Thursday, December 4, 2014

DEC Seeks Mtn Bike Trail System In Moose River Plains

DSCN5970The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeking comments to amend the Moose River Plains Wild Forest (MRPWF) Unit Management Plan to improve its mountain bike trail system.

“The 2011 Unit Management Plan called for DEC to create a working group consisting of mountain bikers, local governments and other interested parties to develop a comprehensive mountain bike plan for Moose River Plains,” Stegemann said in an announcement sent to the press. “A meeting of stakeholders in July 2013 resulted in DEC contracting with the International Mountain Bicycling Association to create a mountain bike trail system concept plan. The concept plan has been completed.”

The next step in the process to develop a  mountain bike trail system in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest is an amendment to the UMP.

DEC is initiating a public review to determine which elements of the concept plan to adopt in a UMP amendment, which will also define how a mountain bike trail system will be implemented on the ground.

A public meeting will be held in the gymnasium of the Raquette Lake Union Free School, 115 State Route 28, Raquette Lake, on Thursday, December 18, beginning at 7 p.m. The school is wheelchair accessible. Requests for specific accommodation should be made in advance with DEC at (518) 897-1248.

DEC staff will provide a brief presentation on the proposals in the concept plan, identifying the proposals that may be acted on without amending the UMP; proposals that require a UMP amendment; and proposals that cannot be undertaken due to physical or regulatory restrictions. DEC will then seek thoughts and ideas from the public on the proposals in the plan.

Comments may also be provided by January 30, 2015 in writing to McCrea Burnham, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY, 12233-4254 or e-mailed to

The Moose River Plains UMP and the mountain bike trail system conceptual plan can be viewed and downloaded at

Photo of a pond in the Moose River Plains by John Warren.

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11 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    You’re going to see the woods change in the Moose River Plains if they start allowing mountain bikes to ride through them. Even if just one salamander gets run over it’s one too many!

    • ADKNative says:


      I can not tell whether your comment is sarcastic or not (It is simply the fact that we are conversing through the internet)… However, I have to disagree with you comment. If (and thats seems to be a fairly large if at this point!) mountain bike trails were to be built and developed in the Moose River Plains they would could hardly unnoticed. If you read the report, the plan calls for the development of a 100 mile trail system spread throughout the Plains. Existing roads would be utilized, and those new trails will be built in a sustainable manner. It should also be noted that this plan calls for single track trails, that when completed would be not wider than a hiking trail. If the trails are built properly, they will not have the tendency to get wider, wetter, and more eroded as more people use them.

      I personally praise the DEC for initiating such a plan. One user group the park is failing to facilitate is the mountain bike community. Having a network of the quality and vastness of the one purposed would certainly help to fix that issue. If the trails prosper to the quality the report suggest, this trial network could be a huge draw for the area as well– There are towns out west that are basing their whole economy around MTN biking

      I would enjoy seeing this plan become a reality, it would show the DEC and APA are allowing to let the park enter the 21st century.

      • Heavy says:

        I agree with you 100%.

        I have to ask though, are you a proponent of all types of user trails, if they are done in the responsible and sustainable manner that you detail?

        Im an avid snowmobiler, and the president of my local ATV club. This is the same argument that we use for multiuse trails. IN that, if the trails are built responsibly, and properly maintained by the army of volunteers that are begging for such an opportunity, then the trails will have limited negative impact, and would be a huge draw for our area.

        Not trying to start an argument (manly because i don’t even know your stance), just trying to point out how the similarities among the arguments of trail user groups.

        (and now all of you can down vote my comment without responding too it.. ready go)

  2. Charlie S says:

    Sarcasm is part of my nature ADKNative but i’m a nice guy so don’t take it the wrong way. I hope you’re right about what you say. I lived down in Tampa for a number of years and where I used to walk (a 7-mile loop in a water management area) they started allowing mountain bikes in the woods around that trail and I can tell you from firsthand experience that they made a horrible mess of that area and they ran over lots of critters in the process.I explained this in a previous post. Understandably the terrain down there is different than up here,and those trails down there get a ton of use due to the fact that there are so few woods remaining in that state (and an ever growing population), but my thoughts are that if more people than we expect start utilizing new mountain bike trails in the Moose River Plains there will be a negative impact. I hope i’m wrong but I know what I have witnessed in the past.

  3. Matt says:

    According to Trails Solutions consultant Conceptual Plan in the link:
    100 miles of new singletrack at $5 per linear foot of new singletrack(average)= 2,640,000 dollars in trail construction cost to implement the proposal.
    Inlet’s population is about 300 people I think, so that’s almost 9,000 dollars per resident for mountain bike trails! When I go to the Kingdom trails in Vermont I have to pay 15 dollars a day to enjoy the trails there, and it’s always busy with bikers everywhere. I suppose these trails will be free? Great news for bikers if it happens, but I must ask, how is this possible? I thought DEC was struggling to keep up with maintenance already?

    • Bruce says:

      Matt, everyone says they want it, yet I hear almost no one talking about maintenance and upkeep. I believe Heavy alluded to something about an “army of volunteers” just waiting for the opportunity.

      It’s funny, but on our trails in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests(NC)some trails are heavily used to the point of destruction, yet no army of volunteers seem to be coming out of the woodwork to restore them. Oh sure, a bike club will occasionally do something to advance its public image, but that’s rare.

      After existing trails become impossible, even to the point foot traffic has great difficulty, then comes the inevitable “we need more trails.”

      • Matt says:

        What is going to happen in so many years as the maintenance backlog grows, and visiting bikers spread the word that the trails are poorly maintained? I travel to mountain bike a bit, and if the trails are poorly maintained, I won’t return and I won’t recommend the trails. What is the long term plan here? Do they expect that all these new trails will be maintained by volunteers from a community of 300? Maybe there is a plan we don’t know about? All I know is that Kingdom Trails boasts “100 miles” of trails, and they are constantly working on the trails with paid crews- year in year out, making improvements and conducting maintenance. They pay for it with trail fees and it shows. The trails are amazing there.

        • Bruce says:

          I don’t know how it works for the DEC, but the US Forest Service will take organized groups to help with trail creation and maintenance, in return for a free camping weekend at one of the fee group campgrounds. When our fly fishing club was active, we adopted a trail along a popular stream to keep up.

          We would provide most of the labor, and the Forest Service provided tools and materials. We worked Saturday morning, then the rest of the weekend was ours. After that, we would be contacted by our Forest Service liason (who happened to be a club member) once a year to organize our workday and camping weekend.

          Does the DEC have any group camps? Both the USFS and NPS in NC operate some.

  4. Jan Hansen says:

    More mountain biking trails in the Plains would be a great thing. My husband and I have ridden the roads and the current trails in the Plains many times.

    No one has mentioned the Black Fly Challenge. Each year that event brings hundreds of riders into the Plains, riding the roads from Inlet to Indian Lake or the reverse. Having a new network of trails would motivate some of these riders to come back and ride at other times during the biking season.

    Maintenance is a hard thing. Some of the trails in Fern Park(Inlet) are definitely not maintained and have not been maintained in years. We rode on an outer loop this year that was barely a trail. Volunteers and motivated leaders would have to be recruited for sure. It can happen, I’ve seen it. We have trail systems in CNY which are regularly maintained by mountain biking clubs.

  5. Sarah Leibelsperger says:

    Perhaps someone from DEC can contact IMBA, international mountain biking association. If we can get a local chapter started out here, they would be an incredible resource for this project.

  6. Leroy says:

    Matt is right… Unfortunately the population in Inlet is too small and it is simply not conceivable that they have the volunteer force necessary to build or maintain the trails. It is my understanding that there aren’t even enough volunteers in the Inlet area to take care of the trails at Fern Park. I did try riding there a number of years ago and left frustrated. And unless I hear raving comments about it from people I personally know I will never be back.

    As great as the Inlet area is (I’ve been there many times, I got engaged in the Plains, have biked and paddled in the Plains, and have raced in the Black Fly) the remoteness of it and Inlet simply makes it simply the wrong location to put a dedicated mountain bike trail network. There is only one trail network I know of that has trails in an area where no one lives – Hereford QC. That network contains about 40 miles of trails and was only accomplished with about a half a million dollars in provincial government spending. And Hereford is only 2 hours from Montreal (a city which has an obsession with biking) and a relatively short drive from the Kingdom trails (an area that already gets a lot of riders from Montreal).

    I think it is important to keep in mind that only after a trail network reaches a critical mass which allows riders two or three days of riding trails they enjoy without having to repeat the same trails numerous times will the network gain the notoriety necessary to get the attention of potential volunteers from outside the region (such as the relationship the Kingdom has with some biking organizations from Montreal). So no one should be surprised if armies of volunteers don’t materialize.

    With regards to IMBA… they are a great organization but they don’t show up with an army of workers to build trails.

    I wish the reality of the situation were different, but it is what it is. State agencies approving the network in the Moose River Plains without coming up with any sort of means to facilitate their construction and maintenance will be doing nothing for Inlet. Inlet residents should say they are only interested in the network if the State provided the funding and manpower to build it because if they don’t get that then they are better off focusing their efforts on an attainable goal that helps the community.

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