DEC taking comments on Oswegatchie plan

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is taking public comments on a proposed plan that would allow seasonal all-terrain vehicle use on private lands at the western edge of the Adirondack Park.

The Oswegatchie Conservation Easement Tract contains roughly 17,000 acres in St. Lawrence County. The DEC has proposed an amendment to the easement agreement that would create a parking area and foot trail, as well as some changes to snowmobile trails.

Conservation easements are private lands that the DEC has negotiated to be open to the public. There may or may not be restrictions on use of the lands, such as closure during hunting season or when logging operations are ongoing.

The Oswegatchie easement is home to numerous hunting camps, and while holders of those camps may hunt in season, the area is closed to hunting by the general public from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 each year. Fishing, trapping and paddling on the Oswegatchie River are all allowed, according to the DEC.

A Recreation Management Plan for the Oswegatchie easement was released in 2016 but has been revised with a few notable changes, according to a press release from the DEC.

The new plan would allow Lewis County to administer seasonal ATV use on Bald Mountain Road, relocate some snowmobile trails and create a parking area and foot trail to Deer Pond.

The Adirondack Park’s “Blue Line” boundary bisects the property, and the easement is next to the Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest to the east and the Frank E. Jadwin Memorial State Forest to the west. There are several snowmobile trails on the property but no hiking trails, although hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and horseback riding are all allowed.

Public comments opened on Nov. 21 and will be accepted until Dec. 21. Written comments can be sent to Matthew Nowak Sr., Natural Resources Planner, NYSDEC, 7327 State Route 812, Lowville, NY 13367, or by email to r6.ump@dec.ny.gov.