Chair Archive


Jul 1, 2017

Tom Wheeler

Individual members of the chapter can often play an important role in shaping the future of the wild lands in our area by participating in the Unit Management Plan process. For those unfamiliar with this process, here is a brief rundown. State lands in both the Adirondack Park are divided into various management units. Examples you may be familiar with are the High Peaks Wilderness, Debar Wild Forest, or the Saint Regis Canoe Area. In St. Lawrence County the DEC has been actively developing Unit Management plans for the myriad of State Forest Lands outside of the Adirondack Park. They have done this by placing state forests into three groupings based upon their location and geography. The St. Lawrence Flatlands unit, which includes forests in the northern part of our county, has a UMP which was completed in 2015. The St. Lawrence Foothills Unit had a draft plan submitted for public comment in 2015, and is not yet finalized. The St. Lawrence Rock Ridge unit is apparently still in the drafting stage. This latter unit includes state forests in the western part of our county and Jefferson County.

When a draft unit management plan is completed, the DEC holds a series of public meetings explaining the plan and begins a period where public comment is accepted. This is an important time for you as citizens and ADK members to participate by attending the public meetings and by submitting thoughtful written comments. The DEC has just released the draft unit management plan for the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. This is an area where many of us hike and canoe. The Saranac Lake Wild Forest covers extensive state lands from just east of Tupper Lake to a bit east of Lake Placid. Much of it is on the northern fringe of the High Peaks Wilderness. Included within its boundaries are many lakes, and it surrounds the well known Rollins Pond and Fish Creek campgrounds. Scarface mountain is within the unit. Extensive new opportunities for mountain biking are included as well as some miles of new hiking trails. The public meetings will take place on July 12th and 13th in Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake and the deadline for public input is August 11th. (The DEC website has substantial detail at

The process after public input is for the DEC to prepare a final plan and (in the Adirondack Park) submit it to the APA and the governor for approval. The Boreas Ponds and McIntyre tracts are presently in this final stage.

Being a member of ADK can be more than simply being a recreationist. By participating as an informed advocate in processes such as this, you can help shape the future of recreation and conservation in our area.