The New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have extended the public comment period for the comprehensive, integrated management actions proposed for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.
The agencies recently held three public hearings on these actions and determined, based on public input, that additional time is warranted for public comment. The public comment period is now extended to September 17, 2010. » Continue Reading.
A summer day. The road to the Moose River Plains from Limekiln Lake is free of traffic this morning, the sun’s rays have not yet turned the evening dew to dust. As I drive down the shaded road I think about the work of local people from Inlet who dug and placed sand on these roads to give the heavy logging trucks enough traction on the steep sections.
Dick Payne, former Inlet Police Chief, left me memorable impressions of working the Plains in the “old days.” Since 1964 when the Gould Paper Company sold this land to the people of the State, the land is Forest Preserve. As the cicadas begin to whine from the trees, I try to remember another group who hiked in via the Red River valley to discover what was at risk from the Higley and Panther Mountain Dams on the South Branch of the Moose River. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced three public hearings to discuss changes proposed for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.
Located in the central and southwestern portion of the Adirondack Park, the Moose River Plains Wild Forest offers many year-round recreational opportunities including hiking, fishing, canoeing, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, horseback riding, hunting and camping, making it an ideal destination for recreationists with varied interests and abilities. You can read more a short history of the Plains by the Almanack’s John Warren here; all our coverage is located here. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack conservationist Paul Schaefer was a pied piper for young people in search of a cause, just as John Apperson had been for him when Schaefer was in his early 20s. By the 1970s and 80s, Paul was approaching 80 years of age, and scouts, teens, and earth activists of all ages found their way to Paul’s doorstep. I want to share a few of the lessons he conveyed.
One spring day in 1990 I met with Paul to discuss Governor Mario Cuomo’s Commission on the Adirondacks (Berle Commission) report which was about to be made public. Paul mentioned that on Earth Day, a group of “idealistic” young people had come down to pay him a visit. He had planned to show his award-winning film, The Adirondack: The Land Nobody Knows, but his Bell and Howell 16-mm projector could not be found (I had borrowed it). Instead, Paul invited the students into his living room. “I’ve never had a better time in my life,” Schaefer told me. “These kids were idealists, and we need them.” » Continue Reading.
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.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The June meeting will be one day only and will consider the creation of a Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area, renewing four previously approved general permits on wetlands, communications towers, hunting and fishing cabins, and development rights, amendments to the Town of Hague, Bolton, and Westport local zoning programs, and revisions to the definition of “boathouse,” and easing the permitting process for businesses, among other topics. Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website. The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report which will include a resolution recognizing the contributions of long serving past Agency Board Member, James T. Townsend.
At 9:30 a.m., The State Lands Committee will hear a second reading for the Jay Mountain Wilderness and the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area Unit Management Plans. These plans are actionable items; however, the Board will not act on the fire tower proposal included in the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area at this time.
APA staff will request authorization from the Board to proceed to public hearing on reclassification proposals for state land in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties including a proposal to create a 2,925 acre Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area. The committee will also hear an informational presentation from DEC staff on the working draft for the Moose River Plains Unit Management Plan. Public review of the draft Unit Management Plan will be conducted jointly between DEC and APA as part of a coordinated SEQR review process on both the Unit Plan and the reclassification proposals.
At 11:15, the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider renewing four previously approved general permits which are set to expire on August 12, 2010. The general permits include:
2005G-2 Minor Projects Not In or Impacting Wetlands
2005G-3 Replacement of or Installation of Certain New Telecommunications Antennas on Existing Towers or Other Tall Structures
2005G-4 Hunting and Fishing Cabins Greater Than 500 Square Feet in a Resource Management Area
2005G-5 Subdivision to Convey Two or More Lots Without Principal Building Rights
The Committee will then hear a first reading for a new draft general permit which, if authorized, would expedite APA approval for a change in use in existing commercial, public/semi-public and industrial structures. This proposed general permit is the latest in ongoing efforts by the APA to improve administrative efficiency.
At 1:00, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving proposed amendments to the Town of Hague and the Town of Bolton’s approved local land use programs. Agency staff will then provide the committee with an overview on local land use controls inside the Adirondack Park.
At 1:45, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will hear a first reading on the Draft Memorandum of Understanding for APA’s review process of DEC projects on State Easement Lands inside the Adirondack Park. The MOU defines working relationships, provides guidelines for outlining new land use and development subject to Agency review and establishes review protocols for future DEC projects proposed on lands with State-owned conservation easements.
Following this discussion, the Committee will determine approvability for a proposed map amendment in the Town of Westport, Essex County.
At 3:00, the Legal Affairs Committee will meet to discuss and act on regulatory revisions for the definition of “boathouses”. The proposed definition is available as a pdf.
At 4:00, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.
The next Agency meeting is July 8-9 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.
August Agency Meeting: August 12-13 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.
With the name like the Black Fly Challenge, the Central Adirondacks’ premiere bike race does not exactly encourage spectators.
That’s a pity, because this year may prove more interesting than most. Among the expected 300 participants is expected to be riders of a three-person bicycle and a unicyclist.
That’s right — a man (presumably — one assumes women would have more sense) and a single wheel, riding dirt and paved roads for 40 miles. “That whole unicycling thing has taken off,” said race co-organizer Ted Christodaro of the Inlet store Pedals and Petals.
The Black Fly Challenge engenders this sort of tomfoolery. While some racers may take it seriously, others are just in it for a good time. The ride is 40 miles of paved and unpaved roads with no technical challenges to speak of, aside from a few medium-size hills. It’s a grand welcome to the summer cycling season in the North Country.
The race has changed somewhat from the days it was solely a mountain bike event. These days, so many people ride it on cyclocross bike — downhill frames and wheels with knobby tires, used for all-terrain races in the fall — that organizers created a separate category.
The cyclocross riders have the advantage, since they have larger wheels and get more distance with each crank of the pedal. However, those skinny tires are also more susceptible to flat tires — which means the rider becomes victim to the inevitable bug bites.
When I rode the race two years ago (without a flat tire, I might add), I found that the only bugs that bothered me were the few that slipped down between the vents in my helmet. Forward-thinking cyclists might consider taping strips of bug netting to seal up the holes. Or just ride harder and hope for the best.
It was the bystanders who seemed to get bugs the worst. The volunteers along the plains, where the heart of the race takes place, either wore full-jacket bug nets or suffered the swatting of the damned.
Still, the race is worth catching, for those who don’t already plan to take part. This year it starts from Inlet, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 12, and ends in Indian Lake.
“With so many races in the books, there’s no shortage of wild stories from ‘out there in the Plains,’ the organizers say on their web site. “Bikes have crossed the Finish Line with no seat, flat tires, broken rims and even on the shoulder of a few determined competitors.”
While some were apparently worried the race might not take place due to the state’s threatened closure of the Moose River Plains area, Christodaro says that never would have happened anyway because the state had already issued a permit for the race and had planned to honor it.
Anyway, the plains are open, the road is in good shape and the black flies are waiting. Let the pedaling begin!
For more information on the Black Fly Challenge, click here.
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.
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.
The 15th running of the Black Fly Challenge will begin in Inlet, Hamilton County on Saturday June 12, 2010. Started in 1996 by a businessman looking to boost bike rentals, the Black Fly has grown to to some 300 racers. Over half the 40 mile race distance traverses the rugged Moose River Plains Wild Forest between Inlet and Indian Lake on gravel mountain roads with plenty of elevation changes. But it’s not all struggling up and screaming down hills. There are a few relatively flat sections on Cedar River Road and in the Moose River Plains. For race information and registration info visit BlackFlyChallenge.com, or call Pedals & Petals Bike Shop, 315-357-3281.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 7:30pm in the Inlet Town Hall to discuss the Town’s proposed amendments to the Official Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan Map and provide opportunity for the public to comment on these proposals. The town’s proposals could result in a net increase of more than 1,000 buildings according to the APA. The hearing will be preceded at 6:30pm with an informal information session.
The four proposals would reclassify lands into a less restrictive classification which could potentially result in increased development in the areas under consideration. Here is the description from the APA: On June 22, 2009 the Adirondack Park Agency received a completed application from the Town of Inlet, Hamilton County to reclassify approximately 1,913 acres of land on the Official Park Map in four separate areas within the Town of Inlet. The Official Map is the document identified in Section 805 (2) (a) of the Adirondack Park Agency Act (Executive Law, Article 27), and is the primary component of the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan, which guides land use planning and development of private land in the Park.
Area A involves 203.4+/- acres of land along Uncas Road, between the Pigeon Lake Wilderness on the north and the Fulton Chain Wild Forest on the south. The Town proposes to reclassify the area from Low Intensity to Moderate Intensity.
Area B involves 23.6 +/- acres of land along State Highway 28 which serves as the southwest boundary for this area. This area is adjacent to the hamlet of Inlet and positioned between County Highway 1 and Limekiln Road. The Town proposes to reclassify the area from Low Intensity to Moderate Intensity Use.
Area C involves 1,043.7 +/- acres located along Limekiln Road which intersects with NYS Route 28, to the north, and runs south to Limekiln Lake. The Town proposes to reclassify the area from Rural Use to Moderate Intensity Use.
Area D involves 642.6 +/- acres of land south of State Highway 28, which serves as the northern boundary. The area is bordered on the east by the Moose River Plains Wild Forest. The Town proposes to reclassify the area from Low Intensity Use to Moderate Intensity Use.
Detailed information and maps related to this proposal may be viewed at the Agency’s website at: www.apa.state.ny.us/_assets/mapamendments/MA200804_DSEIS.pdf
When considering proposed map amendments the Agency must prepare a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS), hold a combined public hearing on both the proposed map amendment and the DSEIS, and incorporate all comments into a Final Supplemental Impact Environmental Statement (FSEIS). The FSEIS includes the hearing summary, public comments, and Agency staff written analysis, as finalized after the public hearing and comments are reviewed. The Agency then decides (a) whether to accept the FSEIS and (b) whether to approve the map amendment request, deny the request or approve an alternative. The Agency’s decision on a map amendment request is a legislative decision based upon the application, public comment, the DSEIS and FSEIS, and staff analysis. The public hearing is for informational purposes and is not conducted in an adversarial or quasi-judicial format.
In addition to the public hearing on August 12 at the Inlet Town Hall the Agency is accepting written comment on these proposals until September 4, 2009.
Written comments may be sent to: Matthew S. Kendall Adirondack Park Agency P.O. Box 99 Ray Brook, NY 12977
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