Monday, August 26, 2019

The Roots Of The Conflict Over Snowmobile Connectors

In order to cut a lot more trees on the Forest Preserve for new snowmobile corridors, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General’s Office have announced that they will appeal July’s court ruling against the State and in favor of Protect the Adirondacks.

That ruling by a 4-1 court majority declared that the extent of tree cutting for snowmobile trail construction, when considered cumulatively, violated our state’s constitutional limit on destruction of timber on the Forest Preserve “to a material degree” (Article XIV, Section 1, NYS Constitution, and court interpretations).

However, this court (Appellate Division, Third Department) by the same margin did not find sufficient evidence that snowmobile trail construction had violated the wild forest character of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. You can read the Court decision in the Adirondack Almanack, posted in July.

This court ruling has received widespread coverage. What has not are events that led to this ongoing court struggle over snowmobile construction on the Forest Preserve. Many of these decisions were made during the three-term administration of Governor George Pataki, and earlier in the terms of Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

In the late 1990s, during Gov. Pataki’s first term, my colleagues and I were working for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, a not for profit advocate for the Park’s wilderness founded in 1901. One day, we were invited by Gov. Pataki’s staff – along with many others – to attend a meeting in New York City. During the train ride I certainly did not anticipate seeing the Governor himself.  We walked into the large meeting room high above the bustling city only to see George Pataki seated at the table.

After preliminaries, we were all brought up to speed. Following years of advocacy and efforts by nonprofits like ours, and by NYS DEC, the Governor told those assembled that the State had reached an agreement with Marylou Whitney and Whitney Industries to acquire 15,000 privately owned acres in Long Lake (one-third of Whitney’s holdings) for the Adirondack Forest Preserve, including all of Little Tupper Lake. I could have jumped out of my chair. I think we were all more restrained than that, but joyful. This was great news, from our perspective, and long sought after.  All Whitney lands had been (and remain) a high priority project in the NYS Open Space Conservation Plan, and Governor Mario Cuomo had tried to negotiate for them throughout his terms.  Everyone piped up, thanking Governor Pataki.

Then, the Governor spoke up again and I paraphrase: My actions announced today will be controversial in the Adirondacks, he said. I need your ideas for greater economic activity in the Adirondacks that will make this announcement more acceptable at the local level.

It was clear he wanted some ideas right then and there. Notwithstanding the fact that adding 15,000 fully taxable acres to the Forest Preserve, including a whole lot of new lakes for canoeing and kayaking, was in and of itself a positive economically, at that moment everyone in the room wanted to be helpful. How about more snowmobiling? Whether that idea came from the Governor’s staff or from others, I don’t recall. It came up, and the Governor liked it. He liked it a lot. Here, IMO, was the genesis of the Comprehensive Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park.

Drafting of the Snowmobile Plan seriously began around 2000. A roundtable of stakeholder organizations was pulled together. I sat in many meetings over several years with DEC  and State Parks (OPRHP) staff, with other wild land advocates and with snowmobile advocates and organizers. All of us were motivated to remain at the table to influence the process and outcomes, seek the data, add information. However difficult and time consuming, the meetings were educational in our grappling with snowmobile issues swept under the proverbial rug since the the 1972 Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

Furthermore, I enjoyed talking with and debating snowmobile enthusiasts. They do not wear horns, I found out, and they love the Adirondacks as much anyone. I told them I was not there to oppose all snowmobiling. I just wanted it limited and restrained, as required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which has the force and effect of law, and the Constitution.

The Adirondack Master Plan of 1972 (as it has since) authorizes snowmobile trails on Wild Forest classified Forest Preserve lands but, in a silent but firm nod to Article XIV, requires such trails to have the same character as foot trails, and be further constrained and conditioned.

By 1995, those Adirondack Master Plan restraints had become more difficult to comply with because the snowmobile industry had changed dramatically.  Sleds were manufactured and marketed to be wider, heavier and more powerful. Those altered specifications, and the need to maintain the snow pack during milder winters, required a separate motor vehicle to groom the trails on a frequent basis.

New York State created a grant program to help local snowmobile clubs to acquire these expensive snowmobile trail groomers. While not the snowmobile superhighways that had developed in Maine and a few other northern states, the community connector trails proposed in the Draft Comprehensive Snowmobile Plan were authorized to have groomers on them. They would be constructed wider, flatter and straighter. Mechanized technology was driving public policy for the Forest Preserve, and that raised great worry and strong objection.

One problem was that the only motor vehicle authorized by the Adirondack Master Plan to run on Wild Forest trails were, and are today, snowmobiles. Groomers were and are not authorized on these trails. Around 2001 Governor Pataki and DEC promised all stakeholders that groomers on community connector trails would be subject to public hearings and an amendment of the State Land Master Plan. At least, I told myself, the public would be given a chance to comment at hearings. At least the Adirondack Park Agency would be required to vote to approve or to disapprove such an amendment. Or so the 2004 Draft Snowmobile Plan stated.

By 2006, Pataki’s final year in office, that promise of an amendment to the Adirondack Master Plan was removed from the Final Snowmobile Plan, and the APA has never voted on compliance with the Master Plan. The frequent use of groomers require wider, flatter, straighter, more highly engineered snowmobile corridors, and their regular use are a major reason why so many trees have been cut  ever since. In the Final Snowmobile Plan were 17 wider, groomed snowmobile community connector proposals. Their construction began in the first Andrew Cuomo term. The roots of greater conflict over Forest Preserve snowmobile policy spread quickly.

The seeds of future conflict were planted in the early-mid 1960s. State Conservation Commissioner Harold Wilm encouraged the use of motorized sleds as a recreational outlet and economic benefit to the slow winter economy. The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and Adirondack Mountain Club threatened to take Commissioner Wilm to court over the violation of Article XIV of the Constitution, maintaining that gas guzzling, loud machines running wherever they wished across Forest Preserve destroyed the principle and plain meaning of wild forest lands in the NYS Constitution. The commissioner agreed to end the off-trail, cross country use of snowmobiles, and to limit the use to marked, designated trails in what later became the Forest Preserve’s Wild Forest classification (and not in what became Wilderness or Primitive). On that basis, the nonprofits agreed not to sue. That decision was certainly portentous.

In 1970, volunteers for the Adirondack Mountain Club were very concerned about the number of trees being cut on 780 miles of designated snowmobile trail then being developed on the Adirondack Forest Preserve, mostly on hiking trails.  An interim report was submitted by those ADK volunteers in 1971. Documentation in that report showed that on average about 10 trees over 4 inches in diameter were being cut per snowmobile trail mile in 1970. That level of tree cutting greatly concerned the report’s authors as being unconstitutional.

Fifty years on, the July 2019 Court decision in Protect the Adirondacks’s favor reveals the impact of wider snowmobiles, groomers and 12 years of the Adirondack Snowmobile Plan. Figures DEC supplied in the case reveal that since 2012, on average, over 220 trees over 3 inches in diameter have been cut per snowmobile community connector mile. Using Protect’s definition which includes a tree of 3 inches or less, a definition upheld by the court, the number is more than 900 trees per mile.

So, to construct today’s groomed, more leveled, straighter snowmobile connector trails requires, at minimum, 22 times the amount of tree-cutting (defined as 3-4 inches or larger in diameter) per mile than the ungroomed, narrower trails of the early 1970s when the Adirondack State Land Master Plan was approved.

Given July’s court decision preventing DEC from significant new tree cutting for new snowmobile connectors and the dramatic climate changes happening in our region, it behooves Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos to sit down with all stakeholders to significantly revise the Comprehensive Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park.

Article 14, Section 1 New York State Constitution Forever Wild clauseI’ll conclude with our 2006 comments to DEC on the final Adirondack Snowmobile Plan because I feel they’re still relevant today and could be helpful, if and when DEC calls a stakeholder meeting:

Adirondack Snowmobile Plan Comments Submitted to DEC in 2006

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks strongly opposes the Adirondack Snowmobile Plan for reasons explained below. We will be asking the next Governor to reject this plan and to consider our recommendations listed at the close of this letter.

The snowmobile plan would, for the first time, authorize widespread use of tracked groomer motor vehicles to groom the narrow trails and natural forest surface of today’s combined snowmobile and foot trails in Wild Forest areas of the Forest Preserve. The State Land Master Plan does not allow the use of motorized groomers on these trails and mandates that snowmobile trails retain the character of a foot trail.

  • The State Land Master Plan permits snowmobiles on snowmobile trails, and only snowmobiles. Further, the Master Plan defines “sno cats” (synonymous with tracked groomers) as a motor vehicle, which are not authorized on snowmobile trails.
  • Snowmobile trails must have the “character of a foot trail” according to the state land plan. Because of their width, maneuverability and weight, tracked groomers require the use of heavy machinery to level the forest floor, remove rocks and boulders and otherwise create highways in the woods. The Association believes these maintenance practices and machines equate to violations of the spirit and letter of the Master Plan and the Constitution.

While we support the Governor’s goals of moving more snowmobile trails off the Forest Preserve and onto private and conservation easement lands, that is not what this plan actually does. What the plan proposes is faster snowmobiling on wide, flat forest highways. These wild forest trails would become, in effect, new highways through the Forest Preserve. Those, as you know, are illegal and unconstitutional.

The Governor promised the snowmobile focus group in 2000 that such changes would only be contemplated through a Master Plan amendment. However, the authors of this plan removed a statement from the prior draft plan released in 2004 which clearly stated that the snowmobile plan implementation would require an amendment to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan which contains guidelines for the use of the Forest Preserve that have the force and effect of law. The newly released final plan contains no such statement. By removing this crucial statement, the DEC implies that approval and implementation of this plan is merely an administrative matter. We strongly disagree and we are confident that the next Governor will agree with us. It is, instead, a matter for every voter and citizen in New York State at public hearings.

The Association also notes the following weaknesses in the snowmobile plan:

  • The Plan sets an inappropriately low standard for describing and assessing the environmental quality, public health, safety and other impacts of tens of thousands of registered snowmobiles on air, snowmelt, water, wildlife, noise and quality of life in Adirondack Park communities. The plan’s environmental analysis is improved, but only slightly improved from the 2004 draft plan. The plan fails to seriously note or analyze localized environmental impacts or more cumulative regional impacts on air, water and wildlife, nor does it make any recommendations for undertaking Adirondack specific studies and measurements.
  • The 2004 draft and 2006 final plans fail to integrate snowmobile trails on public and private lands in the Park, particularly private lands where conservation easements permit snowmobiling. There are no maps that describe the snowmobile trail system on private and municipal lands despite the plan’s statement that almost 1200 miles of such trails exist. Although it is frequently stated as a goal, the plan fails to offer specific incentives or targets for moving snowmobile routes off the Forest Preserve onto private lands. For example, snowmobile trail private land easements could include term-easements or term leases.
  • The Forest Preserve snowmobile trail mileage cited in the plan has been so frequently altered over the last six months that the public has every reason to be skeptical about its accuracy.
  • 14 of the 17 proposed community connector snowmobile routes already exist with at least one route that presently connects these communities. This information was provided at a meeting of the snowmobile focus group in May, 2006, but is not mapped, described or integrated into the plan.
  • The authorization of motor vehicle groomers will require that thousands of trees be cut on the Forest Preserve so that trails can be widened to nine feet (from the current eight foot guideline) as well as flattened by the removal of protruding rocks. The plans offers no estimate of the number of trees to be cut in order to create the 9-foot trails, but the Association estimates it would be in the tens of thousands. Article 14 of the NYS Constitution only authorizes immaterial tree-cutting on the Forest Preserve. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals ruled in 1930 (McDonald v. Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks) that the Forest Preserve was not to be used for artificial, high speed mechanized uses. The plan is unconstitutional not strictly because a large number of trees would be cut but because a large number of trees would be cut in order to create small roads through the Forest Preserve for the purpose of recreational snowmobiling. The McDonald v. Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks Appellate decision of 1930, upheld by the Court of Appeals, tells us that it is the type of use or recreation proposed that determines constitutionality, not solely the number of trees. It tells us that high speed recreation in a man-made setting is unconstitutional, yet this is what the plan proposes.  Even if the Department believes otherwise, the Plan lacks even the minimum step of asking the Attorney General’s office for an opinion on constitutionality.
  • The Plan does not adequately address the major question of how to prevent All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) from using the proposed 9-foot routes. This illegal, damaging use is widespread throughout the Park. This Plan must be guided by a clear state policy on use of ATVs in the Adirondack Park. After four-years of work, that draft policy has not been finalized and put into practice.
  • There is inadequate economic analysis in this plan about the significant costs involved with proposed Class 3 trail planning, building, maintenance and enforcement.
  • With respect to maintenance costs of the Class 3 routes, despite the accepted assertion that wider snowmobile routes will make two-way riding safer, we disagree and suspect that high speeds on wide but unstable snow/ice surfaces will result in more snowmobile damage and rider injury from collisions than at present. This in turn will result in the need for wide shoulders. In fact, the State will be obligated to build them as an added safety feature. Over time, we predict it will be next to impossible to restrict these routes to 9-feet.
  • There is no analysis of the costs incurred when people physically move their residence in the Park due to the quality of life issues surrounding concentrated use of snowmobiles. These are many serious community issues surrounding current and increased snowmobile use along highways, roads and near residences in Adirondack towns and villages that have not been addressed in this plan.


Given the existing and steadily increasing pressures from all motorized uses on all Adirondack Park land classifications and ownerships, we (the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks)  recommend to the next administration that this plan be rejected and in its place:

  1. APA should be the lead agency for all long-range planning in the Park, in close consultation with DEC, Parks, Department of State and county planning agencies. The APA should be funded to undertake this work, consistent with the legislative authority the agency has to undertake comprehensive Park planning.
  2. Proposed planning should include all motorized uses in the Park across all land ownerships, including snowmobiling.
  3. As a result of this planning approach, the citizens of the State of New York and of Adirondack Park towns and villages would be the clear beneficiaries. Everyone would receive essential information about the existing motorized routes, about environmental quality and community impacts of these routes and about where routes might be improved or better planned across all land-ownerships. Further, this approach has the advantage of addressing possible private, municipal and conservation land solutions for the corridor connectors between towns, for increased use of easements and for State incentives and other forms of support for participating landowners, towns and villages.

We ask that the APA, DEC and its other partners to jointly:

  • Map and describe existing, publicly accessible motorized routes on all land-ownerships, and describe connections that exit and enter the Park from different directions.
  • Search the existing Adirondack scientific literature, describe appropriate Adirondack study protocols and recommend actual Adirondack environmental quality studies of a high standard appropriate to the Park.
  • Conduct a proper assessment of motorized recreation on all land-ownerships in the Park. Then, if the policy direction is to reduce snowmobiling on the Forest Preserve, create tangible incentives for moving more motorized routes onto private, municipal or conservation lands.

Thank you for considering our views.”

Photos, from above: Snowmobile Connector bridge, Seventh Lake trail, Moose River Plains Wild Forest; snowmobile connector near Lake Harris; and 54 words of Article XIV, Section 1, NYS Constitution. You can see a map of snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Park today HERE (provided by Adirondack Atlas).

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Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for over 30 years as executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and currently as managing partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest PreserveDuring Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history. Currently, Dave is managing partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

113 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    This is how normalization occurs, little by little….creep by creep

    • Jane Gorneflo says:

      So you want to lock down the wilderness so only Collegiate elites can visit?

      • Balian the Cat says:

        Saying the same tired thing over and over and over and over again doesn’t make it any less unfounded/ridiculous, Jane.

  2. Boreasfisher says:

    Normalization indeed. Combined with what looks like bait and switch….In return for the much wanted conservation benefits of the Whitney acquisition and classification, we ask for a concession to aid the economic development of the local communities. Such horse trading is how politics is done, and rightly so. The problem in this case is assurances were given by the state that not honored.

    These Class II trails now seem (predictably) to be seriously endangered through multiple lawsuits and the various parties will need to find a compromise or everyone will suffer. As someone who lives within earshot of one of these new trails, I dearly hope the trails can be kept to their previous “consensus” parameters.

    A 2006 report predicts 9 foot trails will prove to be unsafe to accommodate the new sleds being developed. These problems have been visible and ignored for a very long time. As a park consisting of private and public lands, will private land owners who want this system to go forward now provide sufficient easements? Seems to me, the FP trails, the public trails, need to continue to maintain the character “of a foot trail”.

    Thanks for a recitation of such important historical information.

  3. Boreas says:


    Thanks for the in-depth insights into our current predicament. I was unaware of much of this.

    I guess that brings me to my next question. Why was the most recent lawsuit brought to primarily address “trees” and “trail character” and not the larger issue that the constitutional amendment was never sought WRT snowmobile trails in general? Shouldn’t that have to be sorted out eventually?

  4. Sandor says:

    We can’t log APA land or drive a motorized vehicle, truck,car,atv,suv and omg not even a E-bike!! We can’t use a chain saw either.But we are going to allow major destruction of pristine forest,let snowmobilers go 70 mph thru a trail boxed in by trees , trespass and wander ,litter and pollute?? Can we put this same trail thru Central park instead.Or thru any area that borders a town/ village or something even remotely inhabited. Foia how much a gas station or bar can make vs. the cost and the total negative impact a connector trail will do!!

  5. Craig says:

    So glad I live in Wisconsin . Are State government works with are snowmobile association . The state with the most snowmobile trails ! More miles of trail then state and Federal highways ! This must be why I’m seeing so many New York folks riding the upper peninsula trails of Michigan . Must be sick of all the tree huggers ! I Wish the snowmobile clubs & the businesses that survive on snowmobile tourism in the area . The BEST OF LUCK !

    • Boreas says:


      Apples and oranges. All of NYS is not within the Adirondack Park, and not all of the Adirondack Park is classified in a way to prohibit snowmobilers. This discussion has no relation to other states because the Adirondack Park is protected by our unique state constitution. The Park isn’t your basic State land, but rather a special subset of State lands. If Wisconsin has no public land where motors are prohibited, we feel sorry for you!

    • Trailogreg says:

      Michigan can have them…….

      Take them all…..

  6. lee svorec says:

    As a snowmobile rider and growing up in Warrensburg on 110 acres I can see both sides.
    Assuming all info is true here I have to side with this article.
    It would be nice to have nice trails to travel on but at what cost.
    The laws that are listed here should be followed and not just ignored. Onre reason why we love this area is do to the nature and that is disappearing quickly.
    The laws enacted by thoughtful people many years ago has help preserve this area. Not even changing a law and basically ignoring it is not right.
    There were many great insightful thoughts in this article.

    As much as I would like to ride some nice trails I find myself enjoying the small trails tucked away as the original proposal suggested. I can see the authors concern that wider trails will more likely cause accidents and probably with more serious injuries do to higher speed. I believe that is a legit concern.

    As for the pollution the new 4 stroke snowmobiles are a lot more efficient and cleaner running. I know not all sleds are 4 strokes but more and more are.
    The people I ride with do not litter and we carry in carry out.

    As for other vehicles on the trail that are not allowed, well they will have to find a way to keep them out . Severe penalties after first warning , stiff fines for repeat offenders. That money goes to repairs of trails.
    I like the idea of private property owners having a lease for trails. Raise price of registration for atv, snowmobile, ect and pay land owner for the use of land. Then atv riders can have a place to ride to?
    I do think they should follow the laws in place now or change the laws legally . I rather just keep the old laws to keep this area the way it is

  7. Hoffman Notch says:

    Is nothing sacred anymore. Is there no other way to connect Newcomb and Schroon lake…New York State has to rip a scar through a beautiful track of land. Upsetting the quiet nature of the area for locals. P.S. I’m not a tree hugger. My father worked at a paper mill and sold firewood…I’ve seen cut and personally cut many trees…JUST NOT IN THE ADIRONDACKS. I can’t cut so much as a sapling without DEC or the APA slapping my wrist. But they can come in and destroy 1000s of tree so that s few North country business can thrive…wait…no business will be thriving off of snowmobilers. Schroon is a resort town in the summer…just like Lake George. They will be just fine!


    Allof this begs to speak to our future. When are we willing as HUMANS to take 2nd place in regard to the protection of our Earth.
    We can not continue to look at decisions soley based on jobs for humans.

    • Boreas says:


      Another interesting observation is that snowmobiling is not the only winter activity possible in the Park. People go to great lengths to illustrate other states that create many miles of snowmobile trails. But many states and countries also embrace and PROMOTE lower-impact human-powered winter activities. Snowmobilers do indeed generate winter income for locals, but so do snowshoers and skiers, so why not promote those activities more? I would like to see the state/local promotion budgets compared for each activity. How powerful is the skiing/snowshoeing lobby? Is there one?? Town-to-town skiing in quite popular in Europe – virtually non-existent here. Why? Skiing is not heavily promoted and these longer connectors are few. Why?

      Obviously NYS needs to give the snowmobilers something for their registration fees. We understand that. But NYS also has the job of protecting sensitive areas in the Park. Four-season, town-to-town or hut-to-hut ski/hiking/biking trails could be built with much less disruption to the backcountry than Class 2 snowmobile trails. They can also be built by connecting existing hiking trails further reducing tree cutting and trail “smoothing”. Why not build, reroute, and promote backcountry ski/hiking/biking trails in the more sensitive areas of the Park? Why not preserve the wilderness quality where we can?

      Scandinavia knows snowmobiles aren’t the only way to keep businesses open in winter. Perhaps NYS and local communities should be promoting healthy, lower environmental impact activities where it makes sense, and promote motorized activities where that makes sense like Tug Hill and snow-belt areas. If snowfall continues to become more irregular with shorter seasons, there would likely be more advantage to having trails designed for four-season activities such as skiing, hiking, fat tire/mountain biking and equestrian. Plus promoting physical activity (other than shoveling snow) in winter has benefits far beyond simple economics. The administration needs to rethink what types of trails should be built in particular areas and come up with a long-term plan. But in order to plan anything, we need to figure out to what extent snowmobiles/ATVs should be even allowed in the Park and change the constitution accordingly to eliminate these lawsuits. Leave it up to the voters, not the lobbies.

      • Boreasfisher says:

        Spot on!

      • Todd Eastman says:

        Yo, in Europe the town-to-town XC ski trails are groomed with machines that are about the same size as the ones being used, or planned on being used for grooming the snowmobile trails.

        It is the tail widths and extensive grading that conflicts with the FP provisions. This is true for XC ski trails and snowmobile trails.

        Without good grooming neither XC skiing or snowmobiling are practical economic drivers without good grooming.

        That said, maintaining the strength of Forever Wild is critical…

        • Todd Eastman says:

          Bad – Without good grooming neither XC skiing or snowmobiling are practical economic drivers without good grooming.

          Repaired – Without good grooming neither XC skiing or snowmobiling are practical economic drivers.

          • ROBERT DIMARCO says:

            Again when will we stop worrying about us and worry about the Earth first?
            And please I use and abuse the earth like all humans!

        • Boreas says:


          I managed to ski hundreds of miles on backcountry trails and never skied on a groomed one. Just because some trails CAN be groomed doesn’t mean they have to be. Think Jackrabbit Trail. Last I knew, only some sections on private land are groomed. There are plenty of places to ski/skate on groomed trails, including Tug Hill, but grooming certainly isn’t necessary for point to point skiing. Why not promote non-motorized activities?

          My point is snowmobiles aren’t the only way to get from point A to point B in winter. Skiers, snowshoers, and fat tire bikers spend money too!

          • Todd Eastman says:

            Yo, what you can do and what works for promoting skiing suitable for visitors are very different. If you want to bring town-to-town skiing to a discussion about economic potential, decent grooming is a prerequisite. I helped start the Jackrabbit Trail and this was an issue in the 1980s when we began; I assume it is still an issue.

            Good grooming and site preparation essentially weatherproofs the trail so the frequent thaws don’t close the trail or make it usable only to experts…

            • Boreas says:

              Plenty of people use the Jackrabbit despite not getting a lot of promotion. Plenty of people use backcountry trails as well. I agree grooming makes ski travel easier, but perhaps that paradigm needs to change with the terrain and location.

      • 600r says:

        Snowmobiling is the NFL of any other winter ,summer ,spring activity’s combined.No comparison, One restaurant owner told me 1 Saturday of snowmobile season is 2 full weeks in summer in revenue. People snowmobiling spend way more money,I don’t think you really want a study done to compare to XC skiing ,hiking, ect. It would blow your mind what snowmobiling does for a community.Funny I don’t have a problem getting a hotel in any other season, try get a room Feb 1st.

        • John Warren says:

          Your assumptions are not backed by the facts. Sure, there are some businesses that cater to snowmobiles, and these businesses rely on them. But by and large, those of us who live in the Adirondacks see very little impact from snowmobilers. The studies bear this out. You are narrowing your understanding to your own experience – self selected. So of course, a snowmobiler finds the few businesses that are open in February are full – of snowmobilers. But there is a reason that the Adirondacks generally closes down during the winter. Hikers, paddlers, and boaters are by far and away the biggest visitors to the Adirondacks. Snowmobilers don’t remotely compare. If you doubt this compare the annual registration for snowmobilers (for the entire state), to the trailhead numbers in just the High Peaks alone. They are not even remotely close.

          • 600r says:

            They are backed by facts , go ask any , ANY establishment in the ADK’s what would they rather have summer people who spend No $$ or winter people who unload their wallet.Ya sure the #’s may be bigger for boater ,hikers,trail head #s ect but they don’t spend anywhere close to what snowmobiles do and that is a fact .The high peaks may slow down for winter but by no means does the rest of the ADK’s “close” down that is just stupid.

  9. ramon serna says:

    I live in and play in the Minnesota and Wisconsin area. We have lots of forested land and trees too. We also have a 1st class trail system that generates billons of dollars for both states. We can manage our forests better by being able to access areas in turn when storms roll thru. Your tree argument is hilarious, they grow back all the time and in different areas too. Do you account for the storm damage/fires and charge mother nature for it in your analysis?? Things have changed alot since 1930. Time for a updated management plan…

  10. Adk Resident says:

    Dave Gibson: I’m confused about your statement that APA never voted on the snowmobile plan. It appears that the Board authorized, by vote, the Chairperson to sign an updated MOU for Implementation of the APSLMP with DEC that included the “Management Guidance: Snowmobile Trail Siting, Construction and Maintenance on Forest Preserve Lands in the Adirondack Park” as Appendix E of said agreement (

    Also, from 2009 APA Annual Report ( on page 12:

    “State Land Master Plan InterpretatIon: Staff worked with DEC on management guidance for the siting, construction and maintenance of snowmobile trails on state lands classified Wild Forest. Guidance addressed use of tracked groomers, trail width and DEC delegation of trail grooming responsibilities to communities and snowmobile clubs. the agency board determined the guidance was compliant with the SLMP at its November 2009 meeting.”

    It would appear that your article is misleading in that it leads one to believe that APA did not take any affirmative action to indicate that the construction methods used on Seventh Lake Mt, and other trails was compliant with the APSLMP when, in fact, they had.

  11. Paul says:

    Since these early decisions the only activity that has had a “cap” placed on it is snowmobile trails on FP land. Seems like making the limited milage that you have a little wider isn’t too big of a deal. These will be much better trails for things like skate skiing with cross country skis. I am willing to share.

  12. Snowman1 says:

    Thank you Ramon. It’s time for NYS to get with the current times, for the sake of the Adirondack Park businesses and the residents that are left living here! They are the ones that are losing, not the tree count!
    The Adirondack Park is MORE THAN big enough for the proposed multi-use community connector trails (also used by snow-showers, cross-country skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers!). Why keep calling them Snowmobile Trails, when snowmobilers only use them for 3 months of the year???

    • Boreas says:


      You make it sound like Park residents depend on snowmobile usage. They don’t – not by a long shot. The people that do are a minority, and that is typically by choice. Snowmobiles are not the only source of revenue here. Do snowmobilers add to the economy – yes. Should the Park be altered as you say to cater to them – no. Plenty can be done on other state and private lands that don’t involve re-envisioning and altering the Forest Preserve.

      • Snowman1 says:

        Never typed that, so where did you read it?

        But you’re OK with the desecrated, 20+ foot wide, muddy hiking trail pics we all see, as well as the trees removed for Mt VanHo and by Beta eh?

        You anti-snowmobilers aren’t even trying to hide it anymore, are you?

        • Boreas says:

          Snowman 1,

          Re-read your first paragraph.

          I am not OK with 20 foot wide hiking trails, and none were ever built that way. They became that way from overuse, poor management, and little maintenance. Apples and oranges and a pretty weak argument to boot.

          I’m not anti-snowmobile, just don’t feel they belong everywhere in the Park as you evidently do. One doesn’t have to be anti-snowmobile to want to protect the Park. I am mostly against the building of wider, smoother, Class 2 connector trails.

    • John Warren says:

      “Snowman 1”

      “Why keep calling them Snowmobile Trails, when snowmobilers only use them for 3 months of the year???”

      Because, as you well know, they were built for snowmobiles and are used 99% of the time by snowmobilers. The claim that others use these trails will be defended by a few no doubt, mostly liars for their cause, but there is absolutely no evidence that anyone but snowmobilers use these trails 99% of the time.

      How about you identify yourself as the snowmobile lobbyist you are? Why do you continually hide behind fake names?

      I’ve called you out on this before. So why don’t you explain to us, before I ban you forever, why I should allow you to continue to defraud people about your motives as a paid lobbyist on this forum?

      John Warren
      Founder & Editor
      Adirondack Almanack

      • Snowman1 says:

        John Warren,

        Do you consider a lifelong snowmobiler, who rides in the Adirondacks every year for the past 30 years “a lobbyist”? If, in guilty as charged! What is your definition of a “lobbyist” in regards to posting here, and where does the rules for posting replies and comments and opinions here State that names must be used?
        Are you asking the many others here without actual names commenting for their real names? Or just those that you don’t agree with?
        Thanks in advance for your answers,


  13. Anonymous says:

    I have been told this decision has forced a moretorium on cutting any tree or sapling in the forest preserve. If that stands basic trail maintenance will come to a grinding halt and overgrown cooridors will lead to significant resource dedredation. Especially in backcountry Wilderness Areas. This decision has already negativity impacted maintenance of Wilderness and Wild Forest foot trails. A more nuanced solution is needed, otherwise this is going to be a huge mess for the forest preserve. I’d appreciate your feedback.

    • John Warren says:

      It hasn’t caused an end to tree cutting in the forest preserve. for example: Van Ho trees were cut on Forest Preserve, too

      • Anonymous says:

        I would love to talk to you in a non-public forum. I don’t want to drop any specific information here, but all I can say is your wrong. There has been a moretorium put in place recently, and it has negativity impacted trail maintenance. That impact will grow signifagntly if the ruling stands as is. Sorry, the bottom line is the same, a more nuanced decision is needed. I can’t say anything more here.

        • John Warren says:

          Just because some parts of state government, or some private concerns, have put a moratorium in place, that does not mean that there is a moratorium in place. There isn’t, as the ORDA cutting shows. The case law is clear that some tree cutting is perfectly acceptable. I don’t doubt that some are using this ruling as a wedge to force the issue in an attempt to finally allow the widespread cutting of trees on the Forest Preserve. That’s not the same as the comprehensive moratorium you appear to describing, which does not exist.

          If you have evidence that someone has ordered a moratorium on maintenance, by all means post it and correct me. You are also feel free to send it to I can also be reached at I’m also perfectly willing to receive any documents in a pumpkin drop, or in an anonymous meeting on a park bench. 😉 I’d be happy to keep the source confidential.

          • Paul says:

            It may be headlines like this that makes folks think there is a moratorium on tree-cutting for trail maintenance:

            Times Union – August 6th

            “After court ruling, tree-clearing along hiking trails is on hold
            Adirondacks and Catskills affected by moratorium”


            The trees that were cut as part of that ORDA project were cut much earlier in the summer.

            • Boreas says:


              I don’t know how official this alleged moratorium is. Shortly after I read those headlines I scoured the DEC website for any evidence of it and found none. Perhaps it is now online – I haven’t checked recently.

              But my gut feeling is the self-imposed moratorium is more of a tactic to gain sympathy than based in legal fact. DEC has always has and still does have the responsibility of trail maintenance in the Park. That involves cutting trees as needed. Cutting of trees to build something new is what the court decision was about. So if trails are not being maintained, I don’t believe it is based in this decision, but more of a spiteful move by the state.

            • John Warren says:

              The Times Union article, and the Adirondack Explorer article from which it was mostly drawn, is a lot of “could,” might” and “may” – the headlines are frauds. Read the articles. There is no moratorium, there are only vague claims from a lot of recreationists who would apparently like us to believe there is a moratorium.

              Perhaps that’s changed in the last couple weeks, though it’s unlikely, as the recreationist press would have been all over it. If there has been worked stopped – not claims that work might be stopped, or self-imposed scaling back of work – please feel free to provide any evidence anyone might have. Otherwise, it remains poorly reported hot air.

              • Paul says:

                Okay but from the Explorer article and Mr. Brown:

                “DEC has until mid-August to file a notice of appeal. Meantime, it has put a hold on projects that involve tree cutting in the forest preserve.”

                I guess this is just made up? No could, might, or may – it says – HAS.

                They should retract that article if it is false and not based on any sources.

                • John Warren says:

                  That’s a vague statement you’re trying to draw conclusions from. Provide the evidence.

                • Boreas says:


                  I think the key word in your cited quote is “projects” and how to interpret it. Is routine trail maintenance a “project”? Or are “projects” limited to new trail or other construction? Kinda vague. I personally interpret it as new construction and not routine maintenance. But as of yet, I can find nothing about an official moratorium. Have you found anything?

                  • Paul says:

                    No, I was just looking at those articles. Mainly the Explorer one (I don’t have a TU subscription so I didn’t see the full article). As part of the reporting I would have assumed that they crossed checked by calling the DEC to confirm their story but I guess not. As far as the ORDA tree cutting that someone cited as evidence of cutting on FP land after the court ruling… I don’t think that is correct since all the cutting was done prior to the ruling.

        • Todd Eastman says:

          Use your name or go away…

  14. Dave Gibson says:

    Adk resident, thanks for your comment. The point I am making is that while the APA voted that the 2006 Snowmobile Plan and the subsequent 2009 Guidance for Snowmobile Construction and Maintenance were compliant with the Master Plan, in fact they are not compliant. And Gov Pataki’s administration admitted the changes were not compliant. They promised to formally attempt to amend the SLMP to bring the new snowmobile trail regime into the Master Plan, which involves formal drafts, hearings, considered public comments, and a final vote. Those steps never happened..

  15. Dominic Jacangelo says:

    Let me begin by saying that Dave Gibson is a good person who shares our love of the Adirondack Park and who I enjoyed having at the table over the many years that it took to pull the Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondacks together. A plan that was a collection of compromises.
    I am glad that Dave began his article with pointing out that much of this started under the leadership of Governor Pataki, I had the pleasure of working within his administration. I am glad Dave started with the Whitney acquisition, property which has for the most part been set off as Wilderness. Governor Pataki also set off the lofty goal of preserving a million acres throughout the state and within the Park. The Governor recognized for that to happen there needed to be some hope of a four season recreational economy for the communities of the Park. Hence the Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park.
    So what has happened? Tens of thousands of acres have been purchased by the State with the promise of multi use trails for use by many different outdoor recreational enthusiast including mountain bikers, equestrians, cross country skiers, snowmobilers and anyone who would like to use these trails. Dave Gibson’s affiliated groups got what they wanted but what did the snowmobilers get? Only one Class II trail has been created, that being the 7th Lake Mountain Trail.
    In relation to a commitment to do a Master Plan amendment to allow for certain administrative uses on the proposed Class II network, Dave leaves out an important fact. The APA reviewed the Commissioner’s Guidance on snowmobile trails and found it consistent with the existing Adirondack Master Plan for State Land. As far as an amendment to the constitution, even all five judges of the Appellate Court found that the Class II trails did not violate the forever wild clause of the State Constitution.
    The current Governor and his administration appears to fully understand the commitment that was made when these many land acquisitions moved forward in the Park. They appear committed to a four season outdoor recreational asset and I applaud them for that. That is why they decided to appeal the current Appellate Court decision.
    I do not know what Dave’s purpose was of bringing up 13 year old comments that were submitted in opposition to the plan. I am sure they were considered and responded to when the Plan was adopted. The plan looked at the environmental impacts of its implementation and found that the plan was an overall benefit to the Forest Preserve.
    If Dave’s purpose was an attempt to renegotiate the Snowmobile Plan, I would be glad to sit at a table and remind him of all the elements the snowmobile community gave up. The plan, which many of those in the snowmobile community opposed saying it was an unfair compromise, was just that, a compromise. A compromise means that no one gets everything they want and it is about time that several groups realize that. They and all of us should be happy with what we got.. tens of thousands of acres added to the forest preserve.

    • Concerned Snowmobiler says:

      Thank you Dominic. You are always a wealth of knowledge. Very upsetting that the ADK Park is now 6 million acres, bought and paid for by ALL New York tax payers, not just the ones on foot. Blatant discrimination at its best is on full display as usual. If everyone paid to buy and maintain the lands in the park, then everyone should be allowed to enjoy it.
      Snowmobile trails could assist in good forest maintenance practices given there has not been a fire in the park since 1909. Let’s hope that mother nature doesn’t think we are due for another. Poor land management of dead standing trees could be devastating to the park and the lack of good practices has been going on for years. Multi-use trails could assist with fighting such a fire but hey, if that happens, we won’t be bickering about how many “trees” will be cut. By the way, since the 1930’s timber was always classified as 3″ diameter but for almost 90 years we now have to debate that. Convenient to say the least. Especially when tree counting took place counting ever sapling whether it was an invasive species or not.
      Also there was no mention by anyone, anywhere to point out the fact that not all saplings grow into mature trees. Again Mother Nature will dictate survival of the fittest and not all of the “timber” will survive even if man never lays a hand on them.

      • Boreas says:

        “If everyone paid to buy and maintain the lands in the park, then everyone should be allowed to enjoy it.”

        Who is being excluded? You have the same access as everyone else, which is determined by DEC and APA. This statement is a very tired, over-used non-argument.

        • Concerned Snowmobiler says:

          Make your comment to the countless riders who have limited mobility Sir.
          “Which is determined by DEC and APA” and heavily influenced by environmental group lawsuits. There, I finished it for you.

    • Peter says:

      Well researched and great reply. My problem is that the ORDA projects are okay when approved by the APA but the snowmobile projects are not. In the past few week a Orda project cut thousands of board feet of trees on the Forest Preserve when in they said they would not remove any trees but instead chipped them to let them rot. This is deception and lying.

      • Concerned Snowmobiler says:

        Well at least the trees never left the property. Don’t you just hate when someone plays the game by the rules that were set up. Serves you right to be handed it as prescribed by the law.

  16. Steve B. says:

    One issue that needs to be restated is that the sport of snowmobiling has fundamentally changed with the introduction of larger and more powerful machines that are better suited to wider and better groomed trails. Are those wider trails now in keeping with the compromises that were decided 15 or more years ago ?, and are they suitable to a region that has very strict constitutional laws set in place to protect the forest. This isn’t Wisconsin or Maine and we need to remember that if the Adirondack Park “experiment” were never created, the region would be vastly different today and potentially a less desirable destination for outdoors tourism.

    I think snowmobiling has a place in the Adirondacks, yet do they belong on trails that require a significant amount of “bending” of the law in order to be accommodated ?. Few other activities require such a compromise and I’m of the thought that it’s inappropriate to build such trails that require such accommodations.

    • Hope says:

      I’m of a thought that it is of utmost importance to build Community Connector Trails that can be groomed as long as they are not located in Wilderness designated areas and utilize existing logging roads, town roads, seasonal forest roads railroad beds and/or bridges. Creating and maintaining community connectors enhance the experience of the visitors as well as the residents of the Adirondacks. High quality trails of any sort keep folks on the trail and out of the “Wilderness.

      • John Warren says:

        Snowmobiles do have a place. The vast majority of snowmobile trails are on private land, where they should be. Unfortunately, the snowmobile lobby feels as though they belong on the ‘forever wild’ Forest Preserve, which they clearly do not. They spend a lot of effort to subvert the basic tenets of forever wild, I think, because it’s easier than persuading private landowners to allow access (you’ll note that snowmobile clubs do not allow ATVs to ride on their trails).

        They also spend a lot of effort kowtowing to the us vs. them paradigm, no matter how false it is. For example, the notion that hikers and skiers are elitist, while snowmobiling, which requires tens of thousands of dollars (10k for the snowmobile, 5k for the trailer, and 30-40k for a truck to haul it) is really the sport of the working class. Obviously this is false.

        I grew up riding and racing snowmobiles, but I also appreciate the value of wild lands. Your typical snowmobile rider is from counties dominated by farm land and suburbs. They mostly (not all, but most) don’t share the values of those who appreciate wild lands (hence the motor between their legs).

        • Hope says:

          You are entitled to your opinion. As am I. Although I am not a snowmobile enthusiast., I will recognize that they are also residents and tax payers as are ATV users. Their funds help pay for the NYS acquisitions of lands. They should have a seat at the table for the use of these lands just as hikers and bicyclists do. Who are we to deny them the opportunity to enjoy the land that their tax dollars paid for. Who are we to determine that private land is the only appropriate venue for snowmobile trails? As private land gets gobbled up by NYS, do the existing snowmobile trails disappear? Permanent trails on NYS land are just that. If you don’t want to be with the snowmobiles you will avoid those trails. There is room for all.

          • John Warren says:

            The Forest Preserve was set aside by the people of New York as ‘forever wild’ – you seem to be refusing to accept that. Our tax dollars pay for lots of things that we can’t use as we like. so the theory that just because your tax dollars contribute to the purchase of something, means that you should be able to do whatever you want with it, is obviously false. I pay school taxes but that doesn’t give me the right to use the local school facilities for whatever I want. Most snowmobile trails are on private land which are in no way in danger of being “gobbled up”, that’s simply hyperbole. There is plenty of room – on private land. And by the way, I am a snowmobile enthusiast – just not on our state’s wild lands.

            • Boreas says:


              Albany doesn’t help the situation much when they assure local communities PRIOR to purchasing wild lands that motorized access and snowmobile trails will be allowed in at least some areas of the acquisition – Boreas Ponds being a prime example. If the state has no intention of keeping an acquisition wild, perhaps these acquisitions should be classified simply as State Forest or a State Park instead where trees can be cut for wide trails, and motorized access accepted. Is it required that all state acquisitions within the Blue Line become part of the Forest Preserve? Is there some advantage to placing the lands under the FP instead of a simple State Forest or game-lands that are found elsewhere around the state? I really don’t know. But Albany needs to stop promising all things to all people. They pat themselves on the back for adding sensitive, wild lands to the FP while at the same time promoting motorized use. Pick one.

              To me, in general concept, it seems the core of the Park should be classified as Wilderness, and the surrounding areas within the Blue Line that have more of a history of long-term logging and intensive land use be classified more appropriately, including State Forest and State Game Lands. As has been said before, it is folly to treat each acquisition as both wild and motorized because those types of compromise seem to just polarize taxpayers.

              • John Warren says:

                First, this claim that there was some agreement to circumvent the public process and promise a motorized Boreas Ponds is empty. Where is it? Who made it? When did they make it? This is the same argument that’s made all the time in these cases by the same side. In fact, most of the purchase – of which Boreas Ponds was a small part – was motorized. So it’s doubly wrong to make the claim you’re making in this case – ie, that it was supposed to be motorized. Exactly the opposite. Motor vehicle advocates managed to get most of the TNC purchase motorized, and then the Boreas Ponds as well.

                There is about half motorized and half non-motorized FOREST PRESERVE lands in the Park. Forest Preserve lands make up about half the Park, so the balance is quite skewed to motorized recreation with 75% of the park motorized, and about 25% non-motorized. Calls for balance are nonsense. You don’t want balance, because that would make about and additional third of the existing motorized lands non-motorized.

                And yes, all land purchased by the state inside the Blue Line, and in fact in any forest preserve county, are required by the NYS Constitution to be kept forever wild. Of course the state has found numerous ways to ignore this – prisons, railroad lines, highways, power corridors, snowmobile byways connecting communities, ski and sliding sports facilities, handing it over to international mining companies, taking easements instead of fee purchases, and more.

                Considering that most people outside New York think of the state as a city, and we are an island of protected land encircled by a megalopolis of development, this constitutional protection is and has been the only thing protecting the Adirondack Park from the many, many efforts over the years to log, mine, and develop some of the last big areas of wild lands east of the Mississippi.

                You say you want “Albany” to pick one – motorized use, or protecting sensitive lands. The people of this state already did that, and have reaffirmed it time and time again. It’s in the NYS Constitution and it says that these lands purchased by the state in the Forest Preserve counties – “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands”.

                • Boreasfisher says:

                  Hard to argue with this…need to avoid false compromises.

                • Boreas says:


                  Regarding your first paragraph, if I am not mistaken, towns where acquisitions are to be made definitely have prior input into what it ultimately be used for. I do not have proof of any prior discussion or arrangement WRT Boreas Ponds, but it certainly seemed like town officials were expecting significant motorized access (not ALL motorized) and the APA certainly leaned that way in concert with no plan at all to classifying the purchase as all Wilderness. Who put that thought in their heads? It would seem it was more than just wishful thinking. People who intend to subvert rarely document.

                  As for your last paragraph, I meant new acquisitions, not all existing state lands. Don’t get me wrong, I share your commitment to the FP. I was merely attempting to point out the problem is not always with preservationists vs. people who want more motorized access, it also lies in politics.

                  • John Warren says:

                    Yes, they had prior input – that resulted in most of the purchase being motorized and logged. Then they claimed they had some secret agreement about Boreas Ponds. This has been a years’ long complaint – not once has anyone provided any evidence. This is easy to answer – just provide the secret agreement! Provide an e-mail, letter, contract, or anything remotely conclusive. They can’t, so they don’t.

                    • Boreas says:


                      OK, now I see what you are saying about an alleged agreement separate from basic town input. I guess I misunderstood. It is an excellent point and I agree.

            • Peter says:

              John you seem to have access to the laws of NYS regarding snowmobiling. I live in a area of the Adirondack Park that is popular with snowmobiles. In order to get to my home I drive on a town road that is designated as a snowmobile trail. This road is plowed and maintained by the town. In the winter it is difficult and dangerous sharing this town road with snowmobilers. The snowmobilers think they own the road and automobiles do not belong there. I understand that a town plowed road used by automobiles can not be a snowmobile trail unless it is seasonal and unplowed.

              • John Warren says:

                This sounds like something you should talk with your town board about. I believe the law restricts the designation of roads for snowmobiles according to the amount of use they receive. Your town board could work with your local club to build a proper trail, which would probably be preferred by sledders wearing out their gear on roads.

        • Paul says:

          “Unfortunately, the snowmobile lobby feels as though they belong on the ‘forever wild’ Forest Preserve, which they clearly do not.”

          John, why does the ASLMP allow for them then? If private land (and it’s FP in the Adirondacks if it isn’t private) was the only option for snowmobiles (and for motor boats in the same scenario) then anyone who wanted to do it not only needs to own or rent the expensive sled. They also have to own or lease (or have a friend who does) a bunch of land.

          I don’t snowmobile anymore but I don’t have a problem with their use on lands classified as Wild Forest or less restrictive.

          • Paul says:

            I guess you could argue that there is easement lands open for sledding but many of them are now not allowing it and banning ATVs as part of these deals to retain cabin rights.

          • John Warren says:

            How Snowmobilers Won Their Special Privileges

  17. Sandor says:

    Well spoken Steve!! Ditto…

  18. Jim McCulley says:

    The normalization is the state illegally closing roads. The SLMP cannot close roads but they used it illegally to close roads these connections could be done many times using the old road system. See McCulley V NYSDEC

  19. Leo says:

    It appalls me at the amount of ignorance being spoke in the comments as well as the two tongues of the article. Trails are not 17′ feet wide, there is no need for perfectly flat 70mph trails nor the cutting of thousands of trees. The push for the excess tree cutting only comes because the existing cleared logging roads that exist are in the interior of the land tract and every group against this agreed to allow snowmobiles on the perimeter of the land to lessen said impact but now decided that they dont want that either. Trails exist today that could be cleared with less impact. Economically snowmobilers pour more money in to all of the area communities than all other winter activities combined. There is less damage from a 1000 snowmobilers on a constructed trail all winter than 100 hikers in one weekend after a rain hiking up a high peak. How much revenue do hikers bring in to the local economy? Not much because I hike also and if I buy food at a restaurant on my way out that’s a lot. If you want an economy to exist during the winter you better stop pissing in your cereal bowl and figure out a way to get people connected our you will lose all of it. I think that is Protects master plan anyways.

    • John Warren says:

      That is a lot of sentences. Almost all of them are patently false.

      • Leo says:

        Nice try. Show me the evidence they are wrong.

        • John Warren says:

          Buddy, these things have been hashed over time and time again. You’re just the latest to come out of the woodwork poorly informed and repeating falsehoods spread by snowmobile lobbyists.

          I don’t have time to educate the self-serving every day, so here’s just one thing that shows how completely made up most of what you’re saying is:

          Compare how many people visit just the High Peaks Wilderness each year to how many snowmobiles were registered in this entire state two years ago. When you’re done, report back to us.

          If you are unwilling to do that, we’ll know your goal is just to misinform.

          • Leo says:

            Visit is one thing, spend money is another. I’m not new to the game either so I suggest you know your facts too before speaking.

          • Leo says:

            Comparing hiker visits to number of snowmobiles is apples and oranges. That bait and switch sounds like the railroad counting riders everytime they get back on the same train! Hilarious.

            • Leo says:

              Again, number of registrations is not the same as number if visitors to a peak. Let’s compare visits to say The Norridgewok compared to the peak Algonquin. Give me that number. Then of the visitors to Algonquin, how many of those directly contributed to the maintenance or up keep of the trail. Take that number and compare to snowmobilers.

              • Leo says:

                So you are turning this into a personal.attack without even knowing myself or my background. That speaks a lot of your MO. You have not offered facts either should I turn it on you. I wont because it’s obvious you have no clue or care for an constructive debate. Let me guess, timber to you is every sapling, seedling or sprout.

            • Boreas says:


              Hikers don’t eat? Hikers don’t buy gas? Hikers don’t stay in motels? Hikers do not camp in campgrounds? Hikers don’t buy gear? You are being absurd. Not to mention, hikers and skiers “visit” 12 months of the year to use the trails, not just when there is snow cover.

              • Leo says:

                High peaks and wilderness where we are talking there are no fees currently to camp or park. Not many stores carry dehydrated or lightweight food and only buy gear locally when its broken. It’s not absurd it is fact. Check it out, do a poll. I read all the posts of hikers sleeping at trailheads to save money/lack of a hotel nearby, the trader Joe’s they bought the next best thing for gourmet trail food.

                • Boreas says:

                  I don’t have to check it out, I DID IT for 40 years! I have spent thousands at The Mountaineer, EMS, Hoss’s, Noonmark Diner, Spread Eagle, Donut Hole, numerous places in Old Forge, Big Moose, Inlet, Paul Smiths and Newcomb and camped at the DEC campground by Whiteface, and many other state and private campgrounds in the HPW and Old Forge area that have existed over the years. Hikers/skiers will spend money at virtually any establishment that caters to them, just like sledders. And there are probably 5-10 times more hikers now than when I started.

                  I don’t pretend to know everything about snowmobiles and snowmobilers, but if you don’t know about hiking & skiing, that’s OK, just don’t spread false impressions of us. I am sure you don’t like it when anti-snowmobilers off-handedly say that sledders spend most of their money at taverns and gas stations.

                  When you see out of state plates at a trailhead, you can guarantee those people are spending money. Stop in any one of those establishments I mentioned above and ask them how much they depend on hikers/skiers – you may just learn why they have existed so long.

                  • Concerned Snowmobiler says:

                    Over 40 years and you have spent thousands. Big deal, snowmobilers spend 2-3 times that every year. The economic impact of hikers is no comparison. As you said your comparing apples and oranges.

                    And fact is, snowmobilers enjoy other recreational activities including boating, camping and hiking.

                  • Leo says:

                    I do know about hiking and skiing and hunting etc. I also know if you were to poll every hiker especially those outside of the high peaks that are visiting how much they spend on hiking items locally versus from their home or online the percentage would be low for local purchases compared to total.

    • John Warren says:

      The word Adirondacks is not even used in that article, which is reporting on a snowmobile lobby funded study, much of which has been debunked, starting with me in 2012:

      Smart people don’t just believe what lobbyists tell them.

      • Leo says:

        That was all of NYS, not done by lobbyists. You simply saying it’s not true doesnt make it so.

        • John Warren says:

          There is no point in discussing these issues with someone who doesn’t acknowledge basic facts. When you have some evidence to present for your claims, let us know.

          • Leo says:

            Sorry pal your the one that doesnt acknowledged basic facts. Using tour own article to debunk a survey does not make it fact. I dont remember seeing any sources quoted besides the survey itself. You need to give it up and accept that there are other people in this world that use and are entitled to the same resources.

            • Todd Eastman says:

              Please explain how, and by which law, you are “entitled”…

              … I eagerly await your nuanced response…?

              • Boreas says:


                It’s simple. Pay a registration fee and you are entitled to ride wherever you want. It must say that somewhere on the registration – right?

                From what I understand, only PEOPLE are allowed to access to ALL state lands. Your choice of hardware or conveyance on the other hand, may not.

              • Leo says:

                I am a taxpayer as well as you. Every single land purchase in the park outline should not just be non motorized. It’s a new purchase and has not been treated as non motorized so why change it going forward? Boreas it has nothing to do with registrations, that’s not my line. I look at it as a taxpayer.

  20. Paul says:

    It’s funny many of the same people who in some places seem opposed to wide fast snowmobile trails on FP land are fine with a wide fast snowmobile trail if it includes removing rail infrastructure.

    • Steve ., says:

      Possibly because having the newer and faster machines using existing logging roads or rail beds no longer used for that purpose, is a better choice than cutting a new trail on the edge of but inside a wilderness area, as is what is being done along Rt 28 north of Raquette Lake. Taking up the rails and ties of a defunct railroad doesn’t involve a 9 – 17 ft. clear cut of trees, which is clearly in violation of the state constitution.

  21. Dominic Jacangelo says:

    After reading the many comments here is it apparent that many do not have a full grasp of the facts. Article 14 was not an experiment. It was modeled after European Reserves which are a collection of public and private land. It is not a perfect Article. I think it has been amended more times (14 since 1938) than any other article in the State Constitution. It was proposed in 1895 as a response to the corrupt way the state was managing state owned wood lots.
    The State Court of Appeals has many times said the Article 14 requires a reasonable interpretation. It is not a total prohibition on cutting a tree. The scope and quantity is what will always come into a decision. And it does say timber not tree.
    DEC’s foresters are not approving the cutting of trees under any VSA until that get further direction.. hence the moratorium.
    Of course there is that other 50% of the park where trees can be cut at will.
    By someone’s words snowmobiling is not a big deal economically … so why the big deal with these 27 miles.The 27 miles of trail challenged involves 35 acres… out of 3 million?? Sorry, de minimis at best.
    ATV’s do not belong on snowmobile trails. The problem is enforcement. Does anyone know how many tickets for illegal use were actually written last year? I think not because the number is embarrassingly low.

  22. Sandor says:

    Do you idiots know you think you are riding thru the Hoffman club….its a 60 year +….hunting lease that is opposed to your BS…why don’t you bung holes lease your own property and make your own trail!!

    • Leo says:

      If it’s a hunting lease isn’t it exclusive to hunting rights only? My exclusive hunting lease is just that.

  23. Hoffman Notch says:


    Surely folks understand how a lease works. A fee is paid for EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS to use a property. Well if that trail comes through…exclusive rights are gone. How many of those Snowmobilers that hunt would appreciate me coming and stomping all over their hunting grounds. While I understand that the land owner has the right to do what they want with the property and I also know that the state has enough money to do whatever they want. That’s why they bought the right of way through the property. The state cares very little for the little guy and the hunting legacy in New York. Why not use the north side of Blue Ridge road. They still have to cut a scar through pristine wildlife ( which I oppose). But the state has already procured the vast majority of land to the north…much less invasive to go there that cut through a 60+ year old land lease that members have used their entire lives.

  24. Hoffman Notch says:

    For that matter we might as well just take down the 300+ posted signs and put out welcome mats. I’m sure no snowmobiler, horseback rider, mountain biker or hiker has ever left the intended trail to go stomp on land that they’re not supposed to be on. I’m sure someone will say…you don’t own the land…to which I would say your right. BUT…I will reiterate…most folks don’t join a lease that we might as well call Cuomo’s playground…everybody welcome!

  25. Another sledder says:

    Let’s face it these two groups will never see eye to eye. The tree huggers of this state have all the political pull. Your hiking trails are all over run, plenty of garbage and TP to b found. You hide behind the idea that your saving the planet… all along your food and products are trucked across the US. This whole article is regurgitated vomit from years gone by. A extra snowmobile trail or two isn’t going to hurt a damn thing.
    Maybe you should start working on your own problems, like controlling your Hikers that don’t spend money!

  26. Boreasfisher says:

    Many nice illustrations in these posts of what Robert Sapolsky calls cultural kin selection, probably the most dangerous tendency of our times.

    Somehow we have to get beyond a knee jerk demonization of people who don’t agree with us in order to concentrate on the things that matter. Truly.

    IMHO –and I know there are those who don’t agree with me –that means working together to preserve the few remaining wild spaces that are under assault everywhere. Happily, this idea still enjoys pretty broad cross bipartisanl support across the planet.

    • Leo says:

      I agree on that but the disagreement lies on what is needed/necessary and what can be utilized in other manners. I am a multi sport person, hiking, backpacking, camping, snowmobiling, back country skiing, snowshoeing, winter camping and hunter. I see all facets of use and damage. Current constitution can not support the amount of foot traffic allowed.

      • Boreas says:


        I agree with you there!! The increasing foot traffic issue has been ignored for at least 30 years now, but that isn’t the hiker’s fault – that is on DEC. If you will look through the articles here and elsewhere, NYS is starting to open their eyes and do something about it with parking changes, etc. and have been criticized at every turn. If you think this connector trail is a big issue, yain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

        • Todd Eastman says:

          Most trails are in bettr shape than they were in the 1970s…

          … crowds do not correlate with erosion. Though there is a relationship, it is not pure cause and effect. Now if you could get the State to stop the rain…?

          • Boreas says:


            I guess it depends on what we consider an improvement. They may be better in some ways than the 70s but not the 40s – 50s. Face it – part of the reason many trails are in “better” shape in comparison today is that the soil and mud on the steeper slopes is long gone and people are now hiking on rock – “natural” trail stabilization. Look at most any trail on a slope and you will see you are walking in a ditch. It became obvious in the 60s and 70s that erosion was a big problem – when hiking and camping began to increase everywhere with the “outdoor movement”. That is when the current trail use discussion and planning should have taken place, but NYS was glad to have any tourism at that time regardless of its toll on the ancient HPW trails. Similar situation with snowmobiling and its evolution. 20/20 hindsight, but nearly blind future management. Politics…

  27. Sandor says:

    The intended trail is coming thru a private lease…we will be there everyday…
    ??….we will arrest someone everyday!

  28. John VanSchaick says:

    i believe that the addirondack park is by the state and i also believe that when the state buys property that is part of the park that it pays for it with tax payer money so there for the people really own the park our mony paid for most of it if some is donated thats great
    so there for all people should have access to it wheather by foot, 4 wheeler,or snowmobile what ever the mode of tranportation is i no some dont see it that all people have paid for it so the for it should be voted for its use by all it was our money not just a small hand full of people to say yes or no they did not pay for it alone
    the park is beautiful in many ways everyone should access to it not all people destroy property all the money spent on law suit and courts should be put in to upkeep and law enforcement to keep it nice and usable thank you, just my opinion not that it will matter

  29. Boreas says:


    Your comment is appreciated and makes sense in general. But one clarification – NYS buys land all over the state. WHERE that land is located has very much to do with how it can be eventually used. Forest lands purchased within the Adirondack Park “Blue Line” by NYS will likely end up in the Forest Preserve which is much different than lands purchased in the rest of the state. The FP has more restrictions than other state lands – hence Forest PRESERVE. When these lands are purchased for the FP, motor vehicle access and development is restricted by the wording of the state constitution, which is what this discussion is about. So, when taxpayers are buying lands destined for the FP, those restrictions should be expected by the taxpayers. However, it should be noted those restrictions are not on people but conveyances. In some areas limited motor use is being allowed by permit for people with mobility issues to enjoy more of the Park.

    Perhaps you are right – maybe these acquisitions should be voted on. Just keep in mind that could ultimately result in few new acquisitions.

    • Concerned Snowmobiler says:

      It should be voted on via public referendum.

      The results of few new acquisitions would not be a bad thing. Keep the lands on the tax rolls and productive pieces of property. 6 million acres is more than enough.

  30. David, Thanks for an excellent article laying out the historical perspective. I do ride a snowmobile on occasion. A major through trail traverses the former railroad ROW (now power line) across Loon Lake from my camp. New snowmobile trails (on existing roads for the most part) have opened up on the Kushaqua and Sable Highlands easement lands. We used to use these informally in the past, now they are groomed. I find this use consistent with the existing nature of the ROW/roadway network.

    Interestingly, Summer ATV use of this network has dropped dramatically since the early 2000’s. Weekend nights, it used to sound like a race track across the lake; that usage has all but disappeared. The railroad ROW is open to vehicular use, all the way to Malone. We hear an occasional UTV heading to one of the many hunting camps on the Kushaqua and Sable Highlands tracts.

  31. The promise of equal parts wilderness park and strong economy for the Adirondacks has not been met. While public ownership of forest preserve has steadily increased, economic diversity has steadily decreased with fewer acres available for lease, for timber management, for motorized use etc. Snowmobiling, hiking, hunting and other recreational activities must be increased to offset the losses and allow communities to at least maintain sustainable populations and services. This is possible under Article 14 but this bickering is not productive not does it address the need for economic activity and sustainable communities. I wish Dave Gibson would commit equal time to writing articles on how he proposes to accomplish a sustainable and diverse economy in the park. If he wants to deny connector trails, where else is the economic activity snowmobiles bring going to come from? Just being a no vote on snowmobile connector trails is not enough. Dominic is right about the economic value a strong snowmobile trail network brings and the de minimis number of acres impacted. It may be very hard to find a better cost/benefit use of the forest preserve but that is what David needs to provide as an alternative. Maybe this is why he doesn’t address alternatives for economic activity in the Adirondacks.

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