Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kushaqua Tract Plan Includes 100 Miles Of Public Roads

Kushaqua Roads MapThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the Final Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands Recreational Management Plan (RMP) for motorized recreational use of snowmobiles, ATVs, and motor vehicles on the approximately 18,000-acre easement in the northern Adirondacks.

The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands are located in the towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County formerly owned by International Paper Corporation. DEC purchased a conservation easement on the lands in 2004 which included development rights and logging requirements. The easement also includes public access to the property and more than 100 miles of existing roads.

Lyme Timber Company purchased the lands in 2006 and continues to actively manage the lands for timber. The company also privately leases 31 one-acre camps on the property.

The management plan for the easement lands includes constructing campsites; designating parking areas; building new trails for motorized and non-motorized users; providing access for people with disabilities; enhancing fishing access; and repairing, upgrading and opening existing access roads for public use.

The management actions include, among many others, installing a universally accessible dock and boardwalk on Mountain Pond; constructing 12 campsites, four universally accessible; constructing four new trails; constructing six parking lots; and upgrading and opening to the public 100 miles of roads including 26 miles of three-season automobile roads, 30 miles of ATV roads and trails available for access varying from one to three seasons of the year, and 30 miles of roads and trails for snowmobiling.

The complete Final Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands Recreational Management Plan is available for viewing and downloading on DEC’s website.

Map provided by DEC.

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40 Responses

  1. Trailogre says:

    Another area bites the dust……………….

    • Tim-Brunswick says:

      Great….more access to property “WE” own!

    • Bruce says:


      How do you feel it bites the dust? It was private land being logged. It apparently is still going to be logged, but the public will now have multi-modal access, with designated areas for each type of access, much like the State Forests. Sounds like a good plan to me.

      I wonder how you would feel if the DEC announced it would be open to hiking only.

      • Trailogre says:

        You mean multi – motorized access , don’t you……………

        I like the the hiking only thing……..sounds good to me

        My thought is that over 99% of the state has motorized access….why oh why do we need another motorized access area ?

        • Bruce says:


          As I recall, you had the same issue with the St. Lawrence Management area getting new motorized trails. Problem was the the area involved was already 99% State Forest, which if you read the DEC website, State Forests are not managed for preservation, but for sustainable logging, firewood cutting, camping, fishing, hunting, ATV riding, snowmobiling, skiing, and yes, hiking too.

          The Kushaqua is being managed in much the same way, on a conservation easement, instead of a State Forest. Some of these activities are already present, just being expanded. How can you have quiet hiking and camping with the sound of chain saws and logging trucks in the distance?

  2. Keith Silliman says:

    Living on Loon Lake, I have followed the development of this plan quite closely. I believe it is thoughtful, well-balanced and represents a good blueprint to increase public use in a manner that protects the resource. Keep in mind that the Kushaqua Tract remains a healthy, working forest that is actively logged.

  3. Scott says:

    If you remember way back then, agreeing to allowing public use and motorized access on the existing roads was necessary and essential to get the easement deal at all.

  4. Boreas says:

    Does anyone know how the “universally accessible” campsites will work? Can they be reserved for someone with a disability, or is it simply first come, first served?

    • Keith Silliman says:

      First come, first served. Actually, three of these campsites already exist. Only one has seen any real use; i have never seen anyone camping there, but the neatly stacked firewood is evidence of the site’s use.

      • Bruce says:

        Aren’t all state campsites not in regular campgrounds first come, first served? I have reserved sites in campgrounds, but they have live-in managers during the season.

  5. Paul says:

    100 miles of roads – or 100 miles of roads and/or trails? This is pretty confusing.

    This is all private land the comments here sound like they are for forest preserve land.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      Yes. It’s private land owned by Lyme. A company thoughtful enough to agree to provide recreational opportunities to the general public. It appears that they negotiated quite the comprehensive easement agreement and the RMP that was developed as a result seems to take into account many user groups and provides a wide range of use options.

      Of course, some folks will cry foul that their particular activity doesn’t have complete and exclusive access, but this tract was never about Wilderness or Wild Forest. It isn’t even state owned.

      I wrote a long letter to DEC when they were developing this RMP during the public comment period. As I said then, and will reiterate now here, if you give a place for ATV’s to play it can go a long way keeping them out of the Forest Preserve. I realize that is a highly unpopular opinion on this site, but it’s a responsible one. It doesn’t require NYS lands to be involved, and it’s inclusive of users who are rarely given a fair shake and are often made out to be bad people because of their choice of recreation.

      It sickens me to continually see one user group pitted against another when the ultimate goal should be cooperation to conserve the resource in the best possible way for everyone. That means making sensible compromises, not starting lawsuits every time there is disagreement. There is plenty of room for lawsuits when the entire recreational community sees something that threatens the future of the Forest Preserve. Imagine a world where Protect!, NYS Snowmobile Association, the NRA, ADK, Trout Unlimited, and ASRR could all sit at a table together and help one another achieve greater good for us all. Imagine the possibility for increased recreation for all that a coalition like this could achieve. Imagine the strengthened protections that could be placed on public lands if everyone worked together and felt like they had the support of other groups to ensure the security of their favorite activity into the future. Pie in the sky? Probably. Very sad it has to be that way though.

      • Tom Payne says:

        Well said Mr Heller. Unfortunately in the Albany world that has never been the case. The Environmental Lobby will sit across the table from you telling how we all need to work together while they are trying to stab you in the back.

        • Boreas says:

          Ah yes, the supposed Evil Environmental Lobby. Where would we be without them and every other lobby group? Stabbing each-other in the back instead of them doing it for us.

        • M.P. Heller says:

          Thanks Tom.

          Oh, and it’s Michael, Mr. Heller is my dad. 🙂

        • Bruce says:


          Kinda depends on what side of the table you’re on, doesn’t it? If it’s your side, it’s all good, if it goes against your side, it’s a stab in the back. Get real Tom, and consider the fact that several recent decisions were for more access, not less. I know you want it, but you can’t have it all, the world doesn’t work that way.

      • Paul says:

        You never know what is going on with these. The ‘Champion’ easement lands were billed as an alternative place for ATV use. ATV use is basically now banned on all 139 thousand acres of that tract. Even the camp lease holders are not allowed to use ATV’s on the property. I have even seen some folks commenting here as if they are still open to ATV use when they tout all the places that ATVs have to ride. I guess they wanted that as a big story when they were “opened” but failed to mention it when they were quietly closed.

      • pinus strobus says:

        Well said, fair and balanced approach. Multiple parties can help preserve the wide open spaces.

  6. drdirt says:

    In the ‘North Flow Canoe Guide’, the author lamented the degradation of the No.Branch Saranac River watershed due to poor forestry practices. I can’t find info on the DEC site that spells out how Lyme will now do a better job than International Paper did to mitigate their effects on the watershed.
    Does anyone know where to find that info? The article mentions ‘logging requirements’ .,., sure hope this amazing territory gets a heightened respect from Lyme, as well as the ‘recreationists’ that come to explore it !!!

    • drdirt says:

      I see they have agreed to the ‘Sustainable Forestry Initiative’ (SFI) logging practices; this takes into account some of the effects on the environment.

  7. Frank genevick says:

    Dec has a conservation easement in the town of Wells and speculator on Lyme tymber company land. When will that area be opened by Dec. For ATV use for lease holders?

    • Paul says:


      What Lyme wants to let its leaseholders do is Lyme’s business not the DEC’s. Any public ATV use would have to have been part of an easement arrangement. The owners are not going to let the public do anything that they are not required to do under the agreement. I don’t think their insurance company would like that too much.

  8. Charlie S says:

    Trailogre says: “My thought is that over 99% of the state has motorized access….why oh why do we need another motorized access area ? ”

    Because we don’t see too well Trailogre. Because it is in our nature to fill the air with noise.The neo mindset. Blindness and hearing loss in this society is growing without check. It is a narrow mind that would rather see hordes of people going into wilderness areas than saving those sanctuaries for the adventurous. This desire to maximize visitors in wilderness areas puts them (wilderness areas) in jeopardy. Evidently the State people (aka DEC) and your common man (or woman) don’t see this.

    The DEC’s actions are easy to explain. At the very least there’s money in motorized use,ie license fees. Meanwhile the silence of the woods is shattered we destroy what remains of quiet and solitude with our automotive onslaught and we lose more and more of our heritage. There’s tension,not just among the population,but among the wildlife too. But who cares about the wildlife anyway!

    ‘Why O why?’ you ask. Because as a society we have no ecological ethic. Is why car washes,shopping centers & yet another subdivision are more important than the woodlots or fields that once comprised the acreage that these entities now sit upon.

    • Bruce says:

      Charlie S,

      Please explain…you talk about wilderness; are you talking about wilderness in general, or are you saying Kushaqua should be managed like wilderness, in spite of the fact it does not meet Wilderness criteria. Ongoing logging alone shoots that down, along with the fact there are private leases within which will continue.

  9. Pete Nelson says:

    To respond in part to Tom Payne’s characterization… really? I lobby for the environment here and there, and as readers know I advocate unabashedly for more and better protected Wilderness. Yet I pretty much agree with M.P. Heller’s long comment above. I’m all for strong opinions and stronger principles. But reflexive side-taking, black-and-white rhetoric, which has nothing to do with principles in the first place, only has the power to diminish.

    Why do I think M.P. is largely right here? No time now, but a column on Kushaqua is brewing. DEC did a good job here.


    • Boreas says:


      Please continue your good work. TP apparently has some issues beyond the Lyme easement that won’t likely be resolved here.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      Hey thanks Pete. I usually enjoy your writings as well. Scary stuff huh? Working together to make it better for everyone? Whoda thunkit?

      Can’t wait to see what you may write on the topic. Definitely looking forward to seeing that.

      All the best.


  10. Charlie S says:

    My note is clear Bruce. I did not mention the Kushaqua Tract but woods are woods and if left to their own devices they will prosper fruitfully. Even the smallest acreage of woods can be a paradise if we had but a little imagination. And if we were to take off our blinders we’d know,and sometimes see,that all kinds of unseen life thrives under the canopy of trees,under the leaves,most of it microscopic but still… life,living things that have more importance then we realize evidently.

    We don’t see Bruce.We can hardly get past our noses.It’s all about us and screw every last living thing on earth. Screw future generations! I hate what I see and I’m not alone. More and more I hear from people who are just as concerned or,at the very least,aware that what we are doing is wrong. There used to not be this awareness. There’s this sense of hopelessness which surely you have picked up on by now. It’s insanity the way we go about our affairs. We’re taking away more and more of the remaining ecosystems at a time when we should be preserving what we have left.Full blown insanity. I don’t think it’s apathy as much as it’s a mental incapacity to know right from wrong which is a very dangerous place to be.

  11. Charlie S says:

    Bruce says: “in spite of the fact it does not meet Wilderness criteria.”

    Why doesn’t it meet wilderness criteria? It used to. Then along came capitalist white man Joe Schmoe the butcher. There was a wilderness there before man and machine came along Bruce. It could be that way again….if left to its own devices and maybe with a little help depending on how much damage we created while playing the capitalists game which is a dangerous game if you look at the shape of the world present.

    • Bruce says:

      Charlie S,

      How far back do you want to go? The entire eastern third of the country was once wilderness.

      I understand where you are coming from, that the state should issue a high SLMP designation for the lease. Such would be totally impractical in this case, and probably illegal because the state cannot deny the landowner reasonable use of his property.

      • Trailogre says:

        It could go back if left alone ….even the logged areas will go back eventually ….I am not against logging

        How far back you say………..”The entire eastern third of the country was once wilderness. ”

        yes and now its gone ……and the Adirondacks are going under fast

        All these little spots of motorized WRECKREATION are little by little chipping away at what little areas are left

        LEt it go back to what it was …………….

        • Bruce says:

          Trailogre, Charlie S,

          If you look at the map, and read the first few paragraphs you would see the easement is on PRIVATE land, not state-owned wild forest. The landowner has development and logging rights in the easement. None of the proposed changes involve the adjacent Wild Forest tracts on either side of the easement. The big red line is an existing snowmobile trail, C7.

          Even if the state said access would be limited to foot traffic only, it would make no difference because Lyme can still freely use the land for development and logging as part of the lease agreement.

          Two conclusions become obvious, we’re not losing anything and forest advocates are “barking up the wrong tree” in this instance, pun intended.

  12. Charlie S says:

    “How far back do you want to go? The entire eastern third of the country was once wilderness.”

    We know this Bruce and now we have mere parcels of woods surrounded by a human wasteland which is a constant polluting machine. Evidently a wilderness standard does not apply to the Kushaqua Tract and by what is stated above it appears this area will be more of what is everywhere else…a motorized haven for those who like pandemonium more than they like concord. Sobeit.

    • Richard M. says:

      Actually, man has been modifying the environment in America for thousands of years. During the Archaic Period, native Americans were hunters and gatherers. They used fire and other tools to create landscapes that produced either food or habitat for game. Once agriculture developed (the Woodland Period), fields were cleared and villages and towns developed, along with the continued hunting and gathering and modification of the environment.What is being discussed here is a matter of degree. Lyme owns this tract of land. The easement was purchased by the state so the people of New York could have certain recreational rights. Conservation easements will never be wilderness. Long Pond Easement in St. Lawrence County allows ATV use. Why not look here and any other easement that allows public ATV use to see how that is working out.

      • AG says:

        Well yes you bring up the Native Americans and of course they used the land. Contrary to the idea that they were unsophisticated savages – they had towns and cities throughout North and South America. That said – they managed the forests and wildlife much better than the Europeans that followed. All of the major animals thrived all up and down both continents. They killed beavers and wolves and bison and cougars in NY State – but yet those animals were never depleted until the Europeans game. They fished and they killed seals. Yet when the Dutch got here – what we call NY Harbor in NYC was full of seals – sharks – and whales. So no – it’s not the same.

        • Richard M. says:

          Actually, the Native Americans completely eradicated species on this continent when they came here. Mammoths, mastodons, all the mega fauna that were here at the end of the Pleistocene were killed off by Native Americans. It is VERY true that Europeans opened new markets for the Natives, but they willingly participated in the extermination of beaver,deer and other animals along with the Europeans. So it is a complex history, but Native Americans are people just like everyone else, and when they could benefit from trapping and hunting and trading to the Europeans, they certainly did it to eradication levels.

          • AG says:

            They killed off the mammoths and mastadons??? LOL… Yeah that’s a good one. You must have access to some written records that no one else does.

            Killing of beaver always existed. Beaver didn’t disappear until the Europeans decided they wanted to send them back across the pond in trade. It is a written record fact that the Europeans destroyed habitat and killed off animals in trade (beaver) or in spite (bison) that the native tribes existed with for centuries. Own it and repent.

            • Bruce says:


              Richard’s statement about the mega-fauna of not so long ago is based on information gained from paleontological and anthropological studies of ancient hunter-gatherer sites. It is a fact that archaic peoples would strip an area of food resources, then move to another area. I believe that is how we can account for the migrations that started from Asia to Alaska and eventually blanketing the Americas. Staying in one place and raising crops came later.

              Those we know as the plains peoples were unique in that they had a virtually inexhaustible food supply (bison) that they followed around. And yes, in that case it was the white man who was responsible for the deliberate decimation of the bison herds.

              • AG says:

                Those are theories… Not facts. In any event – the widely accepted theory is that all of those larger animals had a mass die-off due to changes in the environment – not because humans eradicated them. Weak argument.
                In any event – they are not the same tribes that existed here when the Europeans got here – which was the original topic. That argument is poor at best.

              • AG says:

                ummm – no… according to the accepted theory (since none of them are facts) is that those large animals all died off due to climactic and ecological conditions. Nice try guys.
                Also – the people who were alive then are not the tribes who existed when the Europeans got to this continent. We all share one blood from the Middle East or Africa. That doesn’t mean the people who live in Egypt today are the same as existed during the time of Pharaoh Ramses.

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