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Old 04-02-2008, 09:29 PM   #1
DLHiker
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Is Cathead still closed?

Just wondering if there has been any movement on that issue.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:53 PM   #2
Bill I.
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Cathead Mountain near Northville?

Public access is not likely to be regained in the near future. The summit and a portion of the trail leading to it are on private land. One of the parcels is completely surrounded by state land with no deeded ROW leading to it. The owners asked the state for permission to construct an access road across Forest Preserve land, but the DEC has no legal authority to grant such permission without a constitutional amendment. So the owners withdrew their permission to allow the public access to the summit.

So, short of back-to-back approvals by two state legislative sessions, plus a public referendum, the state is unable to grant a new ROW across public land. And the owners of the mountain summit are under no obligation to grant public access to their lands.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:15 AM   #3
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thanks. Wish they could figure something out.
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Old 04-03-2008, 06:28 PM   #4
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thanks. Wish they could figure something out.
I don't think you would want to visit there any more, I have heard that the owners (The Thomas Gang) have Trashed the summit. By "Trashed" I mean put up all sorts of communication tower and related equipment. No longer the picture post card scene it used to be.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:24 PM   #5
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I don't think you would want to visit there any more, I have heard that the owners (The Thomas Gang) have Trashed the summit. By "Trashed" I mean put up all sorts of communication tower and related equipment. No longer the picture post card scene it used to be.
Tom McG
Well, NYS isn't much better in that regard. Look at Black Mountain near Lake George.
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Old 04-03-2008, 09:19 PM   #6
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I'm not 100% sure on this but I was old that some of the equipment up there is State. And that because of the Pi$$ing contest going on, they have to maintain it by helicopter since they can't access the mountain from the base without trespassing.
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:17 AM   #7
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I'm not 100% sure on this but I was old that some of the equipment up there is State. And that because of the Pi$$ing contest going on, they have to maintain it by helicopter since they can't access the mountain from the base without trespassing.
I believe I read that somewhere also. I think it was in The Schenectady Gazette last year.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:08 AM   #8
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This is DEC's summary of the situation, as printed in the 2006 Silver Lake Wilderness UMP. The initials "CMPA" stand for Cathead Mountain Primitive Area, the designation of the lot where the hiking used to be located and where the access road would be located.

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Cathead Mountain access - The CMPA has one issue that is beyond the scope of a UMP but deserves a brief explanation. The APSLMP defines the CMPA as 206 acres and consists of Great Lot 121 in the Town of Benson. It also states that the CMPA contains two rights-of-way to an inholding of private land within the Silver Lake Wilderness as well as the remnants of a telephone line for the state owned fire tower on Cathead Mountain, situated within the inholding.

The issue related to the CMPA involves public access to the Cathead Mountain Trail and focuses on the nature and extent of private access over Great Lot 120 of the Benson Tract. The Cathead Mountain Trail is a very popular hiking trail that leads to a state-owned fire tower lying within a private inholding. The trail begins on private property, crosses state land, then re-enters private property where the fire tower is located. Other associated structures that are state-owned and located on the parcel of private property at the fire tower site include: a radio building, wind generating tower, observer’s cabin, storage shed, helipad, and privy. The previously recognized motor vehicle road and telephone line to the fire tower are no longer used.

Historically, the private land owners used motor vehicles over Lot 120 to access their property, as authorized by Temporary Revocable Permits (TRPs) issued by the Department. Normally, private use of motor vehicles would not be allowed over Lot 120 because of its Forest Preserve and Wilderness classification, but an exception exists for the use of a private right-of-way which pre-dated State acquisition. A few years ago DEC determined that the owners of this property had no such legal right-of-way across Lot 120, and consequently denied the owner’s request for a new TRP. The owners responded in September of 2000 by withdrawing their permission for the public to use the Cathead Mountain Trail and filing a lawsuit against the State, alleging that they had a right-of-way and that DEC had therefore improperly denied the TRP. On June 16, 2005 the Appellate Division, Third Department, unanimously affirmed a lower court ruling that the Thomas Gang has no legal right of access to its property across Forest Preserve lands. Consequently, public access to the Cathead Mountain Trail continues to be denied.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:39 AM   #9
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I heard that what triggered all this was that the owners wanted to do some logging, and in the process would have had to cross the state property in order to drag the logs out. The state did not want them to use motorized vehicles for this and that triggered the state's about face on the permit.

That's what I was told by local residents.

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Old 04-04-2008, 11:04 AM   #10
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That very well could be, I don't know. If the owners of the inholding planned to log, they may have needed to make improvements to the route they were previously using in order to accommodate the heavy equipment. That may have been what triggered DEC to check the legal files to see what, exactly, the Thomas Gang had the right to do. But I'm just speculating here.

From what I gather, there was a "personality conflict issue" that didn't help this particular case, either.

In my observation, DEC is pretty lenient in terms of granting private access across state lands to inholdings. Historically, the state assumed that if there is private land surrounded entirely by state land, the landowners must have some right to access their land--up to and including motor vehicles, even with deeds that probably date back to the nineteenth century. These assumptions were not always made on legal fact--the state was just trying to be helpful.

On the other hand, the state owns dozens of small Forest Preserve parcels all across the Adirondacks that are inaccessible to the public because they are completely surrounded by private land. The state acquired the land but not the right to get there.

Last edited by Bill I.; 04-04-2008 at 11:32 AM..
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Old 05-07-2008, 07:55 PM   #11
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Update

Just an update on Cathead Mountain:

There is currently a proposal on the board that would restore public access to the fire tower. It involves a land exchange between the club and the state, so a constitutional amendment would be required--meaning that at the earliest, if there are no hitches, the issue would be resolved in the November 2011 general election.

But it's still in the negotiating phase, so nothing has been settled yet.

On Monday I was part of a group invited by the landowners to see the mountain. Also present were DEC foresters and representatives from the four "watchdog" groups. Below are my pictures from that day:

1) The fire tower, with state police communication equipment
2) View toward Grant Lake and Three Ponds Mountain
3) Helicopter landing pad and ground-level view to southeast toward Northville
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Fire Tower.jpg (67.1 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg Grant Lake.jpg (47.1 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg Landing Pad.jpg (95.0 KB, 193 views)
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bill I. View Post
Just an update on Cathead Mountain:

There is currently a proposal on the board that would restore public access to the fire tower. It involves a land exchange between the club and the state, so a constitutional amendment would be required--meaning that at the earliest, if there are no hitches, the issue would be resolved in the November 2011 general election.

But it's still in the negotiating phase, so nothing has been settled yet.

On Monday I was part of a group invited by the landowners to see the mountain. Also present were DEC foresters and representatives from the four "watchdog" groups. Below are my pictures from that day:

1) The fire tower, with state police communication equipment
2) View toward Grant Lake and Three Ponds Mountain
3) Helicopter landing pad and ground-level view to southeast toward Northville
Sorry to bump such an old topic, but I was wondering if there was any update on Cathead?

I remember reading an article in the paper from a few years ago about a hiking group that needed to be rescued from Cathead Mountain. The article stated that the trail was a bit rough after having been closed for so long.

So I figured it must be open! I drove the half hour trip up there one day last summer, only to find that, alas, it's still closed. A local happened to be walking by as I was turning around, so I pulled over and talked with him about it for a bit. He sounded depressed, to be honest, by the dispute, about how it really hurt the tourism in the area. It was a great thing and it was ruined, he kept saying.

I'm guessing the November 2011 elections thing didn't end up working out? If that's the case, I wonder about the stranded hikers in that article I read. I didn't read anything about them getting in trouble for trespassing. Do you think charges were pressed? It's been so long since this dispute began, at some point someone has to give in, don't you think?
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:06 PM   #13
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I don't know anything about a hiking group needing to be rescued from Cathead (there is more than one mountain by that name) but the proposed constitutional amendment never went anywhere. In the end it was decided that a private group that bought a parcel of land surrounded by state land -- with no road access -- should have known better. The bill never gained support, and the trail remains closed.

I'm not sure how this ruins the local tourism though, because Benson has what, two commercial enterprises? Neither of which are dependent on Cathead Mountain.
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:50 AM   #14
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In 2011, the club offered a 3-to-1 land swap to NYS involving acreage NW of the tower (an area not likely to attract any recreational users) in exchange for the Forest Preserve land that could provide motorized access to the club property. In addition, the club would grant an easement for the public to hike up to the fire tower which is adorned with NYS Police communications equipment. A land swap that would greatly benefit a private club in exchange for a little extra state forest land was deemed to be a bad deal and a dangerous precedent. I don't expect any movement on this. That fire tower isn't worth the problems that a proposed deal like that would have generated.
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Old 01-25-2017, 09:36 PM   #15
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Still nothing on cathead ?? I wonder if the landowner would give permission if asked nice enough?
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