Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New 40-Mile Snowmobile Thoroughfare Approved

snowmobile trailA new 40-mile snowmobile thoroughfare will be built by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), mostly on “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands between the towns of Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson. Construction of the 9 to 11 feet wide route, which was approved by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in July, is expected to begin immediately.

Some advocates for the Adirondack Park have opposed the plan, which will require the removal of trees and the understory, and grading with heavy machinery to allow snowmobiles to operate at high speeds. “These newly approved 40 miles of snowmobile trails are another step in the largest expansion of motorized use and access in the history of the Forest Preserve. Governor Cuomo is seeking to change forever wild into forever motorized,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks in a statement sent to the press. “It is clear that the approval and construction of new road-like snowmobile trails is the top priority for the DEC and APA.”

Community Connector Trail MapThe trail will require a new bridge over the Boreas River, which is classified under the NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act as a “scenic” river. The Rivers Act as well as DEC regulations for the Rivers Act prohibit motor vehicle uses in scenic river areas and cap trail width at four feet. “A new bridge for snowmobiles over the Boreas River violates the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act and DEC’s regulations. In order for such a bridge to be built, the law and regulations need to be changed,” Bauer said.

The new route is being built to Class II Community Connector Snowmobile Standards. Class II community connector snowmobile trails are 9-11 foot wide cleared trails, constructed to allow regular grooming with large multi-ton motor vehicles and high speed snowmobile travel. The construction of these road-like trails has been an ongoing concern for Forest Preserve advocates such as Adirondack Wild and Protect the Adirondacks, the latter of which described the trails in this way:

MRP-Snowmobile-Trail-3“Unlike other trails built by hand, these trails are excavated with heavy machinery, utilize extensive bench cutting, remove thousands of trees over 3 inches diameter at breast height (DBH), remove tens of thousands of trees under 3 inches DBH, remove the entire native understory, often replace the native understory with a grass mix, open the forest canopy, often fracture and chip away bedrock, utilize oversized bridges often equipped with reflectors, and are built to handle operation of motor vehicles. No other recreational activity in the Forest Preserve, outside of Intensive Use Areas, requires such profound terrain alteration and destruction of natural resources. Protect the Adirondacks believes that this network of ‘trails’ violates the SLMP [State Land Master Plan] and Article XIV, Section 1 of the NYS Constitution.”

Construction is expected to begin immediately on 18-miles of new trail between Newcomb and Minerva. The entire trail is expected to be completed by 2018, with portions of the trail being open to the public next year. Work will also begin next year on the trail connecting Newcomb and North Hudson, starting with the construction of a bridge over the outlet of Palmer Pond near the hamlet of North Hudson. The whole trail system is expected to be completed by 2022, with new trail segments becoming available for public recreation every year until the completed date.

The plan can be found on DEC’s website.

Photos: Above, snowmobiliers on a Class II snowmobile trail; middle, a map of the new trail network; and below, a 12-foot wide Class II snowmobile trail bridge being constructed in the Moose River Plains in 2012.

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Stories written under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline are drawn from press releases and other notices.

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69 Responses

  1. Dick Carlson says:

    Let’s pretend that there’s not snow 12 months of the year. What pray tell are the “off season” uses for these Community Connector trails. Even calling it a snowmobile trail narrows the vision and use possibilities for a true recreation trail.

  2. Dirk Diggler says:

    The problem with many snow machine trails is that they neglect the off season possibilities. Overgrown wide grassy trails are not much fun. At least put a dirt/gravel footpath down the center for hikers and bikers and you might get more support.

    • Hope says:

      That path will happen on its own if the trail is signed. Wildlife will use it also. Could be good moose sighting areas too.

  3. Tim says:

    At least, most of it seems to be near existing roads where I would not hike anyway.

  4. Wren Hawk says:

    Hmmmm. Not my idea of best use for wilderness but in the multi-use debate, this would potentially make a great horse trail with camping options. Most horse trails are south and west…this gets closer and more competitive with VT that has incredible trails maintained for a growing activity.

  5. Jane Gray says:

    Oh my God, what will they do next. How simple to understand that forever wild means just that. Leave it alone for future generations to enjoy as it is. There is no place for noisy snowmobiles to be traversing the woods where x-country skiers and snowshoers travel in quiet with nature.

    • Hope says:

      Plenty of places for country skiers and snowshoers all through the park. Places where there are no snowmobiles at all. Millions of acres and thousands of miles of trails.

    • drdirt says:

      we often appreciate the snow machines packing where we x-country ski .,.,., they groom so many trails for us and are always friendly and considerate.
      weekends can get a little smelly in busy areas; otherwise snowmobilers are the skier’s bretheren in the winter wonderland.
      this trail will only help us explore new territory year-round .,., try your local golf course in the winter for peace and quiet .,.,., or any other trail anywhere on a weekday.

    • Adk native says:

      These trails will b following already existing power lines that used to feed Tahaus, but sure it’s always been forever wild

  6. Hawthorn says:

    Let’s hope they manage to keep the ATVers out of there in the summer! Will it be legal to ride mountain bikes there in the summer? I don’t think so.

    • Paul says:

      If that corridor is treated like Wild Forest I think you can ride bikes (which it must be if there can me snow machines)?

      Not positive. But it seems like if you can drive a big groomer than a bike should be cool.

  7. mike says:

    When an article here is by “editorial staff” who is that? John Warren or some Explorer staff or? I’m just curious after the big stink about naming people at Denton Pubs. Who is editorial staff here?

  8. Ryan Finnigan says:

    If I wasn’t stuck having to work for a living outside the park, I would immediately head up to the area where this road is being constructed with my gear and provisions and set up camp in the dead center of the proposed trail and they would have to remove me by force if they wanted to build that road.
    All of this destruction so sledheads can haul ass from a bar in one town to a bar in another town? Lame.

    • Heavy says:

      If you do this, please let us know, i would like to watch you get removed.

    • Paul says:

      Some of these sorts of things are so people inside the park don’t have to have their kids join you working outside the park. Just a small boost but everything helps. Just look at the map there is plenty of motor-less stuff set aside in this project.

    • Paul says:

      Also remember as part of this acquisition some other roads are boing closed and many acres of land that were criss-crossed with logging a skid roads etc. will be reverting back to wilderness. Without these trails the towns might not have approved the deal and it may have not made it into the forest preserve at all. You can’t have everything.

  9. Hope says:

    Well you don’t live here so you don’t actually get why the communities here are happy to have the sledheads arrive every winter to help sustain their communities existence. You see, you work outside of the park and expect those that live here and try to sustain their businesses on a year around basis to bend to your way of thinking. Well, come on up, I know a few hundred sledheads that won’t have any problem picking you and your gear up off the trail and then stop at a local business and dropping a few $$$ while they’re in town. I’d bet you’d find some business owners would come and help them too.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      I know me and my neighbors would close shop in winter without snowmobiles.

      Of course I’m on Trail 5 with a Yamaha and Arctic Cat dealer who has 24 hour gas next to me, and a very popular Fulton Chain bar across the street from me.

      I dunno, we do maybe 2 million between the 3 of us every winter…..

      Snowmobilers contribute.

      They are our friends.

  10. adkcamp says:

    Can’t these discussions about the wilderness be engaged in without the deprecating names, generalizations and disparaging assumptions? The use of names such as “sledhead” for people who ride snowmobiles comes off as derogatory, and “hauling ass” from bar to bar sounds pointedly prejudiced when “riding from town to town” would be more accurate for a majority of the people riding on any winter day.

    It is illegal to drive a snowmobile drunk, and irresponsible mix driving snowmobiles with alcohol – as with any responsible person who drives a car, the majority of people you see on snowmobiles are not drinking and driving and the majority of snowmobilers and their families wish to enjoy the out-of-doors, not to sit at a bar.

    Just as an aside, one sees many snowmobiles at roadside inns and restaurants that happen to have bars, but that doesn’t mean the people inside are drinking. Further, in most cases, these restaurants/inns/bars are the spots where snowmobilers get gas – not beer, not a cocktail, just food and gas.

    Comments in these forums would be much more informative and enlightening if we leave the name calling, generalizations and assumptions aside and stick to facts that help us all work together to PROTECT and PRESERVE this beautiful wilderness. If the conversation showed mutual respect and willingness to hear the other side’s perspective, maybe we’d actually find out that most of us see this Park as a precious resource that shouldn’t be squandered.

  11. Hawthorn says:

    Even if you don’t mind the destruction of wilderness for the benefit of a wealthy few snowmobilers (it’s a tiny minority that ride the expensive machines), the long-term economic impact doesn’t look good. Snowmobile registration numbers have been declining for many years, snowfall totals have been declining, the climate is warming dramatically, and this sport is in decline overall. In the entire country there were only 58,299 snowmobiles sold. Less than 160,000 sold worldwide. We’re talking about a tiny sport here. The argument that there is a shortage of trails is ridiculous. The state says there are more than 10,000 miles of snowmobile trails in the state, and the mileage in the Adirondacks is greater than the mileage of foot trails. All for a wealthy, elite few to use for a few months a year.

  12. Dave says:

    Hawthorn:
    You haven’t got a clue. So @53,000 people bought a new sled last year, if we can call your figure correct. What about the thousands that ride OLDER SLEDS. We are not the wealthy few as you like to make us out to be. Again you have no clue. Snowmobilers generate 200+ million in the ADK each year & over 800+million state wide, based on a FY 2013 study. All this trail is going to do is connect communities, so those wealthy snowmobilers as you call them, can spend their money in MANY, MANT, MANY different locations within the ADKs. I guess supporting the local ADK communities in the winter is a foreign concept to you!

    • Hawthorn says:

      What’s the average cost of a new sled–north of $10k I believe. That’s way out of reach for many people, and a lot more than a pair of hiking boots, or a set of skis. In all of NY Snowmobile registrations for the 2014-2015 season totaled 121,539. 7-10 million people visit the park per year, so snowmobile registrations (for the entire state) represent less than 2% of 7 million. Tiny minority getting special snowmobile highways built so they can use their expensive machines to go fast for a few months each year. Imagine the uproar if the DOT built a special motorcycle highway through there that could only be used in the summer by motorcycles! What’s the difference?

      • Hope says:

        These trails are not exclusively used by snowmobilers. Skiers, snowshoers, dog sledders, fat bikers, hunters, trappers, fishermen, and hikers too in the off season.

        • John Warren says:

          These trails are built for snowmobiles, not any of the other users. They cross wetlands and wet areas that are impossible to cross without being frozen, at which time they will be used at high speeds by snowmobiles.

          • Hope says:

            Doesn’t mean nobody else can use them. I don’t snowmobile but I find myself walking or skiing on a designated snowmobile trail sometimes.

            • M.P. Heller says:

              I bike on Trail 5 here in Eagle Bay at least once a week. Either over to Inlet, or down towards Old Forge.

          • Dave says:

            Just another person against any winter use of the ADK to support the communities along the corridor. It’s called a MULIT-USE TRAIL for a reason, but I guess that reason is too simple for a idiot like you to understand.

            • John Warren says:

              Dave,

              You have no idea what you are talking about, and that’s fine. However, if you call me or anyone else an idiot here one more time I will ban your comments forever.

              Act like and adult or find somewhere else to comment.

              John Warren
              Editor

              • Dave says:

                So you don’t like free speech fine. I use another phrase then: You haven’t got a clue about what the trail can/will be used for. IT IS CALLED A MULTI-USE trail for a reason. Try to understand that!

                • John Warren says:

                  Free speech? Give it a break. I’m the reason you have a place here to comment and insult me and others. You’re welcome.

                  It doesn’t matter what it’s called – what matters is its actual physical characteristics. This is a 9 to 12 foot roadway that traverses wet areas and wetlands that are not usable as a trail for anyone until the ground is frozen. That’s when it will be used by snowmobiles at high speed.

                  • Dave says:

                    that’s your opinion. 9-12 feet is nothing. Why not talk to snowmobilers & see why 9-12 feet is needed. A; so two sleds going in opposite directions can pass each other safely & B: So trail maintenance/grooming can be accomplished in the quickest/safest manner possible.
                    And as far as your the reason I have the ability to post things on here: It’s not because of you: It’s the people that live/work/play in the ADK that give you the abilityy to have a blog like this.
                    So you may not like the 9-12 foot trail, but ACCEPT that it is a SOON TO BE reality!

                    • John Warren says:

                      “that’s your opinion” – no, I’ve described Class II snowmobile trails according to the facts. It’s not an opinion, it’s a demonstrable fact.

                      I’ve been snowmobiling since I got my first sled in 1972. I’m fully aware of how snowmobile trails work. Only in the last two decades have new snowmobilers like you been demanding these roads to ride on.

                    • NY rider says:

                      Dave,

                      Here’s what a community connector MULTI-USE trail that we get to use our snowmobiles on in the ADK Park look like. We know it, but the words “SUPERHIGHWAY” and “high speed snowmobile trails” are what certain people like to use for sensationalism. For those that don’t snowmobile, here’s a good video that shows official NYS snowmobile trails within The Blue Line and the 9′ width that the 4′ wide snowmobilers use to pass by each other: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G44TVMmBH6I

                  • NY rider says:

                    Have YOU walked the 7th Mountain Lake multi-use, community connector “snowmobile trail” yourself? Does it transverse wetlands? Nope! It is useable as a trail for others? Yes. Can snowmobiles ride more than 15 mph average across this entire new 12 mile trail which meets the APA’s Guidelines to Snowmobile Trail Siting? No way!

      • Dave says:

        Got it, you are anti snowmobile. No sense to reason with someone so biased against a winter activity that generates millions of dollars of income into the ADK.

    • Hawthorn says:

      This site had a more realistic estimate of the economic impact on the Adirondacks here:

      “A rough estimate based on this study’s numbers would put the direct economic impact in the entire North Country region, not counting Tug Hill, (meals, trips, rentals) at about $12.7 million. If all visitors bought gas for their sleds in the North County (an unlikely scenario, since 89% of sled owners live elsewhere) that would add about $15.7 million. – See more at: http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2012/05/discussion-what-is-snowmobilings-economic-impact.html#sthash.tRBcNGIl.dpuf

      • Hope says:

        Almost all snowmobilers by gas multiple times while they are riding. They also use special non ethanol gas which the vendors bring in just for snowmobiles. The average daily trip is around 150 miles per day. That’s a lot of fuel. It also gets these tourist spending money in more than one town.

  13. Jill Arbuckle says:

    The Boreas Ponds and Essex Chain Lakes tracts were heralded as major opportunities for preservation “forever”- to revert to wilderness. But within a couple of years DEC is to start immediately on a twelve foot wide highway? How can this be legal?

    Do a majority of Park residents want to invite outsiders to use the park for their noisy, smelly expensive sport, or is it just those who profit from selling gas meals and lodging?

  14. Scott says:

    I notice reading the posts that there are many people who can happily coexist and share and accept multiple uses in the adks, and then there are a lot of people who don’t want any use other than foot travel and they are not happy with anything else.

  15. Hawthorn says:

    Apparently there are many people who don’t believe in the concept of “forever wild,” or the NYS Constitution.

  16. Scott says:

    That is true. Many pick and choose what suits them. The 1894 Art14 “forever kept as wild forest lands” should have been defined better than just the second sentence. The ASLMP ‘wildforest’ classification is a big part of the issue. I would think at least in areas designated as ‘wilderness’ we could agree on ‘forever wild’ and ‘no lasting impact’ yet we have all the trail improvements, boardwalks, bridges, dams, ladders, lean-tos, and even postage-stamp zoning to keep old observer towers.

  17. Lakechamplain says:

    Folks, this topic has nearly run its course and tomorrow will be on the next page few go to so I’ll save my rant and keep it simple.
    All the modifications that Scott noted miss the main point of this debate and others here about what the ‘forever wild’ means.
    To me it’s all about the machines. I think many people here would like to have a wilderness experience in much of the Adirondacks free of the sounds and ofttimes the damage caused by powerful machines used for recreation. I’ll leave at that for now and hope I don’t get too vilified or called elitist. That does not mean total exclusion but areas large enough that the sounds, or the silences of nature are what our human ears detect.

    • Hawthorn says:

      Noisy machines do not belong in wilderness, and it is not like there are a dirth of snowmobile trails in New York. There are 10,000 miles of snowmobile trails already, including 4k in the Adks. That is more than for foot trails, and all serving a tiny and shrinking minority of visitors to the park.

      • Dave says:

        That tiny shrinking minority as you like to call us, generates 200+million a year in economics into the ADK.

        • Jim S. says:

          What does money have to do with forever wild? What do noisy smelly machines have to do with forever wild?

      • Tom Payne says:

        Four thousand miles in the Adirondack Park? Where did you come up with number?

      • Dave says:

        Just to be clear according to the NYS DEC own reports there are only 762.14 miles of snowmobile trails in the ADK Wild Forest Units & the APA limit in the entire park is 848 miles. So it is no where near 4K miles.
        Sources I read put hiking trails in the ADK park at over 2000 miles. That 10,000 mile figure on snowmobile trails is across the entire state.

        But alas, everyone on here can keep bitching about the new snowmobile community connector trail/multi-use trail, but the decision has already been made & approved, so it’s time to get on with your lives. I know that I will be riding those new trails over the next few years. I’m sure the skiiers will be out in force on it too. Hikers & bikers will also be out. The towns alsong the way will see a increase in economic benefits that come with this ability to have more visitors to their areas.
        So arguing or debating with anyone on here is point-less: you have your views/facts & I have mine. The communities in the ADK have spoken & know what they want/need to survive as year round towns.

        • John Warren says:

          “Just to be clear according to the NYS DEC own reports there are only 762.14 miles of snowmobile trails in the ADK Wild Forest Units & the APA limit in the entire park is 848 miles. So it is no where near 4K miles.”

          It’s clear you don’t understand how the Adirondack Park is organized with private lands, easements, public lands, and Forest Preserve lands. But clearly that doesn’t keep you from having ill-informed opinions.

          • Dave says:

            hey, I’m just responding to the above post of 4K miles of snowmobile trails in the park. I took my facts right out of the new Essex Communit Connector Trail plan. And none of my opinions are ill-informed, that’s just your opinion on them. And we all know what people say about opinions, but I wouldn’t want to insult your intelligence level & post something that might lead to me getting banned, so I’ll just chuckle to myself about it.

            • John Warren says:

              “762.14 miles of snowmobile trails in the ADK Wild Forest Units” – you are talking here about designated snowmobile trails on lands classified as Wild Forest by the APA. Wild Forest classified areas make up just over half the total acreage in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. It doesn’t include Forest Preserve trails on lands classified intensive use, or primitive – a common new approach from DEC and the APA to build more trails (see for example the recent changes in the Moose River Plains UMP, and the motorized corridor through the Essex Chain Primitive Area).

              “the APA limit in the entire park is 848 miles” – you are talking here about the “no material increase” phrase regarding only Forest Preserve lands. It has nothing to do with the actual mileage of snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Park and is not even an actual limit for Forest Preserve lands, it’s a general guideline.

              The Snowmobile Plan For The Adirondack Park (2006) concluded that there were (ten years ago) an additional 1,172 miles of “funded snowmobile trails” in the Park (those maintained with state funds by the snowmobile clubs); 500 miles in the Webb and Inlet systems; and “several miles” on Canal Corporation, Department of Transportation, and State University of New York lands, for a total of about 2,520 Adirondack Park miles. Added to that are trails on municipal roads open to snowmobiles, and an unspecified “substantial mileage of trails that provide secondary trails”. Any look at a map of snowmobile trails in the Adirondacks easily demonstrates that these “secondary trails” are more than half of all snowmobile trails. Additional significant mileage not included in the most recent estimates are new snowmobile trails on more than one million acres of easement lands, and the new connector trails being built each year.

              These estimates taken together suggest there are easily over 3,000 miles of snowmobile trails in the Adirondacks. That’s at least 1,000 more miles than existed in 1968. Once we have a complete map of snowmobile trails, I’m confident that there will be solid proof of over 4,000 miles of snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Park. For now, the demonstrable number is somewhere north of 3,000 miles.

              I should also point out that everywhere in the Adirondacks is within about 5.2 miles of an actual road, and most is within 3.5 miles of a road. Snowmobilers simply want to be able to drive everywhere on lands that are supposed to be ‘forever wild’.

              • Dave says:

                Got it. You say your are a sowmobiler, but from your postings I guess you are against the new connector trail Fine, that’s your opinion & I think it is wrong. But in the end, the connector IS GOING to be built, so just keep being anti-trail. I could care less. I’ll have a new trail to ride on in the next few years & it will allow me to travel to destinations I couldn’t before. If you don’t like that, I could care less. If you don’t like that I plan on spreading my money around in the different communities that I will be able to access because of this connector trail, I could care less. Soon, the rails from Tupper Lake To Lake Placid will be gone & I will be able to ride that trail without worrying about damaging my sled. In a few years after that the ASR will cease to exist, because the state will finally wake up & see that it is a waste of money there too.
                So listening to all you anti-trail, tree hugging want-a-be’s is nothing more than fun entertainment for me during the day. The trails will be built & that’s a FACT!

                • NY rider says:

                  Dave,

                  He is NEVER wrong! Let it go, as your point about his anti-snowmobile stance is quite evident to all that read his position statements here.

                  • John Warren says:

                    ^^^ a second snowmobile industry lobbyist in these comments who does not identify himself ^^^

                    Just so folks know who is commenting here. I think they comment anonymously like this because it allows them to spread their various falsehoods without having to own up to them.

                    What’s really frustrating, as readers can see from these comments and the comments on other snowmobile stories here at the Almanack, is that this misinformation – wild claims about the industry, its economic impact, and the nature of the snowmobile trail network in the Adirondacks – leads less informed snowmobilers to come on here with the craziest claims. For example, Dave’s claim above that there are only 842 miles of snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Park and there can be no more.

                    “Tom Payne” and “NY Rider” are paid disinformationists who are using the comment section here to bolster false narratives that they think help their cause.

                    • NY rider says:

                      And you Sir, are a proven anti-snowmobile propaganda opportunist who hides behind the Almanack and your own self-serving claim about being “a snowmobiler”. OWN IT, for once!

                    • NY rider says:

                      Where is this Tom Payne you refer to, where have I bolstered any false narratives here to help my cause, and why is it OK for YOU to call commenters names?

                  • Dave says:

                    Just love to stir the pot. It adds fun too my daily activities!

    • Paul says:

      Just looking at this map alone (save all the other Wilderness land in the park) there are plenty of places to get away from these trails where you would not hear the machines. A lot of the land wasn’t even open to the public till recently, and prior to that it was being cruised by ATVs and logging trucks. Now it has been protected and yes there are a few snowmobile trails but people seem to think that they need to have all of it for their particular favorite activity. I don’t snowmobile, but I think it is fair that they have these 40 miles of trails. In the scheme of things this is pretty minor and it is strongly supported by the towns in the area. There is a cap on snowmobile trail miles in the park there isn’t a cap on hiking trails.

  18. Paul says:

    If these trails have bridges across rivers and things like the bridge in the picture it seems like they have more uses than just when the ground is frozen?

    But I would say that when I did snowmobile as a kid the main “trails” we snowmobiled on were on the lakes. There are many places you can legally snowmobile that are not designated trails, and you can safely go much faster than you can on even a wide groomed trail. If you could groom half for skiing and half for snowmobiling that would be pretty cool. I would suggest even wider trails to accommodate both. Community connectors like they have in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. With lights for night use.

  19. Joe says:

    Someone please show me the 500 miles of trails in the Old Forge/Inlet trail system. I have never been able to find all of them…. hmmmm….

  20. Pete says:

    John Warren is wrong and/or his statement is purposely misleading. The 762 miles actual and 848 mile limit applies to all state Forest Preserve per the ASLMP. There may be thousands of miles of snowmobile trail in the “Park” but that only means inside the “blue line” not necessarily on state land. All but 762 are on private land or county or town public land. Private land on which the state has a conservation/recreation easement is not state forest, it is private land.

    Seasonal roads open to snowmobiles are not “trails” per the the ASLMP 848 mile limit. They are not trails at all. They are roads. People drive their cars and trucks on them in the summer. The “trails” in the Moose River Plains are not trails, they are the same ROADS that are open to motor vehicles in the summer. The state has, in fact, closed “trails” in MRP that were previously open to snowmobiles even though those same “trails” might be open to motor vehicles in the summer. This kind of closure has also happened in other places.

    The snowmobile trails in the Old Forge/Inlet permit system are NOT on state land, otherwise the town could not require a separate permit to use the system. They are on private land, mostly on logging roads.

    Article 14 of the state constitution says that state land should be kept forever as “wild forest lands.” The word “wilderness” is not used. Nevertheless nearly 50% of the forest preserve is classified as “Wilderness” and there is a near absolute prohibition on any motorized use.

    Article 14 was intended to stop the wholesale logging that was decimating the Adirondack forests. Business leaders supported it to preserve the watershed of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers and Erie Canal so that shipping would not be affected. Sportsmen wanted it to preserve the forest for hunting, fishing, and other recreational uses. This is a lot different than creating an absolute “Wilderness” for the sake of Wilderness.There was no such thing as snowmobiles at the time and in fact very few “motorized vehicles” so Article 14 doesn’t address the issue, but the intent was not to exclude use by some or all of the people.

    New York State Law:
    § 9-0301. Use and diminution of Adirondack and Catskill parks.
    1. All lands in the Catskill park and in the Adirondack park, except
    those lying within the town of Dannemora, now owned or which may
    hereafter be acquired by the state, shall be forever reserved and
    maintained for the free use of all the people, except that nothing
    herein shall prohibit the charging of a fee for services rendered or
    facilities provided.

    “Free use of all the people” is pretty clear.

    The fact is that a hiker or skier can go virtually anywhere on state land but snowmobilers are basically restricted to certain trails. If you calculate the actual acreage of state land occupied by snowmobile trails it is less than .04%. No one is asking to open up all of the land to snowmobiling but it is a reasonable and accepted form of recreation. It is in fact the only thing keeping many Adirondack businesses alive. They can’t survive on only a few months of business in the summer.

    The Essex Chain has 50+ miles of improved hardened logging roads. It may be wild forest but it is not “wilderness.” The road system should be a recreational asset that is maintained and made available to all the people including snowmobilers and mountain bikers.

    • John Warren says:

      Well you’ve set up quite the straw man there.

      Why don’t you tell us exactly which sentence is not correct?