Public Invited to Offer Input at May 6 Meeting in Saranac
A new draft plan for recreational uses of the Sable Highlands in the northeastern Adirondacks includes proposals to construct camping sites, improve old and create new hiking trails, enhance fishing access and open two new mountain biking routes, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Betsy Lowe announced today.
The Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands consist of approximately 84,000 acres of land in the towns of Ellenburg and Saranac in Clinton County, and Bellmont and Franklin in Franklin County.
“The plan outlines extensive and varied recreational opportunities, including motorized recreation, on the Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands,” said Regional Director Lowe. “DEC is pleased to have worked with Chateaugay Woodlands and the Nature Conservancy in developing public access on these lands, while protecting the natural resources and retaining timber management jobs.”
A public meeting has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, at the Saranac Town Hall, located at 3662 State Route 3 in Saranac. The meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the plan, technically known as the Interim Recreation Management Plan (IRMP). DEC will also accept written comments until June 1, 2009.
The Saranac Town Hall is wheelchair accessible. Please provide any requests for specific accommodation to (518) 897-1291. The town hall is located approximately 1.9 miles east of Saranac Central School which is located in the small community of Pickett’s Corners.
The Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands consist of lands formerly owned by Domtar Industries, Inc., which were purchased by Chateaugay Woodlands LLC, a subsidiary of the Lyme Timber Company, in 2004. In December 2008, Chateaugay Woodlands and the DEC closed on a working forest conservation easement that included development rights and sustainable forestry requirements on all 84,000 acres. The easement also includes public access to over 28,000 acres of the property and many miles of the existing road system.
Earlier this year, Chateaugay Woodlands was purchased by the Forest Lands Group. The conservation easement is part of the deed and remains in effect in perpetuity. The landowner’s primary focus is on actively managing the lands for timber. Also, the landowner is continuing leases of numerous parcels of lands to private hunting clubs.
The recreation plan was developed to facilitate and manage public recreational use of the easement lands and complies with the terms and conditions of the easement. It was developed in consultation with, and review by, the landowner. Input was obtained from a variety of stakeholders including local governments, snowmobile and ATV clubs, sportsmen, hikers and private lease club members.
The Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands consists mainly of low rolling mountains typical of the northeastern corner of the Adirondack Park. The lands also feature numerous high quality ponds and streams, forested uplands and wetland areas, providing habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife species. Brook trout, moose and a number of endangered and threatened species are found on the lands. For hunters and trappers, the area features good habitat for whitetail deer, ruffed grouse, and snowshoe hare. The existing road system offers opportunities for public use and access with cars, trucks, snowmobiles and ATVs.
The IRMP proposes facilities and opportunities for a variety of recreational activities for recreationists with a broad range of skill levels. Proposed management actions include:
- Constructing up to 56 primitive and drive-in camping sites;
- Developing or enhancing access to Fishhole, Figure 8 and Grass Ponds; North Branch Saranac, Little Trout River, and Salmon Rivers; Plumadore and True Brooks and Ragged Lake Outlet;
- Rehabilitating the existing hiking trails on Owls Head Mountain (approximately 1 mile);
- Constructing new hiking trails to access cliffs in the Plumadore area and the summits of Norton Peak, Haystack Mountain, Wolf Pond Mountain (approximately 14 miles);
- Opening two designated mountain biking routes on existing roads (approximately 7 miles);
- Designating over 60 miles of existing roads for public use including;
- 32.5 miles to be open to snowmobiles and ATVs or passenger vehicles (roads opened to ATVs will be opened to groomed snowmobiling);
- 20 miles of roads to be open seasonally to passenger vehicles only; and
- 8 miles of road to be open for motorized use by persons with disabilities.
The IRMP is for public review at DEC headquarters in Albany, DEC regional offices in Ray Brook and Warrensburg. The plan will be available for review at the town offices of Ellenburg and Saranac in Clinton County, and Bellmont and Franklin in Franklin County.
Copies are available in electronic format for distribution on compact disc and may be requested by calling DEC at (518) 897-1291. A limited number of printed copies are available as well. The complete document will be available on DEC’s website at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/53931.html
Public comments will be accepted until June 1, 2009, and may be sent to Sean Reynolds, Forester NYSDEC, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org