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Old 02-02-2022, 08:05 PM   #1
Crash
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DEC developing Big Moose Tract Conservation Easement draft RMP

The DEC is seeking input about their plans to develop a Draft Recreation Management Plan (RMP) for the Big Moose Conservation Easement. This easement is south of Stillwater Reservoir. Comments are accepted until February 28, 2022.

BogMoodeTract.JPG

For more detail on participating, see the DEC webpage for the Independence River Wild Forest located here (see the Planning and Management section near the end of the webpage):
https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/58192.html#Planning

This webpage has a link to a copy of the conservation easement.

I’m always looking for new places to paddle and camp. Anybody familiar with the area?

DSettahr, seeing that this lies between two wilderness areas, perhaps there is a round trip hiking loop you could propose?

Please consider participating in this if you can contribute!

Last edited by Crash; 02-02-2022 at 08:15 PM.. Reason: Added Map
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Old 02-02-2022, 10:02 PM   #2
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Easements are tough- it can take a lawyer to determine whether any proposed recreational development complies with the easement agreement or not. I did take a quick look through the easement agreement and something I noted is that while the DEC has the right to build some public trails on the easement, aside from a short list of specific trails permitted in the easement agreement, any new trails would apparently need to be agreed upon by the property owner in addition to the DEC.

Fortunately, one of those "hypothetical trails" outlined within and permitted by the easement agreement is a foot trail connecting the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness to the south with the Independence River Wild Forest to the north- provided that it goes by way of Moose Pond.

However, the unfortunate reality is that in order to make such a connecting trail happen, it is very possible (if not likely) that amendments will also be necessary for the UMPs for both the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness and the Independence River Wild Forest. (It's possible that one or either of the UMPs already permit the building of such a trail, however, one would need to check them to be sure.)

I would also expect that bridging the Independence River where it crosses the northern-most portion of the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness would be a challenge- both from the management planning angle as well as the logistical "actually getting it built" angle.

Of course, none of this is at all to say that it's not a worthwhile goal to try to see how this area could be used to facilitate better inter-unit connectivity, especially with regards to providing opportunities for longer loop backpacking trips- anything ranging from 20 to 100 miles. For all of it's qualities, the Adirondack Park is sorely lacking in this sort of opportunity. (And FWIW, if the goal of "voluntary displacement" from the High Peaks is ever to be achieved, I believe that it's exactly this sort of opportunity that that will facilitate it.)

EDIT: So I realize I got confused- the above is true for the Three Lakes Conservation Easement tract, not the Big Moose Conservation Tract Easement. The DEC webpage is a bit confusing, but it sounds like recreation plans are being developed for both? Although they are only soliciting comments on the Big Moose Tract?

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Old 02-02-2022, 10:30 PM   #3
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About a year ago, the DEC was similarly requesting comments for the Three Lakes Conservation Easement draft RMP.
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Old 02-03-2022, 09:16 AM   #4
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Agreed J. The dec needs to create a comprehensive plan to develop more connected trails. Once this plan is in place, it should be used to direct all UMP amendments moving forward.
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Old 02-03-2022, 09:32 AM   #5
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I gotta go - but quick comment...

I'm really pessimistic that long trail through flat, lakeless areas that have been extensively logged is going to detract people from the High Peaks. Maybe like two people from this forum... but that's not enough.

That area has an extensive logging road network already btw.

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Old 02-03-2022, 10:04 AM   #6
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Another quick comment - I'm a little hesitant to divulge, but I know people who lease out there, and AFAIK, they can easily access (even by ATV) all the way to Haderondah wilderness boundary - I think I actually see the road on the map shown above.

Perhaps do some research on that if you have a public comment.
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Old 02-03-2022, 10:25 AM   #7
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A couple of things-

That comment regarding High Peaks displacement was more of an aside than anything, and not meant at all to imply that I thought this should be the first and foremost objective with regards to trail construction on these tracts. I will admit here that my primary object is much more selfish- I want long distance backpacking loops for my own personal enjoyment, first and foremost.

But to dive into more detail about what I was trying to suggest: I also wouldn't hold out much hope for voluntary High Peaks displacement in any case, but the point I was trying to make is that if you want users to displace from the High Peaks on their own, you have to offer them something similar that meets their desired experience- and for many High Peaks visitors in the modern era of hiking, I think the main draw is the social media bragging rights associated with being able to overcome the ruggedness of the High Peaks. Most other areas of the Adirondack Park don't have that same level of ruggedness to offer- so the only way to make up for it is distance. Unfortunately, for all of it's 3 million and counting acres of Forest Preserve lands, the Adirondack Park is currently surprisingly lacking in opportunities for 20-100 mile backpacking trips (especially loop trips, which are more desired within the community).

So it's not really anything within the tracts themselves that can facilitate this, but rather where they are located with respect to the broader geography of the region- in particular, their adjacency to the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness to the south and the Independence River Wild Forest to the north. Some quick measuring with Gmaps Pedometer shows that these tracts could facilitate the missing connection in a 40-60 mile backpacking loop that otherwise could largely incorporate existing trails (I should probably add a disclaimer here I say this without much knowledge of what condition those "existing trails" are currently actually in.) I would agree that the route of such a trail should avoid recently-harvested areas (or at the very least, be protected by a buffer against future harvests).

Granted, distance as a substitute for terrain is a bit of an apples and oranges situation and it's not going to be a perfect substitute. However, I do think ears in the High Peaks crowd would perk up at the publicity of a "brand new 50 mile backpacking loop" in the Adirondacks- especially one that was 1-2 hours of less driving over the High Peaks for the folks coming from Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.

Probably still a "pie in the sky" goal if anything, but still a better chance at facilitating some voluntary displacement from the High Peaks than some of the suggestions I've seen. (Fixing up the Debar Great Gamp is not going to draw users away from the High Peaks Wilderness, even if the idea has it's other very-worthwhile merits.)

(Also, in before TCD responds with "don't even bother trying, the state horrendously mismanages everything, there's no hope, the Adirondacks are going to be consumed in an apocalyptic blaze and be doomed to the darkest levels of hell for all eternity..." )
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Old 02-03-2022, 10:33 AM   #8
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I think people like views... but...

I guess my side comment was to suggest this would not be hard to connect - although you, and others, may not like that connectivity i.e. logging road with leased camps and ATVs.

I think it might more worthwhile to looking into better connectivity within our current wildernesses in the area i.e. Pigeon Lakes. Some may say there are too many trails already that can't be maintained...

And I'm learning a lot more about the history of these areas - and it may be best that they stay minimal access i.e. Southern 5 Ponds and Pigeon Lake (as far as I can tell those are our two biggest tracts of first/old growth - maybe up to 80k acres total between the two). Maybe it's best they stay closer to true wilderness.
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Old 02-03-2022, 10:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montcalm View Post
Another quick comment - I'm a little hesitant to divulge, but I know people who lease out there, and AFAIK, they can easily access (even by ATV) all the way to Haderondah wilderness boundary - I think I actually see the road on the map shown above.

Perhaps do some research on that if you have a public comment.
Sure, the rights of the lease holders need to be respected. And it's totally valid to suggest that the two uses should be kept separate where feasible. But it's not without precedent that there are easements in which some level of public access is permitted with normal state land use regulations, on tracts where easement holders (and land owners) are permitted to use ATVs. Even the original easement (the AMR) has this.

I'm not at all suggesting that either easement should be riddled with public hiking trails. A foot trail connection from south to north that uses the shortest possible route across the least amount of easement lands necessary is all I'm proposing. And in the context that the Three Lakes Tract appears to already have some provision for this, I'm not sure it's really even necessary to suggest something similar for the Big Moose Tract.
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Old 02-03-2022, 11:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
(Also, in before TCD responds with "don't even bother trying, the state horrendously mismanages everything, there's no hope, the Adirondacks are going to be consumed in an apocalyptic blaze and be doomed to the darkest levels of hell for all eternity..." )
Well, some of that is true... (Although I don't think I really ever said the last part... )

But to one small point on this thread, I agree with Montcalm that this won't divert anyone from the High Peaks. And it's not just because this particular development is uninteresting to folks that are looking for "high peaks type" hiking. The entire concept of "developing resources in other areas to divert people from the high peaks" has been a complete failure, and has been shown to be entirely invalid. For at least 20 years, the state and some of its cheerleader organizations have been repeating this over an over, insisting that it's going to have the desired effect, and it's plainly obvious that it doesn't work. In fact, I would suggest that some of the "diversion developments" have had the opposite of the intended effect. The smaller, outlying hikes introduce new people to the sport, who quickly "graduate" to hiking in the High Peaks.

(I think the reason its talked about here is only because of the way DEC writes plans (UMPs, RMPs, etc.). There very little "virgin" text; much of what's in the plans is copied over and over from prior documents.)

So the fact that this approach does not work is not a big deal. The problem is this approach causes vast amounts of scarce resources to be expended in places almost no one ever goes, while there is work that really needs doing in the places where the crowds actually do visit. This particular RMP appears to be a smaller project, and doesn't really make any difference in the scheme of things. But the larger projects have pulled tens of millions away from where the resources are really needed.

But back to the actual substance of the thread, and away from that small point: I agree with OP that if you have items you want to see included in this plan, you should comment. To their credit, DEC has been more responsive to public comment in the last few years than in the many years prior, so that's encouraging.
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Old 02-03-2022, 01:31 PM   #11
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Not to divert from the topic - and perhaps this should be it's own topic, but I've finally come around that most* of the High Peaks should just be re-managed, probably even re-classified to "primitive area", or have its own special designation (like canoe area - it can be peak-bagger area ).

And on that note I'll say my recent research leads me to believe the western portions of that same troubled wilderness area should be expanded... for certain preservation i.e. Ampersand and Follsensby (assuming TNC turns it over to the state). I really no see no issues with the west remaining managed as it is.

*by most I mean those areas with the highest density of "46er" peaks and highest users per acre

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Old 02-03-2022, 02:11 PM   #12
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places almost no one ever goes
I guess I must be an "almost no one" because I have almost always avoided the High Peaks and their over crowded trails and parking lots. Most of my HP hiking has been in conjunction with SAR incidents or Lean2Rescue maintenance and builds, though even with that I can't think of more than just once or twice that I have ever spent a night in a leanto. I grew up and cut my teeth, so to speak, by hiking, hunting, and paddling in the western Adirondacks, notably in the Pepperbox, Five Ponds, Ha-De-Ron-Dah wilderness areas, , and the Black River and Independence WF with a lesser amounnt in Pigeon Lakes. Further west, throw in Tug Hill as well. Early on, I learned the basics of backcountry travel and land navigation from my father, then later self-taught myself more advanced and refined formal off trail land navigation techniques. Small pond to pond, creek to creek, ridge to ridge.

So I really couldn't care any less about new trail development in these areas. I have often said that my best use of a trail is to get me to a place where I can get off the darn trail.
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Old 02-03-2022, 03:16 PM   #13
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I am also in the "almost no one group". I kind of like it that way. Part of me doesn't want to advertise the other areas and create crowds there too. I do not think it will decrease the crowds in the HP, only make other areas crowded too. I am getting selfish as I age. Soon I will be (if not already) in the curmudgeon group.
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Old 02-03-2022, 03:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
I guess I must be an "almost no one" because I have almost always avoided the High Peaks and their over crowded trails and parking lots. Most of my HP hiking has been in conjunction with SAR incidents or Lean2Rescue maintenance and builds, though even with that I can't think of more than just once or twice that I have ever spent a night in a leanto. I grew up and cut my teeth, so to speak, by hiking, hunting, and paddling in the western Adirondacks, notably in the Pepperbox, Five Ponds, Ha-De-Ron-Dah wilderness areas, , and the Black River and Independence WF with a lesser amounnt in Pigeon Lakes. Further west, throw in Tug Hill as well. Early on, I learned the basics of backcountry travel and land navigation from my father, then later self-taught myself more advanced and refined formal off trail land navigation techniques. Small pond to pond, creek to creek, ridge to ridge.

So I really couldn't care any less about new trail development in these areas. I have often said that my best use of a trail is to get me to a place where I can get off the darn trail.
Well that's a conundrum. I too am a off trail type of guy and rather not run into anyone whilst traipsing the big wood. However I also realize that people will protect what they love and they find it hard to love what they don't know.
The concept on Wilderness is more palatable when there are no people around and that illusion of Wilderness may lead one to understand the inherent necessity of wildness.

"In wildness is the preservation of the world," wrote Henry David Thoreau
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Old 02-03-2022, 03:34 PM   #15
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Wldrns and geogymn, good points I guess... but I'm not seeing how it relates. The area is not going to be forest preserve, and it's already fairly developed (a number of roads and camps exist). It's anything but wilderness ATM.

As far as access - I think if you get anything, it's going to be access to an existing road/trail. Anything else would probably be a waste of precious budget.

As far as the topic of "wilderness" - we still have areas of that, that have little trail, and little human visitation. In terms of the big picture in this state, I'm tending to think we should think outside of the blue lines in terms of future preservation. We have a dearth of land, and very little "protected" land outside the blue lines. I love the Adirondacks more than anywhere else in this state, but it's a shame we neglect our own backyard when we have more than a bounty of "wasteland" wilderness in the park.
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Old 02-03-2022, 08:11 PM   #16
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Yes, I know this is a sidetrack. To the main point - yes, comment if you have an interest in this area.

To the sidetrack topic - I am also an "almost no one." I like wildness, and of course it's easy to find even just a little ways off trail.

I pounded through the 46 35 years ago; it was much quieter than it is now. I'll still hike a high peak with friends, but I am mostly off trail.

But to my point - I don't need the state to build any expensive facilities to support my bushwhacking. But it's a travesty that they can't seem to take care of anything in the very crowded areas, which are crowded at least in part due to state promotion.

But this is very off topic. I will probably never visit this particular tract; I will never get through exploring all the land that is less than an hour from Keene!

So back to the OP discussion of backpacking loop trails.
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Old 02-03-2022, 10:37 PM   #17
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Sorry, Crash- I should've known that given this forum's well-established pattern in responding to any mention of "overuse in the High Peaks" with hyperfocused and extensive debate, my parenthetical aside would've inevitably derailed this thread.
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Old 02-03-2022, 11:05 PM   #18
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Since the non-HP western regions were mentioned in posts above, my only point in chiming in was, as one of the "few" users enjoying the state of the western Adirondack wilderness areas as they are without an extensive trail system, I enjoy them and the beautiful destinations and navigation challenges that they have to offer just as they are without need for any "improvements" to satisfy additional human traffic overflowing from the crowded High Peaks.
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Old 02-04-2022, 09:45 AM   #19
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Well - seen as how we're already in the weeds...

I think a number of people who don't even visit certain "trail-less" areas appreciate them for their heritage preservation and ecological benefits.

The Adirondacks were created to preserve water quality for the state - if the HPW fails to do that because of human use i.e. unmanaged feces and micro-plastics, then it fails to be not only wilderness, but what the park sets out to accomplish on a large scale. Trying to make a high use area conform to "wilderness" by ignoring this and public safety is counterproductive to all causes IMO. In other words, the definition of stupidity: a lose-lose situation.
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Old 02-04-2022, 10:43 AM   #20
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While I appreciate the trailless areas I do not see a significant intrusion with the creation (or marking of existing paths) in some areas to make connections to other trails. This would provide more oppotunities for the long distance backpacking folks. Loops are great, but the most well known long distance trails are end to end. When the NCNST is finally completed in NY (the Adirondack section being the only real missing part) we will have only two trails in the Adirondacks to cater to the distance backpacking subset of hikers. There is a conscious effort to make "community connector trails" for the snowmobile crowds. The same philosphy could be employed to make "trail system connectors" to bridge the systems to facilitate long distance backpacking. [note: I am defininig long distance backpacking as requiring a minimum of a week.]
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