Council loses snowmobile decision

A state judge has dismissed the Adirondack Council’s complaint that guidelines for snowmobile trails, adopted last year, violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and the forever-wild clause of the state constitution.

Photo from Wikipedia.
Photo from Wikipedia.

The guidelines authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation to construct extra-wide “community connector” trails between hamlets and allow tractor groomers to maintain them.

The Adirondack Park Agency approved the guidelines in November, saying they complied with the State Land Master Plan.

Brian Houseal, the council’s executive director, said the council will decide whether to appeal after reviewing the judge’s opinion.

Houseal said the council recognizes the economic importance of snowmobiling and supports the concept of community connectors, but he raised several objections to the guidelines.

Community connectors are supposed to avoid the interior of the Forest Preserve, but Houseal  said the trails will be permitted up to two miles from highways. The council contends community connectors should be located no more than five hundred feet from roads.

Houseal also argues that the Master Plan needs to be amended to define “community connector,” “mechanized groomer,” and other novel terms found in the guidelines.

State Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly dismissed most of the council’s claims on the ground that they were not “ripe” for litigation. The guidelines will be implemented only through unit management plans (UMPs) for individual tracts of Forest Preserve. The time to sue, the judge reasoned, is when UMPs are adopted.

The judge dismissed one of the council’s claims on procedural grounds.

Click the link below to read the full decision.

Adirondack Council v APA

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. mateas says

    Doesn’t the APA take orders from the council? Then why are they suing?

    I love the Adirondack rhetoric. Even though the enviro groups sue the APA fairly regularly, some accuse them of collusion. Just like the elite use canoes and skis while the average blue-collar folks use floatplane and snowmachines.

  2. Amazed says

    Nice propaganda photo, Phil. That’s not representative of the subject matter. The case related to trails on the Forest Preserve and we both know that trails such as those you depict with that photo are not permitted under current, proposed, or prior policies. Please consider putting up a representative photo, not one that misinforms a casual reader about what is happening out there.

  3. Phil says

    Amazed, I agree the photo is not representative. I didn’t intend it as propaganda, however. It was the only public-use photo I could get my hands on on short notice. I should have cropped it.

  4. Julia says

    What the photo doesn’t show is the ear-piercing noise coming from snowmobiles and the burned fossil fuel smell they leave behind. What a violation of the wild nature of the Adirondacks. We already have billions of miles of roads and waterways for motorized vehicles; let’s protect the few, relatively small spaces we still have left to get away from cars, snowmobiles and motor boats.

  5. TimothyD11 says

    “Elites” vs blue collar folks.

    How stupid to generalize.

    I’m a “blue collar folk” – I work with tools and get filthy EVERY day.

    But when I go to the FOREST PRESERVE I’m going to enjoy forests, waterways, fresh air, PEACE AND QUIET, and HOPEFULLY view some wildlife.

    I DON’T go there to bring NOISY CIVILIZATION to the #u@#!&g natural world.

    Go to the Tug Hill Plateau @$$#*l#$.

  6. Dominic says

    Lets face it, The ADK doesn’t know 10% of what it thinks it knows about snowmobiling. If all the community connectors are moved out near the highways, what is supposed to happen to the thousands of camps that are several miles from the roads, where people who own them have been snowmobiling in to them for years and spending the weekend with friends and family, WAY beyond where any cross country skier is willimg to trek. If they even tried, they would have to carry supplies and equipment to spend the night because it is cetainly to far to make it in one day. Maybe they could bum a ride back to their Hy-Brid SUV on a snowmobile or even ask to spend the night in their nice warm camp. Any snowmobilier I know would not turn them away!!

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