INDIAN LAKE - Concerned citizens filed into a designated room at Indian Lake Central School last week to make their voices heard to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding a series of comprehensive, integrated management actions proposed for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.
The management proposals include:
• Creating the Moose River Plains Intensive Camping Area along the Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road.
• Expanding the West Canada Lake Wilderness, which borders the Moose River Plains.
• Closing certain trails and roads in the wild forest to snowmobiling, many of which are dead-ends or spurs, or receive little or no snowmobile use.
• Creating a new community-connector snowmobile trail from Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road to Lower Sargent Pond, which will provide connections to Indian Lake, Inlet, Raquette Lake and Long Lake. Resulting overall snowmobile mileage would be approximately 59 miles.
• Creating the Beaver Lake Special Management Area, which includes areas south of the South Branch of the Moose River and west of the proposed intensive use area boundary along Otter Brook Road.
• Discontinuing public motor vehicle and snowmobile use on Indian Lake Road and the former Otter Brook truck trail.
The plans have been in the developing stages since 2001 and have already undergone one round of public comment in 2006.
Both the management plan and the classification proposal are a collaborative effort and will need to be approved by Gov. David Patterson after being completed by the DEC and APA.
"We feel that collaborating on this is a more efficient way of accomplishing our goals," Jim Connelly, deputy director, APA. "The process is a good one."
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.
"We hope to provide intensive use camping while preserving the rustic opportunities provided by the Moose River Plains," said Rick Weber of the APA. "A lot of coordination and planning as gone into these documents by both the DEC and the APA."
Local citizens were appreciative of the willingness to accept public comment and revise the documents by the two agencies. Some attendees did voice their displeasure, however, on the revisions of the proposals. Many were discouraged by the announcement of closures and wilderness reclassifications.
"Tourism is the only economic engine that propels Hamilton county and much of the Adirondack Park," said Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward. "Creating wilderness lands will only result in the loss of recreational uses."
Others joined Sayward in suggesting that the camping and recreation areas facing closure should remain open until replacements are open for use.
"Closing camps, trails and roads because of reclassification to wilderness will result in loss of access," said Fred Monroe of the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
The two agencies were applauded for their efforts in connecting existing snowmobile trails to increase the total amount of local mileage. Local snowmobilers attended as well as Jim McCulley of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club were present to voice their suggestions.
"There is no reason for any more snowmobile trails to be closed in the Adirondack Park," he said. "It's nice to see New York State land being used for something other than allowing trees to rot, but we need trails besides just connectors."
Lexi Biele, age 10, read a story that she wrote about a moose citing at Moose River Plains while fishing with her family. Community members joined her in asserting that reclassification would prevent families, the disabled and the elderly from accessing these popular recreation areas.
Public comments will be responded to and taken into consideration for revision of the existing plans, according to Dave Winchell of the DEC.
To request a copy of the documents, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 473-9518.
In addition, information may be viewed at, or downloaded from www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/mrpwfdgeis.pdf or www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22571.html
For more information on public comment, contact Josh Clague of the DEC at email@example.com or Richard Weber of the APA at firstname.lastname@example.org