When Jim McCulley drove his snowmobile on Old Mountain Road in 2003, he touched off a series of court battles that lasted fifteen years. For now, at least, the legal saga appears to have ended.
A state court handed down another decision Thursday in the fifteen-year battle over the status of the Old Mountain Road section of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail, declaring that the road was not legally abandoned. In its 5-0 decision, the Appellate Division overturned an administrative decision issued in 2015 by state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens. In his decision, Martens had vacated a 2009 ruling by an earlier commissioner, Pete Grannis, who found the popular ski trail was still a town road under the law. Grannis, in turn, was upholding a decision by an administrative law judge in the state >>More
On Saturday I set out to ski the two miles to McKenzie Pond on the popular Jackrabbit Trail. However, the sign at the trail warned that a bridge over McKenzie Brook was “flooded and impassable.” I knew that the bridge had been a few feet underwater after a recent thaw, but that was a week ago. I wanted to see for myself if the bridge was still impassable. So I stuck with my plan. Earlier in the week, I had skied a few times at Dewey Mountain and enjoyed down-mountain runs in dry powder. On Saturday, alas, the temperature had >>More
Old Mountain Road in the Sentinel Range Wilderness has been the subject of legal battles for more than a decade. The state says it was long ago abandoned, but Jim McCulley, president of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club, contends it remains a town road and should be open to motor vehicles. The “road” is part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail. On Wednesday, legal arguments were heard by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Albany. Following is a news release from the Adirondack Council, which is a party to the case. ALBANY, N.Y. — The Adirondack Council was in >>More
DEC proposes trail improvements in Sentinel Range Wilderness.
We got a few inches of fresh powder overnight and may get an additional four to nine inches before the day is done. Let’s hope the forecast is on target. Before work, I went for a short ski on the Jackrabbit Trail outside Saranac Lake. Starting on McKenzie Pond Road, I made first tracks to the top of the small hill just beyond McKenzie Pond, a round trip of a little more than four miles. With the snow we got last night and over the weekend, the skiing was much better than it was a few weeks ago. In a >>More
How bad was this winter for backcountry skiers? It ranks as one of the worst, according to the Adirondack Ski Touring Council, which maintains the twenty-four-mile Jackrabbit Trail between Saranac Lake and Keene. Tony Goodwin, the group’s executive director, says the entire Jackrabbit was skiable for only twenty-five days this winter—by far the worst season since the trail was created in the 1980s. Previously, the worst season was 1989, when the full Jackrabbit was skiable for forty-eight days. “Our best season was 1998 when the Jackrabbit Trail was covered for 132 days,” Goodwin writes in the ASTC’s spring newsletter. >>More
A lawyer for the state Department of Environmental Conservation argues that his former boss misconstrued the Highway Law in dismissing a ticket against a Lake Placid man who drove his pickup truck on an abandoned road in the Sentinel Range Wilderness. Randall Young, the top attorney in DEC’s Region 6, is asking the commissioner of DEC to clarify a decision handed down in 2009. The decision was made by then-Commissioner Pete Grannis. Jim McCulley, the president of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club, sparked the legal dispute after driving his truck on the Old Mountain Road in 2005. The road, now >>More
The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s plan to move its Adirondack emergency dispatchers from the Lake Placid region to Albany is creating quite a stir. Critics contend the move will make the public less safe. The argument is that dispatchers in Albany will be less familiar with the Adirondack—and its bewildering nomenclature—and this could slow the response time of search-and-rescue crews. State Senator Betty Little, who represents the North Country, is among those questioning the change. “Obviously, the state is looking at ways to be more efficient all the time,” she told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “but in the Adirondacks, >>More
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has granted a request by its own staff to clarify an agency decision that the Old Mountain Road in Keene—now part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail—had never been legally abandoned and therefore could be open to motorized use. The decision by DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis in 2009 raised questions about the status of other old woods roads in the Forest Preserve. Many such roads are now foot trails and closed to vehicles. DEC attorney Randall Young had filed a motion for clarification, contending that Grannis misinterpreted the law and that the decision could lead >>More