Thursday, October 30, 2014

APA Gets Ideas For Amending State Land Master Plan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency is considering two amendments to the State Land Master Plan, both concerning the Essex Chain Lakes region, but the agency likely will be asked to weigh broader changes to the document.

The Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board already has set forth nine proposals for amending the master plan, which governs the state’s management of the Forest Preserve.

“There’s going to be more, but that’s a start,” Fred Monroe, the board’s executive director, told Adirondack Almanack at an APA “listening session” Wednesday evening, the first of four such meetings that the agency plans to hold to gather ideas on amending the master plan.

Monroe said the review board’s top priority is to give economic issues more prominence in the master plan. The plan’s introduction now says that “the protection of the natural resources of the state lands within the Park must be paramount.” But when the APA was created in 1972, Governor Nelson Rockefeller and state legislators spoke of the need to balance economic and environmental considerations, according to Monroe.

“Whatever happened to the balance that the governor wanted and the legislature wanted?” Monroe said.

Rocci Aguirre of the Adirondack Council, who also attended the listening session, said he didn’t know if the council will propose its own amendments, but he added that “we want to make sure that at the core the protection of natural resources stays paramount.”

The council and the review board both support the Essex Chain amendments, though the exact wording has yet to be determined.

When the APA approved the creation of the Essex Chain Primitive Area in December 2013, it agreed to consider two amendments:

  • Allowing mountain biking on logging roads in the region. Ordinarily, biking is not allowed in Primitive Areas.
  • Allowing the construction of a snowmobile bridge over the Cedar River that contains non-natural materials. The state Department of Environmental Conservation says non-natural materials must be used to make the crossing safe.

APA counsel James Townsend said the amendments could be written narrowly so as to apply only to the Essex Chain region or broadly to apply to similar situations throughout the Park.

The APA will accept comments on the amendments through December 5. The agency’s staff will analyze the comments and come out with recommendations. The public then will have a chance to comment on the recommendations. Townsend expects that the agency’s board would vote on the recommendations sometime in the spring.

Monroe contends that the APA should permit mountain biking where appropriate in all Primitive, Canoe, and Wilderness Areas, where bikes are now banned (they are allowed in Wild Forest Areas).

“Mountain biking is one of our biggest opportunities in the Adirondacks,” he said. “It’s really in demand.” He said the logging roads in the William C. Whitney Wilderness, for example, are ideal for biking.

Monroe also said the state should be allowed to use non-natural materials when building long bridges anywhere in the Forest Preserve, not just over the Cedar.

Townsend could not say when the APA might consider other amendments to the State Land Master Plan, which has not been substantively changed since 1987.

The Local Government Review Board’s other proposals aim to:

  • Maintain scenic vistas along roadsides. Monroe told the Almanack that the group may favor maintaining vistas along hiking trails as well.
  • Protect the Park from invasive species. Monroe said DEC should be required to establish boat-inspection stations at major lakes and at the Park’s major highway entrances.
  • Improve snowmobile trails. Monroe contends that the plan’s insistence that snowmobile trails retain “essentially the same character as a foot trail” is outdated.
  • Permit floatplanes to visit more backcountry lakes.
  • Allow grooming of cross-country-ski trails in Wild Forest Areas. The master plan now allows grooming of ski trails only in Intensive Use Areas.
  • Allow the maintenance of natural glades for backcountry skiing.

The last item is an endorsement of a proposal by the Adirondack Powder Skier Association, which is seeking greater recognition for backcountry skiing in the master plan. Several skiers attended the listening session to voice support for the maintenance of natural openings in the woods for skiing.

“We want reasonable and safe recreational access that does not impact natural resources,” said Ron Konowitz, a Keene resident who is president of the association.

The APA’s other three listening sessions will be held at Newcomb Central School from 4-7 p.m. November 3; at DEC headquarters at 625 Broadway in Albany from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. November 17; and at Webb Union Free School in Old Forge from 5-8 p.m. November 18.

At the sessions, several APA staff members are stationed around a room to listen to members of the public and write down their comments. The public also can email comments to or send them to Kathy Regan, APA Deputy Director, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977.

Photo by Phil Brown: A list of public comments at the APA listening session.


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Phil Brown is the former Editor of 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.

42 Responses

  1. Anon says:

    Not a fan of mtb in Wilderness.

  2. Jim S. says:

    It is disturbing to realize how fragile the protection of wilderness can be in the Adirondacks. I am a big fan of mountain biking,but to allow it in a primitive or wilderness area is very bad idea. People cruising through the forest at 10 to 25 mph does not relate to wilderness.

  3. slmpdefender says:

    The master plan should be considered for not just the next 25 years. Let’s think in terms of forest succession. The Forest preserve is an experiment in recovery. May of the forests that we recreate amongst in the Park were barren landscapes only 150 years ago. Old growth forests have yet to come into shape! When that happens, our descendants will enjoy an entirely different forest character that is more open and host to top predators.

    Believe it or not… many of the people that seek out Adirondack recreation flock there because of the challenge it presents. First, it’s groomed snowmobile trails and expanded floatplane access. Next, it’ll be a gondola to and starbucks on every high peaks summit. Let’s not lose sight on the intrinsic benefits found in self sufficiency! If the list in the photo is what’s desired, just keep that crap out of Wilderness. There’s yer comprimise.

  4. Jim j. says:

    yes, and if mountain biking is a violation of the principle of forest preservation, how does snowmobiling get a pass. This makes no sense from a stewardship point of view.

  5. Hawthorn says:

    I’m of two minds about mountain biking. On the one hand, I love the sport and I was doing it before anyone called it mountain biking. On the other hand, I have been on trails that were shared with mountain bikes and it could be a nasty experience for hikers. Bikes were zooming downhill at high rates of speed with no way to stop, forcing hikers to leap out of the way periodically. Plus, the trail erosion was extreme in certain areas–much worse than from any hikers. Snowmobile trails would be much less intrusive if they were really of the character of hiking trails, but instead many of today’s snowmobile highways allow very high rates of speed and also allow the intrusion of ATVs in the summer. However, no matter where they are the noise factor can ruin the wilderness experience over a huge swath of territory well removed from the actual trail. The idea that these are narrow corridors through wilderness and therefore of minimal impact just doesn’t hold up.

  6. Josh Wilson says:

    Studies comparing the trail erosion and vegetation trampling impacts of mountain bikers vs hikers have time and time again demonstrated NO significant difference between these two trail uses.

    We know now that the impacts of a hiker and a bike rider on a trail are equal when all other factors are the same, and effective management of trail erosion starts with assuring that the trail itself is designed to sustain the use it will receive, regardless of what that use may be.

    Some people are philosophical opposed to mountain biking in Wilderness. That perspective is completely legitimate and should be given due consideration in this discussion about allowing mountain bikes on “Primitive Bike Corridors” in certain Wilderness and Primitive areas.

    BUT when it comes to natural resources impacts (erosion, etc) – lets have a discussion based on the science, not anecdotes.

  7. Dan Crane says:

    Looks like every recreational organization under the sun is coming out of the woodwork with their own self-absorbed proposed wishlist for changes to the SLMP.

    Maybe I should start my own organization and propose more trailless areas for bushwhacking, including rehabilitating disturbed areas back to their natural state. That is, removing all roads, buildings, trails, etc.

    Who wants to become a founding member?

    • SLMPRdefender says:

      I like your thinking!

    • Bill Ott says:

      Make me a founding member.

      I think the 5 Ponds has a good balance of shelters, trials, and marked campsites. I hardly ever stay at a shelter because of a lack of firewood and an abundance of little critters and bears, but they are handy from time to time. They also help concentrate the wanton destruction caused by clueless two leggers to smaller areas. On top of that, the people who saved the shelters after the 1995 blowdown have done a great job of maintaining them and serve as an example (cannot find the right word) for those who care about the woods. I did not help then, but now I clear deadfall and haul trash on my way out.

      I digress – make me a founding member. Be happy just to keep the 5 from going bad.

      • Matt says:

        Please count me in as your third founding member. I hope its OK that I love mountain biking and backcountry skiing, and I’m happy to see some grassroots groups speaking for these activities in the Adirondacks. Consider me “self-absorbed” if you like, but we’re far more similar than we are different, so you may want to consider how a comment like that reflects on you. You see Dan, I also happen to love bushwacking, solitude, and deep, trail-less wild country, regardless of the land classification. The Adirondacks is close to my heart, and Wilderness is a significant part of the reason why. I believe in Wilderness for all the same reasons you do, and I think we should have more of it. I am unaware of any individual or Adirondack group advocating for a total repeal of the ban on biking in Wilderness areas, but that doesn’t seem to stop a few folks from getting worked up about the idea(see comments above and below). I know you love the fight(Of course you do, Dan. No one makes comments like yours without expecting it back), but why not listen to what mountain bikers have to say with an open mind, and try to understand where they are coming from. You don’t have to like it, but I think you’ll agree they deserve to be listened to. To start, you might want to take a look at that IMBA website Josh Wilson mentioned, and read their policy on Wilderness. It may surprise you.

  8. Charlie S says:

    Anon says: Not a fan of mtb in Wilderness.

    Jim S. says: I am a big fan of mountain biking,but to allow it in a primitive or wilderness area is very bad idea. People cruising through the forest at 10 to 25 mph does not relate to wilderness.

    >> I’ve seen the damage done from mountain bikes.I lived in Tampa for a number of years where there was a 7-mile trail at a water management area (north of Tampa)for walking, bicycling, rollerblading & jogging.The place was surrounded on all sides by thousands of acres of woods. I knew that place when very few people were going there.It was a paradise away from all of the noise and congestion.

    Then they started building expensive homes with tiled roofs in the back of that place,took down hundreds of acres of palmetto scrub and pine and hardwood forests which was a haven for the Florida panther, gopher tortoise, black bear, bobcat, common nighthawks, barred owls, snakes, lizards, deer…..I swear I saw a black cat a few times in that place (Flatwoods)at least twice,and I know I saw a panther. At one time that whole area was one big greenway that connected to Hillsborough River State Park and beyond.Then along came mister developer and his puppet politicians and boom the place turned into a big hellhole of a mess,they chopped it up into pieces,subdivided it,buried gopher tortoises alive,ran them over. They built new roads, shopping plazas, homes…. better known to politicians as tax havens.

    At one time I would see dozens of common nighthawks,watch them as they swooped down with their booming sounds as they went after insects in the air.It had become a very rare sight to see even one common nighthawk after a while and,less and less animals and,all in all,that place went to the pits once all of those woods came down and the people swarmed in. It was not such a paradise anymore. More and more people started finding out about that place,especially after all of those expensive homes went up,and before long there were mountain bike trails throughout those woods.

    What were once out of the way places in those woods now had become heavily peopled once the houses went up and the paths opened up. I came across dead snakes,frogs and other small critters that were run over by those bikes in the woods. The place had changed from a paradise to Central Park in just a few years. The last time I was there it was like Grand Central Station.

    There’s more but to get my point across I’ve seen the damage done from mountain bikes and,like the two posters above,I think it’s a bad idea for the Adirondack wilderness. Tell that to a capitalist politician who has one thing on his mind which is why it is even allowed in the first place.

    We should put the wilderness first not pleasure-seeking, short-term non-thinking people.

  9. Charlie S says:

    Josh Wilson says: Studies comparing the trail erosion and vegetation trampling impacts of mountain bikers vs hikers have time and time again demonstrated NO significant difference between these two trail uses.

    >> I beg to differ on this Josh.I don’t know where you get your information but it’s a total falsehood what you say!

  10. Charlie S says:

    Josh Wilson says: when it comes to natural resources impacts (erosion, etc) – lets have a discussion based on the science, not anecdotes.

    >> Lets!

  11. troutstalker says:

    I want in also. I want more wilderness paddling and banning of all motorboats in the DACKS! Make “NESSMUCK” happy again!

  12. ScottyJack says:

    I wonder what the cumulative impacts to the Forest Preserve would be if the hundred of thousands of Park visitors joined this new bush whack group and started tramping about and camping at large.

    I do not support mtn bikes in wilderness. I do believe however that allowing mtn bikes on highly selective but very limited primitive corridors that connect communities with trail systems would do far more good than bad for the Adirondack Park.

    If you honestly want to compare trail impacts conduct a field visit to the Van Ho hiking trail to Marcy with the All In multi use (muscle powdered) trail in the Wilmington Wild Forest Beaver Brook Tract.

  13. Jim S. says:

    The key point for me regarding wilderness and primitive areas is they should be as close to natural as possible. Man and animals walking in the woods is natural,man and animals riding atop a metal contraption with gears at great speed isn’t. However mountain biking is great fun and should be promoted more for wild forest areas. I enjoy both hiking and mountain biking and with all the wild forest lands available there is no shortage of opportunity for adventure.

  14. mike says:

    More winter activity is fine. But ban horses. Stop unregulated wandering called bushwacking. Make a few areas off limits.

  15. Dave Mason says:

    I’ve been interviewing dozens of people on the topic of how we might respond to climate change in the Adirondacks. It’s a big complicated topic.

    I would be curious to know what readers here think the SLMP might say with respect to climate change.

    A goal of keeping the forest just as we know it today appears to be impossible, much to the disappointment of many people. But that gives us no guidance.

    If the words climate change never appear in the finished document people in the future will surely wonder why. That is a choice we could make – say nothing, do nothing. But what might other choices look like?

  16. Josh Wilson says:

    Charlie S – I’m getting my information from the multiple studies referenced on the website links I provided in my post.

    If you have indeed read this studies and still have an alternate opinion based on YOUR information, please share those studies with the rest of us.

    The issue here is the use of a Primitive Bike Corridor classification in the Adirondack Park, and specifically, the Essex Chain of Lakes. This management tool has been used in the Catskill Park since 2009.

    No one is proposing lifting the ban on mountain biking in wilderness park-wide. No one is proposing to allow mountain bikes to travel deep into the High Peaks Wilderness, for example.

    All I am saying is the discussion over mountain bike use on trails in the Adirondacks and anywhere else should based on facts, not rhetoric. Too many people are content with forming their opinion of mountain bikes based on a single anecdotal experience.

    If you’re genuinely worried about natural resource damage caused by trail erosion, you should be much more concerned about many of the hiking trails in the High Peaks.

    • John Warren says:

      “No one is proposing lifting the ban on mountain biking in wilderness park-wide.”

      Actually, that is not true. There have been people advocating for that at the two recent APSLMP hearings.

  17. Josh Wilson says:

    Well I guess you are right about that John. What I meant was that the idea to allow Primitive Bike Corridors in the Essex Chain (or anywhere else) does not equate to a lifting of the ban on mountain biking in wilderness.

    I am not advocating lifting the ban on mountain biking in Wilderness park-wide.

    Most mountain bikers are not interested in accessing wilderness hiking trails, primarily because most of them would frankly suck for mountain biking. Also we have plenty of opportunity to build and ride trails in Wild Forest areas, where mountain biking is already permitted and encouraged.

    The primary interest of the mountain bikers I work with on a regular basis is to make the case that the Primitive Bike Corridor classification should be considered in the context of the entire Park, not just the Essex Chain unit. In other words, if Primitive Bike Corridors are to be designated in the Adirondack Park, the APA should develop park-wide guidelines that clearly identify how, when, where and why this classification is to be used, and include that guidance in the State Land Master Plan. This would permit the DEC to propose the use of Primitive Bike Corridors in other units of state land.

    What mountain bikers envision is one day having the ability to make a trail connection between established mountain bike trail networks on Wild Forest lands that are currently separated by Wilderness or Primitive areas, where mountain biking is not obviously not permitted.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      “What I meant was that the idea to allow Primitive Bike Corridors in the Essex Chain (or anywhere else) does not equate to a lifting of the ban on mountain biking in wilderness.”

      Pardon me, but this is patently false, because the entire purpose of the “Primitive Bike Corridor” designation is to allow bikes in a Wilderness area. No one would designate one of these corridors in a Wild Forest right, where mountain bike trails are perfectly permissible. Therefore the **ONLY** reason anyone would want a “Primitive Bike Corridor” in the Adirondacks would be to get around the SLMP ban on mechanical access to Wilderness areas.

      So yes, your idea is 100% about allowing bikes in otherwise prohibited areas, and about nothing else. Please don’t assume we’re idiots.

  18. Josh Wilson says:

    Hi Bill,

    I completely disagree. The Primitive Bike Corridor classification was applied to 4 corridors in the Catskill Park when the CPSLMP was amended in 2008-2009. That is not the same as lifting the blanket ban on mountain biking in wilderness areas. Mountain bikes are still prohibited on all other wilderness trails in the Catskill Park.

    It would be no different here. The designation of a Primitive Bike Corridor in one or more Wilderness areas in the Adirondack Park would allow people to ride IN THOSE CORRIDORS ONLY, not wherever they pleased.

    So NO, this is not about allowing 100% access for mountain bikers to all wilderness trails.

    Yes, it is about allowing bikes where they are currently prohibited.

    Those are two different things.

    Not sure why you think I am trying to fool anyone. I’ve simply shared my thinking on the topic, and reacted to the other posts. Unlike many people that consistently post comments on this site, I have actually provided my real name.

    Mountain bike opponents need to let go of the notion that mountain bikers simply want to run roughshod over every trail they can find.

    I am an avid user of many Adk Wilderness areas. I have traversed Wilderness areas in the Park for the past 20+ years. I backcountry ski, hike, and paddle just as much as I mountain bike. I also spend a great deal of volunteering my time to build and maintain trails in the greater Lake Placid region.

    I recognize that the vast majority of wilderness hiking trails in the Park are completely unsuitable for mountain biking (one could argue that many are unsuitable for any kind of use given the level of erosion, vegetative trampling, etc…but I digress). I also very much respect the need to preserve the Wilderness experience for everyone. I recognize that this is primary reason for the ban on bikes in Wilderness, and I support maintaining that ban.

    However, I do believe, that in very limited circumstances there is an opportunity to use Primitive Bike Corridors for the specific purpose of providing off-road bicycle connections between communities and trail networks.

    If used appropriately and on a very limited basis, the Primitive Bike Corridor classification does not compromise the state’s ability to protect and preserve natural resources within a Wilderness area, nor does it diminish the ability of Wilderness visitors to have the experience they seek.

    I read your posts all the time, and no, I don’t assume you are an idiot.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      The purpose of a “primitive bike corridor” is to allow the routing of bike trails through a wilderness area. It’s that simple; no need for long rebuttals. If there were no wilderness areas, there would be no need for the corridors. The PBC is intended to be an exception to wilderness guidelines. Phrasing it any other way is nothing more than spin.

      And at any rate, if community connections are what you’re looking for, then it sounds like what you really want are snowmobile trails. Those already exist in the appropriate places. The fact that I see so few bikers utilizing these trails lends credence to the suspicion that there is really a very low park-wide demand for the types of trails you are asking for.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      Mountain Bike use was not prohibited in Wilderness areas in the Catskills by regulation. Language in 6NYCRR 196.7 specifically stated…”The operation of bicycles is prohibited on all of the following Adirondack forest preserve wilderness areas:” …They were then listed by name.

  19. Hope says:

    While not a mtn bike trail per se, the proposed Adk Rail Trail can be a part of bike trails that can connect through Wilderness to Wild Forest areas that can and do access mtn bike trails. There is a lot opportunity along that travel corridor to connect to other trails and potential new trails located outside of Wilderness.

  20. Josh Wilson says:

    I agree Bill – the PBC is an exception to wilderness guidelines – you are right.

    My point, again, is that this is not the same as lifting the blanket ban on biking in wilderness, because by definition the PBC only allows biking in very specific corridors.

    That’s not spin, its simply a fact.

    No, I don’t want snowmobile trails.

    First, what I was implying is that PBC could be used to create bicycle connections between communities and/or trail networks that are separated by Wilderness. Snowmobile trails cannot be used for this purpose obviously, because they are not permitted in wilderness.

    Second, the reason that you don’t see mountain bikers utilizing the vast majority of snowmobile trails is that these trails are built for snowmobiling, not mountain biking. They are not constructed according to accepted mountain bike trail building standards, and they do not provide the kind of experience that mountain bikers seek out.

    Modern mountain bike trails, such as the very popular trails in the Wilmington Wild Forest, are built in very narrow corridors, with an average 12-18 inch tread, and are constructed with hand tools. They meet the “character of a foot trail” standard, while the majority of snowmobile trails obviously do not.

    That you would lump these activities together speaks to your lack of understanding of mountain biking altogether. The idea that mountain bikes should be delegated to snowmobile trails is completely out of date.

    Perhaps there is little demand for the kind of PBC trails I am talking about…thankfully that will be determined by the SLMP public comment process.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      “I agree Bill – the PBC is an exception to wilderness guidelines – you are right.

      “My point, again, is that this is not the same as lifting the blanket ban on biking in wilderness, because by definition the PBC only allows biking in very specific corridors.”

      An exception is an exception is an exception. Limiting it to certain preferred corridors within a legally protected area makes the idea no more praiseworthy.

      You really ought to think your idea through. Snowmobilers want a park-wide network of community connector trails, and to a large degree they already have them. You want a park-wide network of community connector trails, but you don’t want the existing snowmobile trails because they’re too wide. So if you got your way, there would be two redundant trail systems crisscrossing the park, each going to the same places, but segregated because of differing opinions about trail width. Do you really think that will happen?

      Here’s what I think:

      If there really was a park-wide demand for these types of mountain bike trails, we absolutely WOULD see them on more snowmobile trails. If this user group existed in large numbers and wanted to explore the Adirondacks, they would be doing so. They wouldn’t be sitting at home waiting for someone to design a PBC to their precise specifications. It’s a little like Bigfoot: if these people really existed, we would be seeing them much more often.

  21. Josh Wilson says:

    I would agree with you, if what I was proposing was a “park wide system of community connector trails” – but its not.

    What I did say was that PBCs could be a way to establish bike connections between communities and/or trail systems that are currently separated by wilderness. Since not all communities and/or trail systems are actually separated by wilderness, there is no real need for a park-wide system of such trails. If permitted by the SLMP, the PBC would be a management tool to be applied in very special circumstances – where a key bike connection was needed to connect communities with established mountain bike trail networks.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      “What I did say was that PBCs could be a way to establish bike connections between communities and/or trail systems that are currently separated by wilderness. Since not all communities and/or trail systems are actually separated by wilderness, there is no real need for a park-wide system of such trails.”

      Which more or less proves my point that your PBC idea exists for the sole purpose of putting bikes in Wilderness. In places where there is no Wilderness, there is no need for the PBC.

      And for the record, I fail to see the difference between “park wide system of community connector trails” (my words) and “bike connections between communities and/or trail systems” (your words), other than that you seem to be especially interested in the communities that have Wilderness areas between them. Thus I’m inclined to think that you might be more than a little titillated by the “forbidden fruit” aspect of all this. Are the communities with Wild Forests between them somehow less appealing?

      • Matt says:

        Here is some information on the popularity of various types of outdoor recreation:
        I admit I just did a very quick google search(all of 2 or 3 minutes) to find this. On page 17 is “Most Popular Outdoor Activities by Participation Rate”. 15% of Americans take part in some type of cycling, and 12% take part in hiking. That says to me that more Americans enjoy riding bikes for recreation than hiking for recreation. Of course, cycling is very diverse, and not all those folks are mountain bikers. So I did another quick google search, and now I know that 25% of all the bikes sold in the United States in 2012 were mountain bikes. That’s a lot of mountain bikes( Anyways, I bet mountain bikers would love to come to the Adirondacks if we had a nice singletrack trail network that would justify the trip.

        • Bill Ingersoll says:

          “Anyways, I bet mountain bikers would love to come to the Adirondacks if we had a nice singletrack trail network that would justify the trip.”

          What’s stopping anyone from building a mountain bike trail network? There are 1,298,209 acres of Wild Forest in the Adirondacks to work with. Get something positive going with that first, and we can have a Wilderness discussion some other day. Otherwise all you are going to have are cherry-picked Google searches to back up your claims.

        • John Warren says:

          In addition to Forest Preserve lands, which have a unique place in our state parks system and are supposed to be “forever wild”, there is also PRIVATE land – that’s where snowmobiliers, ATV users, people who play golf, go-karts drivers, and others have built their recreation facilities and there is no reason that mountain bikers can’t do the same.

          Why must every user group assume that the Forest Preserve is the first place to build facilities for their favored form of recreation?

        • Scott van Laer says:

          My issue with “single track” Mountain Bike trails is that they tend to utilise more of the landscape than all other types of trails. They are more of an amusement park ride then a trail consistent with other backcountry uses which generally are travel corridors to get from point A to point B. Single track Mountain Bike trails perforate, if not fragment, a land area more than any other recreational trail. They twist, turn and cut back very near to the trail you just rode down to increase mileage. Think about the impacts of a single track trail on ground nesting birds. A mountain biker utilizing an existing woods road, snowmobile trail or hiking trail doesn’t have that type of impact because those trails generally don’t cover the landscape the way most single track trails are designed.

  22. Phil Brown says:

    Bill, Josh helps build bike trails for the Bark Eater Trail Alliance (BETA). Most of the trails are in Wilmington, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. As I understand it, they are looking for corridors to connect Wilmington and Lake Placid, and Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. If built, the corridors might go through Wilderness Areas separating these communities. I don’t know of any plans to build bike corridors through Wilderness Areas throughout the Park.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      If this is the case, he’d be better off being this explicit in his requests. There could be alternative solutions to such a specific local issue that wouldn’t require a SLMP amendment with park-wide implications.

    • Hawthorn says:

      There are already bicycle corridors connecting every bike trail in the Park–they’re called roads.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      When you build or designate a “corridor” for an activity that would be inconsistent with the classification of the adjacent bisected land, you are effectively downgrading that areas classification as well. Narrow corridor classifications should be rare and done only because of existing structures like fire towers or the rail line, a perfect example. Creating a narrow travel corridor to circumvent the SLMP is just poor management.

  23. Scott van Laer says:

    We (All user groups) have gone completely trail crazy! I feel uncomfortable with the “micro-classification” of Forest preserve lands that seems to becoming more prevalent. It is done to legalise a certain recreational activity which would otherwise be prohibited. Really it’s done to appease user groups. Mountain Bike corridors, Snowmobile corridors are 2 examples: These management areas which are created only to sanction an activity seems completely counterintuitive to Landscape level classification and management. Is it reasonable to have wildforest 3 miles long and 100 feet wide and when you step off of it you are suddenly in a wilderness? Whats going on here? Why are we trying to reinvent or perhaps just circumvent principles for land classification. How can the public possibly keep track of the jigsaw of UMP’s, intertwined, some with specific regulations. I feel like there is an attempt to erode the purpose and meaning of what was initially a logical classification system.

    • Hawthorn says:

      Exactly, and there is also the danger that these “corridors” allow travel into the heart of wild areas where there is possible access to other routes that are not part of the official corridor. I have seen this happen with snowmobile trails, bike routes, and improved access roads. What was once a corridor can become a network of informal trails very quickly.

  24. Hawthorn says:

    I will have to defer to the studies linked to above that the overall impact of mountain bikes is similar to hiking, but I do know firsthand that in certain areas there can be a significant change in impacts. There are some trails on private land near where I live that were once quiet, narrow paths through the woods used by people on foot. Then the mountain bikers discovered them and were allowed to use them. Quickly downed trees and overhanging branches were removed. Logs and rocks were removed. The narrow footpath became a hard-packed beaten route with berms on the corners. Trails became interconnected by other routes looping through the forest to create a maze of new trails. It became unpleasant to try to walk as you would have to leap out of the path of whizzing bikes every few minutes. Plus, for some reason bikers are noisy. They shout at each other, and often come in large packs for informal racing. The entire character of the area was transformed from one of peaceful nature to almost like being at a race track.

  25. Ben Black says:

    Hi Everyone,

    While this article was posted towards the end of October and much discussion followed in early November, I would like to include my input as a resident of the Adirondack Park for the past 22 years and being heavily involved in the outdoors for the majority of this time. Firstly, we all must agree that the best direction for the park is a path the strictly adheres to smart and sustainable growth. Many people have there opinions as to what this means in further detail and how the master plan may be changed, each deserving of their own opinion and each likely having substantial evidence supporting the opinion.

    However, when considering smart and sustainable growth we must consider this from an environmental, economic, and cultural standpoint. Ask yourself these questions: Is the park properly managed by the state? What is the primary demographic that enjoys and participates in the beauties the park has to provide? Does the state manage the park in an economically positive way?

    The fact of the matter is that the Adirondack Park is beautifully centered for many people to enjoy. Paralleling this, particular areas of New York State are severely suffering economically. This includes the Adirondacks. So, how can we draw people to the area to support full-time residents while still adhering to the master plan?

    Firstly, I’m all for protecting and preserving the Adriondacks and fighting climate change. I’m an avid outdoorsman that enjoys the fruit of the Adirondacks – I fish for brooktrout on protected waters, I hike miles upon miles hunting whitetail deer, I love to ride my mountain bike, and hiking in the high peaks never fails to astonish me. But there are some points that I would like to make based on my life here and experiences talking to locals and professionals like myself that enjoy the Adirondacks.

    – Logging is not a bad thing. Selective cuts promote ideal and sustainable future growth that promotes healthy populations of both plants and animals. Fact – the whitetail deer herd has been consistently dropping since the 1970s due to more advantagous environments to the eastern coyote, and less available food. Do I want logging in wilderness areas? No, I don’t want winter yards to be destroyed. But, logging is an economic driver and a means to sustainability; it’s not a bad activity.

    – Mountain bikes: produce less noice than a car on Route 28N, produce no emissions, are fun, promote a healthy lifestyle, attract people to the area, and produce no more erosion than hiking trails. End of discussion.

    – Float Planes. The issue of float planes lies deeply within my heart and I share sympathy for the owners of these businesses in the Adirondacks. I know, not believe, but know, that the benefits of float planes are astronomical. These include:
    – Provide access to areas that are otherwise unaccessible to the disabled, elderly, or children.
    – Provide efficient transportation to hunters, fisherman, hikers, outdoorsman, campers etc.
    – Act as emergency aids in searches for lost individuals
    – Act as a method to monitor forest fires
    – Support the stocking of fisheries via partnership with DEC
    – Assist in emergency transportation
    – Provide jaw dropping perspectives on the Adirondacks to magnify the beauty of this spectacular place – which translates into recruiting people for preservation.

    I have seen floatplane business continously decline and I don’t understand why. Floatplanes are the hallmark of the wilderness in the West, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia. People of these areas would keel over to hear floatplanes are disliked in the park. I know from conversation with owners of Helms Aero Service and Paynes Air Service, that they are wholeheartedly committed to preservation as you are. In the past, they would partner with DEC to bring resources, tools, and people (DEC employees) to the bush/wilderness to help support their initiatives. They searched for lost individuals at night on their own expense. They assisted in fighting forest fires by flying fireman to put out hot beds and coals. The list is endless. Should they have access to every body of water? By no means – no way, now how. Should we readdress their accessibility? Yes. How so? Reopen “x” amount of bodies of water, some with conditional clauses. Why not open one body of water in West Canada Creek area, or the St. Regis Canoe area? Many more could participate in the outdoors and appreciate the preservation initiatives. Why not reopen “x” amount of bodies of water that are economically accesible to their seaplane bases? Also note, seaplanes make less noise than state helicopters and planes, and especially those of Fort Drum that fly over on a daily basis. Also note, seaplanes don’t permit the travel of invasive species if they only fly on bodies of water that haven’t been affected.

    – Snowmobiles: These are an economic driver during the winter time for local businesses. Do we need 5,000 miles more of trails? No. But can we introduce a 20% expansion plan per county? Well that’s an idea. Possibly that 20% would help draw more people which are willing to pay a premium for admission to these trails, which would then finance preservation or DEC practices.

    Lastly, implement urban planning for the hamlets to assist in maintaining property values, to control growth and density, and promote desired areas. Why not finance more infrastructure to select towns? Sewer, grid electricty, and possibly faster internet could promote wise growth of small businesses that would allow more people to enjoy the Adirondacks in moderation.

    Remember, the Adirondacks future depends on smart and sustainable growth while adhering to the efforts of preservation. Utilize trial periods or tests to determine how certain strategies affect areas. Many residents and businesses have served the area way before the APA, Adirondack Council, the Open Space Institute and Natural Conservancy were established. Yet, since these organizations have arrived, the economy has been steadily decreasing. Discussion is good, compromise is essential, and it needs to happen now.

    Benjamin H. Black

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