Monday, November 17, 2014

DEC Misinformed Public In Rail-Trail Slide Show

Bog RiverAt recent meetings on the Remsen-Lake Placid rail corridor, the state misinformed the public about the legal implications of removing tracks that cross rivers between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

The public was told that the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act would prohibit the state from restoring the railroad tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake if they were removed.

In a slide show, the state Department of Environmental Conservation noted that railroad bridges generally are not permitted over rivers classified as Wild or Scenic. It said the railroad crosses three such rivers south of Tupper Lake: the Moose, Bog, and Raquette.

Rob Davies, head of DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests, told the public that the existing bridges over these rivers were grandfathered and thus are allowed, but if the tracks were removed for a rail trail, as some people advocate, the WSRR Act would prohibit replacement of the tracks.

Yet the Adirondack Park Agency land-use map indicates that the Raquette is classified as Recreational, a designation that permits railroad bridges, and the Bog is not classified at all where the railroad crosses it. Also, the railroad doesn’t cross the Moose between Big Moose and Tupper Lake. The Moose is classified as Scenic where the railroad crosses it in the vicinity of McKeever, but no one is advocating removing the rails there.

When Adirondack Almanack asked about the disparity between the APA map and the public presentation, DEC acknowledged that it inadvertently made a mistake and will weigh the correct information when assessing whether to amend the state-owned corridor’s management plan.

The issue came up because Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates has proposed removing the tracks in the eighty-mile stretch between Big Moose and Lake Placid. Adirondack Scenic Railroad wants the tracks to remain and be refurbished. DEC and the state Department of Transportation have offered a compromise: fix up the tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake and replace the rails between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid with a recreational trail.

Some people are concerned that the rail line may be needed in the future to transport passengers and freight—especially if the world runs short of oil. In answer, ARTA has asserted that the tracks could be replaced if need be. But Davies told the audience at four public meetings, held in Utica, Old Forge, Tupper Lake, and Lake Placid, that the WSRR Act would not allow the tracks to be restored.

Even if the rivers were classified as Wild or Scenic, it still might be possible to replace the tracks. In an interview with the Almanack after one of the meetings, Davies said the law always could be amended. He also said others interpret the law differently.

DEC says the WSRR Act is no legal bar to replacing the tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid if they are removed. In this part of the corridor, the railroad passes over one protected river, the Saranac, but it is classified as Recreational.

Photo by Phil Brown: Railroad bridge over the Bog River.




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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.

66 Responses

  1. Hope says:

    As Gomer Pyle would say ” surprise , Surprise Surprise!”… Thanks for spreading some daylight. Oops, my age is showing.

  2. Paul says:

    Are bridges for bike paths and snowmobile trails allowed under Wild and Scenic classifications? You still gotta have a bridge.

  3. Hope says:

    Bridges are not the problem. No bridges will be removed.

  4. Big Burly says:

    The multiple land use classifications along this corridor are enough to make anyone make a mistake.
    Can laws be amended? Sure. Is it ever likely in the public opinion environment fostered by media today that a railroad could be built (or reinstalled) where this corridor is located? Never. I suggest this is misinformation by supporters of rail removal.
    The strategic question that never seems to be addressed by either side in this is … why would NYS deprive residents and visitors of this transportation option, and diminish economic and recreation opportunities for a large number — to favor literally a relatively small number of folks? The elite Iron Man athletes will not use a “rail trail” unless it is paved — thin tires do not do well on stone dust trails. Families will take short walks, not long treks in areas where comfort amenities are far between.
    Improving the rail system would provide access to the spectacular scenery of our region for those residents and visitors not able or not inclined to participate in extreme sports.
    Investing in improved trails does not deprive snowmobilers in the winter months — those enthusiasts already have unfettered access — and the physical issues that result from reduced snow totals can be mitigated during the upgrade to the rail system. An improved and enlarged trail system within and alongside the travel corridor gives XC skiers and snow shoe enthusiasts a safe place to pursue their sport. Hikers and mountain bikers, and those using cross over bikes also get improved places.
    Alternative 6, first proposed in 1996, was not for whatever reason implemented by NYS. It is the solution arrived at after extensive consultation and research with stakeholders across the region.
    Before we destroy what exists, at a cost roughly equivalent to improving what we have, to create a resource that will be usable by a smaller number of residents and visitors, common sense says to me we should implement Alternative 6.

    • Terry says:

      WELL SAID – AMEN !

    • Hope says:

      We are not talking about a small number of people who would use this corridor as a trail. It is already apparent that there is a much smaller number of people interested in using a train. I think that once the corridor is made a recreational trail, other shorter trails and loops that exist already will become more popular. Long distance trails that span many miles will help rejuvenate our communities and spur them to create other trail opportunities off of the corridor. It will spread out usage rather than have scheduled dumps of people off here and there. The trail is not being built for Tri-athletes but for regular people. That being said, runners have requested that the trail not be paved, it is better for the body not to “pound the pavement”. Saying people won’t use the entire length of the trail is like saying people only paddle the section of the Raquette River closest to Tupper Lake when in fact, the sections which are the farthest away and the most difficult to get to are the most popular. I for one want a long distance trail, not a short little loop. Plenty of those available now.

      • Paul says:

        “It is already apparent that there is a much smaller number of people interested in using a train.”

        This is stated over and over by trail advocates and I think it is totally irrelevant to the decision. The small spurs of train use that now exist are not what needs to be considered. It is very little surprise that they are not heavily used. What needs to be considered for the long-term planning purpose is the use of the RR running the full length of the corridor. Same goes for as rail-to-trail. I would not quickly sacrifice this infrastructure for a short rail-to-trail spur at one end that is replacing a short rail spur.

        • Hope says:

          So you think that NYS should ignore the communities wishes. They should discount those 400 plus business requests for a trail. They should forget about the votes of support from every community on the line north of Old Forge. They should spend millions of dollars rehabbing something that virtually no one in this area is interested in. Why?

          • Paul says:

            Hope, look at my comment again. Your response has nothing to do with what I said. Yes, they should consider all that. But like I said the fair analysis for a rail or a trail is using the full corridor and it should not be based on an analysis that says a small chunk of tourist train has been a flop. That isn’t any surprise. It is boring. A full length train is a much different animal. Consider what is possible (again for both) based on what IS possible not on what has been accomplished to date which isn’t much. These planners should be thinking long term.

            • Hope says:

              So you do not think that all those towns and villages did not think about extended train? That ASR did not lobby and present their own vision to the powers that be? Well you are wrong if you think that. What happened is that our representatives went to their constituents, the people who vote them into office and asked. They were given the answer. I was at many of these meetings and good tough questions were asked of us so I imagine that the train folk were asked similar questions. I asked a Tupper Lake politician who went door to door before the election and asked people which they supported. The answer was virtually 100% for a trail. A few said both but no one said train only. That’s right No One!

              • Scott van Laer says:

                Hope, I asked why you asserted that “I think you overestimate the problem of ATV use..” You didn’t answer me. Why did you write that?

                • Hope says:

                  Because of conversations that I have had with people who are involved with or live near these types of venues in similar rural/small communities. It is my opinion that I have formulated from these conversations of existing venues. From what I gather from these conversations is that initially there may be issues in certain areas which cannot be gated but that those are the places that have the most people using them and the users are the ones who help with the education and enforcement of the rules. Within a year or two there is no significant problem. Keeping the tracks in place to keep ATV’s off them is not the answer. IMHO

                  • Scott van Laer says:

                    I would not suggest leaving the rails in place solely to keep ATV’s at bay. I am saying that is the side benefit of them currently being there. If a train is not going to be used the rails should certainly be removed. I believe you are underestimating the amount of illegal ATV use that will occur because you want a rail trail. I have 19 years of experience of enforcing ATV prohibitions on public lands. The most extensive illegal ATV use I encountered was during my time on Long Island. This activity was occurring in areas of much higher population densities than we have here, which as you suggestion will actually cause there to be fewer violations? A strategy of the public policing illegal activity on a trail is unrealistic and quite frankly dangerous.

                    Tonys statement…”if you look at the Bloomingdale Bog you should realize that those gates that are opened seasonally for snowmobiling have successfully stopped any ATV traffic.” is completely erroneous. While not extensive it does occur, although it is usually dirt bikes.

                    How much additional funding has been planned for enforcement should the rails line be converted to a trail or are we just going to continue the decades long expansion of state lands, easements and trails with no consideration of management and stewardship?

          • James Falcsik says:

            The NYDOT has stated more than once, and media outlets have reported numerous times, support for the trail and the railroad are evenly split right down the milddle. Saying “a much smaller group” is putting a spin on the status of the debate.

          • Big Burly says:

            The huge amount of misinformation used by the rail removal coterie when presenting to local businesses and communities — one example for instance was the omission that both options are possible, another phrasing the petition to ask only the trail question — was self serving.
            NYS has reviewed the information supplied by rail removal enthusiasts. The accuracy of public statements made in the past 30 months by those enthusiasts is now very much in doubt.
            Trails with rails is the win-win and will be a unique system in the nation. In less than 10 days almost a thousand people have signed an on-line petition. Those and the 35,000 + customers of the scenic railroad who have sent post cards to Albany urging retention and improvement of the rail infrastructure deserve to be heard too.

    • scott van Laer says:

      “Investing in improved trails does not deprive snowmobilers in the winter months — those enthusiasts already have unfettered access-”

      Having the rails in place requires much more snow for snowmobilers to be able to ride. You can see on the Bloomingdale bog, sleds ride with just a few inches of snow. On this section it requires over a foot.

      Please don’t take that as an endorsement of a “rail trail” but as the title suggest, we should be factually accurate. Having the rails also generally prevents illegal ATV activity. I have ridden it with an ATV for emergency incidents. It’s not fun. Once the rail is gone there will be increased illegal ATV use. Unrealistic to think all Access points for ATV use can be blocked and gated.

      • Hope says:

        As long as we are being factually accurate. Tony Goodwin has done some good research on ATV use on rail trails and he has found it to be not much of a problem elsewhere. There are rail trails where ATV use is allowed in some areas but that will not be the case here. I think you overestimate the problem of ATV use and that there are numerous places where pinch points and gates can be effectively utilized. Snowmobilers, do not want ATV’s on their trails and many of them also own ATV’s themselves and are well aware of the damage that can be caused. Right now ATV’s can access anyplace on the rails because they can’t be gated. Without the rails many sections can be gated during the warmer months and open for snowmobiling. The way to prevent ATV use and damage in these areas is to have places where ATV use is permitted and regulated.

        • Scott van Laer says:

          With all do respect Hope, and to Tony’s research on other rail trails, but I have done some “research” myself. I have patrolled the rail line and adjacent state land between Saranac lake and Lake Placid for 15 years and have lived next to the line for almost 10 years. There has been some illegal ATV activity along the lines, mostly when snow is thin and sleds can’t be used. It is minimal, a few machines a year. That is because of the rail itself. The riding is very unpleasant.

          There are enough private residences and access points along this section that it is not reasonable or possible to place a barrier at all of them. On several occasion I backtracked ATV tracks directly to the residence were the illegal incursion was initiated from. You would be surprised the path they took. I am not picking sides in the debate. I don’t have a yes/no opinion on the matter. Why are you asserting that I “overestimate the problem of ATV use” ?

          • common sense says:

            I have to echo Scott here and add that you have to look at where these tracks currently run through the villages of Saranac Lake and Placid. The ATV and SWI (Snowmobiling while intoxicated) issues will appear out of these residential areas and will occur long after the most skiers, cyclists and Rangers have gone to bed. A community connector is truly a great idea, but understand it will be used by all “user” groups good and bad.

  5. M.P.Heller says:

    “I for one want a long distance trail, not a short little loop.”

    Try the NPT. It’s lovely. Truly a magnificent experience to thru-hike it, but also excellent for shorter one and two day trips. In recent years it has seen some nice improvements as well. At 130 miles it’s not only longer than the distance from Big Moose to Placid on the rails, but it also travels through more remote areas, many of which already have wilderness designations. It’s definitely not a ‘short little loop’.

    • Hope says:

      Want to ride my bike and it is not a mountain bike. I’m not likely to take a 130 mile long hike carrying a pack, any more, due to medical issues that prevent me from carrying a backpack but I can ride a bike with panniers or tow a trailer with no problem. For me this trail is about biking opportunities. For someone else it might be about snowmobiling and others a short walk or a long walk. That is the beauty of the rail trail. Almost anyone can use it. Not so for a hiking trail.

  6. Tony Goodwin says:

    My research about ATV use on rail trails includes two days of cycling on the Greenbriar River Trail in eastern West Virginia. There was no evidence of any ATV use on the trail, and yes I was looking for it. There were many private residences next to the trail, and some even had ATVs parked outside. There were no gates, just small “No Motorized Vehicles” signs at strategic points.

    As Hope has said, we do anticipate some gates at natural pinch points, but if you look at the Bloomingdale Bog you should realize that those gates that are opened seasonally for snowmobiling have successfully stopped any ATV traffic.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      So because you cycled a “rail trail” in West Virginia and didn’t find any illegal ATV tracks, during your 2 day visit, we won’t have any here? The Bloomingdale bog section does get some illegal ATV use. The gates are good and the ATV activity is less there now than in 1999, mostly do to enforcement. You see more illegal ATV use on the sections that are not gated and are closer to private property as you get out towards Onchi. Where are you proposing gates be placed in the Saranac Lake to Lake Placid section? I am not trying to “overestimate the problem of ATV use” but I can tell unequivocally, the best ATV deterrent is the rails themselves. Even with gates ATV use will increase to some extent. Again, I am not taking a side on rail or trail but I think you are minimising the issue by just stating “there will be gates” and labeling me as “overestimating the problem of ATV use.”

    • common sense says:

      I cannot speak of the trail you rode in West Virginia, but I can speak from experience in regards to snowmobile accidents and ATV abuses in the region. I love the concept of a community connector trail! But I can guarantee you there will be ATV issues on the section between Saranac and Lake Placid and also either side of Tupper lake for several miles. In addition there will be speed and alcohol related fatalities on snowmobiles, although not on the magnitude that Old Forge sees annually. Look at the grade and layout of the tracks and you can see the potential for speed.

    • Dave says:

      Tony, have you spent any time in, around, near the railroad corridor in the summer here in Tupper Lake?? If you have then your “research” should indicate that there will be an issue with illegal ATV use on that corridor here. In the late 90’s ARPS/ASR installed 12ft cattle gates at several locations on the northern end of the corridor and used schedule 40 6in pipe in 10ft lengths as posts for these gates and the ATV’s and Dirt Bike riders that had been riding the corridor illegally for years got around them and ultimately destroyed them. I am interested to know how you plan to truly stop this from again happening…?? Gates and signage will not stop them from using this trail and if you have been here to observe, you should know that they tend to not observe any speed limitations at all even with the rails in place. The only truly efficient and effective way to stop this is to have regular law enforcement patrols keeping this activity at bay and that will cost some money….

  7. Jeff Johnson says:

    I believe the ATV issue could be eliminated all together in NYS by simply giving the ATV enthusiasts a place to ride. The problem is the fault of NYS and the all powerful environmental lobby in Albany. The attitude in Albany is just go away ATV. The reason there is less trespass issues in states such as WV,PA,TN,VA is those states recognize ATV use and provide riding areas. And NYS has stolen the ATV trail fund since Mario Cuomo was in office. Sounds like an excellent class action lawsuit against NYS. As for the blanket statement that all snowmobilers on the corridor and within the park are intoxicated is spoken with no common sense and offensive. People consuming alcohol goes on in all human endeavors. Including sporting events, train rides, hiking parties, boating, downhill skiing, driving cars. You can add to the that list. As for the speeding issue, been to Albany lately? State speed limit is 55 mph.

    • John Warren says:

      “simply giving the ATV enthusiasts a place to ride” – Why on earth are we taxpayers required to provide tracks for motorsports? How about ATV riders follow the laws like the rest of us have to? Is that too much to ask?

      If you want a trail network, build it yourself on private land, just like people did for their snowmobiles, dirt bikes, and for auto racing.

      And who is saying “all snowmobilers on the corridor and within the park are intoxicated”? Who?

      I want to support ATV users and their needs for places to ride – hell, I’d like to have an ATV to haul logs, plow my driveway, and ride into town – but demanding the state provide the land to support a hobby enjoyed by a tiny percentage of New Yorkers who can afford an ATV (at a price of $10-$25,000 new in 2015) is outrageous – especially when you can already use a jeep and the thousands of miles of roads in the Adirondack Park maintained by the public to do exactly the same thing.

      • Hope says:

        Why are a Taxpayers footing the bill at Whiteface, Gore, Van Ho? Why are taxpayers paying for more land to be added to the Forest preserve? I’m all for it. I think that recreation venues, protected wilderness areas, canoe areas, snowmobile trails, bike trails ATV trails, parks are all good things that have public benefit and are worth the investment. Just because you don’t like a certain type of recreation enjoyed by someone else doesn’t mean that it cannot be accommodated somewhere. Doesn’t have to be in the Wilderness area. Make them fix their own damages. There are responsible ATV riders that are not out to make a mess. You just hear about the yahoos in the press and slap that on all ATV riders. Eventually they will organize like snowmobiler’s and start self policing or they will find less and less places to ride.

        • Scott van Laer says:

          Wow, you need to get a better understanding of the Forest Preserve. Start with Bill’s recent essays on the SLMP.

          • Hope says:

            I’ve already read the SLMP and I have read Bill’s post and I agree with many things that he says but I happen to believe that there can be designated trails/ Forest roads in places that can accommodate ATV’s. I belong to a private hunting and fishing club that has many former logging roads that ATV’s are used on to get to the ponds and streams for fishing and I enjoy skiing those roads in the winter when the hunters are gone but I can’t get in there without a snowmobile in the winter or an ATV in the spring because the main access road is closed. To me those vehicles are tools to get someplace to recreate by skiing, fishing and hiking. To someone else they are a form of recreation itself. To each his own I say. There are already people riding ATV’s on leased land and then it’s taken away from them when the state buys them out and closes it off to that kind of use. Some of that is good, some not so good. You all want to “save” the park but you don’t want anyone to “use” it unless it’s on foot. Instead of banning everything from the park, find ways to accommodate them without doing significant harm to the park. And yes, more funding is required to support the forest preserve not just expand it.
            Creating more access is good for the park and good for the communities within the park.

            • scottvanlaer says:

              “Creating more access is good for the park…” What do you mean by access? Allowing Motors further into Forest Preserve? If that is what you mean please explain how that is good for the park?

              • Hope says:

                What I mean is that there should be balance. There should be motor free waters and motor free forests as well as places that allow other types of recreation. Right now there are thousands of acres of forest land being used by hunters some of it private, some leased, some state. ATVs are being used on the private, leased and easement lands. This is a valid recreation whether or not you like it. Every time the state acquires this land for the public they take away a form of recreation that the traditional user has been able to do on that land without any consideration of those people. I think we should be able to find some balance.

                • Scott van Laer says:

                  I understand you want some lands and waters motor free and others to have motors. Just to make sure I am clear when you used the term “access” in posts above you are referring to motor vehicle use? I ask because I hear users bandy that term about often and I never really know what they mean.

                  The Forest Preserve must be among the most accessible public lands in the country. No Gates, No fees, Mostly no permits, no reservations. Parking lots everywhere. The Forest Preserve is criss crossed with hundreds of miles of roads that can get you with a few miles of any interior destination and then we have a mosaic of interior trails.

                  If you are equating “access” with interior motor vehicle use why don’t you state that more clearly instead of using that term. It might help others know precisely what you want.

                  You state “This is a valid recreation whether or not you like it.” when referring to ATV use. It’s actually not valid, by definition, It’s illegal on the Forest Preserve.

                  • Hope says:

                    Access is an open term in my mind. I am not speaking about just motor vehicle access but all kinds of access, hiking, biking, snowmobiling ATV use, automobile. ATV use is illegal in the forest preserve, yes, but it is not illegal on private forestland within the forest preserve. So, my club doesn’t need to worry about their ATV use because they own their land but others will lose that ability when their lands go to the state. I think it is more about planning than anything else. I don’t want to go for a hike into an area to be greeted by ATV’s anymore than you do but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a place for them. If I know that an area is for that use I won’t go there, it’s not my thing. Just because it is illegal in the forest preserve doesn’t change the fact that it is a recreation vehicle. Maybe there is an area that is set up only to be accessed via ATV with a few campsites off of it. I don’t know what the answer is but somehow it think we can figure it out.

                    • John Warren says:

                      “private forestland within the forest preserve” – There is NO such thing. It’s either public owned Forest Preserve, or it’s private.

                      No club loses their land – they don’t own it, they lease it, and the owner has decided to sell it. That’s their right. If clubs on leased land want to own their land and keep others out, they should buy it.

                      And again, there are lots of areas of public land and public access where ATVs are allowed – just not on most “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands.

                      You simply keep limiting the pool to the remaining non-motorized Forest Preserve lands in an effort to make it appear that ATV’s don’t have places to ride – that’s intentionally misleading.

                    • scottvanlaer says:

                      “access is an open term”. If you are advocating for something, which you label…in this case the term “access” don’t you think you should have a definition for it?

                      It seems you do mean ATV’s but also more trails? Access to you means more trails, motorized and nonmotorized, etc that go interior of the forest Preserve? I am sorry if I am putting words in your mouth. I am honestly having trouble understanding what you refer to when you want access. We have nearly unlimited access to the Forest Preserve so I have been having a hard time getting my hands around this concept. People say “we need more access.”…It seems like access means people want to drive Motorized vehicles interior, yet are reluctant to say that directly. Instead they say “We want more access.” I am I close? Starting to get it?

                • John Warren says:

                  “Every time the state acquires this land for the public they take away a form of recreation that the traditional user has been able to do on that land without any consideration of those people.”

                  Even if that were true, and its not, new purchases greatly expand use to people who have been traditionally left out of access to private preserves and private clubs.

                  I’ll take expanding access for the many to protecting the access of the few any day. There would not be increased opportunities for local people, such as the several guides in Newcomb, if those lands were still only open to the few who could afford to own or lease them.

                  • Hope says:

                    John I have no real interest in motorized recreation personally. I use the machines strictly on private property for access to my camp which is also on private property. You seem to think I want motorized access everywhere which is further from the truth than you can even imagine. I haver never even ridden a snowmobile on a designated snowmobile trail in my life. I most likely wouldn’t even own a snowmobile if I didn’t need it to get to my camp, which, by the way is 500 sq.ft cabin, with no plumbing, just I case you erroneously think it’s some palace on a remote private lake.

                    • John Warren says:

                      You did not address my points so this will be my last response to you – stop trying to paint the remaining non-motorized “forever wild” Forest Preserve as restrictive because it does not allow ATVs – there are plenty of places to ride ATVs in the Northeast. There is no need to try and force open the last remaining wild areas to motorized recreation. Do what snowmobilers did and create a trail network on private land, or on state easement lands, or other state lands that are not designated “forever wild”.

                    • Hope says:

                      Ah herein lives the issue. I do not think that motorized access should be expanded at all in the existing non motorized, forever wild, forest preserve. Let me be clear on that. What I do think is that future acquisitions of forest preserve land be evaluated for possible use of other types of motorized and non motorized access. I do not think that every acquisition becomes exclusive to non motorized use. Actually, I like Bill I. backcountry designation idea. There are plenty of private forestland within the forest preserve, they are called inholdings, private land surrounded by state land. I believe Pete Nelson owns one.

                    • John Warren says:

                      Hope, there are no Forest Preserve lands that are privately owned. There is no controversy on that fact – it’s simply not true. The very few “inholdings” are private lands, not Forest Preserve.

                      The most recent land purchase involved 166,000 acres. About 90,000 went to motorized uses, including logging, ATVs, snowmobiles, and other motor vehicles.

                      You got what you want, now you want the rest.

                    • Hope says:

                      John I called the inholdings private forest land., as in forest land that is privately owned. Not private forest preserve land. Private entities can own forest land,it is not exclusive to the public.

                    • John Warren says:

                      You said: “There are plenty of private forestland within the forest preserve.”

                      You apparently know full well that you’re being misleading. There are no private lands “within” the Forest Preserve.

                      You should stop carrying-on these semantic facades about access and private and public property, such as your claim that clubs leasing lands from private landowners are being evicted by the state. They make it easy for serious people to dismiss you out of hand.

        • John Warren says:


          You don’t seem to understand, or are simply ignoring, that there are many facilities on State Lands for motorized access advocates such as yourself. There are, as I pointed out, several levels of state park lands – the Forest Preserve – which is supposed to be “forever wild” – is supposed to be the ONE place where motorized access is not generally allowed (and more than half of those are motorized and all of them are surrounded by roads so that you can drive to withing 3 miles of most wild places in the Adirondack Park).

          You want the other half too, all the while ignoring all the OTHER state lands and easements, not part of the “Forever Wild” system, where motor vehicles are more appropriate – because you already have access to most of them.

          You simply want it all for your preferred mode of recreation.

          Your claims about what I like and don’t like are utter nonsense and factually and demonstrably wrong. I would be happy to own an ATV and a snowmobile if I could afford them – I have a long history of riding. I’m just not willing to pretend there are not problems, and I’m not willing to pretend that they belong on Forever Wild lands.

          “Eventually they will organize like snowmobiler’s [sic] and start self policing or they will find less and less places to ride.” – Eventually? When? 50 years after they became popular? Apparently ATVers are more willing to complain about not having places to ride than they are to organize places to ride – as snowmobilers did in the first ten years – on private land.

          If you are so enamored with motorized recreation – you have the entire eastern United States to ride – why are you fixated on destroying the peace and quiet of the relatively few acres of Adirondacks lands where it remains?

          • Paul says:

            ATVs can, and do, ride on town roads within the Forest Preserve if the town designates those roads open to ATV use. I guess these roads are not technically part of the Forest Preserve but they have Forest Preserve land on both sides of the road. One example (and Scott you can correct me if I am wrong) is the old town road that is an extension of the Averyville road near Lake placid. Another are town roads within (again maybe “within” is the wrong term given John’s comments above) the Debar Mt. Wild Forest that are open to ATV use. The point here is that there are some areas open for ATV use. But yes any use OFF these roads and ON Forest Preserve land is illegal.

            • John Warren says:

              “I guess these roads are not technically part of the Forest Preserve”

              You guess correctly, hence, point moot.

              • Paul says:

                Moving from technical to practical – The point is that they provide a place for ATV use. It is a “place for them to ride” and it is paid for by the tax payers.

            • Phil Brown says:

              My understanding is that state law does not allow ATVs to ride on public highways, whether local or state. An exception is they can ride a short distance on a road if necessary to make connection between two trails.

              • Scott van Laer says:

                No, NYS VTL 2405 allows a municipality to designate a road for which they have jurisdiction for ATV use, except interstates and controlled access highways. The road must be posted for such use. Some towns have done this. The Pine Pond Truck trail, or Averyville extension is an example. It is designated for ATV use by the town of North Elba. Last time I checked the town of Harrietstown had not designated their side.

                • Phil Brown says:

                  I’m not sure about that. There have been lawsuits filed over towns allowing ATVs on local roads, and the towns have lost. Also, I have asked state police and other officials this question at various times, and my understanding is that ATVs are not allowed on public highways. Perhaps a town may allow ATVs on a road that is not open to motor vehicles. And there no doubt are different interpretations of the law.

                  • Scott van Laer says:

                    On most roads it illegal to operate an ATV. The lawsuits have struck down ATV designations in their municipalities but has not overturned the law itself. Although I believe it has given towns pause in designating roads as they are liable if it is done incorrectly. A highway supervisor once told me the town had to pay more for insurance if they designated roads for ATV use.

                    This was from the Pitcairn lawsuit…”The VTL permits a municipality to open a road to ATV use under two conditions: 1) When the road opened is near a place where ATV use is legal; 2) Where this area can only be accessed by use of this road. The VTL also views ATVs as motor vehicles used principally for off-highway trails and states they are to be “only incidentally operated on public highways.”

                    I can tell you if there was any change with regard to the North Elba side of the Pine Pond truck trail I was not informed. This year,like every year, it gets significant ATV use during hunting season. The town of Keene implemented a permit type system for ATV use on their jurisdiction of the Old Mountain road. I believe North Elba has not designated their side for ATV use. This road gets very little ATV use.

                    • Phil Brown says:

                      Thanks for the citation. The Pitcairn lawsuit is a case in point. Note that it is citing VTL. Keene does not allow regular motor vehicles on Old Mountain Road; that’s why it can open the road to ATVs in hunting season. Do regular vehicles drive on Pine Pond Truck Trail?

                    • scottvanlaer says:

                      Phil, My understanding is that cars and trucks are allowed on the “Pine Pond truck trail” but I have not seen one more than a few hundred feet from the parking lot in a few years now. In the past I have and I remember one that was stuck for weeks miles in. If it is exclusively an ATV/Snowmobile road that has not been conveyed to me.

                    • Paul says:

                      I have seen a few trucks on the “pine pond truck trail” over the years. I have seen them bringing in equipment for the hunting camps that are in there. It is a seriously rough ride! The old Model T type truck that has run on it for years can still be seen near the lower locks. It is my understanding (and Scott you seem to know a lot about this) that Billy Allen who owns land on Ossetah lake challenged the idea of this road being closed to ATV use.

                • Running George says:

                  Those town roads have been opened illegally by the towns . Plenty of court cases exist to back me up on this along with an Attorney General’s opinion from 2005 that will back me up. ATV riding thrives on riding illegally opened roads. Don’t buy a consumer product if you don’t have a place to use it. The entitlement attitude of the ATV crowd is palpable.
                  Paul is correct. Municipalities may only designate roads open to ATVs when the road is “adjacent” to a trail or riding area and only when it is “otherwise impossible” to gain access to that trail or riding area. A highway may not be considered a trail for the purposes of opening a highway connected to it nor may a series of roads be opened connected one to another. Scott, check out O’Brien-Dailey vs. the Town of Lyonsdale, Krug vs. the Town of Leyden, and Hutchins vs. the Town of Colton. There are more.

    • Running George says:

      If you want people to stop thinking of snowmobiles as drunkmobiles, tell snowmobile riders to stop demanding that every bar from Oswego to Lake George be connected by a snowmobile trail.

  8. Jeff Johnson says:

    The taxpayer of NYS is buying lands for every other form of recreational uses. ATV tracks where not mentioned. ATV Riding areas as in the other states. Approximately, fifteen years ago NYSDEC looked into the first ATV riding area for NYS. Treaty line State Forest in Delaware County was picked. It was a working logging forest owned by NYS. Hardened gravel roadways. NYSDEC visited other state ATV riding areas for several months to gather ideas. The environmental lobby in Albany soundly had the idea squashed. So ATV trespass is a symptom of NYS and the environmental community burying their heads in the sand. Just legislate them out of existence is the word in Albany. As for a small percentage of NYS. I would check that ATV and UTV sales in NYS are going through the roof. And most will not register now because NYS steals their registration monies.

    • John Warren says:

      NYS taxpayers are not “buying lands for every other form of recreational uses” – that is simply not the case, at all.

      They are buying ecologically important wild-lands for the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Forest Preserve lands are of a different character than other state lands managed by DEC, and NYS and NYC Parks where motor vehicle use is more suited. NYS has several levels of parks, from urban tennis and basketball court complexes, to motorized suburban parks and rec facilities, to motorized conservation easement lands (mostly motorized), to Forest Preserve lands (half of which are motorized).

      The issue you brought here is allowing ATVs on Forest Preserve Lands. The last place ATVs should be allowed, in part because they are motorized, but also because they difficult to keep from being damaging to wetlands and other natural resources, is in what should be our most protected areas: the Forest Preserve.

      I can’t speak about a State Forest in Delaware County, but your complaints about Albany lobbyists sound like sour grapes. My guess is that the majority of local people didn’t want to turn their local wild areas into a motorized playground for ATVs, or they would have. I’m sure there is a large network of snowmobile trails that were originally built on private land in Delaware County – I suggest you contact those landowners and secure permission to use them. Or you can go to counties which are promoting ATV trail networks, such as Lewis County.

      The enormous snowmobile network in the Adirondacks, New York, America, and North America was almost entirely built on private land. If you want one of those networks, go out and secure it, but don’t ask us all to pay for it, or to use the area the New Yorkers have set aside as wild lands.

      I might also suggest that ATV advocates stop boasting about their breaking the law. They don’t have a place to ride so they break the law, they don’t like what their registration money goes to so they break the law.

      ATVs are far more popular than snowmobiles. In 1974, about ten years after snowmobiles arrived in the Adirondacks, there was a large snowmobile network on private land – you should ask yourself why that is not the case for ATVs, which have been popular since the 1980s.

      Is it the law-breaking? Is it the noise? Many people opposed snowmobiles running through their private property when the snowmobile network was built for the same reasons – they still built it. It took a lot of education and self-enforcement at first. On that score you’ve got some work to do.

      • Paul says:

        “They are buying ecologically important wild-lands for the Adirondack Forest Preserve.” Yes, but many recreational uses are an important consideration for the state (whether buying or classifying FP land).

  9. Bruce says:

    Hope, you miss the fact that EVERYONE can ride a train, not just those physically suited to walking, hiking or biking.

    You try to judge the potential of train use based on what it is now. You can’t do that, because what there is now is only a small fraction of what could be with a good line connecting Utica, the Fulton Chain and Tupper Lake. Other (and shorter) excursion trains have proven their worth, if properly run.

    My own GSMRR, and Colorado’s Silverton and Durango are two prime examples. Look them up, see what draws paying rail riders. That’s what I’m talking about, not the way the ADKRR is now.

    Who’s going to pay for maintenance and upkeep on this grand trail? Are you willing to have your state taxes raised for this purpose, or pay a fee? Are you aware that EVERY Train rider will be paying something towards maintenance and upkeep, in addition to contributing to the local economies, even though they might live out of state. If there’s no fee, out of state trail users won’t pay anything.

  10. Paul says:

    The state has a 5 billion dollar surplus how about we take 0.06% of that (30M) and upgrade the rail line all the way?

    I say raise the toll to 15 bucks to pay for the Tappan Zee bridge!

  11. Bruce says:

    Hope, you mentioned a ways back something about talking to folks about what they want, going to meetings, etc., , and you say their sentiments should weigh heavily in whatever is done. Most of these folks you talked to and went to meetings with didn’t happen to be locals, did they?

    Everyone keeps talking about reaping enormous economic benefit, but largely ignoring where most of that benefit is likely to come from. It will not be locals suddenly spending significantly more money because there is a new trail, a train, or both. That benefit has to come primarily from outside, and that means attracting outside money during the off season.

    Everyone makes money in July and August, and to a lesser degree in winter, but I move it’s mostly outside money. The economic benefit of local money is seen most clearly during the rest of the season, the place is definitely not booming.

    Has anyone published a survey of tourists and part timers about what they feel would encourage more of them to spend more money in the off season?

    • Big Burly says:

      35,000 rail users spent the postage to send a postcard to Albany asking for retention and upgrading the rail. Recent public presentations about how a inter-community trail system can coexist with the rail operation between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid have met with support. Having both was the original recommendation Alternative 6 that was accepted by NYS in 1996. That the state did not dedicate the resources since then to implement the recommendation is not a reason to tear up the rails. As another person said in this string, residents and visitors of all ages, interests, and abilities can use the win-win trails with rails. It is common sense and time that Alternative 6 is implemented.

  12. Bruce says:

    Big Burly, Good point, I was unaware of that. I basically agree with a Rails and Trails concept, as it does seem to provide a win-win.

    As I’m no longer a resident of NY, and only recently became a subscriber to the Adirondack Almanack, my information is mostly whatever I can glean from these pages. I am however, a yearly visitor to the Adirondacks, a rail buff and financial supporter of the ADKRR. I also live where a goodly portion of the economy is based on tourism, and have some understanding of how it works.

  13. James Falcsik says:

    Well, one day after the public comment period for the future of the Remsen-Lake Placid rail corridor expires, the Governor of New York makes the following announcement:

    Note the very first bullet:

    “Adirondack Railway Preservation Society of Utica, Oneida County, received $791,000 to construct a maintenance and repair facility in Utica for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad;”

    This represents some strong support for the railroad. It looks like Andrew Cuomo believes in the work and value of the ASR.