Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Adirondack Wild Opposes Bridge Over Protected River

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has submitted comments (Comment Letter) to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) opposing what it describes as DEC’s attempt to issue itself a permit to build an illegal snowmobile bridge over the protected Cedar River in the Adirondack Park.

The Cedar River was designated by the Legislature in 1972 as a “Scenic” river under the New York Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. The Act prohibits construction of new, motorized bridges over Scenic rivers and also prohibits snowmobiles and other motorized recreational uses within one-quarter mile of Scenic rivers.

The following is from a press release issued by Adirondack Wild:

DEC proposal would irretrievably damage the scenic, tranquil, currently non-motorized Cedar River shoreline, which lies within the State-owned Essex Chain of Lakes Complex. The proposed new snowmobile bridge would be nearly 140-feet long and 12-feet wide, and would be the only man-made structure along this scenic and remote part of the Cedar River. Despite the clear legal prohibition against such intrusive and incompatible uses on a Scenic river, DEC proposes to issue itself a permit purportedly exempting it from the River Act’s requirements.

Adirondack Wild has called upon DEC to hold an adjudicatory hearing before an administrative law judge in order to resolve the substantive and significant legal issues raised by DEC’s proposal.

“DEC is required by law to abide by the protections given to Scenic Rivers. This proposal is a blatant effort to evade those protections,” said Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson. “We urge DEC to follow the law and regulations protective of our beautiful Adirondack rivers. It’s really that simple.”

The bridge proposal is part of DEC’s plan to build a new snowmobile trail through State Forest Preserve lands classified as Wilderness on one side and Primitive on the other side in order to connect the communities of Indian Lake and Minerva. However, as Adirondack Wild has pointed out, those communities are already connected and served by an existing and well-used snowmobile trail.

Adirondack Wild is a non-profit, membership-supported organization which acts on behalf of wilderness and wild land values and stewardship throughout the region. For more information about the organization visit their website.

Photo of existing snowmobile crossing of the Cedar River by Dave Gibson.

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39 Responses

  1. Steve Miller says:

    Can you share the map of the “existing and well used snowmobile trail” connecting Indian Lake and Minerva? I’m not aware of one.. thank you

  2. adirondackjoe says:

    A seven hundred and fifty home development on six thousand acres in tupper lake and you guys are worried about a snowmobile bridge? I know we lost the tupper lake battle but still.

  3. Steve Bailey says:

    Phrasing this as a snow mobile trail is deceptive. It would get used by summer hiker, horses and cyclist as well and such, I would generally support the idea.

    Except the state law on scenic rivers is pretty clear and the DEC would be in violation of that should they proceed. To bad in some respects.

    • John Warren says:

      Snowmobile trails are not used by hikers, horses, or cyclists except in rare cases. The obvious reasons are that they travel through wet areas, they are not single track, are difficult to navigate with bicycles and horses, usually lead only between communities (or bars) and mostly run through private land which only allow snowmobiles and in fact, even ban ATVs.

      • observer567 says:

        Based on my personal experiences, I also disagree with you that snowmobile trails are rarely used by hikers. I hike in the Adirondacks a couple times a month and have already hiked snowmobile trails at least 3 times this year; most recently last weekend as I hiked to Bug Lake from Uncas Rd. The trail was dry and in great shape.

  4. james Racquet says:

    Since when do libs follow and obey laws? Oh only when its conveinent for you.

  5. Jock Scott says:

    Although the Cedar River was classified a Scenic in 1972, a bridge was in place at that time and collapsed around 1975, and since the abutments are still there, the rebuilding of a bridge will be protected by a grandfathering clause.

    This bridge will be important for a number of reasons, not the least of which that is will connect the Essex Chain Lakes recreation area to the Upper Hudson. This would be a boon to recreational users and would allow more efficient and effective control by DEC.

    The bridge should be rebuilt. I was one of the last people to cross the old bridge.

    • Teresa DeSantis says:

      I was just there in August and did not see any abutments remaining on the South side of the river where I stood. The site was all grown back to trees. It felt really sad to see it all marked up with orange fluorescent paint as if this were a “done deal.” Teresa the Cartographer

  6. Todd Eastman says:

    Cuomo’s political ambitions get played out in the abuses to the Forest Preserve he pushes through to give him redneck creds…

    … this is not about the Adirondack Park, but about how he can tout these actions as he looks for support across upstate…

  7. Dick Carlson says:

    NYS DEC is also using the “Wild and Scenic Rivers” law and policy to PROHIBIT the reconstruction of the bridge over Botheration Crossing in Siamese Ponds Wilderness. The bridge was conceived and constructed with full input from DEC. It was an existing structure, built with natural materials and should be replaced in accordance with the State Lands Master Plan. Skiers in the area now rely on dangerous ice bridges at this crossing.

  8. adkcamp says:

    JW’s comment that snowmobile trails ” …usually lead only between communities (or bars)” seems so unnecessary and unproductive.

    I am a physician from CT with a camp in the Park, have been coming to the Adirondacks for over 30 years. I’ve paddled the most remote lakes, hiked miles+ miles of narrow forest trails, marveled in awe at the night skies, spent hundreds of hours around a campfire with my family, treasured the silence of the woods AND have spent many, many memorable winter days touring this beautiful park on a snowmobile. Have you ever imagined a group of snowmobilers decked out in Patagonia jackets, vintage Vuarnets, Nordic-pattern woolies, sipping a bit of fine red wine from leather botas during a brie and crackers lunch break?

    Would it be easier to avoid disparaging bar comments if we believed that most of the people on the snow mobiles had the same vision for the Park as we do?

    From my perspective, to throw in a comment about bars not only seems unnecessarily disrespectful but also serves to short circuit a critical conversation. There’s not a one of us who is free from judgment about people with whom we disagree – but if the intent is to make progress toward a common goal (preservation/protection of the Park) then taking one’s own inventory of biased views is an important opening exercise when we discuss snowmobiling.

    If both “sides” approach these conversations as though everyone has a right to his/her choice of legal pleasurable activity and that each person’s experience in the park is valuable, maybe the stereotyped cheap-beer-drinking, speed hungry snowmobiler his way to a bar would be open to a working relationship with the equally stereotyped college educated snow-shoeing vaping bearded tree hugger. We have to share the park, we have to work together, we have to engender similarities and make every effort to avoid reinforcing our differences.

    We’ll never eliminate the small groups of people who ruin it for the rest of us when it comes to snowmobiles (or ATVs) etc. Fortunately we have the ability to eliminate unproductive comments. We are free to raise the level of our conversation.

    • John Warren says:

      It’s a demonstrable fact that many trails simply lead to bars and in most communities (though not all) those the are the businesses which see the greatest snowmobiler visitation. We don’t raise the level of our conversation by ignoring the obvious.

      Although I don’t own a snowmobile right now, I’ve been a snowmobiler my whole life, both my parents and I raced when I was younger, and my father had a snowmobile repair shop. You appear to be the one with the preconceived notions.

      • observer567 says:


        I for one could not disagree with you more when saying that the OP has preconceived notions. To be honest with you, adkcampers post was one of the most thoughtful salient posts I’ve ever read on this site. I do agree with adkcamper that your original comment about bars seemed more divisive than informational. It seemed like a jab at snowmobilers meant to influence the reader to a certain POV. Not that it matters, but I am not a snowmobiler; more just a person that agrees with adkcamper that society today needs to strive for more common ground and compromise.

      • adkcamp says:

        Appreciate reply. Sir, I do have preconceived notions – my point was to suggest that we all have preconceived notions. I believe that being aware of biases gives us the humility and wisdom to examine our words and actions more closely, especially when trying to have a dialog with, and work with people whose beliefs may differ from our own. I did have a pre-conceived notion that you would be open to examining the comment about bars without taking my idea/opinion personally.

        Though it’s a “demonstrable fact” that many trails simply lead to bars, I would propose that not all facts are helpful or useful, indeed in some instances, they can even be misleading or manipulative. The first mate’s daily entry in the ships log is, “the Captain is sober today” – maybe it’s a fact, but what does it imply????

        The way I looked at the bar comment is to question: is it fact? is it necessary? is it helpful?. You tell me it’s fact, my opinion is that even in your response, you fail to show how it is necessary or helpful.

        I believe these issues that face the Park are critical enough to call for meticulous language in discussions where there are many viewpoints. I’m only one reader, so take this opinion with a grain of salt.

        • John Warren says:

          I found it necessary and helpful to understand why people would need a second trail to Newcomb, when the only place open in winter in Newcomb is a bar. It’s also demonstrable that the majority of snowmobile accidents in our region are the result of leaving a bar. Several people are killed in this way every year. That’s makes the aside in my comment – it was an minor aside, not remotely the point of my comment – worth making.

          • Hope says:

            They also serve food. Not everyone goes into a bar to drink alcohol. They serve alcohol at Whiteface and Gore. Does that mean all downhill skiers and boarders are drunks. JW you constantly promote, in a backhanded way, that if you snowmobile you must be some kind of alcohol infused motorhead that has no business enjoying the outdoors. It may be your opinion but it is not a fact. What’s the problem with connecting Towns with an enjoyable recreational path and stopping in town for some food and beverage? Maybe, Newcomb might get a small inn or B&B if they have a trail to it. What’s wrong with that?

      • adkcamp says:

        see below, posted in wrong spot

    • Boreas says:

      I agree with JW here. His simple addition of “…or bars” seems to be getting many people’s panties in a wad for no real reason. I would be willing to bet if the restaurant/bar business were contrasted with other revenue generated by snowmobilers in the park, it would be significant.

      Since when is being a bar patron disparaging? I assume most of us are adults here. How many of us have never patronized a bar? Is there abuse? Certainly – but is it any worse or better than automobilers?

      It should also be noted that bar/restaurant establishments that are NOT in hamlets or villages are a destination as well. Give the people what they want – where they want it. If snomobile business wasn’t important to them, would they be open in winter?

      So the discussion should focus on the trails and bridges – what is allowed by existing law and what is not. Getting upset about perceived disparaging comments seems overly defensive. Just my opinion.

      • Hope says:

        Absolutely, Boreas.
        Many of these establishments are the end of the day destinations when sleds are off and helmets stashed. There will be abusers but no different than drivers.

  9. Charlie S says:

    “It’s a demonstrable fact that many trails simply lead to bars and in most communities (though not all) those the are the businesses which see the greatest snowmobiler visitation.”

    I am reminded of the Bear Trap Inn at Indian Lake. Driving by that place towards Blue Mountain Lake on winter days is like driving past a Ski-Doo or Polaris rally. That place packs sledders in when there’s snow on the ground!

  10. Charlie S says:

    ” the map of the “existing and well used snowmobile trail”

    > Them’s a lot of snowmobile trails! And they need another?

    “The Cedar River was designated by the Legislature in 1972 as a “Scenic” river under the New York Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. The Act prohibits construction of new, motorized bridges over Scenic rivers and also prohibits snowmobiles and other motorized recreational uses within one-quarter mile of Scenic rivers.”

    > This should be a no-brainer, case-closed…no?

  11. Tim-Brunswick says:

    OMG “adkcamp” dared to criticize John Warren….what was he thinking??!!

    As far as I’m concerned JW’s reference to “bars” shows a distinct lack of tolerance for folks who enjoy their winter activities in a manner he no longer enjoys, but may have in the past.

    The fact that the trail may go to a bar doesn’t imply that all snowmobilers are indulging in an alcoholic spree at all. In truth many of the “bars” provide welcome table fare and a relaxing stop for groups/families enjoying the Adirondacks much the same as Hikers, Bikers and Paddlers do……..

    Thank you

  12. Tom Payne says:

    The dirty and unwashed! Deplorables, is what the queen of the lie called us hillbillies in the last election. Children of a lesser God!

    • Charlie S says:

      The queen of the lie is no less deplorable than the king of the lie Tom Payne. It’s a matter of values and a partisan rut! Some of us like clean water, air, solitude, silence…. other’s welcome a spigot with oil gushing out and motorized-use which is generally the “right” way of doing things if you know what I mean. I see no hope for us Tom Payne unless we lose our arrogance soon! Our arrogance towards solitude, virginity, simplicity… And then there’s this push to go against any thing having to do with preserving what’s left for future generations. Or don’t you care?

  13. Charlie S says:

    “The dirty and unwashed! Deplorables, is what the queen of the lie called us hillbillies in the last election. Children of a lesser God!”

    And therein one of the problem lies…. church not being separated from state!

    • Paul says:

      Sorry – how is this persons statement of opinion mean that church and state are not separate here in the US?

  14. AdkResident says:

    I and my paddling partners often stop for a bite and a drink after our hikes … I see many other non-motorized recreationists doing the same. Hell, sometimes we even bring a flask with us to toast a mountaintop. Not too different from snowmobiling to a bar for a dring and a burger.

    That said JW suffers from a long printed record on this website and while he can espouse that his “bar” comments aren’t intended to disparage, his well-established written record shows otherwise.

  15. David Gibson says:

    We recognize the deeply felt historical and cultural support behind the building of this steel bridge, just as there are recreational, environmental, legal issues, and snowmobile preferences too. The existing snowmob trail permits access to and from Indian Lake-Newcomb on forest preserve as well as private conservation easement land. That existing route in use may not be what snowmobilers want. The connections from Newcomb to Minerva are not yet made because of a host of problems, including routing, private landowner permissions needed as you get closer to Minerva, another legally problematic snowmob bridge crossing of the Boreas River, to say nothing about a troubling lack of snowpack. Our perspective is: DEC and APA could have comprehensively examined all the legal issues, not just with this steel bridge but with the entire Indian Lake to Minerva connection these past 3 years and been working with stakeholders to try and resolve them by now.

  16. Stephen Daniels says:

    The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council’s snowmobile map notes
    that the state’s tourism agency “does not support riding snowmobiles and
    drinking alcohol.” The map lists several places to eat, among them:

    Duffy’s Tavern
    Ga-Ga’s Bar & Grill
    Lisa G’s Ear, Drink and Play
    King Neptune’s Pub
    Vrooman’s Bar and Restaurant
    Captain Carl’s Sunset Grill
    Tiffany’s Bar at Goldberries Restaurant
    Trailside Restaurant and Bar

    —Adirondack Explorer Magazine,
    May/June 2003

    • dpwhitb says:

      hmm, maybe I have a bottle of water or a soda when I stop at those places.

    • Dave says:

      hmm, maybe I have a bottle of water or a soda when I stop at those places. Just because the name of the place is a bar or Tavern, doesn’t mean everyone going in there drinks!

      • Scott says:

        I’m not an alcohol or beer drinker and it seems to me the ‘taverns’ all have water. They usually have great burgers too, even in the summer. John Warren is correct that a lot of snowmobile trails are too wet most of the year to enjoy hiking or biking but there are many snowmobile trails that are dry and allow great hiking and biking and they area usually well maintained. Many of our hiking-only trails are wet and muddy in the summer too…

        • Paul says:

          Growing up in Saranac Lake I spent countless hours as a kid using snowmobile trails around there for:

          Cross county skiing

          Look at the ones around Pine Pond. Phil had a great biking article here about riding from the Averyville Road in LP.

          How do you think people hike from their boats at landing on Ossetah to get to Pine Pond? I am sure this is the same all over the Adirondacks. All these different user groups have all been getting along well for quite some time.
          Just goofing around outdoors

    • Paul says:

      Almost all restaurants have alcoholic drinks, I go to many of them and don’t choose those drinks all the time? Or are these ones where you are forced to drink alcohol base on the names? Given that most places are also on the “road” I bet you have lots of folks drinking and driving after dinner. Let’s close all the roads?

  17. Boreas says:


    I agree. This discussion should be about the bridge in question and existing law, not about snowmobile stops and beverage choices.

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