Posts Tagged ‘DEC’

Monday, June 7, 2010

Commentary: On Roads and DEC Conspiracies

I guess the conspiracy theorists were wrong.

When the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced it would not open the dirt roads in the Moose River Plains Recreation Area, some in the blogosphere suggested that DEC was using the state’s fiscal crisis as an excuse to cut off motorized access to the Plains. Supposedly, DEC was in cahoots with environmental groups.

Of course, DEC has since announced that it will open most of the roads after all. It agreed to do so after local communities offered to share in the expense of maintaining the roads.

I do find it curious, though, that the DEC will keep closed the Indian Lake Road, which forms the border between the Moose River Plains Wild Forest and the West Canada Lake Wilderness.

Several years ago, I attended a meeting at which DEC discussed a proposal to close this five-mile road permanently to motor vehicles. The rationale for the closure was that it would safeguard the West Canada Lake Wilderness against motorized incursions and the negative impacts of overuse along the border.

Interestingly, DEC argued that the closure would be a boon for floatplane operators as it would make Indian Lake, which is located at the end of the road, an attractive destination for their customers. As long as people can drive to the lake, it makes no sense to fly there.

I need to clarify that we’re not referring to the big Indian Lake associated with the hamlet of the same name. The Indian Lake in the Moose River Plains is an eighty-two-acre water body on the edge of the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area. It once held brook trout, but acid rain killed most of the fish. DEC’s intention is to restock it with trout once the lake’s pH improves.

I don’t know what became of DEC’s proposal, but it seems like a good idea. A few years ago, I visited Indian Lake during a four-day backpacking trip from Forestport to Lewey Lake. Indian is a beautiful, wild lake, but its shoreline has been damaged by overuse. By closing the road, DEC would be limiting use and keeping out most of the litterbugs. In time, Indian Lake would recover its pristine appearance.

Incidentally, the purpose of my backpacking trip was to trace part of the proposed route of the North Country National Scenic Trail. When finished, this trail will stretch 4,600 miles from North Dakota to Crown Point. The trudge along Indian Lake Road was the most boring part of my trek. This section of the Scenic Trail would be more appealing if it were allowed to revert to a motorless pathway.

No doubt some people would oppose closing Indian Lake Road. If you’re one of them, let us know your thoughts.

Whatever you think of the proposal, it shows that DEC recognizes that environmental groups are not its only constituency. In this instance, the department was looking out for the interests of floatplane operators—just as it did during the controversy over Lows Lake.

Yes, DEC listens to environmentalists, but it also listens to pilots, hunters, fishermen, snowmobilers, business owners, and the list goes on. The department can’t please everyone all the time, least of all conspiracy theorists.

Photo of Indian Lake Road by Phil Brown.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An Update on Weekend Adirondack Wildfires

The dry weather prior to and during the Memorial Day holiday weekend resulted in a high fire danger and eight wildland fires in the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 5 portion of the Adirondacks. However, the rains on Tuesday, June 1, have likely put out many of fires and lowered the fire danger. What follows is a summary of wildland fires that DEC forest rangers and others responded to over since Thursday, and their status as of late yesterday afternoon provided by the DEC:

* The 0.3 acre Valentine Pond Fire in the Town of Horicon, Warren County, which was started by lightning on May 27, is out.

* The 1.0 acre Wevertown Fire in the Town of Johnsburg, Warren County on Mill Mountain, which was started by fire on May 27, is out.

* The 7.0 acre Skagerack Mountain Fire in the Town of Chesterfield, Essex County, which was started by lightning on May 27, is in patrol status. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gates to Remain Closed at Hudson River Recreation Area

Saying the agency was “acting to protect natural resources and to curtail illegal and unsafe activities,” the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced it has relocated six campsites closer to main roads and will not reopen the gates at the Hudson River Special Management Area (HRSMA) of the Lake George Wild Forest. The gates, only recently installed to limit the area’s roads during spring mud season, will remain closed until further notice. “Unfortunately, due to funding reductions resulting from the state’s historic budget shortfall, DEC is, as previously announced, unable to maintain many of the roads in HRSMA and must keep the gates closed until the budget situation changes,” a DEC statement said.

Also known as the “Hudson River Rec Area” or the “Buttermilk Area,” the HRSMA is a 5,500-acre section of forest preserve located on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, straddling the boundary of the towns of Lake Luzerne and Warrensburg in Warren County. Designated “Wild Forest” under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, HRSMA is a popular location for camping, swimming, picnicking, boating, tubing, horseback riding, hiking, hunting and fishing. The Hudson River Rec Area has been a popular spot for late-night parties, littering, and other abuses.

Six campsites (# 6-11) have been relocated due to vandalism and overuse. Campsites #6, 7, 8, and 10 and 11 are relocated in the vicinity of the old sites and just a short walk from the parking areas. Parking for each of these sites is provided off Buttermilk Road. Site 9 has been relocated to the Bear Slide Access Road providing an additional accessible campsite in the HRSMA for visitors with mobility disabilities. Site 11 is located off Gay Pond Road, which is currently closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Signs have been posted identifying parking locations for the sites and markers have been hung to direct campers to the new campsite locations. Camping is permitted at designated sites only – which are marked with “Camp Here” disks.

Gay Pond Road (3.8 mi.) and Buttermilk Road Extension (2.1 mi.) are temporarily closed to all public motor vehicle access. Pikes Beach Access Road (0.3 mi.) and Scofield Flats Access Road (0.1 mi.) may still be accessed by motor vehicle by people with disabilities holding CP3 permits. As in the past, the Bear Slides Access Road and Darlings Ford are closed to motor vehicle use by the general public but will remain open for non-motorized access by the general public and motorized access by people with disabilities holding a CP-3 permit.

Currently eight campsites designed and managed for accessibility remain available to people with mobility disabilities. All of the designated sites are available to visitors who park in the designated parking areas and arrive by foot or arrive by canoe.

DEC Forest Rangers will continue to educate users, enforce violations of the law, ensure the proper and safe use of the area, and remind visitors that:

* Camping and fires are permitted at designated sites only;

* Cutting of standing trees, dead or alive, is prohibited;

* Motor vehicles are only permitted on open roads and at designated parking areas;

* “Pack it in, pack it out” – take all garbage and possessions with you when you leave; and

* A permit is required from the DEC Forest Ranger if you are camping more than 3 nights or have 10 or more people in your group.

Additional information, and a map of the Hudson River Special Management Area, may be found on the DEC website.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Phil Brown: The Moose River Plains Conspiracy

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is catching flak over its plan to close the roads in the Moose River Plains, and according to some conspiracy theorists, this is exactly what it wants.

The thinking goes like this: DEC must have known it would spark an outcry, so it must be hoping that the controversy will garner more money to keep the roads open.

However plausible this may be, it appears to be at odds with the other conspiracy theory to emerge since DEC announced its proposal last week. This one holds that DEC is using the state’s fiscal crisis as an excuse to shut the roads not just this year, but permanently—in deference to the wishes of environmental groups.

Both theories were raised in the public discussion that followed my posts last week (here and here) on the Adirondack Explorer website and on our publication’s Facebook page.

Of course, DEC says it’s closing the roads to save money—a necessity required this year by state budget cuts—but many people seem unwilling to take this explanation at face value.

That state officials always harbor ulterior motives seems to be embedded in the ideology among certain Adirondackers. Usually, they claim that DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency are in cahoots with environmental groups such as the Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and act against local interests.

I won’t dispute that officials sometimes do have hidden motives, but the idea that DEC and the APA merely do the bidding of the greenies is manifestly false.

For one thing, the Adirondack Council, ADK, and other environmental groups have taken DEC and APA to court on numerous occasions when they disagreed with the decisions of officialdom.

For another thing, both DEC and the APA have shown a willingness to bend the rules to give local residents what they want.

Take Lows Lake. DEC went to the mat to keep Lows Lake open for floatplanes even though the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan had for years called for banning planes from the lake.

Take snowmobile trails. The State Land Master Plan says snowmobile trails must have the character of a footpath. Yet the DEC and APA approved guidelines that allow some snowmobile trails to be up to twelve feet wide, with most of the rocks removed to create a smooth surface.

Take fire towers. The State Land Master Plan calls for removing the towers from Hurricane and St. Regis mountains, but the APA board recently directed its staff to find a way to allow them to remain.

In short, DEC and the APA do not always take the side of the environmentalists. And they do try to appease local interests.

As a journalist, I’ve learned that you sometimes have to take what officials say with a grain of salt. So it can be a good thing when the public questions the motives of its government. But when people accuse the state of engaging in dark conspiracies whenever things don’t go their way, they poison the political atmosphere.

What is the evidence that DEC wants to permanently close all the roads in the Moose River Plains? Those who are making this claim should set forth their case. We’d all like to see it.

Photo by Phil Brown: the main road in the Moose River Plains.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Budget Crises Closes DEC Roads, Reduces Staff

Funding reductions to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) resulting from the state’s historic budget shortfall will limit the agency’s ability to maintain roads in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, delay construction of recreational facilities on easement lands, and prevent the hiring of Assistant Forest Rangers this season according to media materials distributed late last week.

“Due to the inability to maintain or patrol roads and nearby recreational facilities, a number of roads will remain temporarily closed to public motor vehicle access,” the DEC announced. “These roads have already been closed for mud season, as they are each year. While gates on these roads will remain closed and locked to prevent access by motor vehicles, the roads and surrounding lands will be open for authorized recreational use by the public.”

Each of the roads that will temporarily remain closed has parking available near the gate. The public is asked not to block the gates or the roads, as DEC may need to access the roads for routine maintenance and emergencies. Road maintenance tasks generally include gravel placement to maintain road surfaces, road grading, culvert replacement and removal of road hazards such as leaning or downed trees. Maintenance of campsites along and near these roads also requires a significant effort by DEC staff, including the removal of trash.

The following DEC roads will remain temporarily closed to all public motor vehicle access:

* Moose River Plains Road System (all roads) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, the Towns of Inlet, Arietta, Lake Pleasant and Indian Lake, Hamilton County;

* Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Horicon, Warren County;

* Jabe Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Hague, Warren County;

* Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Warrensburg, Warren County;

* Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Warrensburg, Warren County;

* Dacy Clearing Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Fort Ann, Washington County.

The following DEC roads will remain temporarily closed to general public motor vehicle access, but may still be accessed by motor vehicle by people with disabilities holding CP3 permits:

* Scofield Flats Road, in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County; and

* Pikes Beach Access Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County.

As in the past, the Bear Slides Access Road will be closed to motor vehicle use by the general public but will remain open to people with disabilities holding CP3 permits.

In addition, ongoing parking lot, road, trail, and public facility projects in the following areas will be suspended pending funding becoming available:

* Black Brook Easement Lands in the Town of Black Brook, Clinton County;

* Kushaqua Easement Lands in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin, Franklin County; and

* Altamont Easement Lands in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County.

The Department says it will provide “reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities upon request for access to programs on state lands where roads are closed.” For instance, people with disabilities holding a DEC Motorized Access Permit for Persons with Disabilities (CP3 permit) will be allowed to access recreational programs by motor vehicles on two of the roads that will otherwise be closed to the public. Those with disabilities who wish to access recreational programs in the Warrensburg/ Lake George area should contact Tad Norton in the Department’s Warrensburg Office at (518) 623-1209, and those with disabilities who wish to access recreational programs in the Northville/Raquette Lake area should contact Rick Fenton in the Department’s Northville office at (518) 863-4545.

Questions regarding the temporary road closures, should be directed to the regional DEC Division of Lands and Forests at (518) 897-1276 or the Region 5 DEC Office.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fishing Season Gets into Full Swing May 1

The New York State Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding anglers that fishing season in New York gets into full swing on May 1, the opening day for Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel and Tiger Muskellunge. Also, the catch-and-release bass season is now underway on most state water bodies.

Of the warm-water species, walleye are the traditional primary target this time of year; walleye fishing opportunities exist in more than 100 water bodies throughout the state. Over the last five years and in almost all regions of the state, DEC has stocked 60 waters with walleye fry or fingerlings. Through these and other DEC management actions, new walleye populations are being established and others are being maintained or restored. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Phil Brown: Long Standstill Over Paddlers’ Rights

When four canoeists and a kayaker ventured down the South Branch of the Moose one spring day in 1991, passing through posted land, they sparked a legal battle that lasted eight years and ended in a victory for paddlers.

The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest tribunal, ruled that the common-law right of navigation embraces recreational canoeing. Two years later, the paddlers and the landowner, the Adirondack League Club, reached an agreement specifying when the public is allowed to paddle the South Branch.

But it wasn’t a total victory.

For one thing, the agreement says the river is open to the public only from May 1 to October 15 (or the opening of big-game season). But if a river is navigable in mid-April, why shouldn’t the public be allowed to paddle it? Can such an agreement between a landowner and private parties restrict the common law?

For another thing, little has happened to advance the cause of navigation rights since. Last spring, I paddled through posted land on Shingle Shanty Brook, a stream that connects two parcels of Forest Preserve in the Whitney Wilderness. I believe the public has a right to paddle this stream, but the landowners disagree. That there is still doubt about this, more than a decade later, shows that the Moose River decision was not as world-shaking as paddlers had hoped.

Finally—and this is less well known—the Moose River case put an end to legislative and regulatory efforts in Albany to clarify navigation rights.

Back in 1991, state legislators were pushing a bill that would have affirmed that paddlers have the right to travel on navigable rivers. At the same time, working on a parallel track, the state Department of Environmental Conservation was drafting departmental regulations with the identical purpose in mind.

The bill passed the Assembly, but apparently it was blocked in the upper chamber by Senator Ron Stafford, whose district included most of the Adirondacks. I’m told that Stafford was on the verge of coming around when the Moose River controversy erupted. Because of the lawsuit, the bill was shelved.

Similarly, DEC abruptly abandoned its effort to adopt regulations. The department had progressed so far in this initiative that it had drafted a news release.

What’s more interesting, DEC had prepared a draft list of 253 waterways throughout the state that it deemed navigable under the common law. Fifty-five of those rivers are in the Adirondacks.

You can read about this history in the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer. The story is available online here.

You also can see online the fifty-five Adirondack waterways on the department’s list. Keep in mind, however, that this was the draft of a preliminary list. If the list were subjected to public hearings, waterways may have been added or subtracted. That being said, it’s thought that most of the waterways on the list probably would have survived.

There is now a bill before the state legislature that would clarify the common law and authorize DEC to draft a new list of navigable waterways. Whether DEC would use that authority is questionable. The department may prefer to negotiate with landowners, as it is doing in the Shingle Shanty case. However it’s done, though, the public’s rights need to be clarified. The Moose River decision was not enough.

Photo of Shingle Shanty Brook by Phil Brown


Monday, April 19, 2010

NYS Hunting, Trapping Education Courses Set

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren County will be hosting both the Trapper and Hunter Education Courses at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Education Center on 377 Schroon River Road in Warrensburg. All first-time hunters and trappers must pass these courses before they can get a license in New York State. Trained instructors certified by the Department of Environmental Conservation teach safe and responsible outdoors practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in conservation. The courses are free of charge, thanks to the Pittman-Robertson tax which is paid by trappers and hunters, but space is limited.

Trapper Education Course, to be held on Saturday, May 8th from 8am to 4pm, will include an overview of current trapping laws, ethics, techniques, and the common species harvested during the trapping season. Master Training Instructor Charles Lashway will be the main presenter for this training session. Additionally, a DEC Officer will join the program to review current laws and the role of the conservation officer. Youth MUST be 10 years or older. Class is limited to 25 participants. To register, please call Charles Lashway at .

The Hunter Education Class, to be held on Sunday, May 23, from 10am to 4pm, provides the necessary training needed to receive a Hunter Education Certificate for New York State. The program also fulfills the requirements for re-issuing a certificate for those who may have lost theirs and are not in the current system. Topics will include safe firearms handling, wildlife conservation, hunting ethics, outdoor safety/survival, and general laws of hunting in New York State.

Each Hunter Education Course student MUST complete the home study workbook, which takes between 2.5-5 hours, and present the completed workbook at the beginning of the classroom session. All materials must be picked up at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office (Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30am-4:30pm) no later than 4:30pm on May 6th. Youth must be at least 11 years old before the class and have written parental permission. Class is limited to 30 students; pre-registration is required and can be done by calling 668-4881 or 623-3291.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

DEC Adopts New Fishing Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that changes to the state’s freshwater fishing regulations will become effective on October 1, 2010.

Among the most important changes to local anglers is the elimination of the special allowance for five extra brook trout less than eight inches. With the exception of certain water body-specific regulations, the daily limit is now five trout of any size.

Changes locally also include the elimination of special regulations for pickerel in several local waters, for northern pike in Adirondack Lake (Hamilton County), and for yellow perch and sunfish in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton Counties (including Schroon Lake); statewide regulations will now apply. The open season for trout in Glen Lake (Warren County) has been extended for ice fishing, and the minimum size limit for lake trout in Lake Bonaparte (Lewis County) has been reduced to 18 inches.

The changes to the freshwater regulations are the result of a two-year process during which DEC solicited public feedback during the development of the proposals, and also provided a comment period for public input on the draft rules.

The full text of the new 2010-2012 regulations can be viewed on the DEC website.

The DEC is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, an optional stamp that helps support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. Buying the $5 stamp is a way to help conserve New York’s wildlife heritage. More information about purchasing a Habitat Stamp is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/329.html


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Moose on the Loose at the Adirondack Museum

On Sunday, March 28, Ed Reed, a wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5 office in Ray Brook, will offer a program entitled “Moose on the Loose in the Adirondacks” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, as part of the Cabin Fever Sunday series.

Following are details from a museum press release: Reed will review the history, current status, and future of moose in New York State. Moose were native to New York, but were extirpated before 1900. The expansion of moose from Maine and Canada across New England reached the state in the 1980’s, and the population is now well established and self-sustaining. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Phil Brown: Wilderness as a State of Mind

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposal to remove fire towers from St. Regis and Hurricane Mountains raises some difficult philosophical questions, starting with: what is wilderness?

In calling for the towers’ removal, DEC relies on the definition in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which is taken from the federal Wilderness Act: “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man—where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wilderness Travel: In Praise of Humanity’s Footprint

Yesterday, I climbed Allen Mountain.

At 4,340 feet high, Allen is the state’s 26th tallest peak (this is a view of Marcy and Haystack from the top). Its summit is wooded, though thin enough to afford a number of tantalizing views, especially in winter. But its reputation has been formed not by its height or its aesthetic qualities, but by its remoteness: it’s considered one of the hardest of the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks to reach.

To get there, you have to follow a trail for about five miles to Twin Brook, site of a former lean-to, from a parking lot near Upper Works. From there, you follow a herd path marked by occasional ribbons and homemade markers through the woods and up a steep slide to the top. By my reckoning, the round-trip distance is around 18 miles.

Allen appealed to me on this day because I had just read on the web site Views from the Top (a great place to learn about trail conditions) that a large group of peak-baggers had blazed a trail through deep snow to the summit, which would make things easier for me.

I could follow their route on cross-country skis for at least six miles, then bareboot the trail — now as firm as concrete — to the base of the slide without fear of postholing, and then slap on snowshoes for the final, steep ascent to the top. Which is what I did, making the summit after 5 1/2 hours of moderate exercise (and some huffing and puffing toward the end).

When I got to the top — this was the first “trailless” high peak I’ve climbed in many years — I saw the wooden sign that said “Allen.” And that got me thinking.

For decades, the summits of these trailless peaks (that is, no official trail, though most have herdpaths) were marked by metal canisters, eventually replaced by plastic ones. These canisters contained notebooks, which peak-baggers would sign. It was always fun to read the observations of those who passed before you, and add your own to the mix.

Then, nine years ago, the state demanded their removal. Canisters, the bureaucrats said, were a non-conforming structure. But a wooden sign was OK. The decision outraged dozens of hikers at the time, but the canisters were eventually removed.

So there I was on this beautiful day on this beautiful summit, contemplating the logic of this declaration. I had just traversed the woods, following the snowshoe prints of a dozen hikers, crossing two man-made bridges, along snow-covered dirt roads and trails cleared by man, following trail markers nailed to trees by man, past wooden signs pointing the way, up a route made by thousands of hikers over many decades, to a summit, where a wooden sign told me I had reached the top.

And according to the state, this was a wilderness experience because a canister had been removed.

Looking back a decade, it all seems rather silly. The notebook would have been fun for me to read — although, given the distance I had to traverse to get back to my car before sunset, I barely had time to eat lunch. But the summit was just as thrilling either way.

What can we learn from all this? Well, I’ve always found it silly to say what’s “conforming” and what isn’t in a wilderness. If we don’t want any signs of mankind in the woods, we should not have trails, bridges, markers or anything else.

But if we want to hike safely — and reach a remote site in a reasonable amount of time — we should accept the fact that wilderness can’t be entirely “pure.” We need trails and bridges, markers and arrows, so folks don’t get lost. And those who think such contrivances will ruin a wilderness experience? Go bushwhack something.

All I know is I would not have dared this hike if others had not stamped the route out for me. And I got back to my car by sunset, too. Where I remembered to sign the trailhead register before leaving.


Monday, March 8, 2010

DEC: Big Buck Hunting Harvest Down 21 Percent Locally

Hunters killed approximately 222,800 deer in the 2009 season, about the same number as were harvested statewide last season, according to an annual report by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In the Northern Zone, antlerless take was down by almost 8 percent and the buck take dropped 21 percent from 2008, returning to levels seen in 2005 and 2006.

Deer take during the regular season seemed strongly affected by a warm November according to DEC officials, as both deer and hunter activity tend to slow down in warm weather and the lack of snow cover made for difficult hunting conditions during a time that typically accounts for the majority of deer harvest. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

DEC Reschedules St Regis, Jay, Hurricane Mountain Meetings

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has rescheduled two public meetings that had been canceled due to poor weather. A meeting on the draft amendment to the St. Regis Canoe Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) will now be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, in the Freer Science Building Auditorium at Paul Smiths College, at the intersection of Routes 86 and 30 in Paul Smiths.

A meeting on draft UMPs for Jay Mountain Wilderness and Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11, in Keene Central School, 33 Market Street in Keene Valley.

A presentation on Adirondack Park Fire Tower Study will be made at both meetings, followed by a presentation on the draft UMPs or draft amendment, after which public comments will be taken. Comments for the draft UMPs or the draft amendment will be taken at either meeting.

Copies of the documents are available on compact discs (CD) at DEC offices in Albany, Herkimer, Warrensburg, and Ray Brook. To request a copy, e-mail r5ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us or call 518-897-1291. CDs containing all four documents are also available for public review at the town offices of Santa Clara, Brighton and Harrietstown in Franklin County, and the town offices of Elizabethtown, Jay, Keene and Lewis in Essex County.

The following libraries also have CDs containing the documents for public review:

Saranac Lake Free Library, (518) 891-4190.
Joan Weil Library, Paul Smiths College, (518)327-6313.
Elizabethtown Library, (518) 873-2670.
Keene Public Library, (518) 576-2200.
Keene Valley Public Library, (518) 576-4335.

Additional information about the study, the draft UMPs and the draft amendment and the full documents may be viewed or downloaded at the DEC web site as follows:

Fire Tower Study – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62283.html

Draft Amended St. Regis Canoe Area UMP – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22588.html

Draft Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area UMP – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62167.html

Draft Jay Mountain Wilderness UMP – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/61975.html

The deadline for comments is March 26. Submit written comments as follows:

Draft Amended St. Regis Canoe Area UMP: Steve Guglielmi, Senior Forester, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977.

Draft Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area UMP or the Draft Jay Mountain Wilderness UMP: Rob Daley, Senior Forester, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977.

Or e-mail a comment on either of the two Draft UMPs or the Draft Amendment to
r5ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Beaver River: Dispute Over Access

Beaver River (nine year-round residents) is not the easiest place to visit. Most tourists get there by driving along remote, dirt roads to Stillwater Reservoir and then taking a boat for six miles or so to the hamlet.

For years, the Thompson family has run a water taxi between the reservoir’s boat launch and the hamlet. The Thompsons also operate a barge that ferries vehicles across an arm of the reservoir to a dirt road that can be driven to Beaver River. In winter, it’s also possible to reach the community by snowmobile.

Last year the state Department of Environmental Conservation refused to issue the Thompsons a permit to continue their water taxi and ferry, contending that the family’s operations at the state-owned launch amount to an illegal use of the Forest Preserve.

The Thompsons ran the water taxi and ferry without a permit in 2009, but it’s doubtful that DEC will look the other way this year. In January, DEC wrote a letter demanding that the family cease its operations at the launch and remove its docks from state land.

The Thompsons, who run the Norridgewock inn and restaurant in Beaver River, say DEC would cut off access to the hamlet and hurt their business.

Alan Wechsler wrote about the dispute in the March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Click here to read the story.

Soon after the story’s appearance online, the Explorer received some e-mails and phone calls from owners of summer camps at Beaver River. It seems that not everyone in Beaver River supports the Thompsons. The Explorer was told that many people with camps oppose the Thompsons’ efforts to secure road access to the hamlet. These people like the isolation.

DEC is negotiating with the Thompsons to try to settle the matter, but if the talks fail, the controversy could come to a head after the ice thaws and the summer people start returning to Beaver River.

Photo by Phil Brown: The Thompson family’s barge at Stillwater Reservoir.



Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox