Wednesday, February 22, 2017

State Planning More Access For Lands Near Paul Smiths

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that they are revising the Unit Management Plan to allow more access to more than 88,000 acres of Adirondack Forest Preserve lands north and east of Paul Smiths in the Debar Mountain Wild Forest, the Madawaska Pond/Quebec Brook Primitive Area, and the Deer River Primitive Area. (Adirondack Atlas Map).

These Forest Preserve lands are required to be managed in a manner consistent with Article XIV, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution, which includes the “forever wild” clause.

The lands include more than 40 parcels located in the towns of Brighton, Duane, Franklin, Santa Clara, and Waverly in Franklin County. Natural water features include portions of the Deer, Osgood, and St. Regis Rivers; Hatch, Hays, and Quebec Brooks; Debar, Madawaska, and Mountain Ponds; and Meacham and Kushaqua Lakes. Prominent peaks include Debar, Loon Lake, Kate, and Azure Mountains. Existing recreational uses include hunting, fishing, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, paddling, horseback riding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, and wildlife viewing.

The Debar Mountain Wild Forest is located between County Route 26 and State Route 3 in the east, County Route 55 and State Route 86 in the south, the Franklin and St. Lawrence County line in the west, and the Adirondack Park Blue Line in the north.

The Madawaska Pond/Quebec Brook Primitive Area, the Deer River Primitive Area, and several parcels of the Wild Forest are generally located in and around the Santa Clara Tract Conservation Easement Lands between State Route 30 in the east, State Route 458 in the north, Blue Mountain Road in the west, and the Keese Mills Road in the south.

Upon expected completion of a natural resource assessment, an analysis of existing and potential uses and a review of public comments, the Debar Mountain Wild Forest planning team are expected to prepare a draft Unit Management Plan (UMP). The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the draft UMP.

Two public meetings will be held for residents to meet with DEC staff and share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions regarding management of these Adirondack Forest Preserve lands.

The first meeting is at the Duane Firehouse on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, at 6 pm. The firehouse is located at 172 County Route 26, Malone (Duane), approximately 0.8 mile from State Route 30.

The second meeting is at the town of Franklin Town Hall on Wednesday Mar. 1, 2017, at 6 pm. The town hall is located at 8170 State Route 3, Vermontville, at the intersection of Cold Brook Road.

The facilities are wheelchair accessible. Provide any requests for specific accommodation in advance to DEC at (518) 897-1248.

Any interested individual or organization wanting to submit comments may contact Forester Robert Daley by mail at NYSDEC, PO Box 296, Ray Brook NY 12977; by telephone at (518) 897-1369; or by email at

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One Response

  1. James Marco says:

    While Debar seems like a good spot for Primitive Classification with allowance for a few roads (some motor vehicle access) It is heavily used by people and tourists, currently. While I usually support a Wilderness Classification for all lands, Meacham State Park sort of wants a Wild Forest classification, no more than a Primitive Classification. This is a nice park for tourists and rather heavily used by many Canadians, and with good, well established camping facilities. The surrounding area offers relatively flat hiking (good for wheelchairs, bicycle touring along the flat terrain where speed does not create problems with cars and hikers) and fair scenic spots. Many of the flatter lands of the northern section will work for inexperienced bikers, children and handicapped. Generally, it is well kept, but you really cannot say it is Wilderness, too many exceptions and too much usage. People will have a huge problem with a Wilderness classification, that. I do too. I used to bring my kids to Meacham as a “safe” place for them to ride bikes on the trails/roads, not that I would say they need special tracks. Tourism IS a major concern there (it works there) and. small <15hp motorboats should be allowed in that area to facilitate fishermen. Perhaps a road deeper into the flow would provide greater access, along with good parking areas and some designated camp sites.

    The Madawaska Pond/Quebec Brook Primitive Area should remain with the addition of some primitive camp sites. It should be coalesced with other tracts in that area. The rolling hills and limited water supplies sort of preclude doing more with people. Again, I do not feel the need to do much more that Primitive with these tracts. It really doesn't need a Wilderness classification, but this is debatable. I do not remember a dam in that area, nor, largish forest stands, and some flat meadow lands that still needs regrowth. It is, again, ideal for wheel chairs, bikes, etc. As I remember, fishing opportunities are limited and need a STRONG PROTECTION for increased usage. A road, and, coalescing the lands into a single management area will help book work, reducing management headaches.

    The area east of Paul Smiths (and perhaps the area just north of there) really wants a Wilderness classification. Not really great as a hiking area, it would be a perfect place to train children and allow people to hide from the bustle of urban life. Most hikes would be fairly short with some opportunity for camping.

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