Because of the state’s fiscal crisis, the Department of Environmental Conservation doesn’t plan to open the roads in the popular Moose River Plains Recreation Area this year.
The large tract of state land, located between the hamlets of Inlet and Indian Lake, has forty miles of dirt roads and 140 primitive campsites. The sites are often used by car campers, anglers, birders, and hunters.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said people will still be able to hike, bike, or ride horses on the roads, but the roads will remain gated to prevent access by motor vehicles. The roads are usually opened before Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s not a decision we wanted to make,” Winchell said. “It comes down to money, plain and simple. We can’t continue to provide the same services we have in the past under the current fiscal conditions.”
DEC also will keep closed several other Forest Preserve roads, including the roads to Lily Pond and Jabe Pond in the Lake George Wild Forest. For a full list, click the link to the department’s news release at the end of this post.
Most of the other roads, however, are relatively short and don’t see as much use as the Moose River Plains roads do.
Dean Nervik, who works in the Hamilton County tourism office, said the closure of the Plains roads will have a significant impact on the local economy. “It’s a disaster,” he said.
Even before DEC issued its news release, the county’s Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a resolution calling on the agency to immediately open the roads and requesting a meeting with the DEC commissioner “to resolve this important issue immediately.”
Inlet sponsors a mountain-bike race, the Black Fly Challenge, through the Plains each spring. Winchell said DEC will allow that race to continue.
Winchell said he did not know if the closure will affect snowmobiling .