Under pressure from local officials, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced today that it will open the roads in the Moose River Plains.
Earlier this month, DEC angered local officials when it said state budget cuts would keep it from opening the forty-mile system of dirt roads. Local towns rely on the Moose River Plains for tourism.
Following is the full text of DEC’s news release:
Thanks to a creative state-local partnership, the Moose River Plains Road — which provides access to one of the largest blocks of remote lands in the Adirondack Park — will be open to motor vehicles this summer, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.
DEC worked with local officials from Inlet, Indian Lake and Hamilton County, as well as state legislators, to cover maintenance duties and costs for the season. The Moose River Plains includes more than 40 miles of dirt roads, approximately 170 primitive campsites and 50,000 acres of wild forest in the central and southwestern sections of the park. DEC had previously announced that this road would not be opened in 2010 because the state’s historic fiscal crisis had limited agency maintenance funds. Instead, local communities will assist by providing gasoline, trucks, materials and law-enforcement personnel to help cover operational needs.
State and local crews began clearing the road this week; the road will be open Friday—in time for the Memorial Day weekend. However, roads south of the “Big T” junction (Otter Brook and Indian Lake roads) will remain closed.
“The Moose River Plains Road will be open for 2010, thanks to the willingness of local communities to help and the quick reaction of DEC crews to make it happen,” Commissioner Grannis said. “Together, we’ve forged a solution that will benefit the anglers, birders, hunters, hikers, mountain bikers and others who make the Plains a popular destination – as well as the businesses in Indian Lake and Inlet that depend on tourists.”
“Commissioner Grannis and the DEC staff moved heaven and earth to coordinate this effort and get us to a point where the road can be opened this weekend – which not something we thought could be done,” said Bill Farber, who serves as Morehouse town supervisor and chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors. “And, of course, the offer of assistance from the towns and the county were indispensable. By collaborating, we’ve come up with a solution that works for everyone.”
“We’re thankful that DEC accepted our offer of help and we’re looking forward to working together in partnership,” said Inlet Town Supervisor John Frey. “Our community and surrounding communities stand ready to assist in any reasonable way possible.”
“This is a great example of local and state officials coming together, working cooperatively and achieving a positive result,” said state Senator Betty Little. “It’s the kind of teamwork that is so important during this time of fiscal crisis. Commissioner Pete Grannis and his staff understood what was at stake. Losing the economic activity generated by the thousands of hikers, campers, sportsmen, mountain bikers and other tourists who visit the Moose River Plains would have dealt a severe financial blow to our Hamilton County communities.”
“The creative solution Commissioner Grannis and his DEC staff reached with our Adirondack towns to keep the Moose River Plains Road access area open is a fine example of how government should work,” said Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward. “Following DEC’s lead, we could save our parks and save New York taxpayers money.”
“This is a great piece of news for this part of the Adirondacks,” said Assemblyman Marc Butler. “I want to thank Commissioner Grannis and the DEC for listening to our appeal. At a time when we need good things to happen in our region, this is definitely welcomed news. And it’s great that it happened in time for the Memorial Day weekend.”
The Moose River Plains Wild Forest is bounded on the north by the Pigeon Lakes Wilderness Area, Raquette Lake and the Blue Ridge Wilderness; on the east and the south by the West Canada Lakes Wilderness and the private lands of the Adirondack League Club; and on the west by the Fulton Chain Lakes and State Route 28. It includes the Red River, the South Branch of the Moose River and the 675-acre Cedar River Flow.
The Moose River Plains Wild Forest offers many year-round recreational opportunities, including hiking, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, canoeing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding and primitive camping. Miles of marked trails and numerous lakes and ponds make this area an ideal destination for recreationists with varied interests and abilities.