Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DEC Readies ATV Use Experiment on the Kushaqua Tract

 ATV-DamageThe NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing a new experiment trying to combine intensive public motorized recreational use and natural resource management. The DEC has released a draft Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Kushaqua Conservation Easement tract located in the Towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County.  Throughout this tract, the DEC is proposing to open a number of roads to all terrain vehicles (ATVs).

The DEC went down this road once before in the mid-1990s when they opened scores of roads on the Forest Preserve to ATVs. Though official processes were not followed at that time, scores of roads and trails throughout the western Adirondacks were opened to ATVs. Trespassing in other areas was also widespread across the Forest Preserve. After extensive damage to roads, trails, and natural resources, the DEC and APA backtracked in 2005 and closed scores of Forest Preserve roads to ATV use.

At that time, public ATV use on the Forest Preserve was seen by many as an experiment that failed.

B5Now, the DEC is ready to try again. The Kushaqua Conservation Easement tract is surrounded on all sides by Forest Preserve in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest area, a Forest Preserve unit for which there is no Unit Management Plan (UMP). The new RMP is important because it is the first such plan for a major conservation easement tract and will serve as a prototype for future plans. More than half of the 775,000 acres of state-held conservation easements throughout the Adirondacks are similar to the Kushaqua easement and provide extensive opportunities for public motorized recreation. This Kushaqua plan could be the first of many that will provide public ATV riding opportunities.

The management of conservation easements is unilaterally controlled by the DEC. While the DEC has a Memorandum of Understanding for management of conservation easements with the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), it doesn’t say much. There are no guidelines for planning for easement lands similar to those for UMPs for state lands as governed by the State Land Master Plan.

The Kushaqua tract also contains 30 private leased hunting camps and 130 miles of roads. Members can access their camps with the motor vehicle of their choice via designated routes depending on the location of their camp. A number of roads will also be opened to public ATV use, while all of the tract’s roads will be opened to mountain biking and hiking. The map above shows the hiking and mountain biking routes; the map below, the ATV routes.

Conservation easements are important land protection tools. They protect the great forested open space landscape that defines the Adirondack Park and produce wood for local mills. They keep jobs in the woods. They also protect wildlife habitat.

There is a school of thought that one purpose of the large block of conservation easement lands is to provide a safety valve for the Forest Preserve. Easement lands can withstand much more intensive public recreational motorized uses than the Forest Preserve because they provide a network of roads. These lands are already used heavily by logging trucks and large machinery, such as feller bunchers and log skidders. Moreover, these lands are generally heavily leased to hunting clubs whose members recreate extensively with motor vehicles.

Whereas natural resource protection is the chief purpose on the “forever wild” Forest Preserve, natural resource extraction is the chief purpose on conservation easement lands, in the form of logging. Intensive motorized recreational uses run a close second as the primary purpose of easement lands.

B3The safety-valve approach only works if the Forest Preserve is managed to fulfill its natural resource protection principles. The recent Forest Preserve classification of the former Finch Paper/Nature Conservancy lands by the APA and DEC ushered in a new chief purpose not of natural resource protection but of something-for-everybody recreational management. The APA and DEC ceremoniously ordained a 500-foot-wide Wild Forest corridor through the heart of the former Finch lands, in open violation of their own snowmobile management guidance policy; it will become a new class II community connector snowmobile trail as well as a hiking and mountain bike trail. APA leaders even referred to this motorized Wild Forest corridor as a “buffer” between the Hudson Gorge Wilderness and the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area.

DEC’s new planning for the Kushaqua tract shows a willingness to look at new ways to accommodate public ATV access to state lands. There will also be 10 public motor vehicle accessible campsites throughout this tract.

Adequate enforcement will be a major issue for the DEC if it moves ahead to allow extensive ATV use on the Kushaqua tract. DEC has struggled to keep its Rangers and Environmental Conservation Officers in the field. The enforcement section in the draft RMP is scant. How many enforcement personnel will DEC truly be able to put in the field in the Kushaqua tract? Will DEC provide backcountry stewards or assistant rangers to patrol this tract?

Another major issue is that by providing public ATV access in the Kushaqua tract, the DEC may stimulate local governments in the area to open municipal roads to ATVs so riders can ride from miles away to access the Kushaqua roads. Such actions will greatly extend the impact area. You can read about local governments in the Adirondacks and their controversial attempts to open roads to ATVs here.

There are a number of other issues that the DEC needs to scrutinize in this RMP. These can be read in an initial public comment letter here. The DEC recently extended the public comment period for the Kushaqua Conservation Easement Recreational Management Plan until March 28th. Public comments can be filed here.

Many will be watching to assess the impacts of this new dawn for public motorized recreational access to public lands in the Adirondack Park.

Photo above, ATV damage.

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Peter Bauer

Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century. He also worked at Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve.

Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife and two children, enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks, and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fire department.

Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Twitter.




32 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    ATV’s. I’ve seen the damage done from these machines. And the noise! Yuck!

    “The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing a new experiment trying to combine intensive public motorized recreational use and natural resource management.”

    The last three words in the above sentence should be natural resource protection,which is what the DEC’s job should be about.But what do I know,me mister simple living in a complicated world watching what remains of the natural world around him being raped and pillaged by the crazy ape man and his machines.Surely in just twenty years they’ll be nothing left,no sacred places to get away to from unthinking,wreckless,predictable man.

  2. I live next to the Kushaqua tract and lease one of the 31 camps. The majority of the roads to be open are just that–roads. Hardened surfaces, with good drainage. In the Spring, the paper company closes the roads to ATV use, even by camp lessees. I hope this practice continues. I agree the key will be a beefed up, routine DEC ECO presence.

  3. Jefff Miller says:

    This sport seems to draw those that do not follow rules, like the snow mobile crowd. I have seen the damage they do and they seem to ignore staying where they are supposed to. Many lands that we used to ride horses on have been closed because of ATV misuse. The owner decided to keep everyone off.

    Trees or barricades have been put down and they ride around them and continue.

    Keep them out of the Adirondacks and make a place for them in the Western part of the state. Select a track with little woods, some hills and let them go.

  4. JoeB says:

    I am all in favor of the DEC trying this experiment again. Yes they can cause damage by those who operate them irresponsibly just as much as the damage that is caused by those who hike and camp irresponsibly but thare are the majority of these recreations of choice that are aware and practice the ethics of being good stewards of the land . As with all things , enforcement and educating of the rules and regulations of the sport of choice is the only way to preserving the land and having a safe and enjoyable time .

    I do not own an ATV but those who do own them already have to register them and yet NYS provides no place in the park to ride them . It vwould be as if NYS charged a fee to hike but not allowed one on the trails. Would this seem fair ? An ATV would provide those with disabilities, to experience the outdoors in a way that many of us take for granted.

    I am an avide hiker, boater and hiker and have seen the damage of all three sport caused by an iressponsible few. If we truly want to protect the land an keep it in a pristine state , maybe we should put a red velvet rope around the perimeter of the land and look at it from the road side .

    We may nor do not have to like each others sport of choice but we should respect each other in our sport of choice . The Park is big enough for all of us and again, enforcement , education on being a good steward of the land and respecting each other and thier rights of thier choice of recreation is the only way we can enjoy what we all share . The great outdoors and the Adirondacks .

  5. Marco says:

    Has anyone ever tried to hike through the wild criss crossed trails of the ADK’s following an atv invasion? Not on the trails! I have hiked the Finger Lakes Trail and found many of these. NO. Do not allow this. Can you imagine hiking through the picture above? They invariably find a spot to turn around, others follow…soon it is a 50′ mud pit, or chewed up trail that makes bushwacking look easy.

  6. DM says:

    I have to say, seeing this headline, and the author, I expected to read a scathing editorial, damming ATV use. To be 100% honest, this is a pretty fair assessment by Mr. Bauer (though I question where and when the photo of ATV damage was taken).

    His recalling of the forest preserve roads in the mid 1990’s very well might be accurate. But ATV use 20 years ago, is not the ATV use of today. 20 years ago this was not a sport that was dominated by middle age riders, and many with families.

    Enforcement plans are an issue that are brought up often. And the proof will be in the pudding. But thus far for the Saint Lawrence County Multi-Use Trail, enforcement has not been an issue, nor has land owner trespass or damage been an issue (the “many eyes deter abuse” method has proved to be effective. Zero incidents in over 5 years).

    Dare I even bring up the thought that this could be the start of compromise for the betterment of all groups? Probably too soon to make that claim. But every reasonable, logical, compromise is one step closer to coexistence, which should be everyone’s goal.

  7. Brad says:

    Groan…big mistake.

    There have to be places outside of the park to do this.

  8. Paul says:

    Isn’t this really an ongoing experiment? ATVs have already been extensively used on these lands for years. Like with the clear cutting issues the only difference is now groups like Peter’s have access to the land to see what is going on or to “access the impacts” as they call it. This land isn’t Forest Preserve land. There is well over 2 million acres of public land in the Adirondacks where ATVs are banned. ATVs are also banned from public use on some of the large conservation easements. The roads on this one conservation easement are just a small bone tossed to the folks that want some public land in the Adirondacks to ride their ATVs. I don’t think this is really a big deal.

  9. Dan Ling says:

    The western terminus of Hunters Camp Road, the main road access to this area, actually ends within the Debar Mountain Wild Forest. It’s endpoint is the very feeder stream, Blind Brook, that flows approximately one mile directly into the Osgood River, and directly through the heart of the famous spruce muskeg forest that contributed more than any other factor to this tract’s ecological fame. This is one of the most biologically sensitive areas in the Adirondacks. The main road leads directly to it, ending within it. The Forest Preserve in this area is unique, as recognized by every historic biological inventory taken within it, beginning with Greenleaf Chase and Clarence Petty’s famous park-wide
    inventories, and followed up more recently by Gary Randorf when he worked as an ecologist with the APA (1977).

    My late boyhood hero Paul Jamieson waxed poetically about the area in his book Adirondack Canoe Waters, North Flow. “The Osgood is a specimen garden of the North Woods. It is rich of interest to the amateur botanist, geologist and ornithologist or to any lover of uneven ground and moving water.” “Greenleaf Chase describes the Upper Osgood as follows: ‘to see and feel the spruce swamp and bog in true dimensions, take a canoe trip…[across] Osgood Pond to about a mile below on its outlet. Here the spruce-tamarack swamp close on both sides suddenly gives way to a large sphagnum bog on the west side. At the confluence of Blind Brook one can venture out on an almost pristine muskeg wildness. Brown-capped chickadees flitting along the edge and the spotting of a clump of white-fringed orchis make this a
    memorable trip.’ “Gary Randorf remarked in a letter ‘It is a rich area botanically and wildlife-wise. We saw black duck, hooded merganser, mallard, osprey, sharp-shinned hawk, red-tailed hawk, great blue heron, ruffed grouse, beaver, kingfisher, spotted sandpiper, gray jay and migrating warblers.” This is the exact area where the main road leads. This area of the Osgood has been recommended for classification as “Wild” under the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act.

    Many years ago on a winter camping trip, my friend and I accidentally broke through the ice while on snowshoes on the river, so we camped immediately within this muskeg forest. “Whiskey jacks” (Gray Jays) hopped around in the snow at our feet begging for handouts as we sat at the campfire. I learned then how these beautiful, friendly birds of the far-north appear to be giant-sized black-capped chickadees. They are rarely seen in the States except in the winter in the wilds of the northern mountains. I had seen them only once before on a winter camping trip in the Five Ponds Wilderness, where again
    they begged for handouts from our party.

    The forest area surrounding the Osgood River is a sensitive biological gem that must not be allowed to be degraded. We all know that the DEC cannot, and will not, ensure this. Yet this is the precise spot where the main road leads.

    In principle, I do not support the use of fossil fuel vehicle recreation on relatively unspoiled lands that are especially susceptible to erosion, streambed disruption, watershed alteration and pollution. This describes the thin-soiled, poorly-draining, biologically rich timber lands of the Adirondack uplands. I can support dirt-grubbing, streambed despoiling, fume-spewing, climate-disruption-in-the-name-of “re-creation” (or should we call it “re-destruction?) elsewhere in the American spirit of compromise. But this is a very bad spot for the bureaucrats’ ATV “experiment.” It appears to have been chosen by people unfamiliar with the surrounding resources. Let’s look to the areas further north and east for ATV destruction, where there are large tracts of private forest not surrounded by sensitive Forest Preserve lands.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      Muskeg? Um… No.

      There is no muskeg in the Adirondacks. You need permafrost for that.

      • Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

        Not true, there are muskegs in the Adirondacks. According to Wikipedia, muskeg and bogs are synonymous, but the term muskeg is more prevalent in the far north.

      • Dan Ling says:

        I’m a geologist not a botanist, but I was quoting one of the most important ecologists in NYS history.

  10. Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

    This seems like a bad idea to me. I remember when Bear Pond Road in Watson’s East Triangle was a designated ATV trail back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. There was very little self-control among the ATV enthusiasts back then, with ruts in every wet spot just off the road, illegal trails around barricades intruding on the Five Ponds Wilderness and tons of garbage at every spot even resembling a campsite. I hope the ethics and sense of responsibility of this crowd has changed over the years. The proof will be in the muddy ruts, or the lack thereof, I guess. I wish the DEC luck in this endeavor; they are going to need it.

  11. Paul says:

    I am curious what the estimates are on the number of new riders would be? My guess is that most of the ATVs that are now using the area come from the camps that are there already and have been riding there for years. Like many have said this area is surrounded by Forest Preserve land. Land where no one with ATVs lives?

    I guess maybe there will be an influx of campers who bring ATVs with them? But there is only 10 campsites in total that you can drive to.

    The funny thing is in the discussions regarding state land acquisition and wilderness and wild forest classification you often hear the idea that ATV riders have conservation easements where they can practice their preferred activity. Then when they try and accommodate those riders you hear some of the same people say that having ATVs use those areas is a bad idea. I don’t have an ATV but it seems to me that these guys just can’t catch a break!

  12. Charlie S says:

    DM says: “every reasonable, logical, compromise is one step closer to coexistence, which should be everyone’s goal.”

    What about coexistence with the natural world DM? With all of the beautiful creatures/critters that most of us are unawares of because we don’t ‘see’ because we’re too busy entertaining ourselves with short-term,mindless pleasures? They should revamp the DEC,put people in there who really care about our natural heritage,not people who have a tendency to always want to appease special interest groups,or appease local politicians who see ‘economy’ more than they see the birds and the bees.

    Bill McKibben was right on the money a few years back when he said “We need to change our economic way of thinking soon.” Tell that to your average puppet politico.Tell that to your average lamb.

  13. DM says:

    You just called 90% of the State a special interest group, and said that it was a bad thing that politicians care more about the economy than they do about seeing “the birds and the bees”.

    I should (as should everyone else) discard your comments as those of someone who is completely out of touch. But much like how the very small percentage of ATV enthusiasts who are disrespectful do not represent the community as a whole, I do not believe people like you, who have no perspective in the real world, do not represent those that want logical conservation measures for the park (and in general).

    But…

    Let’s follow this through, to see if you have anything behind your rhetoric.

    Explain to me, in your prefect world, how do we coexist with the “beautiful creatures”?

    How should our political leaders manifest their desire to “see the birds and the bees” over their focus on economic issues that face the residents of upstate new York.

    And (if you can answer those two), explain to me how you expect to make the 7.7% of New Yorkers who are unemployed and the 15% that are living in poverty to care more about “seeing the birds and the bees” than they care about feeding their families.

    If you were somehow successful in getting politicians to care more about the beautiful creatures than they do in the economy, your precious park would cease to exist in less than one election cycle. Go back and read some of the other articles lately that bring to light the major issue for the park that NO ONE CARES. The majority of NY residents do not think about the park at all. If you somehow got all of these people to think about the park because politicians were putting their focus on it at the detriment to solving economic issues, Poof… no more park at all…

    Be careful what you ask for.

  14. Curt Austin says:

    “Yes [ATVs] can cause damage by those who operate them irresponsibly just as much as the damage that is caused by those who hike and camp irresponsibly”

    Between the “yes” (I agree) and the “just as much” (strongly disagree), you lost me.

    A better argument is that the rule should be about causing damage, not a complete prohibition. But that involves more difficult enforcement – not currently possible. Maybe you can improve that situation. Self-enforcement, amelioration, education, a trail certification program that requires adoption by an ATV group. A minimum age, a maximum group size, no alcohol.

    ATV’ers do not enjoy a good reputation, generally. You need to work on that. You leave a big trace in a place where “leave no trace” is gospel.

    I’m trying to be helpful.

    • Paul says:

      Again this is not Forest Preserve land it is private land with a conservation easement and roads and camps etc. “Leave no trace” is not “gospel” here?

  15. Paul says:

    We should also keep in mind that when the DEC renegotiated the conservation easement for the “Champion” lands they included what is basically a ban on all ATV use. There the DEC eliminated ATV use on about 100,000 acres of conservation easement land. This is not just for the public but for the camp lease holders as well. No ATVs.

  16. Charlie S says:

    DM says: “You just called 90% of the State a special interest group, and said that it was a bad thing that politicians care more about the economy than they do about seeing “the birds and the bees”.

    >> I did not call 90% of the state a special interest group DM.You’re putting words into my missive.You must be seeing things other than what they really are. Politicians? Yes sir,it’s all about the economy with them which is a bad thing if you really look at the whole picture not just a mere parcel like your average non-thinker does.You’d have to see ahead more than one fiscal period to understand what I mean by that DM.If I have to explain then you’ll never get it so I’ll leave it at that.

    Politicians don’t see the birds and bees DM.They’re too busy thinking about which special interest group they’re going to appease next.It’s not about the birds and bees with them,it’s about destroying those duo’s habitats.Take per small instance the Northway above Albany.Have you noticed all of the remainder pockets of woods coming down along that stretch,being bulldozed over just so more stores or warehouses can be built,or housing developments? Think tax write-offs DM. Those little pockets of woods are/were remainder safe havens for fox,deer and all sorts of other little critters that your average politician can give two hoots about trust me when I tell you so.

    “I should (as should everyone else) discard your comments as those of someone who is completely out of touch.”

    >> Speak for yourself DM as I am certain not everyone will agree with you.Out of touch with who? With what? If you mean out of touch with the mainstream then whole-heartedly i’ll fess up I am.At the very least I don’t relate to that bunch,which are quite a large number by the way.That would make me unique!

    I do not believe people like you, who have no perspective in the real world…

    >> No perspective in the real world.I do have a perspective DM.You just don’t agree with me which doesn’t make you right,and it certainly does not make me wrong.

    Explain to me, in your prefect world, how do we coexist with the “beautiful creatures”?

    >> Let them live DM! Stop taking away more and more of what’s left of their homes just so we can fulfill our shallow,short-term,selfish needs.Don’t you see what we’re doing DM? Dont answer that question!

    How should our political leaders manifest their desire to “see the birds and the bees” over their focus on economic issues that face the residents of upstate new York.

    >> So what should we do DM? Let the honeybees and bumblebees and monarch butterflies go the way of the ivory-billed woodpecker because jobs are more important?Because McDonalds is more important? CVS? Sunoco? Do we take down more woods so as to build another Walmart so jobs can be had by minimum wage workers so they can keep up with their ever-mounting bills? So mindless people can shop for cheap items? How do I explain this! Somebody help me out here. There’s more to this planet than us mere mortals DM.There’s more to this planet than plastic.

    And(if you can answer those two), explain to me how you expect to make the 7.7% of New Yorkers who are unemployed and the 15% that are living in poverty to care more about “seeing the birds and the bees” than they care about feeding their families.

    >> That’s just it DM.They don’t care.If they did maybe we’d get somewhere.We as in those of us who do care.

    If you were somehow successful in getting politicians to care more about the beautiful creatures than they do in the economy, your precious park would cease to exist in less than one election cycle.

    >> The way we’re going DM all life on Earth is going to cease to exist soon or late.It’s only a matter of time before we all start realizing that.By then of course it will be too late no matter what Steppenwolf used to sing…”It’s never too late.”

    We seem to be running on a treadmill DM…as we advance we’re always in the same place.Or didn’t you notice?

  17. Peter Bauer says:

    To all – good comments. Here are some thoughts.

    Charlie S: I wrote management because the tract is logged and used intensively for recreation – 30 camps, lots of roads, snowmobiles, trucks, cars, mtn bikes – everything. This is not protection, such as you would find in the forever wild Forest Preserve.

    Keith Silliman: I checked with the Town of Franklin. A few years back there was some effort made to open roads to ATVs but this wasn’t done. I wonder if DEC’s actions at Kushaqua will spur a new round of road opening controversy. I do not think this will play well among most Franklin residents.

    As to the leaseholders, I wonder how much they want public ATVs – or the public for that matter – racing around the tract. On a minor note I’m always annoyed by the notion that ATVs are a necessary part of deer hunting. When I was a teenager hunting with my dad and grandfather, they were quite clear that my brother and I were there specifically to drag out their deer. As the miracle of time passing has it I had fun watching my son and his cousin drag out one of my deer two years ago.

    Also, under the terms of the easement, the timberland owner gets to veto any part of the Recreational Management Plan they do not like. Seems on one level a conflict of interest: why let the public have something that they’re leasing – private ATV use rights. Also, ATV use can be controlled by the clubs – you go off the roads and mess up forest regeneration the timberland owner can shut down that club. It will be harder to control public ATV use.

    Jeff Miller: Agreed. Part of the sport is making the mud fly. The ads say it all. Scan ATV club videos and the mud pits are always a big deal.

    Joe B: I see ATV use as an intensive outdoor recreational activity for which most ATV owners do not have adequate land to use and enjoy. I see ATV riding as an activity that requires a modified landscape, akin to golf or downhill skiing. Hence, I see this sport as something better suited to private parks that charge a fee and not something that should be – or can be – provided on public lands without a significant public investment in infrastructure. Note that the last 10 years has seen a real growth in private ATV clubs who own their own lands with trail networks where they can ride.

    Marco: Agreed. One ATV blazes a trail and others follow. Check out the Ferris Lake Wild Forest and you’ll see plenty of areas so devastated.

    DM: An old photo yes, but simply meant to be illustrative of the damage that can be wrought by ATVs. Taken in Ferris Lake WF where ATV use is not allowed — supposedly.

    Paul: How big a deal remains to be seen. Big policy implications are on the line here for the DEC.

    Dan Ling: Yes, agreed, thank you for pointing out the ecologic complexity of this area. Taken at the landscape level this is a sweet and beautiful part of the Adirondacks.

    Dan Crane: The Bear Road has long been a launching area for ATVs to penetrate into the Forest Preserve. Years ago I followed tracts that crossed the Oswegatchie into the Five Ponds Wilderness. Haven’t been back there in the last five years though.

    Paul: That ATV riders can’t catch a break is because these machines cause damage. I know that there are plenty of people who will vouch that they can be operated skillfully and benignly, yet in many places that is not the norm. Clearly, public ATV riding on public lands is controversial and will continue to be. It will be interesting to see how the DEC and the timberland owner move ahead here.

    Curt Austin: I think you hit it on the head. There are lots of places where ATV ruts and damage can be seen for years after the abuse ended. That’s leaving quite a trace.

    • Paul says:

      “That ATV riders can’t catch a break is because these machines cause damage.”

      Peter, we as hikers have destroyed some of the most sensitive and rare alpine vegetation in the Adirondacks. It is all relative.

  18. David says:

    It seems to me that Americans think that walking or any form of physical activity is a god awful thing. That’s why half the country is overweight. I’d rather enjoy the quite of the wilderness via hike , paddle, skis or snowshoes. Some prefer ATVs, snowmobiles or jet skis along with the noise and pollution.

  19. One concern regarding ATVs just occurred to me– noise.

    Having just listened to the snowmobiles on the NGrid ROW ( the old rail bed) for the last two days, I recall how noisy the ATVs on the same ROW used to be in the Summer, particularly on Saturday nights. Summer usage dropped tremendously in about 2004; I think the snowmobile clubs and NGrid shut down the ATV use for insurance reasons.

    I am somewhat concerned that the quiet we have become accustomed to at Loon Lake may be affected by the increased presence of ATVs.

  20. I went back and checked the plan. With the exception of ADA access, the proposed ATV use is actually quite limited in scope and time– just big game season in the Fall. The NGrid ROW is not included.

  21. Paul says:

    As far as enforcement goes it seems to me that the landowners could make a very good case that the DEC is incapable (given current staffing and funding) of providing proper enforcement for ANY public activity. And given that the landowner should be allowed to restrict the public from access until that changes. Enforcement is obviously one of the states responsibilities under the easement agreement. If they can’t do it then the owners should be allowed to refuse public access. Once you open these gates it opens up all kinds of issues beyond ATVs. Given local tipping fees, and the fact that there are no local landfills anymore, the obvious place for lower income folks to chuck their junk is down an old dirt road. I see this in many places on the Champion easement lands where the gates have now open to the public. It is also unfair to the camp lease holders. They could be held responsible for anything that joe six pack does in there.

  22. Jay says:

    I have been paying $10.00 a year each for 3 ATV’s for almost 20 years to the State DMV.This is to keep me legal.
    And can anyone tell me what I get in return.
    I am a resident down state and there is no trail system.
    I don’t recall hikers or bike riders paying for a registration to use state land or trails.Another money grab by Albany

    • Paul says:

      I just paid 50 bucks for a trailer. Why are these darn things so expensive? What a rip off!

      Jay, you are a good example. Would you trailer your ATV all the way up here just to ride on these roads?

      I don’t think it going to attract many riders who are not already riding there. I could be wrong.

    • David says:

      As far as bike riders or hikers not paying to use state lands or trails, you also have the option of hiking or biking for free.

  23. Hank Kinosian says:

    I find the Draft Recreation Management Plan a bit unclear.

    It appears from appendix B-3 that only the following roads will be open for ATV use: Road 2-3, Hunter’s Camp Road, Road 3-1, Road 3-3 (gravel and unimproved), and Headwaters Road. Thus the large majority of roads are not open for ATV use; it appears that only about 10 miles of roads will be available for ATV use. Is that correct? Appendix B-2 shows a number of roads open to cars and trucks. Will ATVs be allowed on those roads? How will DEC stop people from riding ATVs on the rest of the 130 miles of roads?

    It is interesting that the DEC will maintain helicopter landing zones in the area. Does this mean that they expect a continual need to airlift seriously injured victims of ATV mishaps?

  24. Ed Monette says:

    This should be open they have been using atv’s in there for years. And those that say about atv trails you ever try walking a trail after horses or donkey’s have been using them in the fall?

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