About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is an award-winning journalist covering environmental policy for the Explorer since January 2020. She also takes photos and videos for the Explorer's magazine and website. She is a current member of the Legislative Correspondents Association of New York. Gwen has worked at various news outlets since 2015. Prior to moving to upstate New York, she worked for a D.C. Metro-area public relations firm, producing digital content for clients including the World Health Organization, the Low Income Investment Fund and Rights and Resources Initiative. She has a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has bachelor's degrees in English and journalism, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, from the University of Connecticut. Gwen is also a part-time figure skating coach. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. Sign up for Gwen’s newsletter here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Brian E Wells says

    So how many miles of snowmobile trails that are on “Wild Forest Roads ” will get closed this time ?

  2. Tom Paine says

    Gould Paper who owned the property, deeded those roadways to the counties when the land was sold to NYS. They are trying once again to illegally steal roads and trails from certain user groups and turn them over to other user groups as they did with the Jack Rabitt trail.

  3. Philip Vander Molen says

    NY is already one of THE MOST RESTRICTED places already when it comes to dirt road travel and motor vehicle trail availability. Vermont has legal Class 4 roads that are public access even, but to consider closing even more of the few available roads to get into the back country is beyond ridiculous.

  4. Bill Keller says

    If my math is correct? 211.6 miles of road per 1.15M acres of wild forest in 1972. Today there is 1.3M acres of wild forest. Using the same ratio would result in 239.2 miles of road. Add the 15% and you would have 275.08 miles of road allowable. Potentially 68.5 more miles of road than today’s 206.6 miles. Why not leave it as it is today,CP3 roads and all and call it done?

  5. JB says

    While I think that chalking all of this up to a conspiratorial environmental lobby is misguided, it also seems that the APA, for whatever reason, is being set up to fail here. It seems unlikely that APA’s decision will immediately change the road mileage metric from an absolute Parkwide total to a relative per acre total — meaning, any publicly accessible road mileage within newly-acquired Wild Forest will tip the scales past the 15% “material increase” milestone. Yet, if they keep inflating the criteria for material increase beyond that 15%, they really aren’t really doing their job as per the APSLMP.

    The DEC liaison at the meeting continued to insist that the Department does not “construct new roads” (though the entire philosophy behind the APSLMP is that we can’t just take their word for it). But as per the snowmobile mileage “material increase” decision, there is a limit to their ability to create new snowmobile trails also.

    Seeing as many of these roads are essentially de facto snowmobile trails that are not really being used as automobile access roads anyway (many being gated for a significant portion of the year), wouldn’t it make sense to create some UMP process for converting some of these into snowmobile trails in a way that doesn’t contribute to snowmobile mileage “material increase”?

    That would be the most environmentally sound and realistic option. Convert access roads that would almost definitely not be missed into “grandfathered” snowmobile trails. Otherwise, we’re setting the stage for future decisions that continue to incrementally wear away at that “no material increase in road mileage”, only to keep access roads open to the public that few really want. Or, if we go the opposite direction and start closing down roads, DEC is apt to start building campgrounds, lean-tos and hiking trails as some type of recompense. And then it would be time to start talking about a “no material increase” for those (maybe it already is).

    • Tom Paine says

      The history of the NYSDEC and APA backroom dealings with the environmental lobby are well known. Some of Albany’s not so dirty little secrets. The window dressing of comment periods and public hearings over roads and trails just after the tree lawsuit seem just a bit more than a coincidence. No doubt a deal has been made and the rest of us peasants will told later of the decision.

  6. Pete says

    The “no material increase” language that already exists in regard to snowmobile trails is flawed. The same language, if applied to roads, will also be flawed. The fact is that the amount of state land has “materially increased” since 1972, and it continues to increase with every land purchase. Setting a numerical mileage cap based on 1972 numbers effectively causes closures of existing facilities that were formerly open for use. There is nothing wrong with conservation, and I agree that not all areas should be open to motorized recreation or transportation, but that is different than restricting a large class of the public from accessing and using huge amounts of public property. It is supposed to be “reserved and maintained for the free use of all the people” not just a select few.

    New York Laws
    Consolidated Laws
    Environmental Conservation
    Article 9 – Lands and Forests
    Title 3 – Use Of Lands and Forests

    § 9-0301. Use and diminution of Adirondack and Catskill parks.
    1. All lands in the Catskill park and in the Adirondack park, except
    those lying within the town of Dannemora, now owned or which may
    hereafter be acquired by the state, shall be forever reserved and
    maintained for the free use of all the people, except that nothing
    herein shall prohibit the charging of a fee for services rendered or
    facilities provided.

    • Colvin says

      ECL 9-0301(1)’s “free use of all the people” language means that the people of the State should all be treated equally with respect to the use of Forest Preserve lands, and although the people are “free” to use those lands, it does not mean that they are “free” to use those lands without constitutional, statutory, regulatory and Master Plan restrictions.

      All use of the land must be consistent with the Constitution and an argument can be made that snowmobile trails and roads (and the motor vehicles which travel on them) are inconsistent with the Constitution’s directive that Forest Preserve lands “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” Apparently recognizing this issue, yet understanding the inflammatory politics of closing all roads and snowmobile trails that were then in existence, those who drafted the Master Plan in the 1970’s included a compromise which grandfathered in the mileage of snowmobile trails and roads that then existed and allowed some increase in that mileage, but allowed an increase only so long as it did not constitute a “material increase” in mileage. Unfortunately, the Master Plan fails to define the term “material increase,” thus giving rise to the current controversy.

      A reasonable approach to the issue of no material increase/Galusha/CP-3 roads would seem to be to allow a 15% increase in the mileage of roads, not include the mileage of Galusha roads mandated by federal court order in the no material increase calculation, but include in the 15% calculation the mileage of any CP-3 roads that go beyond the mileage of roads mandate by Galusha. This would be a compromise that honors the long history of Master Plan compromises. This compromise would be based in part on a recognition that Galusha roads are not often used and can be closed by DEC on either a temporary of permanent basis to protect the resource, and that thus far the use of such roads has not resulted in any significant damage of the resource. The compromise would also recognize a moral responsibility to allow people with disabilities to access hunting, fishing, camping and other recreational programs in areas which they could not otherwise access.

      The Galusha case was based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Those who drafted the Master Plan could not have been aware of the ADA, and its possible federal preemptive impact on Master Plan road provisions, because the ADA wasn’t enacted by Congress until more than 20 years after the Master Plan was developed. We can only speculate how the “no material increase” provision might have been drafted if the ADA were in existence at the time the Master Plan was being drafted.

  7. Richard Staples says

    I have been going to the Moose River Plains beginning in the early 80’s, our children have enjoyed this experience as well our grandchildren now. One of the few areas in the State that you can actually access a wilderness experience. I totally reject any effort to close any more roads. The DEC and APA already closed the roads to Squaw lake and Indian lake, an area we use to camp and fish. I find it interesting that our National Parks have hundreds of thousands of visitors by auto and snowmobile annually and those who manage those area don’t see a substantial harm to the environment. While Cuomo purchased thousands of acres of new land which I supported the public has little or no access which is ridiculous. Most frustrating, many of the people making these decisions have never been to the Moose River Plains. Removing road access certainly impacts the handicapped citizens of our state as well to enjoy this unique experience.

  8. Matt B says

    I have been going into the Moose River Plains Wild Forest AKA Recreation Area since 1966 BEFORE the APA was even a thought,I spent my entire summers there with my family hiking the logging roads countless log bridges exploring,hunting,fishing enjoying the wilderness, fishing & camping along the Indian River & primitive camping,then in the late 70’s-80’ that entire section was reclassified & closed, from 1972 -2022 little by little roads, trails, campsites,sites on or near water reasonable access to lakes & ponds etc ..are no longer accessible ! Enough is enough the Moose River Plains should be reclassified back to a Recreation Area as it was intended to be when it was purchased,promised & sold to the people of the state of New York for that purpose,, I am against any more road closings in the plains in fact I’d be more for re opening some of the roads that were closed Illegally & hiking trails at least cut back and maintained so handicap people could have access to remote primitive areas
    The state should
    Stop buying forest land that can’t be properly maintained or managed to be a healthy forest not a choked out sick one then classified as a Wild Forest and shut down for all

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