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Adirondack Council Supports Mountain Bikes in Moose River Plains Wild Forest

Contrasts with Group’s Assessment of Bikes at More-Sensitive Boreas Ponds

For more information:
John Sheehan
518-441-1340 cell
518-432-1770 ofc

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, February 22, 2017

INLET, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental advocacy organization today expressed its support for new mountain biking trails in the Moose River Plans Wild Forest, on the border of Hamilton and Herkimer counties.

“In the right locations, expanded mountain biking opportunities can help more people enjoy the Adirondacks without harming the Park’s environment or wild character,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “Mountain biking isn’t appropriate everywhere.  Choosing the right location protects public land while providing benefits for the local tourism and hospitality industries.

“For example, we oppose mountain bikes in the remote interior, steep slopes, wetlands and easily eroded soils at Boreas Ponds,” Janeway said.  “The Boreas Ponds should be part of an expanded High Peaks Wilderness. Bikes are not allowed in Wilderness.”

The Moose River Plains Wild Forest, on the other hand, is not Wilderness and is not being considered for Wilderness classification.  It is lower, flatter and better drained, he said.  It also contains fewer rare, threatened or endangered species. 

The Adirondack Council also supported the recent development of mountain biking trails in the state’s Wilmington Wild Forest, northeast of Lake Placid.

The Council cautioned, however, that the addition of 25 miles of new bike trail should be coupled with an increased commitment to day-to-day care, stewardship, education and management of users of the “forever wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve.

“The construction of up to 25 miles of new mountain bike trails will carry with it a significant and ongoing management challenge,” Adirondack Council Director of Conservation Raul “Rocci” Aguirre wrote to the Park Agency.  His comments came in response to the APA’s request for public comment on the proposed changes to the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan’s compliance with the State Land Master Plan, which is currently under review.  It is expected to be on the agenda for the APA’s March 9-10 meeting.

Aguirre predicted that the success of the new trail system “will hinge on the willingness and ability of local bike advocates to take on a primary role in the ongoing maintenance of these trails” due to limited state funding and staff budgeted for such day-to-day maintenance.

In addition, Aguirre noted that the Cuomo Administration has placed great emphasis on increasing opportunities for more intensive uses of the Forest Preserve such as biking, snowmobiles and other motorized recreational activities – when in some places less impactful pursuits, such as hiking and skiing are more appropriate.

Aguirre called for more emphasis on hiking and skiing, coupled with comprehensive planning to guide the expansion of all forms of biking.  His request echoed a recent statement by a member of the APA’s board.

“The Council strongly agrees with comments made by Adirondack Park Agency Board member Chad Dawson at the January 12 APA meeting, about the need for a strategic, park-wide Mountain Biking Guidance document,” he wrote. 

“Development of these guidelines should address the user experience (single-track vs "family" style double-track), opportunity costs for other recreational activities (i.e. multi-use vs single-use), natural resource protections, trail design, development of related best management practices, short and long-term maintenance needs, volunteer agreements, etc. The Council looks forward to engaging on this effort as an interested stakeholder and reviewing documents as they are developed and drafted,” he wrote.

Aguirre also praised state officials for explaining why some trails in the Moose River Plains were not appropriate for mountain biking.

"The Council recognizes and appreciates efforts by [state officials] to account for natural resource considerations and avoid sensitive areas in developing their trail network. Highlighting trails that will not be developed, such as the Squaw Lake Beaver Trail, due to the presence of streams and wetlands, is an important component of UMP planning that rarely gets the attention it deserves.”

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.  The Council envisions a Park with clean air and clean water, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, and vibrant local communities open and inclusive for all.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action.  Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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