APA snowmobile plan called illegal

The Adirondack Park Agency could face legal action if, as appears likely, it approves new snowmobile-trail guidelines at its meeting on Friday.

The APA’s State Land Committee voted this afternoon (Thursday) to permit the agency’s full board to consider the guidelines at its Friday meeting.APA logo

Afterward, the executive directors of the Park’s three major environmental groups—the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), and Protect the Adirondacks—argued that the proposed guidelines violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.

Their objections pertain to the character and maintenance of a new class of trails known as “community connectors,” intended to link hamlets.

The trails would be nine feet wide in most places and up to twelve feet wide on curves. Also, most protruding rocks would be removed to create a smoother surface. The critics say such trails would violate the State Land Master Plan’s mandate that snowmobile trails retain “essentially the character of a foot trail.”

The guidelines also would permit grooming tractors on the trails, which the green groups contend would be an illegal use of motor vehicles on the Forest Preserve.

“The State Land Master Plan carries the force of law,” said Brian Houseal, head of the Adirondack Council. “A community-connector trail with tractor groomers is beyond the definitions” of permissible uses found in the State Land Master Plan.

Houseal and his two colleagues—Neil Woodworth of ADK and Dave Gibson of Protect—said they would consider filing a lawsuit if the guidelines are approved.

They said they would not object to the construction of community connectors or to the use of tractor groomers if the State Land Master Plan were appropriately amended.

APA Commissioner Dick Booth was the only member of the State Land Committee who argued that the master plan should be amended. The full board will take up the issue at 10:45 a.m. Friday.

The New York State Snowmobile Association backs the proposed guidelines, according to Dave Perkins, the group’s trails coordinator.

Click here to review the guidelines and related documents.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Martin Bull says

    I am excited about the vote by APA to make snowmobiling inside the Adirondack Park safer for the future. The new snowmobile master plan has been in the works for many years trying to connect many of the Adirondack communities together into a state wide trail system. This will make a safer and better groomed trails system within the APA. Hopefully this will increase tourism in the Adirondacks by allowing overnight snowmobile trips to different part of the Adirondacks by both New Yorkers and tourist from out of state. It should also open up jobs for those who work the tourist industry in the summer and spend the rest of the year on unemployment. It is nice to see that the people who make the Adirondacks their home have won some of their rights as residents back from the part time residents who have seem to control the APA for the past 30 years.

    Thank you board members of the APA for seeing the truth about snowmobiling within the Adirondack Park, now people will safely enjoy snowmobiling inside the park. If things continued in the manner of the past 40 years, then only the rich who live there part time would soon be able to enjoy the park and something is wrong with that approach that gives people with money the right to drive out those who have been there for generations. You the members of the APA, have given the common folks the right to enjoy the Park in the winter time. Thank you again.


  1. […] Adirondack Park Agency voted 10-1 Friday to approve snowmobile-trail guidelines despite objections by environmental groups that they violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master […]

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