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DEC seeks public input in plan for Fulton Chain Wild Forest

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comment on more than 15,000 acres in the southwest Adirondacks.

The DEC is asking the public to submit written comments or attend a public meeting on an upcoming revision to the unit management plan for the Fulton Chain Wild Forest.

Comprised of just over 16,000 acres, the wild forest follows the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The forest is home to paddling, fishing, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, trapping and camping opportunities, including the Rondaxe Fire Tower Trail.

“The unit is named after the Fulton Chain of Lakes, which are named and numbered First through Eighth,” the UMP said. “The first four lakes separate the southern extremity of this unit.

“Steamboat inventor Robert Fulton was an enthusiastic member of the commission appointed to investigate the feasibility of an ‘Adirondack Canal’ and he extolled the virtues of this unnamed chain of Adirondack lakes. Although the idea never attained fruition, the lakes have been known as the Fulton Chain ever since. A dam at Old Forge under the jurisdiction of the Black River Regulating Board controls the water level of the first five lakes. Another dam at Sixth Lake controls the water level of Sixth and Seventh lakes. Eighth Lake has a natural outlet.

“The former Old Forge Fish Hatchery (also called the Fulton Chain Fish Hatchery) was located in the Hamlet of Old Forge at the turn of the century, and served as the winter haven for seven beavers purchased by the state from the Canadian Exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. In April of 1905, two beavers were taken in a zinc-lined crate from Old Forge to Inlet by rowboat. From Inlet, they were carried to a small Moose River tributary named Sumner Stream and released. The next year, the state contracted with the Secretary of the Interior for the purchase of 25 live beavers to be captured and shipped from Yellowstone National Park. Excepting four animals that were lost to the rigors of the cross-country trip, these beavers were released to the wild. It was from the thirty beavers released between 1901 and 1907 by the State and by private individuals that the present large population of beavers in the Adirondacks has developed.”

A UMP for the forest was last issued in 1990, and the DEC wants public suggestions prior to revising it. The public comment period will begin on June 12 and run through July 29. The DEC will also hold a public meeting on June 12, a Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the town of Webb’s Park Avenue Building, 183 Park Ave., Old Forge.

Written comments can be sent to Michael Marsh, DEC senior forester, at the NYSDEC Herkimer address, by email at r6.ump@dec.ny.gov or by phone to 315-866-6330.