DEC taking public comments on central Adirondack snowmobile trail

LONG LAKE — The state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public input on an amendment for the Blue Ridge Wilderness Area in the central Adirondacks which would see the DEC build a community connector snowmobile trail.

The department has scheduled a public meeting for Wednesday, Nov. 28 in Raquette Lake and written comments will be accepted until Dec. 7.

The proposal would create an approximately four-mile long Class II Community Connector Trail that runs roughly parallel to the south side of state Route 28. Starting near the South Inlet Bridge, the trail would run eastward until it reaches private property. It would connect the existing Seventh Lake Mountain and Sargent Ponds Multiple-Use trails, and would create a land route that connects the hamlets of Indian Lake, Inlet, Raquette Lake and Long Lake.

Although motorized vehicle use is prohibited in state wilderness areas, there is an exemption for the DEC to locate snowmobile trails within 500 feet of a road if that road serves as the wilderness boundary.

“While it may seem more feasible to place the trail in the less restrictive lands of Golden Beach Campground and Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, as opposed to the periphery of BRWA, the hydrology and topography to the north of NY 28 make this an unviable option. Placing the trail to the north of NY 28 would require extensive alterations to wetlands and a portion of it would routinely be flooded during high pool on Raquette Lake and during moderate rainfall events,” the amendment says. “The proposed trail system will greatly reduce rider’s risk associated with lake crossings and traveling along and crossing major roads.”

The plan also says the trail will be groomed during the winter, per an existing agreement with the town of Long Lake.

The BRWA is home to a few hiking trails, including to the Wakely Mountain fire tower, as well as ice and rock climbing, paddling, fishing, hunting, trapping and camping opportunities.

The public meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the Raquette Lake Union Free School. Comments can be sent to Forester Nick Addison, NYSDEC, P.O. Box 1316, Northville, NY 12134, or email to R5.ump@dec.ny.gov. The comment period closes on Friday, Dec. 7.

To read the amendment and see a map of the proposed trail, go to www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/brwfamend1.pdf.