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

Comments

  1. Steve Mackey says

    Depending on who wins the bid, for the bankrupt railway between North Creek and Tahawus, there could be 30 miles of snowmobile trail added to the trail system. It could be much like the new rail trail between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, snowmobiles and cross country skiers in the winter, and hikers and cyclists the rest of the year.

    • upstater says

      Snowmobiles and XC skiing do not mix. Skiing on a former railroad riight of way shared with mph snow machines is a potentially deadly situation for skiers. Not to mention how snowmobiles ruin groomed trails.

      There is noting approximating a network of maintained and groomed trails in the Adirondacks. Everything is piecemeal and disconnected. Only the state could construct such a network and create an entirely new tourism business.

      • Chris says

        You do realize that without snowmobiling those groomed trails you say that sleds ruin would not exist. Who do you think builds and grooms the trails? Not many would use any skiers or snowshoes would be out on the trails when the snow s 4 feet deep.

      • North Country lover says

        You’re mistaken Chris–snowshoers and skiers continually pack snow on trails. For example, the trail up St. Regis is so hard packed all season long from continual snowshoe use that it is more like a smooth sidewalk. Groomed trails for snowmobiles last a short time before they get chewed up and rutted by snowmobile traffic and not to mention that they’re extremely noisy, smelly, and make trails dangerous for hikers, snowshoers, and skiers. They also are disturbance to wildlife who are already stressed by our severe winters.

      • Paul says

        As an avid skate skier I totally disagree. These trails are great for skate skiing. And you can hear the snowmobiles coming and get out of the way easily, just look at the old rail bed through the Bloomingdale bog it’s been shared by skiers and snowmobiles for decades, no problems. No accidents. Don’t make up stuff.

        • North Country lover says

          I ski the D&H/Kushaqua trail all the time. Snowmobiles could be a hazard because many (not all) speed, and in addition, are noisy, and smelly. The heavily wooded trails, especially at curves, are blind areas in which speeding snowmobiles, if you’re not fast enough to quickly jump off the trail, can run can collide with you. I’ve had several close encounters. This is a common comment I’ve heard from most hikers, snowshoers, and xcski skiers who use these trails. I also ski skate the trail when freshly groomed, and I agree that it is a pleasure when just groomed, but it doesn’t take long for snowmobile traffic to rut up the trail and to make skating unpleasant. Anyway, most skiers diagonal stride. As far as your comment “Don’t make stuff up”, I respond “Get real”.

  2. Boreas says

    “Because of the Court of Appeals decision, Jacangelo, once a legislative aide who worked on environmental matters, doesn’t want to see the state buy land in the Adirondacks again.

    “That’s a really hard thing for me to say, since I put in place the means for the state to buy a lot of those lands as a staffer,” Jacangelo said. “How many times are we going to fight the same fight over and over again?” ”

    Indeed – taxpayers and stakeholders should always be given an honest, accurate, and detailed usage plan BEFORE any parcel is purchased. If those details cannot pass legal, environmental, and stakeholder muster to the satisfaction of all, the acquisition should not go through until it does. We should probably be pushing for benign interim-ownership while the sausage is being made.

  3. Worth Gretter says

    I have no problem with snowmobiles. They seem to be able to co-exist with winter hikers, skiers, and snowshoers. As a canoe-camper, I am never in the woods at the same time with them.

    My problem with the new trails is that they violate the NYS Constitution. So DEC and APA need to put together a plan for a constitutional amendment, and get buy-in from local governments as well as the environmental, conservation, and recreation groups. Then it needs to pass two separately elected Legislatures and go on the ballot.

    If the voters approve it, then we can stop arguing about. But I personally would only vote for an amendment that authorizes specific snowmobile connector trails, not carte blanche for trails wherever DEC decides in the future.

  4. Wally Elton says

    There will always be disagreements and decisions that go against some group’s wishes. It is sad, though, when an aggrieved person adopts a position against protection of any more land in the Adirondacks, something almost everyone desires, because of a specific disagreement.

    • Matthew says

      His comment is not saying that he is against protection of any more land, it’s saying he is against towns or the state buying anymore land. And he’s right. Taxpayers were put on the hook with promises as to how that land would be used, and “Protect” forced the state and towns to break that promise.

      • Boreas says

        Agree. What the State and Towns learned is that a promise is no guarantee of legality. What is rarely mentioned is that the legality issue was indeed brought up by Protect prior to the purchase, and was apparently dismissed. That’s what happens when the State relies too heavily on NYS lawyers for legal advice and is too agenda-driven.

  5. Mathew Calverase says

    Protect only believes that you should enjoy the outdoors in the manner that they approve of. there were a myriad of outdoor enthusiasts that would benefit from the trails year round. Not just snowmobilers.

    Was the Adirondack Park set aside FOR the people, or FROM the people?

  6. Kevin Hubright says

    Snowmobile trails cost clubs thousands of dollars and man hours to create and maintain, but everyone uses them year-round. Not seeing the value of the trails and the money it produces for the local economy which is many times more than the club’s receive from membership is outright ignorance. With that mindset why do you have roads that kill animals, spread chemicals, and pollute with all of the traffic??

    • Todd Eastman says

      Most snowmachine trails in the Adirondacks are not suitable for non-winter travel as they frequently cross wetlands on trails designed to be usable with frozen ground and water, in addition to a designated amount of snow.

      Benefits to the community melt with the winter snows…

  7. Thomas Haskell says

    It’s very simple. The trails should be made for 4 season access or NO Access at All. Foot traffic has done more damage to trails then snowmobiling. I don’t hike but I believe that hikers should have use of the trails also. People are worried about damaging the forest but drive big fancy (some electric) cars. And oh by the way….those batteries are made out of lithium that needs to be mined and is dangerous and damage the earth but that’s ok?!?! Hypocrites each and everyone. Safe our lands but destroy others.

  8. Todd Eastman says

    Most snowmachine trails in the Adirondacks are not suitable for non-winter travel as they frequently cross wetlands on trails designed to be usable with frozen ground and water, in addition to a designated amount of snow.

    Benefits to the community melt with the winter snows…

    • Bill Keller says

      “Most snowmachine trails in the Adirondacks are not suitable for non-winter travel as they frequently cross wetlands on trails designed to be usable with frozen ground and water, in addition to a designated amount of snow.

      Benefits to the community melt with the winter snows…”, LOL Rinse and repeat. Is your statement factual? Or is it your opinion? I’ve personally hiked many snowmobile trails and have found them to be acceptable hiking trails and I imagine that many may not be entirely suitable for walking, like the ones that go across lakes…..

      • Boreas says

        I agree with Todd Eastman. IMO, few people drive from other areas to hike a snowmobile trail. Not that they can’t be hiked, but they offer little to a hiker with numerous other options. In that case, tourists are not benefiting the community to any great degree off-season. Locals may use them, but are they spending any cash that would not be spent otherwise?

        The other issue is that most snowmobile trails are not maintained as foot trails (because they are not). Without adequate hardening or bridging in wet areas, erosion and degradation are the result. I doubt it is worth the cost to harden these areas if there is little use.

        • Bill Keller says

          I’m very thankful that most tourist want to hike the marked trails that lead to some well known summit. I wonder how many harvested deer have been dragged out on a snowmobile trail?

  9. Peter Bauer says

    The statement that the Seventh Lake Mountain Trail provides the only no-water route to Raquette Lake is not true. Riders can ride through the Moose River Plains, into Inlet’s trail system network, and get on the Uncas Road and ride into Raquette Lake. In fact, that route remains the most popular way to ride to Raquette Lake.

    For 20 years, PROTECT protested state decisions to build an extra wide Class II trail system, but the state, with the support of local politicians, and snowmobile group lobbyists, always put their big thumb on the scales to get the outcomes they wanted, irrespective of what the law said. When we finally went to court, and finally got to play on a level playing field, 8/12 judges, including a majority on the state’s two highest courts, that looked at this issue said extra wide Class II trails were illegal.

    Since the state’s top court made its decision in May 2021, the state has not done any restoration on partially built or cut out trails, which were found to be illegal. And, the state is operating other Class II trails involved in the lawsuit as if nothing at all happened.

    Another reason that PROTECT went to court at this moment is that state agency staff at the “working group” are simply refusing to deal honestly with the reality and substance of the court’s decisions.

    The DEC is simply thumbing its nose at the courts and everyone should find that sad fact objectionable.

  10. Tom Paine says

    Please be aware NYS trail funded snowmobile trails end at the waters edge. Snowmobile clubs do not receive trail fund monies for any lake miles.

  11. Tom says

    Aside from complying with the Constitution so that Peter Bauer and Protect don’t have to sue DEC, DEC should do a better job of enforcing the law and keep snowmobiles off public lands where they are not allowed, including wilderness areas. I see tracks on hiking trails that are off-limits to machines.

    • Tom Paine says

      Spare us the gibberish about the law in the Adirondack Park. The NYSDEC illegally takes roadways and claims they are abandoned to benefit their friends in the environmental lobby for their grand “Forever Wild” wilderness. How many “abandon” roads where illegally taken over and closed by the NYSDEC with the blessing of the green groups in the Park is the real question of legality.

  12. Snowmobile lover says

    It amazes me how many of these environmentalists love to use infrastructure created by snowmobile trails yet try and shut us down every chance they get. Snowmobilers are also a huge boost for the economy with paying for trail passes, registration, hotel stay, paying road tax on the fuel, and dining at restaurants.

    That doesn’t even include the man hours many snowmobile clubs put in at no cost with all volunteers.

    Here’s another question how many XC skiers, snow shoe, hiking trails have been shutdown by snowmobilers? It’s simple one group is consistently unhappy with life and wants to take out their anger out on anyone that doesn’t share their same views!

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