In mid-June, Whiteface Mountain advertised a summer activity — rides aboard big all-terrain vehicles on the ski slopes of the High Peaks landmark. Called the “4×4 Alpine Expedition,” marketing videos showed children and adults enjoying the guided tours.
Callers to the resort’s customer service line were told they could book 60-minute or 90-minute excursions through the fall.
But by July, the rides were abruptly canceled. That came after environmental watchdogs raised concerns to state officials, and after the Adirondack Explorer inquired about the propriety of the rides. » Continue Reading.
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Ranger Arthur Perryman reported that he received information indicating an illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trail was being constructed from privately owned lands onto New York State Adirondack Forest Preserve lands in the Town of Johnsburg. » Continue Reading.
I know snowmobiles are controversial here, but I don’t know much about them. Back in the Mid Atlantic, I think one guy in our entire county had a snowmobile, and once every winter it might precipitate enough for him to pull it out and lap his house a few times before putting it away for another year. It worked for him.
But I do know a lot about all-terrain vehicles and their big brothers that seat multiple people and have enough cargo space to haul the entire Imelda Marcos Memorial Shoe Collection. (Imelda, if you’re not dead, my apologies; I didn’t have time to look it up.) » Continue Reading.
A notice inviting public comment about what seems a relatively innocuous, relatively short (1.25 mile) road construction has been circulated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC.
The Adirondack Almanack headlined the matter as “DEC planning new road east of Carry Falls Reservoir.”
This is not a small deal. In fact, the 1.25 miles of new road cut through the forest will result in nearly 20 miles of new public motorized access within a sensitive low-elevation boreal ecosystem. For many years, our DEC has been badly conflicted about balancing resource protection and motorized access to this area. » Continue Reading.
Newly published research in the journal PLOS ONE by scientists at Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Colorado State University (CSU), and University of California-Berkeley finds that human recreation activities in protected areas are impacting wildlife, and more often than not, in negative ways.
Nature-based, outdoor recreation is the most widespread human land use in protected areas and is permitted in more than 94 percent of parks and reserves globally. Inspiring an estimated eight billion visits per year to these areas, outdoor recreation is typically assumed to be compatible with conservation. Increasingly, however, negative effects of recreation on wildlife are being reported. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released the Final Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands Recreational Management Plan (RMP) for motorized recreational use of snowmobiles, ATVs, and motor vehicles on the approximately 18,000-acre easement in the northern Adirondacks.
The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands are located in the towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County formerly owned by International Paper Corporation. DEC purchased a conservation easement on the lands in 2004 which included development rights and logging requirements. The easement also includes public access to the property and more than 100 miles of existing roads. » Continue Reading.
A NYS Supreme Court Justice has overturned a local law that would have expanded all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riding onto a public road in the Adirondack Park.
The Town of Forestport, Oneida County, had designated Smith-Buck Lake Road open to ATVs, which is prohibited under State Law except for short stretches that connect legal trail systems. The judge ruled that the town had failed to comply with the legal requirements for opening the road to ATVs.
“Our family has a home and property in the Adirondack Park in the Town of Forestport because of the peace and tranquility,” said James Klodnicki, who lives on the road. “We don’t live next to an ATV trail, so we thought we were safe, until the town opened our road to ATVs. That decision could have changed the character of our neighborhood very drastically.” » Continue Reading.
Greater public access and more recreational opportunities will be available in the St. Lawrence Flatlands area under its final Unit Management Plan (UMP), according to an announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
“The UMP provides greater land access for hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationalists in northern St. Lawrence and Franklin counties,” Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement sent to the press. “The plan develops recreational access to forest lands, increases public awareness of outdoor opportunities on these state forests and ensures sustainable forest management.”
The St. Lawrence Flatlands comprises 30,810 acres in 10 state forests located in the Franklin County towns of Bombay and Moira, and the St. Lawrence County towns of Brasher, Madrid, Norfolk and Stockholm. The specific land units are Brasher State Forest, Bombay State Forest, Buckton State Forest, Fort Jackson State Forest, Grantville State Forest, Knapp Station State Forest, Lost Nation State Forest, Raymondville State Forest, Sodom State Forest and Southville State Forest. The UMP also covers six widely scattered parcels of detached forest preserve lands, ranging in size from three to 350 acres, located in the towns of Lisbon, Louisville, Massena, and Waddington in St. Lawrence County. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Conservation is seeking comments on their Recreational Management Plan (RMP) for the Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands in the northern Adirondack Park. The plan includes extensive development for motor vehicles, including more than 100 miles of roads to be used by cars and trucks, snowmobiles, and ATVs, and six new parking lots.
In one of his last acts as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, Joe Martens overturned a predecessor’s finding that part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail was still a town road and therefore could be open to snowmobiles, ATVs, and other vehicles.
Martens, who left his post last week, wrote in a July 22 decision that the road had long been abandoned and so the state had the power to close it to vehicular use. The road in question — known as the Old Mountain Road — cuts through the Sentinel Range Wilderness between Keene and North Elba.
The West River Road ends with a football-field size turnaround. At this point it’s 0.7 miles inside the Silver Lake Wilderness area. ATVs use this as a launching pad to trespass even further into Wilderness area, where they get close to the Northville Placid trail.
The management of this illegal road is a mess. In 2006, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) stated in its approval of the Silver Lake Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan that it would work with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Town of Wells to fix this non-complying road. As 2014 winds down, there has been zero action at the APA to close this illegal road. » Continue Reading.
Chub Pond lean-to 1 is unlike any other lean-to on the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
I recently visited this spot in the Black River Wild Forest while surveying trail damage from ATVs. I had heard that this lean-to was being used as a private camp and using Google Earth I could see a chimney and skylights in the lean-to roof and a large cleared area. When I reached the site, it was even worse than I expected. » Continue Reading.
On August 29th, I visited the Gull Lake and Chub Pond trails in the Black River Wild Forest. I photographed all sorts of trail and wetland damage from All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) use on these trails. ATVs are not allowed on these trails, but the Black River Wild Forest area has a history of illegal ATV use, and I thought that the damage to these trails reflected more of the same.
I had received reports about ATV damage in this part of the Forest Preserve earlier this year. The previous week I had spent time in the Ferris Lake Wild Forest inventorying trail damage from ATVs and photographing ATV side-routes around various barrier gates put up by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It appeared that the damage to the Chub Pond and Gull Lake trails was also caused by illegal trespass. The usual telltale signs of illegal trespass and recreational riding were evident. » Continue Reading.
Land classification battles are a common feature of new Forest Preserve acquisitions in the Adirondack Park these days, with the Essex Chain of Lakes property being a prime example. Typically, the disagreement boils down to Wild Forest versus Wilderness, the two most common land classifications in the Adirondacks. While Wilderness remains the more restrictive, Wild Forests are supposed to maintain a wild character despite the presence of dirt roads, snowmobile trails, etc. Unfortunately, this wild character seems to be slowly fading away in many cases, making room for increasing (and often illegal) human uses.
According to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, Wilderness are areas dominated by natural forces, where the Earth and its communities of life remain relatively untrammeled by man, while Wild Forests allow for a greater impact from humans, supposedly due to their lack of remoteness and ability to absorb the impact from such activity. The subjectivity of these definitions allows for a great deal of interpretation though. Often the classification of a new area appears mainly political, with the appeasement of certain user groups sublimating all other considerations. » Continue Reading.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is proposing a new experiment trying to combine intensive public motorized recreational use and natural resource management. The DEC has released a draft Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Kushaqua Conservation Easement tract located in the Towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County. Throughout this tract, the DEC is proposing to open a number of roads to all terrain vehicles (ATVs).
The DEC went down this road once before in the mid-1990s when they opened scores of roads on the Forest Preserve to ATVs. Though official processes were not followed at that time, scores of roads and trails throughout the western Adirondacks were opened to ATVs. Trespassing in other areas was also widespread across the Forest Preserve. After extensive damage to roads, trails, and natural resources, the DEC and APA backtracked in 2005 and closed scores of Forest Preserve roads to ATV use.
At that time, public ATV use on the Forest Preserve was seen by many as an experiment that failed. » Continue Reading.
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