Wednesday, December 16, 2015

DEC Issues Final Plan To Develop St. Lawrence Flatlands

stlflatump12-page-021Greater public access and more recreational opportunities will be available in the St. Lawrence Flatlands area under its final Unit Management Plan (UMP), according to an announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

“The UMP provides greater land access for hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationalists in northern St. Lawrence and Franklin counties,” Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement sent to the press. “The plan develops recreational access to forest lands, increases public awareness of outdoor opportunities on these state forests and ensures sustainable forest management.”

The St. Lawrence Flatlands comprises 30,810 acres in 10 state forests located in the Franklin County towns of Bombay and Moira, and the St. Lawrence County towns of Brasher, Madrid, Norfolk and Stockholm. The specific land units are Brasher State Forest, Bombay State Forest, Buckton State Forest, Fort Jackson State Forest, Grantville State Forest, Knapp Station State Forest, Lost Nation State Forest, Raymondville State Forest, Sodom State Forest and Southville State Forest. The UMP also covers six widely scattered parcels of detached forest preserve lands, ranging in size from three to 350 acres, located in the towns of Lisbon, Louisville, Massena, and Waddington in St. Lawrence County.

The lands and waters of the St. Lawrence Flatlands offer many recreational opportunities, including: hiking, skiing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, birdwatching, snowmobiling and horseback riding.

The UMP identifies improvements to infrastructure, timber management, and recreational facilities development with a 10 year schedule of implementation. Several new access points along the Deer and St. Regis Rivers, parking areas, kiosks, and trails for persons with disabilities are being developed.

A new multi-use ATV and snowmobile roadway is being developed on 8.7 miles of DEC maintained trails and roads in the Brasher State Forest, which comprises most of the land (about 20,000 acres) included in the St. Lawrence Flatlands. The connector trail will provide for a variety of recreational uses, including hiking, skiing, horse riding, and snowmobiling. Trails and roads are expected to receive improved drainage and surface hardening. St. Lawrence County is planning to add 42 miles of snowmobile and ATV trails to compliment trails on state lands.

State lands in the St. Lawrence Flatlands lie just outside the Adirondack Park and are not part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

The Unit Management Pan can be found here.

Map provided by DEC.


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47 Responses

  1. Trailogre says:

    Well another piece of “public land” lost to the wreck-reaction lobby

    • Bruce says:

      Here we go with the “lands lost” cry again. State land has increased by many thousands of acres over the last few years. There has been no land “lost.”

      Those who believe hiking is the only “sensible” recreation are being narrow minded. To my knowledge, hikers have access to all state lands, yet when new areas are opened, they want new trails cut and maintained in order to ease getting into favorite places. Don’t they realize that even a foot trail in a wilderness area has a certain amount of negative impact on the landscape?

      The APA and the DEC are doing a laudable job of balancing the desires of park users. Let them do their job, and be glad there are more new areas to explore.

      • Trailogre says:

        I wasn’t crying…. just pointing out the fact that any “multi-use “(phrase for ATV trail without without saying ATV) trails that include motorized use almost always exclude anyone but the motorized crowds from using them ……..

        that’s why you don’t see too much hiking on the Thruway

        • Trailogre says:

          While the thing about hiking trails is that they are open and available to anyone…………..

  2. Tom Payne says:

    Been to the high peaks lately? Might I suggest you get your own house in order before criticizing others.

    • Running George says:

      There is no comparison to the massive damage ATVs do as compared to hikers. ATV damage occurs rapidly and is extensive and riders seek out wet areas to tear up.
      Yes, hiking has caused damage and there is is a need to get the “house in order” but the comparison of hiking damage to ATV damage is a false equivalency.
      This represents another roll back of state land protection by Cuomo and his puppet Seggos. Cuomo sees state land as one big “enchanted forest” and is using it to appeal politically to a crowd that will never vote for him anyway. I hope Preet Bharara moves quickly before he does more damage.

  3. Tom Payne says:

    Have you seen the hiking trail damage? Some areas the ruts are two feet deep. And those hiker mud holes as well. Hiking trails that are twenty to forty feet in width. Well within comparison. But since this damage is done by the “Children of God” all sins are forgiven at the NYSDEC and APA. Just more of the Albany double standard.

    • Trailogre says:

      Yes, but most of that trail damage has occurred over many, many decades of hiking(which is always being heroically worked on by our trail crews) ……

      ATV trails look like that in only a few days or weeks of use without extensive maintainence and construction

    • Boreas says:

      One ATV in the wrong hands can create more damage than decades of hiking use. I’ve never known a hiker to run over saplings and seek out wetlands to tear up. At least some hikers try to repair / remediate their damage – ADK, 46rs, etc. Even hiking footwear has changed over the years to lessen trail impact, while ATVs get bigger and more powerful.

      • Paul says:

        Your comments on ATVs may be correct but this one? “never known a hiker to run over saplings”. Really? Maybe not, but much worse, I have seen hikers stomp fragile alpine vegetation. I have seen their dogs doing the same thing. Boreas I figured you might be a hiker but if you haven’t seen things like this you haven’t spent much time in the mountains.

        • Boreas says:

          Well, I became a 46r in the mid-eighties,so you can make of that as you will. Maybe there are sapling-stompers out there now, but in my day, people avoided cripplebrush and blowdown like the plague. Very few hiked with dogs back then, and those who did kept them in pretty good control. But I am not a supporter of dogs in the backwoods – leashed or otherwise.

          But FYI, I did cease membership in the 46rs when they failed to curb or cap their numbers in the 80s & 90s.. Anyone could see more traffic = more damage.

          We are not without our ignorant imbeciles, but I still contend an ignorant imbecile on an ATV can do a lot more harm than a person with 2 legs and not even one horsepower.

          • Paul says:

            “But FYI, I did cease membership in the 46rs when they failed to curb or cap their numbers in the 80s & 90s.. Anyone could see more traffic = more damage.”

            Why should just people from yours and my generation be able to enjoy the mountains? Also, the 46rs is like the KGB. No one ever leaves the KGB!

            • Boreas says:

              I didn’t mean people should stop hiking, I meant that much of the exponential growth of hiking in the High Peaks was due to the 46rs – be that good or bad. My feeling was if they put a cap on their membership it would cut down on the hiking pressure in the area. There was so much pressure DEC had to mark trails up the “trailless peaks” to minimize damage.

              BTW, it is easy to get out of the 46rs – stop paying your dues. They won’t even sell me a sticker until I pay my back dues…. But they can’t take away my number.

  4. Solo Pete says:

    I hike, canoe, ice climb, and snowmobile. The narrow minded who insist the Public Lands be isolated to their specific activity should pay all the State taxes -then you have a legitimate argument. The State Gov’t is doing the vast variety of tax payers an opportunity to enjoy their specific activity. The High Peaks Region is the hiker’s paradise. The low lands of the St. Lawrence will be everyone else’s paradise.

    • AG says:

      I see no paradise in loud noisy vehicles… I’d rather see people on human powered mountain bikes. Loud ATV’s and snow mobiles take away from paradise to me. As a city guy – it’s a turn off. I’m not saying they should be outlawed – but there shouldn’t be so much devoted to them.

  5. chris says:

    What I never really hear about is how an ATV or snowmobile spoils a disproportionate amount from others due to their noise (and as we now know, how they chase the wildlife away for miles). The noise from one small group snowmobiles dominants a wide area, basically spoiling for hikers a much larger footprint. Experiencing nature is audible as well as visual. While I understand why some want to ride ATV’s and snowmobiles, it is disappointing they don’t seem to realize how it effects others (or maybe they do, and that is the point.)

    • Paul says:

      Cris, Don’t use an ATV myself, but have been around some hunting. They really don’t bother the wildlife at all, your comment about them driving the wildlife away for miles is not what I have seen. These sorts of unnatural noises don’t bother animals. In fact I have seen in logging areas where deer are attracted to the sounds of chainsaws since they know that it may mean feeding time on the tops of the felled trees in logging areas. If noise bothered animals we would not have the problems we have with too many waterfowl around major airports like we do. 747 is a lot louder than an ATV. What would be nice is a switch to electric ATV’s, they exist but are not very popular yet.

    • Bruce says:

      Hikers can go anywhere they please, is there so little public land that they are being forced to use ATV or snowmobile trails? I hardly think so. This argument is not about environmental damage, EVERY user group bears some responsibility there. Damage is a side show being used to distract from the real argument. The argument is about do hikers have a right to go anywhere they want without anyone else’s rights spoiling their experience? The answer is a resounding NO!

      On that basis, the argument is specious and without merit, but extremely noisy.

      • Trailogre says:

        Then…………………don’t call it a “multi user trail”………………The only reason they call it that is they can get it pushed thru without objection ……or little objection

        • Paul says:

          Bikes and snowmobiles is still multi-use.

          • Trailogre says:

            Unless there are motorized vehicles on it …..then it becomes almost exclusively …………..motorized !!

            What I’m saying is that they call it a “multi use” use trail to get it built ………………(Look Harriet, a multi use trail we can hike or ride our bicycles on it ……riding bikes until middle aged teenager on an ATV comes along an doing donuts around them saying …..wheres all this wilderness…..I cant see any wilderness because all these g____damn trees are in the way)

            (Paul just so you know …the last was a fictional example but all too true )

            • Trailogre says:

              Dang it…. I paid for gas ……I want to see Wilderness….all the dang enveereeementalists and all their trees…….cant see nothing with all these trees and hills in the way

              Paul ……..another,
              perhaps fictional scenario

              • Bruce says:


                Several times now you “hypothetically” mentioned hikers being bothered by motorized use. Aren’t there enough non-motorized trails in the Adirondacks where a hiker, skier, or bicyclist who doesn’t want to be bothered by motors can go? “Multi-use” can mean any number of scenarios, so the answer is go somewhere else if a trail is marked “multi-use”. It’s a no brainer.

                It takes away from my enjoyment to be some distance into a hiking trail and see wads of toilet paper, granola bar wrappers, or empty water bottles. That’s not hypothetical. You’re going to find irresponsible users everywhere you go.

                • Trailogre says:

                  So why are you on the hiking trail if all those things offend you………..
                  .all I’m saying why whitewash it
                  call it an atv
                  trail if that’s what it is….don’t call it a “multi use” trail…….believe you won’t find me at where near it……..but I don’t want my tax dollars to go into these trails

                  • Bruce says:

                    I see what you are saying about “multi-use”. If ATV’s can use it, you want it called an ATV trail. Sure, why not; except “multi-use” is a more accurate description, because those trails are not restricted to ATV’s. No one is “whitewashing” anything.

                    The use of your tax dollars is a subject between you and the Governor.

                    • Trailogre says:

                      My point is that (again ) a Multi use trail with ATVs on it is not a Multi use trail …….almost every other user will be excluded from using it…..just by the very nature of ATVs ……………………………….

  6. greg says:

    I ride on a trail system up by Watertown, NY. ATV riding is prohibited during hunting season. I’ve never heard anything about disruption of wildlife.

    A trail system is established to bring business and economy up and to keep riders on trail not off course causing damage. I’m sure we all agree that there are fools that screw around and destroy stuff. From my experience it seemed more locals screw around then those out of town. They know it will look like the out of towners.

  7. Charlie S says:

    ” the wreck-reaction lobby.”

    >> That’s a good one Trailogre!

  8. Charlie S says:

    Bruce says “Here we go with the “lands lost” cry again.”

    >> Some people are enthusiastic about the few unspoiled things remaining in this world Bruce,to the extent that any threat to said things puts them in defense mode.They know they cannot save the world from the onslaught of human arrogance,apathy and cancerous ways that seem to be so bountiful in all quarters,but their instinct propels them to react the way a mother would react towards a threat against her children…..she’ll put up a defense.
    Some people are really into the cosmic process,they respect and appreciate the Adirondacks for its life force not for the noisy machines that run roughshod over it.

    • Bruce says:

      Charlie S,

      I could understand your point provided that lands under the protection of the SLMP, APA and DEC were dwindling rather than increasing.

      My point is, the state’s job is to provide for all user groups and balance those uses, not just for one user group, and I believe they’re doing a credible job.

      In a previous discussion I mentioned that if true protection and preservation were the ultimate goal, no one short of a few researchers would be going in. How would hikers feel if Boreas Ponds were closed to everyone except state authorized access? That would be the protection they’re clamoring for.

  9. Charlie S says:

    Running George says: “Cuomo sees state land as one big “enchanted forest” and is using it to appeal politically to a crowd that will never vote for him anyway. I hope Preet Bharara moves quickly before he does more damage.”

    > It is political it always will be and there just might come a time when there’s just nothing left for our leaders to pawn off so as to keep themselves in high positions.

  10. Charlie S says:

    “There is no comparison to the massive damage ATVs do as compared to hikers.”

    > Us clever ones know this already Running George but how do you put up a defense to one who denies reality.

  11. Charlie S says:

    Tom Payne says: “Have you seen the hiking trail damage? Some areas the ruts are two feet deep. And those hiker mud holes as well…..”

    > There has been Bigfoot sightings up in them Adirondack woods. These animals,which some people believe exist,are upwards of 400 lbs. and more.I’ve heard rumors of sightings in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness.Where did you see these ruts Tom?

    • Tom Payne says:

      Sorry Charlie. Got lots documented. As you said you only see what you want to see. Perhaps it’s time you took off your rose colored sun glasses. I did hear that big foot was a paid environmental lobbyist working in Albany. Or was that a legal council at the NYSDEC this month? No it was legal council for the Adirondack Council.

      • John Warren says:

        You continue your anonymous nonsense – when will you meet me in public for a debate about your outrageous claims?

      • Boreas says:


        I have seen ruts on poorly-routed or poorly maintained hiking trails. The ruts are actually a sign that hikers are doing what they are supposed to do – stay on the trail. What they are NOT supposed to do is make a rail wider by circumventing the mud, but obviously this happens as well. Most are supposed to be maintained trails, but DEC and volunteer groups can’t fix everything – especially in mud season.

  12. Charlie S says:

    Solo Pete says: ” I ………………. snowmobile.The High Peaks Region is the hiker’s paradise. The low lands of the St. Lawrence will be everyone else’s paradise.”

    > A clamorous paradise maybe for those who enjoy noise.

  13. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “Cris, Don’t use an ATV myself, but have been around some hunting. They really don’t bother the wildlife at all, your comment about them driving the wildlife away for miles is not what I have seen.”

    > We see what we want to see Paul. Whatever fits our into our worldview,which is oftentimes a wee cubicle,is what we see and nothing more!

  14. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Increased access for folks of all ages and reasonable use of motorized vehicles, particularly for the Senior Outdoors Folks is a welcome trend by DEC. As an older hiker/hunter & owner of an ATV, the belief that motorized vehicles/noise scare all the wildlife is baloney.

    The State of Maine has as much, if not more, of a diverse wildlife population than the Adks, ample wilderness/wild forests and yet is criss-crossed by snowmobile and ATV trails, many designed specifically for recreational use. Huge logging trucks and associated equipment are part of the big Maine Woods.

    There needs to be a compromise between the various user groups, which judging from the above comments doesn’t look likely. I don’t envy DEC’s role in these type situations.

    • Boreas says:

      Tim –

      I agree – vehicles driven sensibly in the back woods usually don’t scare wildlife as vehicles aren’t really imprinted in their instinct database. It is often much easier to sneak up and observe animals from a vehicle. Get out of the vehicle and they are gone.

      But in general, unnatural noise and human activity tend to keep animals wary and places stress on them, so they tend to avoid those areas – as I would. The noisier and more erratic the human behavior, the more the area is avoided.

  15. Scott says:

    FYI. I believe the new multi use road/trail on Brasher State Forest is the same ATV road/trail that use to be open for ATV use in the late 90s to early 2000s before it was closed.

  16. Charlie S says:

    Bruce says: “My point is, the state’s job is to provide for all user groups and balance those uses, not just for one user group, and I believe they’re doing a credible job.”

    I wasn’t knocking you Bruce I was just putting forth my thoughts on the matter. The State of New York has a good track record for many things and we are known as the role model in many areas,but things aren’t what they used to be and the people in charge don’t always do what’s in the best interest of the State or the people or the environment as has been proven over and again and all too often foresight is lacking in their decisions.

    We’re slipping Bruce and I like it when people put up a fuss when it comes to protecting what’s left of our ecosystems. In just fifty years (or less) from now this planet is not going to be the fertile paradise it sorta has been,especially in some of its more unique wild places including the Adirondacks. Things are changing rather rapidly and if we don’t be careful……

    • Bruce says:

      Charlie S

      I agree state land should be protected, but from what? In this case, the land is State Forest and not Forest Preserve.

      I just had a good look at the map and a couple things stood out, things I missed at first glance last week. One is the total area is relatively small, and the trail proposals aren’t that long. More importantly is the fact that this is State Forest, which means it is managed differently than Forest Preserve.

      Quote from the DEC website…”The state forests are managed to provide a steady and renewable supply of wood products such as firewood, pulpwood, posts, poles, and sawtimber.” That in itself means there are going to be pretty good vehicle roads, and rather extensive use.

      Many folks commented on ATV noise. What’s the difference if the noise comes from an ATV, snowmobile, logging truck or chain saws? The total elevation change over the area is less than 100′ (Google Earth) because this is a river plain. Sound carries further in flat regions.

      If solitude and freedom from noise are what I wanted I sure wouldn’t go there.

  17. Charlie S says:

    Tom Payne says: “Sorry Charlie. Got lots documented. As you said you only see what you want to see. Perhaps it’s time you took off your rose colored sun glasses.”

    >> My glasses are not rose-colored and I’d sure like to see two-foot deep ruts from foot traffic Tom. People don’t weigh that much and if they did most likely they wouldn’t be seen on the trails.They certainly wouldn’t be walking in mud neither. Is why my guess was that you may have seen Bigfoot prints.Where’d you see them?

    • Boreas says:


      As I mentioned above, ruts in the High Peaks area are quite common. Trail etiquette states that hikers should stay on the trail. The trails in the High Peaks region are often only 1-2 feet wide and were routed in areas that only had 1-2 feet of mineral soil over solid bedrock. A few thousand hikers later and that soil is now gone and one is hiking in a rut with unstable soil on both sides and a rock base. It is unavoidable if you are going to allow intense hiking pressure in such a sensitive area. What IS avoidable is additional erosion from wandering out of the rut or off-trail. This just makes for more ruts or bigger ruts. Hence hiker education and ‘trail etiquette’ are a must.

  18. SLMPdefender says:

    The DEC is not required to provide access for all types of recreational uses. They are required to promote recreation, so long as the resource is not destroyed. That implies that there is a judgement call to be made. Most DEC staff do not want to see ATV riding allowed on state lands, because it is expensive to repair! Read the Strategic plan for state land management…. case and point. We are talking about very unique machines here. They are designed to go anywhere, even if it means erosion, destruction of vegetation, loss of water quality! That’s why they are treated with so much caution.

    I could not be more sick of these silly machines that these rednecks use to compensate for a certain appendage that is unfortunately pathetic!

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