Sunday, November 27, 2016

Snowmobile Trail Tree Cutting And Forest Preserve Law

peter-bauer-examines-a-stump-along-a-newly-constructed-community-connector-trailA rose is a rose is a rose, Gertrude Stein said. Defining a tree is not so simple.

That question — what is a tree? — has emerged as a central issue in a long-running dispute over the construction of “community-connector” snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve. These trails, which link hamlets, are nine feet wide (twelve feet on curves) and graded to make them smooth.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, contends they resemble roads more than trails. Since 2013, Protect has been pressing a lawsuit contending that community connectors violate Article 14 of the state constitution.

Article 14 states that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” Just as important for Protect’s argument, it also declares that timber on the Preserve shall not be “sold, removed or destroyed.”

State judges have ruled that this doesn’t mean that no trees can be cut on the Preserve, but it’s still an open question how much cutting is permissible.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said Protect’s lawsuit against the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency could clarify the issue and contribute to an area of law where few precedents exist.

“Any case which interprets the forever-wild clause is automatically an important case and will be a precedent,” said Woodworth, who is an attorney.

In the 122-year history of Article 14 (originally, it was Article 7), there have been just two major cases in which judges addressed the question of tree cutting in the Preserve.

In a landmark case in 1930, the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal, said the constitution forbids “any cutting or any removal of the trees and timber to a substantial extent.” In the same decision, it said the state could create and maintain facilities, such as trails, “which did not call for the removal of timber to any material degree.”

The seven judges ruled unanimously that the construction of a bobsled run near Lake Placid for the 1932 Olympics would violate the forever-wild clause. The bobsled run would have entailed the clearing of a one-and-a-quarter-mile-long corridor sixteen to twenty feet wide—a total of four and a half acres. It was estimated that 2,500 trees would be cut.

Two key phrases from that decision in Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks v. MacDonald stand out: “to a substantial extent” and “to any material degree.” However vague, these remain the benchmarks for determining how many trees can be cut on the Forest Preserve.

The second big case came more than sixty years later. In 1993, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, a midlevel appeals court, cited the MacDonald decision and ruled that DEC had the right to cut trees to create parking lots and hiking and cross-country-ski trails on a part of the Forest Preserve in the Catskill Park. It was estimated that the project would require the cutting of 350 trees and 312 saplings.

“Those proposed uses appear compatible with the use of forest preserve land, and the amount of cutting necessary is not constitutionally prohibited,” the Appellate Division said.

It might be tempting to conclude from these two cases that it’s OK to cut 350 trees and not OK to cut 2,500 trees, with any number in between lying in a gray area. Of course, it’s not that easy.

DEC acknowledges that it plans to cut far more than 2,500 trees to build community connectors. In a chart included in court papers, the department estimates that it will cut about 6,500 trees on sixteen such trails. Because the cutting will be spread throughout the Park, the state argues that the number of trees cut per mile falls within parameters set by the courts.

snowmobilingProtect, however, says the community-connector network will require the removal of tens of thousands of trees. The disparity is due to different methods of tallying trees.

DEC counts only trees at least three inches in diameter at breast height (dbh), asserting this is a common standard in forestry for defining a tree. Protect contends that the standard is arbitrary and that smaller trees (one to three inches dbh) should be counted as well.

Steven Signell, a forest ecologist hired by Protect, argues that all trees — big or small, living or dead — contribute to the health of a forest.

In an affidavit, he distinguishes saplings from small trees. The latter, he says, have large root masses and often survive for decades. He calls DEC’s reliance on the three-inch standard “a relic of an institutional silvicultural mindset that stretches back many decades.”

“Using a cutoff based on forestry and silvicultural principles is inappropriate on the Forest Preserve, as the Forest Preserve is explicitly NOT managed for commercial value, but for ecological preservation. Therefore, ecological principles should be used to define a tree,” Signell says in the affidavit.

Assistant Attorney General Loretta Simon, who is representing DEC, notes that Article 14 refers to “timber,” not trees. “DEC policy and forestry standards do not consider trees under 3 inches dbh to be timber,” she asserts in court papers. She also says that courts in similar cases, including the landmark MacDonald case, have not taken into account small trees.

“There is simply no support for plaintiff’s argument that the tree tallies do not reflect the full extent of tree cutting,” Simon declares.

If the courts adopted Signell’s argument, the tree tallies would increase dramatically. For example, DEC estimates that it cut less than 1,924 live trees (and 161 dead trees) when it built the 11.9-mile Seventh Lake Mountain Trail in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest. Signell, who walked the trail this year, says more than 6,480 trees were cut. About 85 percent of these, however, were less than three inches dbh. Signell says the 6,480 figure “vastly underestimates” the extent of tree cutting because many of the stumps were no longer visible or were destroyed during trail construction.

Bauer says community connectors usually entail cutting about a thousand trees per mile. In contrast, DEC says it cut just 162 live trees per mile on the Seventh Lake Mountain Trail.

Apart from the tree-cutting, another question is whether community connectors run counter to the “forever wild” character of the Forest Preserve. Bauer says DEC makes cuts into slopes, removes boulders and large stumps, grades the surface, builds large bridges, and, in winter, maintains the trail with tracked groomers. “These trails are constructed for motor vehicles operating at a high rate of speed,” he said.

The state argues that the new trails will enable DEC to close routes in the interior of the Preserve, enhancing its overall wildness.

State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly is scheduled to hear arguments in the case in Albany on December 5. For the time being, the department is prohibited from continuing work on the community-connector trails.

Photos: Peter Bauer examines a stump along a newly constructed community-connector trail, courtesy Mike Lynch, and snowmobile, courtesy Nancie Battaglia

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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.

76 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    “The state argues that the new trails will enable DEC to close routes in the interior of the Preserve, enhancing its overall wildness.”

    I assume this is part of the “mileage cap” on snowmobile trails. This would be fine if it can actually be done, however I haven’t seen many trailhead barriers that can’t be circumvented with a little effort. Closing the trails and getting snowmobilers to stop using them may be two different things. Just like “closing” a hiking trail.

  2. Larry Roth says:

    The cynic in me says that this will be settled on the basis of one of the oldest precedents in NY state Politics: follow the money.

    • Big Burly says:

      Does this mean Larry that the largest spending lobby group in Albany, the snowmobilers, might prevail ? Oh my

      • Alan Vieters says:

        Snowmobile groups are far from the highest spending lobby in Albany. I didn’t get to the bottom of the list of nearly 3,000 lobby groups but I didn’t find snowmobile lobby in the top 200. Is this the Trump effect of just making a false unsubstantiated statement and passing it of as fact, while in reality it is a bold faced lie?

  3. adkDreamer says:

    I my view, the 2nd sentence of Article XIV may allow such “community connectors”:

    “Nothing herein contained shall prevent the state from constructing, completing and maintaining any highway heretofore specifically authorized by constitutional amendment…”

    (The 2nd sentence continues to describe what I believe to be route 87 or the Northway)

    A “highway” may be many things, Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th Edition, page 747 contains 4 definitions of highway, the first two of which are:

    “1. Broadly, any main route on land, on water, or in the air. 2. A free and public roadway or street that every person may use.”

    So, since trees (any definition may be applied), rocks, boulders, dirt, leaves, natural habitat, etc. are all contained on land, on water, or in the air it stands to my reasoning that these natural features may be removed for the construction or maintenance of a highway.

    However, notice in the 2nd sentence of Article XIV, any highway requires requires authorization by constitutional amendment.

    • Marc Wanner says:

      Dreamer, you’re dreaming. You’re leaving out the important qualification: “any highway heretofore specifically authorized by constitutional amendment…” So even if the connector trail can wiggle in as a highway, it still would have to have already (heretofore) been ” specifically authorized by constitutional amendment.”

      You could conceivably wiggle under that “heretofore,” but then you’d still be up against the “constitutional amendment” part.

      • adkDreamer says:

        Marc, your first sentence was unnecessary and my previous post did not leave out the qualification you quoted in your second sentence. Please see the last sentence in my previous post.

        However, I believe you brought to light an important consideration and I have been struggling with it for a long time: what exactly was the original intent? I will support a discussion on the merits of word definition variants for ‘heretofore’ and produce two entirely different meanings.

        In the first variant, as you have defined ‘heretofore’ as ‘already’, the meaning of which may imply that only highways authorized in the past can be constructed, maintained, etc.

        In an alternate variant one may define ‘heretofore’ as in ‘until now’, the meaning of which may be interpreted as a description of what has been a specific accepted method of authorization as way of example.

        As an exercise to help my understanding, I will research construction dates, approvals, any legislation, etc. that authorized the construction, maintenance, etc. of other state routes through the Adirondacks, such as: Route 73, Route 86, and Route 3, which I believe are State Routes. This exercise will take some time.

  4. DoubleD says:

    Why stop at 1″ dbh? Why not smaller? They both picked arbitrary sizes. I’ve seen poison ivy that would count as a tree by either standard.

  5. Boreasfisher says:

    What I cannot understand is why the other environmental organizations have not loudly and continuously supported this effort by Protect to address these egregious abuses of the public trust. It seems that without the financial support of the snowmobile lobby and a misguided argument about the financial contribution to the local economy, these new trails would not have any hope of being built. The only reason one trail has already been completed is because a previous administration snuck it is at the last minute without public review or comment. It is about time the issue gets its day in court. Let’s hope the courts address the larger substance of the complaint about protecting the forest preserve and don’t get lost in a tendentious argument about the diameter of “timber” or “trees”.

  6. Bruce says:

    I have to wonder how many new foot trails in Wilderness (never mind Wild Forest) areas Protect et al went to court over? If “trees” are defined as anything over 1″ with a woody stem covered with bark, then cutting trees for new foot trails would also be questionable, especially in Wilderness areas.

    • Ryan Finnigan says:

      Protect the Adirondacks! has to carefully weigh financial considerations when deciding whether or not to engage in costly litigation. They do not have unlimited funds, obviously. In this instance, I assume Protect considers motor vehicle roads built 9-12′ wide a far more egregious abuse of the “forever wild” clause than any foot trail could ever be. They have to choose their battles and it makes perfect sense to me.

    • Boreas says:


      A good point, but a different scenario. I don’t know how many totally new foot trails in Wilderness areas since APA was instituted, but that is only part of the issue. New foot trails are usually built in the HPW to close or harden a century-old trail that has erosion or other issues. Once re-routed, the old trail can revert. The other instance is when herd paths are causing a lot of damage and it is seen that a maintained trail would lessen meandering damage. And of course, they are not 10-12 feet wide and leveled.

      In the case of the connector snowmobile trails, they are being built where generally there was no trail previously. They are being built under a mileage cap that was agreed upon wherein old, (narrow) rarely used trails elsewhere in the Park would be “closed” to enable the wide Class 2 trails to be built. Not exactly an even exchange in trees & understory. The mileage may be roughly the same, but the number of trees taken vs. the number of trees allowed to regrow is far from equal because of the width of the trails. This was an issue not really addressed by the mileage cap. They should have used an ‘acreage cap’ instead.

  7. Tony Goodwin says:

    Just to be clear on adkdreamer’s comment, the Northway could only be constructed after a constitutional amendment permitted it. Same with the construction of Whiteface and Gore mountain ski areas.

  8. john says:

    I tired of hearing the crap that the state is building 9-12 foot wide super highways in the forest for high speed travel. I’ve walked & recently used a UTV to clear the brush off the 7th mountain lake trail to get it ready for the upcoming snowmobile season. And I can tell you IT IS NO HIGH SPEED SUPER HIGHWAY. I don’t think the UTV got off of 0-1 mph the entire trip as we bumped & banged off of rocks or wound or way thru the trail. IT IS NOT A SUPER HIGHWAY! It’s a pain in the ass trail!
    And before all you tree weenies get upset that I was in the ADK on a UTV, I was with a local snowmobile club/with DEC permission to be using it!

    • Boreas says:

      Perhaps that trail wasn’t constructed to strict Class 2 standards. But you would have to admit it would be a lot smoother and faster with 2 feet of groomed snowpack…

      • john says:

        Nope on that also. Maybe on the few areas it follows a old logging road, but it has too many twist & turns in it to ever be a high speed highway like Protect says it is. Protect only takes pictures that flaunt their point of view. If a independent auditor was to walk the entire length of the trail, they would say Protect is writing/talking out their asses!

        • Boreas says:


          Of course Protect presents their point of view by biasing their evidence based on photos that support their assertions. How else could they present their case in court? The lawsuits haven’t been about the speeds or even snowmobile use. They have been about the trees cut, construction techniques, heavy grooming equipment, and character of the final trail in the forest preserve which they feel are illegal based on existing law. Because of wide bridges, bench cuts, grading, etc., Protect maintains that the Class II trails end up being more like a logging road than a foot trail which the is supposed to be goal by the DEC.
          Places on a trail that are tortuous and narrow do not alter the fact that their photos are evidence to the contrary. I feel they are simply attempting to hold DEC accountable to the letter of the law. At least that is what I have been able to glean from their website and the Almanack.

          • Paul says:

            I certainly hope there is no bias in the reporting here at the Almanack!

            Problem is that the state (the other side here) does not comment on ongoing litigation. So if you report on it all you get is one side.

    • Tony Goodwin says:

      I agree that these are not “high-speed highways”. I know that some snowmobilers have called them “goat-tracks” because of the many twists and turns. I’m definitely not in favor of making them any less like “goat-tracks” but these trails on the Forest Preserve are appropriately much lower speed than the snowmobile trails that can be constructed on private land. While snowmobilers may dream of so-called “Michigan standards” (25-30′ wide and straight) for snowmobile trails, that shouldn’t happen on the Forest Preserve.

    • Alan Vieters says:

      DEC allows UTV use on a snowmobile trail even for trail work? They issued a permit for that? For one they allowed an unregistered motor vehicle on state land, secondly motor vehicle use, other than snow mobiles, are to be used for emergencies only. Trail maintenance does not qualify under APA policy. DEC once again gone rogue in blatant contradiction of guidelines.

      • Treeman says:

        Hearsay, is as reliable as internet message boards.

      • John says:

        Alan, you can bitch all you want, but the DEC does give snowmobile clubs permission to use ATVs/UTVs to pull equipment & people onto the snowmobile trails within the ADK to do trail maintenance. It is all done with their permission as to when, where, who & how long the club will be out working on a trail.

        • Alan Vieters says:

          Don’t worry I did bitch about it. Just got off the phone. I was told illegal unregistered vehicles were not allowed.

          • John says:

            The UTVs are registered with both the State & DEC.

            • Alan Vieters says:

              UTV’s can’t be registered in NY.

              • M.P. Heller says:

                They can be if they weigh under 1000 lbs.

                • Alan Vieters says:

                  True. Most produced are over 1000. DEC doesn’t “register” UTV’s either as he stated. I did speak to a forester and She assured me this was not a DEC authorized although she did say it was possible snowmobile clubs could be overstepping. She said they do sign an agreement with the department and can be rejected if they violate terms.

                  • john says:

                    My clubs both use UTVs to access the trails in the fall to do trail maintenance with THE FULL KNOWLEDGE & PERMISSION of the DEC Ranger in the area! THE UTVs are registered with the DEC to be used by the snowmobile clubs for the purpose of trail maintenance.

                    • john says:

                      And as a addition to the above, how in the hell do you idiots think the snowmobile clubs access the trails they maintain to do the maintenance. Got to haul the chain saws in the, tools & wood to repair bridges & move people in/out. Think we just walk in & carry it all! Get real! WE USE UTVs again with DEC Ranger permission!

                    • Todd Eastman says:

                      Llamas and sweat get your tools to the work sites just fine, softie…

                    • john says:

                      bet your fast ass Todd, never lifted a hammer a single day in his life!

                    • Todd Eastman says:

                      Thanks for confirming my thoughts…

                      … for the other posters!

                      Correct, not a single day…

                      … a lot more.

  9. Paul says:

    3 inches DBH is arbitrary but 1-3 DBH is not?

    The state has an explanation for their standard what is the standard for 1-3?

    • Rick Fenton says:

      Article XIV sez: “…nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” Then as now, the word “timber” is commonly understood to mean trees large enough to be used in the manufacture of forest products. These days, the smallest “merchantable” tree has a diameter at breast height of 4 inches. Trees that small are considered minimum pulpwood size. Since in a timber stand inventory, trees commonly are tallied in 2-inch diameter classes, the smallest tree included would be 3 inches DBH. That might be what those involved in the 1930 McDonald decision had in mind (I’d have to go back and read it.)

      When protection of the Forest Preserve was embodied in the state constitution in 1895, trees in some corners of the Adirondacks had been used for paper-making for years. A mill in Corinth opened in 1869. While most timber removed from the interior of the Adirondacks was sawtimber, using trees usually no smaller than 12 inches DBH, apparently loggers cut very small trees to be used for pulp – first poplar, then spruce, then hemlock, balsam fir and white pine. It’s possible then that in 1895, timber – trees cut for use in the manufacture of forest products – was smaller than 3 inches DBH.

      • Boreas says:

        Any idea what size trees they used to make charcoal at the kilns back then?

        • Rick Fenton says:

          That’s another good place to look. As old photos testify, pretty much everything that could burn was cut in ever-widening circles to make charcoal for iron smelting.

  10. Paul says:

    ” the state argues that the number of trees cut per mile falls within parameters set by the courts”

    Phil, does it? It is pretty easy to make the calculation.

  11. Paul says:

    “Apart from the tree-cutting, another question is whether community connectors run counter to the “forever wild” character of the Forest Preserve.”

    Doesn’t seem to even come close to things like the giant staircase constructed in the HPW running up ore bed brook?

    • Boreas says:

      While I’m not a fan of staircases, hikers don’t have motors. Many people also feel quiet should be part of the forever wild character as well.

      • Paul says:

        Snowmobiles are allowed on forest preserve land. This isn’t a “motors” issue that was solved many years ago. I have not seen where any environmental group has called for an end to snowmobiling on FP land?

        • Boreas says:

          Obviously – but you brought up the analogy of the staircase in the HPW. My point is the two are apples and oranges and that there is more to this discussion than simple construction techniques. I believe it IS partly a motors issue, despite the rulings in their favor in certain areas. If a group can’t fight snowmobiles, they can fight where and how the trails are laid out. The forever wild “character” is a big part of this discussion.

          • Paul says:

            The comparison I made was between the aesthetics of a road like trail running through the woods and a giant staircase running up a slide on the side of a mountain. To me it seems like the latter runs far more counter to the “forever wild character” of the area. Why are these groups not suing the state over something like that? Seems like it is perhaps more about their members specific choices of recreational use rather than any real concern over the “character” of the area.


            • Boreas says:

              That I can’t answer. Safety comes into play with both issues. Perhaps they will look into the stairs when they need to be repaired/replaced. But the stairs are built – the snowmobile trail is in-progress. Once something is built, it is hard to remove or alter.

              • Paul says:

                The stairs are relatively new. Nobody even asked as far as I know they just built them under whatever type of longstanding permit that they have for trail work in the HPW. Nobody seems to bother those guys much. Must have the right friends in Albany!

                It is very strange what the focus is on. For example there is a big hullabaloo about having a bridge in the Essex chain with “non-natural” materials for snowmobiles to safely cross the river. There is no fuss about the steel cables on Gothics or the steel cables in some of the suspension bridges for hikers in the HPW?

                Seems like a decent dose of hypocrisy to me.

                • M.P. Heller says:

                  “Seems like a decent dose of hypocrisy to me.”

                  And that’s exactly what it is. Special interest groups masquerading as environmental groups. Obviously not in all cases, but certainly in some. Especially among the more litigious organizations.

                  It’s fine to stroke your ego and say you stand up for what you believe in, but when years of time and millions in dollars get cast into the wind losing case after case and appeal after appeal it reaches a point where it’s appropriate to question the validity of the strategy and to wonder if that time and money could be put to better use. Lawyers and green group administrators are getting nice paychecks. Donors are getting fleeced. The mountains are the thing that ultimately pays the price for this hubris.

                  • Boreas says:

                    Donors expect the organizations to fight for their ideals. That is why they join and pay dues. They can’t do it effectively on their own.

                    Where some see hypocrisy, others see watchdogs attempting to keep the political pressures at bay by exposing where existing laws are perceived as being ignored, bypassed, or circumvented – as well as keeping poorly thought out precedents from previous administrations from being repeated. Albany isn’t going to clarify its muddy laws unless they are challenged.

                    • Paul says:

                      Yes but here we have gone over some examples where they appear okay with what is going on for hikers but not for these sledders. Same “laws” they just complain about it in some circumstances (and even sue) and not in others.

                  • Boreas says:


                    Who exactly approved the staircase, and which groups were aware of the activity before it was built? All green groups are not involved with trail maintenance in the HPW. As I said before, just because it was built doesn’t mean it should or will remain. Perhaps if it is that big of problem, you should consult with some of these groups and ask them why it was built and what the alternatives were. I have never seen a picture of it – I would like to know as well.

                    But any groups need to spend their money wisely. Looking at the big picture, which issue do they deem most worthy of their time and effort – an ugly wooden staircase designed to minimize erosion damage, or the Class II trail in question which isn’t built yet? Which do they feel have the biggest potential impact on the Forest Preserve?

                    • Paul says:

                      There is a picture at the link I posted above. Anything approved in the HPW is approved (unless done illegally) by the DEC. Anyway the point I was trying to make is that these trails (when done and re-seeded) seem to be far less of an eyesore and have less of an effect on the “character” than some of this other stuff. It seems to me that both of them comply even if I don’t care much for either. It will be interesting to see what the court thinks.

                  • Boreas says:

                    Looking at the picture (which can be deceiving), I am not sure what the ladder/staircase is trying to accomplish. My knees would probably prefer to scamper up the face of the slide. Perhaps there is a section on the open part of the slide that becomes impassable, and people were tearing up the edge of the woods to continue on? But realistically, the edge of the woods is going to erode away anyway until it stabilizes itself at some point. It certainly is not an elegant solution. But at least the visual intrusion can be caught with 1-2 photographs.

            • Alan Vieters says:

              It’s not about aesthetics. The staircases are to minimize damage to the resource. These roadsnow trails don’t mitigate damage they just create damage. Once again you make a ridiculous analogy.

              • Paul says:

                Just like a hiker needs a well designed and maintained trail to mitigate damage a snowmobile does as well. To me I would prefer to see a trail winding through the woods (even if it is wide) then a staircase up the side of a mountain. At least the trail is on Wild Forest land the staircase is in what is supposed to be a Wilderness.

                And “forever wild character” is very much about aesthetics.

                • Boreas says:


                  I believe the damage Alan may be referring to is the damage created by constructing the trail – in this case a Class II trail – not just by its intended future use for snowmobiles and biking.

                  • Paul says:

                    I am sure that he is but that work is necessary if you are going to build a trail that can help minimize the other types of damage. This is not a question of yes or no – that train has left the station.

                    • Boreas says:

                      Is collateral damage caused by snowmobiles off or on-trail in winter worse than essentially bulldozing a 9-12 foot wide road through the preserve? (And yes, I know bulldozers aren’t being used.). I would prefer to see minor collateral damage from using a narrow trail to widespread land modification and tree cutting to make a Class II trail – especially in the backcountry. But that is just me. Apparently I am in the minority here.

                    • Alan Vieters says:

                      Do you argue with yourself in your dreams when you sleep at night? You can be opposed to staircases on a hiking trail I get that but the analogy that you are using comparing that to cutting this snow road is ludacrius, insane, lacks any credible merit, is farsicle, silly, amusing absurd, hilarious, comical and quite frankly is worthy of a good mocking and flogging with its lack of credible comparative aspects.

                    • Paul says:

                      Alan, A 9 foot wide (about the width of a car) trail, that once grown in with grass etc. Will look much more “wild” in character than that staircase that has been compared by many hikers to a “escalator in the HPW”. These trails will probably resemble an old log skidder road through the woods. Do we have any photos of ones build a few years back that have had a chance to re-seed?

                      What I would like to see are groomed ski trails like they have in Scandinavia connecting towns since that is what I like to do.

                    • Boreas says:


                      The groomed trails in Scandinavia didn’t have to deal with APA, DEC, and Forest Preserve laws within the Park. I agree they would be great! But philosophically, would you be willing to ONLY have those types of trails? What I mean is, would you be OK with closing backcountry trails to permit even smoother connector trails? Realistically, taxpayers aren’t likely to support both – at least within the Park, especially if required snowfall becomes more problematic.

                      At least we are lucky enough to have a fair number of lakes that snowmobiles are allowed on. I would think those would be considered connector trails as well.

                    • john says:

                      To Boreas’s comment below: There are NO lakes in New York State that are considered part of the snowmobile trail system. The DEC does not recognize any trail that goes across a lake. They will not approve any trail that goes across a lake. They are not responsible for riding on a lake. You do that at your own risk.

                    • Boreas says:

                      Don’t you ride all trails at your own risk??

                    • john says:

                      yes, but the state can control when trails are open to ride, they cannot control how much ice is on a lake &/or if it is safe to ride on.

                    • Boreas says:

                      As long as it is legal to ride on the lakes and thousands of people do it every winter across the state riding between towns, restaurants, bars, and ice-fishing spots, I don’t feel those straight, flat lakes connecting villages should be totally ignored as part of the snowmobile system. They are certainly present, and in low snow years one of the few places to ride – at least for those sledders with the old bogey-wheels that don’t need much snow.

                    • john says:

                      Fine you go argue with the State/DEC as to WHY lakes should or shouldn’t be considered part of the trail system. As of right now they aren’t & I doubt they ever will be.

                  • Boreas says:

                    My argument isn’t only with the state. My argument is also with snowmobile advocates who often decline to acknowledge this long-standing, legal, sledding resource in their favor.

                    However I do concede that not all villages and hamlets have these lakes on their doorsteps. So how do we proceed? Class II connectors between all villages? Is that possible without an amendment? My argument is first get the legal/constitutional snarl untangled, then proceed. But don’t put the cart before the horse.

                    • john says:

                      would you like some cheese with that whinning!

                    • Bruce says:

                      I think the lakes present a problem. One and the most obvious is who monitors ice thickness on the many lakes throughout the season?

                      It seems to me that if an “official” trail is put across a lake, many folks will assume it’s safe if the land portion is not closed. The ice doesn’t know the trail is open, nor does it care. Far too many folks these days rely on officials telling them something is not safe and there’s always someone who doesn’t get the word. Who’s going to tell them at 10pm the ice isn’t safe? That’s not a problem with a land trail.

                      New York is not the far north where lakes typically freeze several feet thick in a season. In the 50’s and 60’s perhaps when I lived at Oneida Lake, but I don’t believe it’s typical nowadays in the Adirondacks, it’s for sure not typical on Oneida Lake anymore.

                    • Boreas says:

                      Yes, if one isn’t careful on a lake, one can end up in the drink. But if one isn’t careful on a trail, one can eat a tree. Same with backcountry skiing. The key is know what you are doing, be careful, and drive/ski according to conditions. Just as with autos, sled accidents often involve alcohol and poor decisions.

  12. tim-brunswick says:

    Amen to Brother John ( “I tired of hearing the crap that the state is building 9-12 foot wide super highways” ) and I’m tired of seeing the pettiness that pervades this forum, but hey….somebody’s gotta do it….

    “Boreasfisher” can’t understand “why the other environmental organizations have not loudly and continuously supported this effort by Protect to address these egregious abuses of the public trust”??

    Well maybe this helps explain it: “Protect” is off the scale and so extreme that most other somewhat similar groups are hesitant to back them. Just for starters “egregious” is a bit of a stretch for sure.

    • Boreas says:

      What makes Protect off-the-scale and extreme? Trying to get a poorly-worded law clarified? Trying to protect & conserve habitat? I just see them as the yin to your yang. Shouldn’t have one without the other. Checks and balances.

    • Alan Vieters says:

      I am sure many are tired of hearing your crap also.

    • Boreasfisher says:

      Methinks you underestimate the commitments of the rest of the community and demonize those who have the courage to be outspoken on this issue. Probably not a robust longterm strategy to underestimate those who don’t agree with you.

      What is likely going on here:

      the Pataki administration inadvertently established a precedent by allowing the first class 2 connector to be built some years ago, before there was any legal review, and,

      most environmentalists seem focused on expanding the area devoted to wilderness above all else. If that means sacrificing a buffer area outside of wilderness on wild forest land to snow machines that is evidently a compromise some people are willing to live with if it advances the cause of maximizing the area under wilderness management.

      Given the larger stakes, I cannot fault that logic though I continue to believe that cutting down trees on wild forest lands to accommodate a new kind of travel corridor for a recreational activity that is destructive of the nature of the forest preserve is, well, an egregious betrayal of the public trust by exactly those organizations created to protect it.

  13. Treeman says:

    There is an implication that the stump being studied in the picture was cut for the snowmubile connector trail. I bet that it was not cut as part of the trail construction.

  14. Ben says:

    And so ends another Protect folly. Let the trail work continue. Now onto getting that pesky railroad out also!

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