really “wild” wilderness now is the chance. Lets not build another “convenient” wilderness. as Paul has stated above, if people can’t access certain areas without bridges or other structures then maybe they don’t belong in a wilderness. If we want an area with more convenience then wild forest seems like a more logical classification.

    Just my 2 cents.

  12. Phil says:

    Would I love to have a place of thousands of acres that have never seen the hand of man and to go hiking through it. Of course but the Gooley Club is not it. There has been motors and man through it for generations and has been kept pristine. What it has also been has been a place for generations of people to fall in love with the outdoors. In todays world to compete for kids attention unfortunately it has to be fairly easy. If you had children you would know how many things that are grabbing your kids for precious time. The roads are already in place. The boats are row boats that have small motors. It makes an ideal place for families to learn to love the outdoors. You close it off only a few will use it and another generation will become farther away from the land. In due time that generation will have no knowledge or care for the outdoors. They are also the future voters who may end all conservation measures.

    • David D says:

      With all due respect a wild forest lake may bring some people closer to the wild but it was the 5 ponds wilderness that made me love wilderness. Kids want the wilderness its the parents that are letting the next generation down.

  13. Charlie says:

    Paul says: “Charlie, all that may be true but Phil has an excellent point. This land is now and has been for the last 150 years a “gem” under the type of management and use he describes. To say that changing that will somehow lead to its destruction defies logic. Can you please explain to us why it was “morally wrong” to have protected it this way for 150 years and now it will somehow fall to pieces?”

    Maybe I read him wrong Paul but what I got from his missive is that he is all for allowing motorized vehicles in there and that,to me,will be a mistake in the long run.

    • Paul says:

      Charlie, my point was simply that the activity he supports and you oppose has not had the impact that you say it may have. This isn’t a “new slate” so to speak the land has remained pristine under the type of use he supports. It is already going on for the long run and we still have a beautiful parcel of land and lakes we are talking about. That makes your argument hard to stand up.

  14. Charlie says:

    Phil says: You close it off only a few will use it and another generation will become farther away from the land. In due time that generation will have no knowledge or care for the outdoors.

    That due time is here Phil.I mean who really cares about preserving wilderness besides the handful of us? Most people can give a hoot about anything other than sports or Dr. Phil or their cars or… The wee little cubicle that surrounds them is all they want to know Phil. This generation has very little knowledge of the natural world.We can partly thank our government for that whose corporate sponsors run the curriculum in our public schools.It’s all about how to grow up and be financially successful working for this or that corporation.Or didn’t you know?
    We’ve been getting further and further away from the land,ie..nature,with each new generation for well over a hundred years now.It’s been one battle after another fighting the powers that be just to preserve what little remains.

    • Paul says:

      Charlie, Wilderness land has been growing for generations in the Adirondacks the problems that you describe are not a problem in the Adirondacks. There is far more protected land in the park then when I was a young boy growing up there. That is a good thing.

  15. Neil says:

    Actually Paul, my inclusion of all terrain vehicle use (ATVs) in the possible threats to the Essex Chain Lakes Tract was not at all misleading. If you look through the public comments submitted by the Five Towns Recreational Hub and those of its member towns, you will find that they asked for ATV use of roads and trails in their request for the whole area to be classified as Wild Forest. If you look at the Adirondack Park Agency document entitled Key Issues from Public Comments Divided by Classification Considerations on page 3 under “types of recreational use allowed under various classification options, you will see “ATV use” as the last bullet point. This document was distributed by APA staff to the APA Commissioners at the August meeting.

    • Paul says:

      So you are suggesting that their plan is to change the law after the classification? It looks to me they were simply asking for something that they cannot have and the APA was simply acknowledging that the question was asked. Telling folks that any classification on the table right now would allow ATV use is simply not accurate.

      • Paul, I disagree. A big issue in this Finch classification is public motorized use of the road network in the Essex Chain Tract, particularly those roads around the lakes themselves. Under 6 NYCRR Part 190, ATVs are defined as motor vehicles. Under 6 NYCRR Part 196.1(b)(3)the operation of “motor vehicles” is permitted in the Forest Preserve on roads specifically marked by the DEC for motor vehicle use.
        The Towns are asking the APA and DEC to allow that use which ADK is opposed to.

        • Nature says:


          What you have just stated regarding ATVs leads me to believe that ATVs can operate legally on roads in the forest preserve open to motor vehicle use. Are there any such roads where ATVs can currently ride legally? I was under the assumption that ATVs were not allowed anywhere on state lands based on some newspaper stories that came out a few years ago. I guess that may be wrong.

          • Alan Senbaugh says:

            ATV’s are not classified as Motor vehicles under the Vehicle and Traffic law. So municipalities must post roads specifically as open to ATV’s. Many towns have.

            • JimR says:

              It looks like Mr. Woodworth and John Warren should start passing along the laws that they KNOW exist as opposed to twisting the words of our laws to try and invoke fear amongst readers.
              §196.1 Operation of motorized vehicles in the forest preserve.

              a.No person shall operate a motorized vehicle in the forest preserve except as permitted in subdivisions (b) and (c) of this section.

              b. Operation of motorized vehicles is permitted on roads:

              1. that are under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Transportation or a town or county highway department, in accordance with applicable State and local laws;

              2. where a temporary revocable permit has been issued by the department for motorized vehicle use by those persons to whom the permit has been issued and only in the accomplishment of the purpose of the permit;

              3. specifically marked by the department for motorized vehicle use;

              4. on public campgrounds operated by the department, in accordance with regulations for use of motorized vehicles at such facilities; or

              5.where a legal right-of-way exists for public or private use.

              So, ATV use (according to NYS Law) is only allowed where ATV use is posted as being allowed. These roads can not be posted and ATV is ILLEGAL!!! Please give the facts gentleman!

              • Alan Senbaugh says:

                SO if wild forest the DEC can designate ATV trails with just a stroke of a pen. That’s his point for wilderness.

                • Paul says:

                  But that is not what is under consideration. That was the misleading part of what he was describing. Also, the DEC is not going to allow it. They have already tried that experiment and it failed.

  16. Paul, I must disagree. The big issue of the Finch classification is whether the roads of the Essex Chain Lakes Tract will be open to motor vehicles and snowmobiles. 6 NYCRR Part 190 defines an all terrain vehicle as a motor vehicle under the rules and regulations governing use of the Forest Preserve. 6 NYCRR Part 196.4(b)(3) of the same regulations permits the operation of motor vehicles in the Forest Preserve on roads specifically marked by the DEC for motorized use. The towns and others are asking DEC and APA to designate and mark the roads of the Essex Chain Lakes Tract for ATV use as motor vehicles. ADK opposes that marking for ATV use.

    • JimR says:

      Forest Preserve roads, whether Wild Forest or Wilderness, are regulated in the same manner by DEC in regards to ATV (Motor Vehicle Law) use. Snowmobiles are NOT classified as MOTOR VEHICLES under NYS law. Please use the words “motorized” and “motor vehicles” in their respective placement.

  17. JimR says:

    § 2403. Operation of ATVs; where permitted. 1. Highways. No person shall operate an ATV on a highway except as provided herein.
    (b) An ATV may be operated on any highway which has been designated and posted as open for travel by ATVs in accordance with the provisions of section twenty-four hundred five of this article.
    2. Public lands other than highways.
    No person shall operate an ATV on any public lands, waters and property other than a highway, except that an ATV may be operated on any such lands which have been designated and posted for travel by ATVs in accordance with the provisions of section twenty-four hundred five of this article.

    § 2405. Designation of highways and public lands for travel by ATVs.
    2. Public lands other than highways. A governmental agency other than a municipality, by regulation or order, and a municipality, by ordinance or local law, may designate any appropriate public lands, waters and properties other than highways under its jurisdiction as a place open for travel by ATVs upon written request for such designation by any person, and may impose restrictions and conditions for the regulation and safe operation of ATVs on such public property, such as travel on designated trails and hours of operation. In addition thereto, such agency or municipality may not require the operator of an ATV to possess a motor vehicle operator’s license. A municipality may charge a fee for use of ATVs on such public lands.

    • David D says:

      I’m not a lawyer and I have a feeling you aren’t either, but after reading that and the link you posted it is clear that the DEC could open state land to ATV use assuming they meet the DEC’s requirements. Everything you have presented confirms that during the UMP process the DEC is within its right to open the land up to ATV use.

      • JimR says:

        You are correct that I am not an attorney, but I can research laws as good as anyone else. My point is that the words being used here are NOT actually the case being presented. The DEC is NOT arbitrarily opening the Forest Preserve to ATV use. As a matter of fact, the damage they cause has been well documented and most likely will end with a quasi-ban of ATV use on State lands. Or else it should anyhow! But to your point David D, yes the DEC has the power to open certain parts of lands to ATV use that has been requested to be opened. It is not happening though.

  18. Charlie says:

    Paul says: “August 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm Charlie, all that may be true but Phil has an excellent point. This land is now and has been for the last 150 years a “gem” under the type of management and use he describes. To say that changing that will somehow lead to its destruction defies logic.”

    Maybe i’m way ahead of myself here Paul (which wouldn’t be the first time) but motorized access on the private Gooley land was minimal at best compared to what it can possibly be if that same land is open to the general public for motorized use.Now we have Neil Woodworth informing us that ATV use of those same roads we’re talking about can come to fruit if the Essex Chain Lakes area is classified wild forest.
    ATV’s are so obnoxious.If you would like to see what kind of damage they do just go down to North Carolina in the hills on the outskirts of the Pisgah National Forest where ATV use is allowed and witness the damage done.Besides the damage the noise is enough to throw any sense of spirituality right out the window. Some people thrive on noise evidently.
    Paul also says “Can you please explain to us why it was “morally wrong” to have protected it this way for 150 years and now it will somehow fall to pieces?”

    I said what is morally wrong is the way your average human goes about his or her affairs and that because of this future generations are going to pay dearly. I will say this: If the state allows motorized use in the Essex Chain Of Lakes there will be problems eventually.

  19. Phil says:

    There has been ATV’s allowed on the Gooley Club property for as long as there has been ATV’s. Simple rule, only allowed on roadways. We adhered to it and that is why it looks as good as it does. My point in this is that I have learned one thing along the way and that is nature and man are never static. A hundred years from now if there isn’t generations of people who have grown learning to appreciate nature there will be no one to protect it. If you think because you make it wilderness now it will stay wilderness for ever you are wrong. A hundred years from now you could very well have some people pushing for it to become real estate for sale because no one uses it and who will stop it. The few people who used it 80 years prior.

  20. Paul says:

    It is interesting, when they drafted the definitions for Wilderness way back when the included allowing the use of the modern mechanized mode of transport at the time: Wagons and horses. You can still do it today right? These roads might be a great place for an entrepreneur to set up a service hauling boats and hikers in there. Kind of a revival of the old service hauling boats across the longer carry roads (Bartlett as one example). Keeping those roads open for horse and wagon use is legal on Wilderness land right? Of course they say methane is worse for global warming than CO2!!

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      The Wilderness Act was passed in 1964. The APA classifications (including ‘Wilderness’) date from the early 1970s.

      • Paul says:

        Very good point. I was mistakenly thinking about the timing of article 14 and these definitions that came much later. Wonder why horses made the okay list?

        Below is a very interesting article regarding mountain bike use in Federal Wilderness and how it has been banned. It looks like “carts” are banned in Federal Wilderness areas based on a 1981 law that was passed in an effort to finally ban bikes from Federal Wilderness land (the final nail is a 1984 ban). Where do we find the specific regulations for state Wilderness? It must be different than the Federal definition since I am pretty sure that wagons are specifically allowed in Wilderness areas in NYS (at least according to the ASLMP). Maybe not?


  21. Paul says:

    According to the ASLPM use by horses and wagons is permitted. These roads seem like they would be ideal for such uses. So none of those gates (unless the can be easily opened) should be allowed if this is classified as Wilderness. This might become a first class equestrian destination. Also having the wagons transporting boats in and out will be like turning back the pages of the history book.


    Dave Gibson wrote about one particular hunting camp on Wilderness land that was set up via wagon here:


    In fact I think he has suggested we name the place after the guy that set up that hunting camp. Is that the right guy Dave?

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