DEC takes comments on Fulton County forest plan

GLOVERSVILLE — The state Department of Environmental Conservation is taking public comments on a proposed management plan for three state forests just outside the Adirondack Park in Fulton County.

Some of the proposals could create trail systems that reach inside the Blue Line.

The DEC has released its proposed unit management plan for Rockwood, Peck Hill and Lassellville state forests, and will host a meeting in Johnstown later this month to address questions and take public input.

In addition to some mundane improvements such as the installation of gates on some roads, the DEC also plans to develop a mountain bike trail system and improve other trails. There are currently more than 15 miles of foot trails, 6 miles of cross-country ski trails and 13.8 miles of snowmobile trails within the three forests.

“The Adirondack Velo Club of Gloversville was granted a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement that permits them to improve existing trails in Peck Hill State Forest in order to begin developing a mountain bike connector trail corridor,” the draft UMP says. “Once this UMP is approved, the group will then be permitted to construct new trails within Peck Hill State Forest, as well as establish a new corridor trail system. All new trails will be required to be approved by the Department prior to construction.

“The Velo Club would like to expand the corridor trail system from Peck Hill State Forest through Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Ferris Lake Wild Forest, and Wilcox Lake Wild Forest (all three wild forests listed are within the Adirondack Park). This trail corridor system will be contingent upon having UMP(s) in place for each of the locations, as well as the approval of each trail location from the individual land managers for each area prior to construction.”

Under the proposed UMP, a locking gate would be installed at the Elm Road South trailhead that would be locked with a combination lock, preventing all-terrain vehicle use but allowing those with CP3 permits to use the road.

In the Lassellville State Forest, the DEC plans to install a gate at West Fical Road entrance in response to a request by the local snowmobile club. The UMP says the gate will help prevent unauthorized ATV use within the forest.

In the Rockwood State Forest, the DEC plans to install a number of gates to cut down on ATV use and illegal dumping, saying that DEC personnel and volunteers have been removing trash and tires.

The department also plans to treat an infestation of the invasive Japanese knotweed. The removal would be conducted by the state Department of Transportation under a temporary revocable permit.

The UMP says timber harvesting is possible in the future but would be dependent on market demand. The DEC noted there is a stand of sugar and red maple trees that could be used for a maple sugaring operation. There have been no commercial timber harvesting operations in the Fulton County state forests since 2000.

State forests, unlike the “forever wild” Forest Preserve lands of the Adirondack and Catskill parks, can have timber harvesting as well as environmental protection and public recreation.

Comments will be accepted until Friday, April 5 and can be submitted to Forester Seth Thomas, NYSDEC, P.O. Box 1316, Northville, NY 12134, or by email to R5.ump@dec.ny.gov. The public meeting will be Tuesday, March 19 at the Johnstown Town Hall at 5:30 p.m.

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