Conservation Archive gene

Conservation Report

October, 2006

Vice-Chair, Conservation: Gene Kaczka

The DEC has released a draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the White Hill Unit which includes the White Hill Wild Forest and the abutting Lassiter and Niagara Mohawk Conservation easements in Colton, Hopkinton and Parishville (an area of almost 10,000 acres). Copies are available from the Potsdam DEC office and a public hearing on the plan will be held in the Colton-Pierrepont Central School at 6:00pm on Sept. 21.

Many Laurentian chapter members are familiar with the x-country ski trail past Clear Pond to the Picketville Road. The DEC plan calls for prohibiting ATV traffic on the Clear Pond to Picketville Road trail and adding two bridges (one to repair significant ATV damage at Rock Pond) to allow snowmobile traffic (the trail is an official snowmobile trail). Proposed is a trail to circle Clear Pond and improvement to a foot trail to remote Lilypad Pond. Controversy can be anticipated regarding several parts of the plan. Improvements (including disability access) to the water and camping area on Clear Pond will reduce the current sites from 9 to 5. This will bring the sites up to DEC standards, but reduce the overall access. Increased access for snowmobiles has already provoked protest from the Adirondack Council which is concerned that the DEC has already exceeded the 848 miles of trails in the Forest Preserve that was set in a 1989 agreement. Of course the ATV restrictions will likely stir complaints. The UMP expressed strong concern about illegal ATV use in the wild forest.

Join us in Colton for the meeting, if you can, otherwise consider submitting your written comments to the DEC by Oct. 6.

The next two comments relate to the ATV Update in this newsletter. The St. Lawrence County Legislature will accept is comment on the proposed ATV Pilot Trail Project until September 20. Since this is a pilot project, I believe the plan needs some basic clarification. Specifically, how long will the pilot be in effect? What is planned if it is a success and what will happen if it is a failure? What are the criteria or measures for determining if it is a success or failure? How and who will collect the data? Who is charged with preparing a final report? Without considering and addressing some of these issues there doesn’t appear to be a way to determine if the results of the test.

A state mandated study of the environmental impact (SEQR) of the ATV trail indicated that conceptually at least it would have little impact. The study found little environmental impact, citing only moderate noise concerns. But apparently not all aspects of the test trail’s locations is resolved which prompted the conceptual assessment based on the general locations proposed. The exact trail sitings need to be resolved before proceeding.