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Snowmobile Plan Charts Future Use for Snowmobiles in the Adirondack Park While Protecting the Environment

October 19th, 2006 · No Comments · News

Full Press Release

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan today announced the release of the Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park. The Plan will serve as a guide for the development of new trails and eliminate other trails that are no longer needed.

“The Adirondack Snowmobile Plan is a balanced, carefully crafted vision for the future of the snowmobile trail system within the Park that will improve the Park’s environment and natural resources while helping local communities,” Commissioner Sheehan said. “The Plan will achieve this balance by ensuring that the wilder parts of the Forest Preserve are enhanced while also providing snowmobile trail connections to local communities.”

Key components of the Plan include encouraging the development of snowmobile trails on private lands, reconfiguring snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve away from interior wild forest areas, and establishing improved community connection trails closer to the periphery of the Forest Preserve units and along transportation corridors. The trail system on Forest Preserve lands will be carefully planned with extensive public input throughout the development of Unit Management Plans (UMPs) for different areas of the Forest Preserve. All new trail proposals will be included in UMPs that will be thoroughly evaluated by the public and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA).

The Plan is the result of extensive outreach efforts conducted by the DEC and the New York State Office Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) during the past several years. This joint effort involved a broad spectrum of organizations and individuals, including local governments, conservation and environmental organizations, private landowners and snowmobile interests. A series of public meetings was held on the draft plan and the public was given an opportunity to share their suggestions. DEC and OPRHP reviewed all suggestions provided during the public comment period and, where appropriate, incorporated those suggestions in the Plan. The Plan ensures the State’s stewardship of the Park while accommodating public outdoor winter recreation opportunities that are important to the economy of the region.

State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro said, “This plan provides the blueprint necessary to recognize the existing trail system, and modify it in such a way that the economic prosperity of the connected communities is enhanced, while making the trails safer and most importantly providing for the protection of the region’s natural resources.”

Town of Newcomb Supervisor George Cannon said, “The Plan recognized, for the first time, the economic impact that snowmobiling has on the communities of the Adirondacks. The recognition of the ‘community connectors’ and the town-to-town networks that will eventually be developed should be a huge benefit to the Adirondack economy during the long winter months. Governor Pataki and the DEC are to be commended for dealing with this important issue.”

Association of Adirondack Towns and Villages President J.R. Risley said, “The Association of Adirondack Towns and Villages is encouraged after 5 years of working with the Department, Snowmobile Clubs and the Snowmobiling Public to finally have an Adirondack Snowmobiling Plan to work from. This plan will help assure that Snowmobiling will continue to be an outdoor activity within the Adirondacks.”

New York State Snowmobile Association Executive Director Jim Jennings said, “The New York State Snowmobile Association welcomes the release of the Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park. This plan will serve as a foundation to improve snowmobiling throughout the Adirondacks. We look forward to working with DEC and New York State Parks in the implementation of this plan.”

Adirondack Landowners Association Counsel Frank A. Clark said, “The Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondack Park reflects sensitivity to the privacy rights and interests of Adirondack landowners. It represents an important achievement for Adirondack communities, the snowmobiling public, private landowners, and the Adirondacks as a whole. The Adirondack Landowners Association congratulates the Governor and the Commissioners on its release.”

Highlights of the Plan include:

  • Eliminating some existing trails in the remote, interior portions of Wild Forest areas;
  • Shifting some snowmobile use from the interior of the Wild Forest to the periphery and along transportation corridors in order to establish improved community connection trails;
  • Ensuring that there will be no material increase in snowmobile trail mileage on Wild Forest lands within the Park, consistent with the Adirondack State Land Master Plan;
  • Eliminating inappropriate heavy equipment in the construction of trails and develop new innovative design standards that recognize the unique and sensitive nature of the Forest Preserve while also maintaining the safety of riders;
  • Establishing a new snowmobile trail classification system on Forest Preserve lands including a new Class III Community Connector Trail that would be allowed to be maintained up to a nine-foot width, rather than the current eight-foot maximum, and be groomed mechanically. Trails will be maintained under strict guidelines that will ensure long-term compliance and minimize environmental damage during construction and maintenance activities. A new Class II trail system also would be developed, including the allowance for un-groomed, more narrow trails which connect snowmobilers to specific areas for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational activities;
  • Requiring all future proposed snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve to be described in the draft UMP. UMPs are subject to extensive public comment and APA review to determine that the new trails are in conformance with the Adirondack State Land Mater Plan; and
  • Encouraging the development of snowmobile trails on private lands. The Plan recommends that incentives be established for landowners who open their lands for this recreational use. The State Open Space Plan also encourages the development of such trail networks by recommending the purchase of private lands from willing sellers, and has made trail linkages and development on private lands a priority.

Snowmobile use in the Adirondack Park has evolved over the years to include a wide variety of trails on both private and pubic lands, but no overall plan has ever been put in place to steer future development of trails away from sensitive areas and into communities where they are desired. The piecemeal, ad-hoc development of trail systems has resulted in the over-development of trails in some locations, lost loop and trail connections in other areas and under-utilization in some communities where rider services, rest areas, and facilities are readily available to safely accommodate snowmobile use.

Related News and Info

Free Adirondack Snowmobile Map
Free Adirondack Snowmobile Map, mailing to start in mid-November.

NYS Snowmobile Registration – Note: “Beginning on April 30, 2006, the registration fee is $45 if you certify on form MV-82SN that you are a member of a NYS Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) club and show proof of membership. If you are not a member, the fee is $100.” This little change is something worth thinking about.

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