Monday, December 9, 2019

Advocates Warn: Snowmobile Trails In Wilderness Areas Violate Law

remsen lake placid travel corridor mapAlternative snowmobile corridors proposed in the Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor Draft Amendment violate the law and the “forever wild” mandate of the NYS Constitution and should be immediately removed from the draft according to Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

“The Department of Environmental Conservation’s inclusion of highly controversial alternative snowmobile routes which violate the law and a July 2019 court decision in a document dedicated to a Travel Corridor makes no sense to us,” the group’s managing partner David Gibson said in a statement sent to the press.

“This plan should stick to its topic, meaning the future of linear Rail and Recreational Trail segments from Big Moose to Lake Placid, and avoid mapping snowmobile community connectors outside of the Corridor on Forest Preserve which needlessly raise red flags and which blatantly violate wilderness law and a recent court decision.”

The Travel Corridor amendment includes “Snowmobile Trail Alternative 4, Long Lake to Raquette Lake,” which runs four miles through the Blue Ridge Wilderness.  This would be in violation of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Article XIV of the NYS Constitution, the group’s press announcement said.

“The Travel Corridor document inaccurately states on page 76 that this Wilderness motorized corridor is ‘approved in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.’ In fact, it is still being considered by DEC as a draft amendment to the Blue Ridge Wilderness UMP. That proposal received heavy criticism in late 2018 from Adirondack Wild and others for violating Wilderness guidelines and the NYS Constitution. Public motorized uses in Wilderness areas are strictly prohibited,” the announcement said.

Adirondack Wild cited another example a proposed alternative snowmobile route at the edge of the Round Lake Wilderness Area. This proposal “has been heavily criticized for decades and… could not pass constitutional tests,” they said.

Adirondack Wild’s position is that both proposed alternatives would require the cutting of many thousands of trees on Forest Preserve which would be in direct violation of the July 2019 Appellate Court decision declaring such intensive tree-cutting on the Forest Preserve to be a violation of Article XIV of the NYS Constitution.

“Why the DEC’s draft Travel Corridor Plan got so far off track to include alternative snowmobile routes which would conflict with the state constitution and the master plan is very perplexing,” Gibson’s statement said. “Proposing Forest Preserve snowmobile routes many miles distant from the Travel Corridor itself completely ignores last July’s Appellate Court prohibition on extensive tree cutting and other legal issues.”

“The sensible course is for DEC to immediately remove the Alternative Snowmobile Route section of the Travel Corridor Draft plan,” said Gibson. “The focus should be on the future of the Rail and Trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid and not on more motorized uses requiring extensive tree cutting on Forest Preserve which a court has already decided is unconstitutional.”

The DEC’s public comment period on the Draft Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor Amendment has been extended until January 8, 2020.

Map of Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor provided by DEC.

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29 Responses

  1. Boreasfisher says:

    Sneaky Petes. (I am being kind).

    Thanking my lucky stars that there continue to be independent organizations in these times working to keep the so-called stewards of the public trust honest.

  2. Chris says:

    Creep, creep, creep.

    The professionals know how incremental changes add up to complete reversals.

    Thank you for being alert and advocating.

  3. No motor/no money says:

    The rail trail committee has asked for support from the snowmobile community and now you are going to cut them out. No motor/no money. We don’t have to look very far to see corrupt and crooked politics, it’s right under our noses.

    • Boreasfisher says:

      Huh? What corruption? This is a ridiculous trope you read a lot of these days….when people speak out against practices they find questionable, they are labelled corrupt. Nonsense.

      • Brian Mann says:

        Kaloyeros, Howe, Percoco, and many hotshot developers in serious legal trouble….. what do they have in common? Cuomo.

  4. Tony Goodwin says:

    The solution is simple. Remove the tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake, and then alternate snowmobile trails would not be needed.

  5. Boreas says:

    As I mentioned in a post elsewhere, unless passenger and/or rail bike service is formally restricted to 3-season use, snowmobile usage could be compromised along the R-TL segment due to the clearing of snow on the tracks for safe rail use. Legality notwithstanding, I feel proposing ANY snowmobile connector trails without this being addressed first is certainly premature.

  6. LeRoy Hogan says:

    No worries. The APA under the direction of our governor will just have laws changed to his liking. For example, what is a travel corridor?

  7. M Farmer says:

    You make great fact-based points which, unfortunately, will be denounced as rabid watchdog rants. It’s the customary distract and destruct strategy. I like rail trails, and also railroads. I don’t like those who would kill the Adirondack Scenic Railroad to serve their own parochial interests. The debate over whose interests are more profitable, important or correct will never be resolved.
    DEC changed the corridor definition in the State Land Master Plan. Don’t like the score of the game? Move the goal lines.
    The new plan by DEC and DOT comes complete with alternative routes which you’ve identified as illegal. For how long? The majority of comments at the current public hearings do not address the plan as drafted, but rather demand modifying the plan to tear up the rails from Big Moose To Tupper Lake. Basically, I like that plan, except for four factors: 1) Trains provide the only potential means for disabled American veterans and others with severe self-mobility issues to see that expanse of wild Adirondack backcountry; 2) The ASR is important enough to be designated as a state and national historic landmark; 3) Cafes, B&Bs, etc. cannot be built along almost all of that portion of the corridor; 4) ASR opponents have demonstrated that they will not be satisfied until the rails are removed from the entire corridor.

  8. Abe lincoln says:

    Once again the not in my back yarders and tree huggers try to prevail. Snowmobilers are great for the economy and considering there’s no industry in the North Country Ithey need every dollar they can get. These are the same people that want their piece of the wilderness but don’t want anyone else to have any.

  9. Alice Osoway says:

    It amazes me how the Forever wild community is so worried about a snow mobile trail damaging the wilderness but I have seen first hand the damage of of clear cutting and the mess that is left behind – pools of oil and and other toxic chemicals that lay there for years. All the damage that is done to animal habitat and plants and the footprint that is left behind. All the soil and gravel that is hauled to the landing areas to widen roads so that tractor trailers and tree cutting machinery can get to their landings yet you people are worried about a seasonal recreational vehicle half the width of a car doing all the damage. There is a problem with the logic of your committee and how they perceive themselves in their roll to save the forest.

  10. roger dziengeleski says:

    Connector trails are allowed under the SLMP?

  11. LClear says:

    The curious thing is how DEC & APA have somehow determined that a travel corridor can exist without road or rail infrastructure. It is simply contrary to both the history of the State Land Master Plan and any kind of internal logic within the document itself. If anyone decides to sue again over the current decision-making, it could again end up in long & wasteful litigation with absolutely nothing accomplished.

  12. Tony Goodwin says:

    The 1996 UMP included a recommendation that, if recreation became the main use of the Corridor, the ASLMP’s definition of a travel corridor should be amended to better reflect the “recreational theme” of management. This change had been anticipated for over 20 years, and was not just a case of “moving the goalposts” at the last minute.

    Remember that there could be a time, many years in the future, when we would again need this as a travel corridor for rail or highway, so keeping it as a travel corridor is important going forward. And while there is currently some rail use on the Corridor, it is also more “recreational” than actual “transportation”.

  13. LeRoy Hogan says:

    “Rail Explorers has not only had a tangible economic impact by bringing new visitors to the area, but the company has also raised awareness about the importance of preserving this well-loved piece of Adirondack history. It is time to embrace a future of ‘Rails and Trails’,” said Steven Engelhart, Executive Director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, in a a press statement.

    • howard says:

      Could care less weather you bring in a little money or a lot of money, a few or a lot of visitors; The state said no to rails. get use to it! THEY OWN THE CORRDIOR!

      • LeRoy Hogan says:

        That’s the problem with thinking only the state owns the corridor when it should be all of us NYS taxpayers owning the corridor and all of us should have a say not just the few elected officials.

  14. Hope says:

    Well as long as NYS removes the rails from Big Moose to Lake Placid there alternate routes become moot. They are only there because they Plan is to keep the rails from Big Moose to Tupper Lake.

    These new sidings being built in the Wilderness for the train should be examined for their encroachment upon wilderness areas. Flag Stops and crossings, loading platforms, sidings, etc. Every time the train approaches one of these it is required to blow it’s horn, clang its bell for a warning. That will be a pretty big change to the current quiet wilderness of Lake Lila and the Bog River area. And what about the folks that disembark to visit the area? It’s not going to be a varied disbursement of people, but a glut of groups all going to the same area at the same time. Not spread out over the course of a day. Going to hike Fredrica? Join the throngs. Going canoe camping? Better start having reservations because it is already crowded in there.
    Trails allow people to move on their own schedule. Rails move the masses. Do you really want the masses disembarking in the wilderness? Talk about rescue mania. Don’t be late for your pick-up or you could be in for the night, most likely unprepared. With ASR current track record, the return train might not even make back in. Careful what you wish for.

  15. Chris patterson says:

    I think it is a matter of discrimination motorized users have every bit as much rights as the next group

  16. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Gloomy Gus