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Old 01-23-2017, 06:30 PM   #2
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,516
No. From a technicality standpoint with regards to the regulations, it's not a designated tent site, or a lean-to, and it's within 150 feet of a trail. From a policy stand point, the fire tower observer's cabins are for administrative use only (and anything else would be a violation of the Forever Wild amendment of the NY State constitution). And from a realistic standpoint, allowing public access to stay in the cabins would likely result in significant amounts of vandalism (many of the fire tower cabins that no longer stand were damaged beyond repair or even burned down by vandals).

Case in point with regards to that last bit concerning vandalism: If you ever get a chance to climb Overlook Mountain in the Catskills, note that the door to the observer's cabin has been heavily reinforced to keep vandals out. It looks like the door to a bank vault, not a cabin in the woods.

I also know that an intern working as a steward on one of the fire tower peaks quit their job mid-season a few years ago because of theft. They'd been staying in the cabin while working, and one day when they weren't on the mountain a group broke into the cabin and stole a bunch of their camping gear.

The only way for the public to legally stay in a fire tower observer's cabin is to get involved as a volunteer steward with one of the tower friends groups. At least one of the friends groups (Balsam Lake Mountain in the Catskills) has access to the cabin associated with their tower, and volunteers are allowed to stay in it overnight while working as a steward on the summit. The steward positions involve interacting with the public and providing education on leave no trace, local history, etc. I think a couple of other friends groups also have similar arrangements with the DEC.
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