Monday, October 7, 2013

More Access For Sable Highlands Easement Lands

sablelmapA number of new facilities and access opportunities on the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands in Franklin and Clinton counties (former Domtar Industries lands near Lyon Mountain) are now available for public use, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. DEC and its partners have constructed new parking lots, opened some roads for motorized use, and installed informational kiosks. Roads and trails have been opened through private lease areas to provide access under sporting leases to areas open to public use.

The Sable Highlands easement lands include more than 28,000 acres of lands distributed over 14 public use areas, all of which are open and available for public access and recreation in accordance with the April 2009 Interim Recreation Management Plan. More than 56,000 acres of the Sable Highlands easement lands are leased by the landowner to hunting, fishing and recreation clubs for their exclusive private use.

sablepuasA new 6-vehicle parking area has been constructed on Blair Kilns Road in the Town of Bellmont, Franklin County, to provide access for recreational users to 3,900-acre Figure 8 Public Use Area. Another 6-vehicle parking area has been built on Standish Road in the Town of Saranac, Clinton County, to provide access to the 2,500-acre Cold Brook Public Use Area.

Parking areas and access points are marked with DEC signs, informational kiosks, maps and public recreation usage guidelines specific to each public use area.

Access beyond the parking areas is by foot or mountain bike only. According to a statement issued to the press, DEC plans to provide additional opportunities for public motorized access in the future.

The 6.5-mile D&H Road is open to motor vehicles and mountain bikes during the summer and fall. It will be closed in the winter and during mud season, but can be used year-round by hikers, skiers and snowshoers. The road connects Franklin County Route 26 near the hamlet of Loon Lake in the Town of Franklin with the Wolf Pond Road just east of the hamlet of Mountain View in the Town of Bellmont.

The road is for motorized thru-traffic only as there are no parking areas or pull-offs along the road. The 3,900-acre Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area abuts along much of the road to the west. The public should be aware that a number of private landowners and privately licensed recreation clubs have exclusive use on other properties along the road. Trespassing on those lands is prohibited.

The 3.9- mile Barnes Pond Road is open to motor vehicles during the fall hunting seasons. It is recommended that only high clearance vehicles use the road. The road can be accessed from a parking area on the True Brook Road in the Town of Saranac, Clinton County.

Hunters and others can use the road to access the 3,700-acre Barnes Pond Public Use Area. Wheeled camping equipment up to 20 feet in length, such as pop-up campers, truck campers and tow-behind camper trailers, can be used at six fully accessible designated campsites along the road. At this time, motor vehicle use on the road is allowed from October 4 through the end of the Northern Zone Big Game Rifle Season only, weather and road conditions permitting.

DEC Region 5 operations staff and members of the Student Conservation Association (SCA) Adirondack Program worked for more than three years to construct the facilities. Construction would not have been possible without the cooperation and assistance of the landowner, The Forestland Group of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

shadafishpfThe new facilities complement a number of existing facilities and improvements previously constructed on the property by DEC, including:

· Fishhole Pond Fishing Access Site – Town of Franklin, Franklin County

· Grass Pond Fishing Access Site – Town of Franklin, Franklin County

· Two designated campsites, accessible by the public on foot or by mountain bike, in the 3,900-acre Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area – Town of Franklin, Franklin County

· One designated campsite and a parking area with an informational kiosk, enhancing access to the 415-acre Saranac River Public Use Area – Town of Franklin, Franklin County

DEC forest rangers and environmental conservation officers will conduct regular patrols of these locations and nearby conservation easement lands to educate users, and enforce environmental laws and regulations.

Food and gas for those using the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands can be easily found in the nearby communities of Vermontville, Brainardsville and Mountain View in Franklin County and Redford, Saranac, Merrill and Dannemora in Clinton County. The closest available lodging opportunities are available in Saranac Lake, Malone and Plattsburgh, while a wide variety of developed and primitive camping opportunities and seasonal rental properties are available in-season within a 25-mile radius.

More information, including descriptions of the public use areas and roads and trails, directions, usage guidelines and maps can be found on the DEC Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands webpage or by contacting the DEC Division of Lands and Forests Region 5 office at (518) 897-1291.

About the Sable Highlands

shnbsaranacThe 84,000-acre Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands are located in northern Adirondack Park. The conservation easement lands lie in the Towns of Bellmont (51,142 acres) and Franklin (21,504 acres) in eastern Franklin County and the Towns of Saranac (5,833 acres) and Ellenburg (5,693 acres) in western Clinton County.

The property was acquired by Domtar Industries in 1962, it has since been certified under the Forest Stewardship Council for sustainable forest management practices. Domtar leased exclusive recreation rights to portions of the property and allowed the construction of camp buildings by the members of private lease recreation clubs.

On December 28, 2004, Domtar sold approximately 84,400 of its 104,400 acre Adirondack holdings (the Sable Highlands) to Chateaugay Woodlands.

On the same date, Domtar sold the approximately 20,000 acre balance to The Nature Conservancy, which subsequently sold the lands to the State of New York as additions to Forest Preserve and State Forest lands.

New York State purchased a conservation easement from Chateaugay Woodlands on approximately 84,000 acres. 400 acres of their lands are not covered by the easement.

The easement:

  • Assures that the Sable Highlands remain a working forest;
  • Requires continued use of sustainable forest management practices;
  • Allows for continued private recreational leasing portions of the lands; and
  • Provides public recreation opportunities other portions of the land in accordance with a recreation management plan approved by the landowner and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Photos below of the accessible fishing platform on the North Branch of the Saranac River, and the North Branch Saranac River provided by DEC.

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2 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    That fishing platform looks like a road INTO the river. Better have some good signs. I can see someone driving right into the drink!

  2. The 6.5 mile D&H ROW is essentially single lane travel. Very difficult if you meet an oncoming vehicle. Very sandy in spots.

    Not mentioned is the new Loon Lake Mountain trailhead, with off road parlking. Very nice. Where you would park to access two of the campsites.