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