Wednesday’s meeting at the Saranac Town Hall was at full-capacity. I think every chair in the building was being used for this informational meeting introducing the NYS DEC’s Interim Recreation Management Plan for the Sable Highlands conservation easement Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors. Simply put, NYS has purchased conservation easements on privately owned land and is charged with the implementation and management of public recreational use.
Pretty much every stakeholder involved was there; a wide variety of questions and concerns were aired. The scope of this meeting was defined as pertaining only to the IRMP, thankfully. It did not include issues relating to forestry management or hunting leases. It also did not include issues or discussion relating to the Lyon Mt Tract which will undergo APA Land Classification and DEC Unit Management Planning.
A full history of the conservation deal between New York State and Chateaugay Woodlands LLC is available in the IRMP. Let me quickly run-down the highlights from the meeting for you, including issues raised during questions and comments:
- Chateaugay Woodlands LLC, has retained The Forestland Group of Chapel Hill, NC to manage their property.
- Local management is sub-contracted to LandVest Inc.
- Forest land managed under The Forestland Group are automatically FSC Certified.
- Public Use Areas (PUAs) will be linked via Linear Recreati0n Corridors (LRCs)
- Proposed plan included 60 miles of motorized use and 15 miles of non-motorized use trails/roads
- Up to 56 drive-in and walk-in campsites
- 6 mile proposed trail accessing the Norton Range from Standish Rd.
- Public Use Areas (PUAs) are now open for Foot and Mountain Bike access only until the final use plan is approved and funding for development becomes available. No Camping or Motorized Use.
- There is currently no funding for the implementation of this plan. Hopefully this plan will be ready when funding becomes available. With funding, estimated completion of the plan is 5-years.
- Concerns were raised regarding impact from increased public use – primarily traffic, parking (currently none), and unregulated access points.
- Locals already suggest that illegal use on the land (atv, snowmobile, hunting) is occurring and there is no law enforcement.
- Supervisor of the Town of Franklin, Mary Ellen Keith, gave a heartfelt testimony to the benefits of this arrangement for the people of the area. This plan provides something for everyone.
- New York State Snowmobile Association representative – trails, funding, etc. more.
- ATVers want a Trail Plan and increased and immediate access.
- Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks – Need I say more? …. Zzzzzzzzz.
My conclusion – There is at least 3-5 years of Foot and Mountain Bike recreation available before anything happens. Illegal hunting, atv, and snowmobile will be continual issues. More “stakeholder” issues will emerge. Funding will be limited or non-existent for some time.
Those wishing to use the area at this time are asked to contact DEC prior to their visit:
Sean Reynolds, Forester 1 – NYSDEC Region 5
PO Box 296
Ray Brook, NY 12977
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