With busy agenda, APA delays vote on Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

RAY BROOK — The state Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners is dropping the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest from its agenda for this week’s December meeting.

“We anticipate a lot of discussion and will pick up the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest vote first thing next year,” APA spokesman Keith McKeever said Wednesday.

The APA board still has a packed agenda for its two-day meeting Thursday and Friday. It is taking up a vote that would allow removal of train tracks and eventual construction of a rail trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, passing through Saranac Lake. The agency is also reviewing guidance on ski trails in backcountry areas of the state Forest Preserve, as well as a permit for a logging operation, and the board is also set to hear a couple of presentations.

The APA board was slated to find the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest Unit Management Plan to be in conformance with the State Land Master Plan for the Adirondack Park, but that vote has now been pushed to January.

The UMP was 15 years in the making when the state Department of Environmental Conservation released it in summer 2017.

The 75,000-acre Saranac Lakes Wild Forest spans the Tri-Lakes region, spreading over at least four towns in two counties, and borders or is close to six other state land units. The plan is far from simple and calls for designating a unit manager and management team to oversee the lands and implement the changes.

Some of the plan’s bigger changes would do the following:

¯ Remap boundary lines in some areas, including the Saranac Inn Golf Course, Rollins Pond campground and Little Clear Pond.

¯ Create mountain biking trail systems around all three Tri-Lakes villages, including numerous connections to the railroad corridor that the state plans to convert into the Adirondack Rail Trail.

¯ Move the Jackrabbit Trail onto wild forest land parallel to Mountain Road east of Lake Placid.

¯ Add trails at Lake Colby and Lake Clear.

¯ Add a trail to the summit of Seymour Mountain.

¯ Move Bartlett Carry off the road.

¯ Reopen the historic Sangemo Canoe Carry between Upper St. Regis Lake and Lake Clear, pending a deal with private land owners.

¯ Reroute part of the Scarface Mountain trail in Ray Brook and fill in some herd paths.

¯ Add new snowmobile trails.

¯ Improve the Bloomingdale Bog Trail and parking area to accommodate people with disabilities.

¯ Build a 20-car parking area on Floodwood Road at the rail trail.

¯ Expand and adjust the Ampersand Mountain trailhead.

¯ Add winter parking on Coreys Road.

¯ Improve South Creek boat launch, and allow motors of no more than 15 horsepower, although sections of the creek would be motor-free.

¯ Improve Hoel Pond boat launch and secure a right of way to it.

¯ Build new boathouse at Upper Saranac Lake launch to house a DEC boat, as well as a slip for the local rescue squad.

¯ Add four sites to Saranac Lake Islands Campground, move other sites, and upgrade up to 20 sites for accessibility.

¯ Close 64 campsites throughout the unit, and construct 68 new sites that would meet setback, spacing and waste disposal guidelines.

¯ Preserve and maintain the dam at Lake Clear Outlet.

¯ Make Lake Clear Outlet shore on Forest Home Road an accessible parking and fishing area.

¯ Either remove the dam on the West Branch of the AuSable River, or allow it to deteriorate.

¯ Manage fish populations, including poisoning exiting fish in West Pine and Rag ponds and restocking brook trout. Introduce brook trout and round whitefish to Polliwog Pond.