Discussions in the Adirondacks can get pretty meta from time to time. Take for instance, the ongoing debate about “when is a tree considered a tree?” Add to that a recent presentation at Adirondack Park Agency’s May meeting about what constitutes a road.
Gwen Craig reports on the agency having to make decisions on how many road miles should be permissible in wild forest-designated lands.
The APA is tasked with determining the following:
- What was the existing mileage of roads in wild forest in 1972 and what is the existing mileage today?
- What constitutes a material increase in road mileage?
- Do paths that are open only to people with disabilities meet the definition of a road in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and therefore require inclusion in the total wild forest road mileage?
While the discussion might seem to be “in the weeds,” it can have impacts on communities now and going forward, as new lands are added to the park. The APA wants to hear your thoughts on it and so do we! Are there existing wild forest roads that you use? Or do you think they should all be closed off? Are you a person with disabilities that could benefit from easier access to the backcountry? Please leave a comment below.
Above: A map from the Adirondack Park Agency shows public motor vehicle roads in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.
Like all issues facing the Adirondacks, this is complex. I don’t think the “answer “ is a yes or no to any of the scenarios: more, the same, less or no roads in Wild Forest.
Example: I think the long established roads in the Moose River Plains between Cedar R Flow and Lime Kiln Lk are appropriate for that area whereas some of the roads in the Boreal Lowlands in the NW Adirondacks are not appropriate. It depends on the environmental sensitivity & impact. As for whether access roads for people with disabilities should be included in the total mileage, I think that question is more a diversion from what is really important.
When is a “path” a road?? I think they are obfuscating the issue.
Path (to me) implies not used by automobiles. Not talking quads, etc…. Road can be used by a licensed auto or vehicle.
The Adirondacks (as controlled by the DEC) ) is remarkably restrictive in the number of roads that have automobile traffic allowed on. As compared to neighboring states such as NH or Maine as example. ATV and UTV use is even more restrictive, even on roads where autos are allowed. The ATV and UTV restrictions are somewhat puzzling to me as they allow snowmobile use on these same roads when they get closed to auto traffic in winter. Not sure the thought process to it, though not complaining.
Winter use when there is sufficient snow cover has far less impact on soils and water than fall, spring, or summer use. Quads make a mess of trails or paths not built for them.
Take any trail in the ADK & look at the layout in the fall & then look at it again after snowmobiles have used it in the winter and then let ATV’s/UTVs run on it in the spring/summer & fall. ATVs/UTVs will tear it up to no end. Snowmobiles won’t leave hardly a trace that they’ve been there.
ADA access is really complicated for the land managers. If followed to the letter, all places where people can walk or bike ride, are open to disabled users using mechanical assistance.
The authors of the State Land Master Plan naturally could not anticipate today’s population pressures on the Adirondack Park and use of mechanized devices in the “forever wild” Forest Preserve. But those authors did not wish to expand motorized uses as well as mileage on the Forest Preserve (Wild Forest) beyond a material degree. Neither did the authors in 1972 anticipate the extent of the Park’s conservation easement program and acreage, and roads open to public motorized uses. This is one Park. The APA and the DEC should always consider all of the permitted motorized uses on private conservation easement land before expanding such uses and mileage on the Forest Preserve.