Public Comments Accepted Through September 18
The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands (Draft RMP) in the northern Adirondacks will increase public access for recreational use under a draft Recreational Management Plan released today for public review and comment, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman announced.
"The Draft Recreation Management Plan outlines a variety of recreational opportunities, including motorized recreation, on the Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands," said Acting Commissioner Gerstman. "Governor Cuomo is committed to encouraging people to enjoy New York's outstanding natural resources, and the RMP for the Kushaqua Tract does that by creating additional opportunities for the public to enjoy this land. DEC worked cooperatively with private landowners and land managers to develop public access on these lands, while protecting natural resources and retaining timber management jobs."
DEC made changes to the Draft Plan to reflect comments made as part of the previous public comment period in 2014.
A public meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on September 1 in the main conference room of the DEC Headquarters office building, 1115 NYS Route 86, Ray Brook. The meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to learn more on the proposed management actions in the Draft RMP and to provide comment on the proposals. The meeting facility is wheelchair accessible. Please provide any requests for specific accommodations to 518-897-1361 at least one week in advance. DEC will accept comments on the Draft RMP until September 18, 2015.
The Kushaqua Tract Conservation Easement Lands consist of approximately 19,000 acres of land in the towns of Franklin and Brighton in Franklin County formerly owned by International Paper Corporation. DEC purchased a working forest conservation easement on the lands in 2004 which includes development rights and sustainable forestry requirements. The easement also includes public access to more than 19,000 acres of the property and many miles of the existing road system.
Lyme Timber Company purchased the lands in 2006 and continues to actively manage the lands for timber. The company also leases 31 one-acre camp parcels on the property to private outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
DEC developed the Draft RMP to facilitate and manage public recreational use of the easement lands and comply with the terms and conditions of the easement. DEC consulted with the landowner and its forest management consulting firm in developing the proposed plan. In addition, DEC obtained input from a variety of stakeholders including local governments, snowmobile and ATV clubs, sportsmen and women, hikers and private lease club members.
The Draft RMP includes proposals to: construct campsites and designated parking areas; construct new trails for motorized and non-motorized users; provide access for people with disabilities; enhance fishing access; and to repair, upgrade and open to the public existing access roads. Non-motorized uses will include hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Motorized uses will include ATVs, snowmobiles and automobiles.
Proposed management actions include to:
- maintain and rehabilitate existing facilities (including brushing, raking, grading and rehabilitation of roads and bridges);
- designate one existing logging road as open for People with Disabilities under CP 3 permit;
- install informational, safety and boundary line signage;
- construct four new trails;
- construct six designated parking lots;
- upgrade and open for public access a total of 100 miles of existing roads, 35 miles of which will be open to limited motorized uses;
- motorized access will include approximately 26 miles of three-season automobile roads, 30 miles of ATV roads and trails available for access varying from one to three seasons of the year, 30 miles of roads and trails available for snowmobiling during the winter season, and approximately 0.5 miles of new automobile access for People with Disabilities possessing a CP-3 permit;\
- install a universally accessible dock and boardwalk to provide for accessible fishing, paddling, boating and wildlife viewing opportunities on Mountain Pond;
- construct 12 campsites, four of which will be constructed to be universally accessible; and
- construct and maintain gates and other barriers to prevent illegal motorized use on sections of roads that are not open to public use.
DEC is accepting comments on the Draft RMP until Friday, September 18. The Draft RMP is available for public review at DEC's Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook and at the town offices of Brighton and Franklin. Copies are available in electronic format for distribution on compact disc and may be requested by calling DEC at 518-897-1291. A limited number of printed copies are available as well. The complete document is available on DEC's web site at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/94963.html.
Written comments may be sent to Sean Reynolds, Senior Forester, NYSDEC, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977, or e-mailed to r5ump until Friday, September 18.