The state Department of Environmental Conservation has two interesting proposals for the Moose River Plains. One should make local officials happy. The other should make environmentalists happy.
The Moose River Plains is now classified as Wild Forest. DEC wants to reclassify twenty miles of dirt road as an “Intensive Use Area,” a designation usually reserved for state campgrounds.
The department does not intend to create a full-out campground, with showers, bathrooms, paved roads, and other modern amenities, but it expects to maintain up to 150 roadside campsites with fireplaces or fire rings, picnic tables, and outhouses.
The Intensive Use classification will allow more campsites than would be permitted under the Wild Forest classification. Without the classification change, in fact, DEC would be forced to close many of the existing campsites in the Plains.
The department also wants to reclassify more than fifteen thousand acres in the Plains as Wilderness, where all motorized use would be banned. As part of this proposal, the Otter Brook Road and Indian Lake Road would be permanently closed to motor vehicles, according to DEC.
The new Wilderness tract includes Little Moose Mountain, one of the Adirondacks’ hundred highest peaks, and Little Moose Lake, a large water body at the base of the mountain. The tract would be added to the West Canada Lake Wilderness.
Last month DEC touched off a controversy when it announced it lacked the resources to open the roads in the Moose River Plains (they are closed in winter). DEC has since agreed to open most of the roads—with the exception of Otter Brook and Indian Lake roads.
Asked why DEC wanted to expand the Wilderness Area, spokesman Yancey Roy replied in an e-mail: “For the overall balance of actions proposed.”
DEC will discuss its plans at Thursday’s meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency, which must schedule public hearings on the proposals.