Thursday, October 23, 2014

DEC Opens Backcountry Roads To Motor Vehicles

DSCN6009The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has opened new roads and facilities on nearly 25,000 acres of forest preserve and conservation easement lands in the Adirondacks.

New roads and facilities will allow motor vehicles to access the 18,000-acre Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands in Franklin County using the 3.3-mile Mountain Pond Road, and the 1,600-acre public use area of the Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands in Hamilton County using the 2.6 miles of O’Neil Flow Road and Barker Pond Road. In the Essex Chain Lakes Complex gates have been opened to allow increased access to Camp Six Road in Newcomb, which will allow access for hunting, along with limited camping at designated primitive tent sites. 

Mountain Pond Road, Kushaqua Tract

The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands are located in the towns of Franklin and Brighton, and are owned by the Lyme Timber Company of Hanover, New Hampshire. The entire property, with the exception of 32 private lease camp lots, is open to the public for recreation.

Kushaqua TractMountain Pond Road (in red on the map at right) is located off the North Branch Road – the main entrance to the southern portion of the Kushaqua Tract near the hamlet of Onchiota. DEC staff, with the cooperation and assistance of the landowner, used Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) money to upgrade Mountain Pond Road to allow seasonal motor vehicle access.

The road extends northeast, passing through several areas where timber was harvested during the past five years. These recently harvested areas are rich with a variety of non-game species, as well as popular game species including whitetail deer, black bear, ruffed grouse and woodcock. The road also features scenic views of the Loon Lake Mountain range to the north and the High Peaks region to the south. DEC is expected to develop facilities to provide access to Mountain Pond in the future.

A designated parking area is located on the North Branch Road where it enters the Kushaqua Tract. An information kiosk featuring a map and guidelines for use of the road and lands is located in the parking area. Several old log landings and road shoulders along Mountain Pond Road have been mowed to provide off-road parking. Food, supplies and gas for those using the Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands can be found in the nearby communities of Bloomingdale and Gabriels. Amenities and lodging are available in Saranac Lake.

O’Neill Flow & Barker Pond Roads, Township 19 Tract

The Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands Public Use Area is located south of O’Neill Flow Road and north of the Blue Mountain Wild Forest in the Town of Indian Lake. The Township 19 Tract is part of the 92,000-acre Upper Hudson Woodlands ATP Conservation Easement Lands owned by ATP Timberland Invest of Hillerod, Denmark.

Township 19 Tract Upper Hudson Woodlands Easement Lands MapO’Neill Flow Road is located off State Route 30/28 between the communities of Blue Mountain Lake and Indian Lake. The road not only provides access to the 1,600-acre public use area, but also to thousands of acres of adjacent Forest Preserve lands in the Blue Mountain Lake Wild Forest.

The road is currently open to public motor vehicles for approximately two miles, ending at a gate just beyond the intersection with the Barker Pond Road. The Barker Pond Road extends another 0.6 mile to a new parking area a short distance from Barker Pond.

DEC developed and designated a primitive tent site near the parking area. Another primitive tent site has been designated on the west shore of Barker Pond.

The first mile of the O’Neill Flow Road passes through Forest Preserve lands. The remaining length of the road serves as the boundary between private lands to the north and the public use area to the south. The O’Neill Flow Road is currently gated just beyond the intersection with Barker Pond Road. Beyond the gate the road extends for another five miles, but can only be used for foot travel at this time. The road is a designated snowmobile trail for its entire length.

DEC plans future improvements to these lands, including extending public motor vehicle usage on the O’Neill Flow Road another five miles to access fishing opportunities on Dun Brook, constructing a waterway access site on Barker Pond, and designating and developing additional primitive tent sites.

The Township 19 project is being funded by the NY Works program and is part of the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative. In support of this initiative, this year’s state budget included $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects on existing state and easement lands.

Respecting Landowners, Following Regulations

Both roads are on privately owned conservation easement lands that may be actively logged. People can expect to see and hear logging trucks, skidders and other logging equipment. Visitors must respect the right of landowners and follow these guidelines:

Do not trespass on private lands and, on the Kushaqua Tract, private leased camps;
Use motorized vehicles only on designated roads;
Park vehicles in designated parking areas; and
Do not obstruct gates, barriers or the safe passage of vehicular traffic on property roads.

Both seasonal access roads will be closed to motor vehicle traffic during the winter and spring mud season. Food, supplies, gas and lodging for those using the Township 19 Tract Conservation Easement Lands can be found in the nearby communities of Blue Mountain Lake and Indian Lake.

Camp Six Road Essex Chain Lakes MapEssex Chain Lakes Complex

The Camp Six Road can be accessed off the Chain Lakes North Road. It is the second yellow gate on the right, which will be locked open for the regular big game hunting season. The road is open for a mile, ending at a parking area. The parking area provides access to recently classified Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area and the Hudson Gorge Wilderness.

The gate at the Outer Gooley parking area on the Chain Lakes Road South has been opened for the hunting season, allowing for motor vehicles to travel for approximately 1.5 miles to a designated 4-vehicle parking area. There are 3 primitive tent sites along this section of road. Two additional tent sites are located past the seasonal parking area (and gate) – one further north on the Chain Lakes Road South and one at Pine Lake.

Food, supplies, gas and lodging for those using the Essex Chain Lakes Complex can be found in the nearby communities of Newcomb and Indian Lake.

Directions, maps and other information may be found on the DEC website for both the Kushaqua Tract, the Township 19 Tract and the Essex Chain Lakes complex.

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One Response

  1. Deb Evans says:

    Only problem is if you meet trucks on these rds.
    Lumber truck was coming out of o’neil flow while i was going in. Bigger vehicle won. These rds are not 2 way!