Monday, February 25, 2019

APA Approves Expanded Saranac Lakes Development

APA Building in Ray Brook NYThe Adirondack Park Agency Board (APA) has recommended approval for the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest (SLWF) Unit Management Plan (UMP).

Its recommendation will be forwarded to the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for their concurrence.

The Saranac Lakes Wild Forest is approximately 75,070 acres of Wild Forest lands and 19,000 acres of waterbodies. The Intensive Use boat launches comprise 33 acres. Portions of the SLWF are in the southern Franklin County towns of Santa Clara, Brighton, Tupper Lake, Harrietstown and Franklin, as well as the northwestern Essex County towns of St. Armand and North Elba. Three of the largest population centers in the Adirondack Park – the villages of Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, and Tupper Lake – are located within the general boundaries of the unit.

The SLWF contains prominent watercourses classified under the Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act, including the Raquette River, Saranac River, and West Branch Ausable River.

Popular natural area destinations contained in the unit are the three Saranac Lakes: Upper Saranac, Middle Saranac and Lower Saranac; Oseetah Lake, Lake Placid and Lake Colby. The Raquette River, Saranac River and West Branch of the Ausable River are important recreational and fishing resources. Several significant mountains located within the SLWF include: Scarface Mountain (3,058 feet), Boot Bay Mountain (2,516 feet), Shingle Bay Mountain (2,352 feet) and Panther Mountain (2,241 feet).

Abundant access, especially from hamlet areas, is included in the plan to allow for hiking, biking, camping, skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, canoeing, bird watching and fishing opportunities.

The management action highlights, provided by APA, include:

  • Build 38 miles of new trails, of which 35 miles will be open to mountain bike use. Most proposed trails are located near the communities of Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Tupper Lake;
  • Allow mountain bike use of the trails known as “Loggers Loops” in the vicinity of Cherry Patch Pond. Improvements to the trails in this area will include: building a new segment of trail onto Loop 1, so that this trail will be entirely on State land, and build a new trail to connect these trails to State Route 86 near the Connery Pond parking area;
  • Examine potential development of a trail system west of Lake Placid on the parcels of land near State Route 86, the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor, Carolyn Road, Barn Road, and Old Military Road. These trails would form loops of varying difficulty levels for mountain biking and hiking;
  • Open 2.43 miles of new snowmobile trails, maintain 19.68 miles of road and trail for snowmobile use and close 15.23 miles of redundant and/or lesser used trails;
  • Open a snowmobile trail to Heavens Pond and a trail to Lead Pond from the Lyme Conservation Easements lands;
  • Create a snowmobile trail from the Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor to a proposed bridge over Rollins Pond Outlet the Rollins Pond Campground;
  • Oversee construction of a portion of the Jackrabbit Trail on a portion of the SLWF south of Mountain Lane;
  • Designate the Old Wawbeek Road and the administrative road that proceeds to the north from the Old Wawbeek Road to State Route 30 as open for horse use;
  • Continue to allow motorboat use on all waters currently open to them and limit horse power and establish speed limits on some waterbodies;
  • Bring tent sites into compliance with Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan separation distances and mitigate adverse impacts to sites with significant natural resource impacts through restoration and/or closure of sites. More campsites will be created than closed;
  • Identify locations for group sites (15 sites), limit group sites to a maximum of 12 people and issue camping permits for specific group sites;
  • Reroute the Scarface Mountain Trail to avoid a steep section near the top that is heavily eroded. All construction and maintenance work on Scarface Mountain will conform to the Adirondack sub-alpine forest bird conservation area guidelines;
  • Relocate the Bartlett Carry Trail off of the road. There will be about 0.4 miles of new trail constructed through the woods. The location of the canoe takeout may also be relocated;
  • Reroute segments of Deer Pond Trail to avoid wet and steep areas;
  • Reopen the Sangemo Canoe Carry. This historic route runs between Upper St. Regis Lake and Lake Clear. The reopened trail will be routed to Saint Germain Pond, instead of Lake Clear;
  • Reduce the distribution of non-native and native, but widely introduced fish species, while increasing the abundance of native species.
  • Reclaim West Pine Pond and its tributary water, Rag Pond, and stock with a heritage strain of brook trout;
  • Follow the management guidance for the Adirondack Sub-alpine Forest Bird Conservation Area. This will include avoiding the use of motorized equipment for maintenance of trails above 2,800 feet during the Bicknell Thrush nesting season;
  • Monitor loons for nesting activity. Produce informational materials to inform visitors that loon nesting is occurring and what loon behaviors indicate that the bird is being stressed by the visitor.

The Agency held a APSLMP conformance public comment period on this plan which ran from June 7 through July 13, 2018. Eighty-three public comments were received. As a result of the comment period, an APA press release said, several changes to the UMP were added including changing references of the Adirondack Rail Trail to the Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor; adding language regarding the development and implementation of a set of visitor-use management strategies and actions; clarifying use of camping permits during the big game season; adding reference to the New York IMapInvasives; and addressing missing information on maps.

The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit their website.

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