The decision, announced last week by DEC Commissioner Grannis states that local municipalities control use of the road. The ruling could affect a number of town roads across the Adirondacks that have been closed in recent years.
Since the early 1980's, the five mile long, Old Mountain Road has been used primarily as a ski trail; though horseback riders, mountain bikers and snowmobilers have occasionally attempted to travel it.
In 1986, the road was incorporated into the popular Jackrabbit Ski Trail, which stretches from Keene to Paul Smiths and beyond. McCulley, president of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club, forced the issue that the DEC had illegally closed a town road, by informing Forest Rangers that he was purposely driving a motor vehicle on the road.
He then fought the ticket. It was a long and drawn out struggle.
The recent ruling by DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis to toss out the ticket could have additional ramifications, as local communities begin to revisit similar DEC decisions that have closed old town roads located on Forest Preserve lands.
Matt Norfolk, a lawyer representing McCulley in the case, stated that, "I think the private sector, whether it's mountain bikers, horseback riders, or four-wheelers or snowmobile people, are probably going to be looking at this in the Park." Time will tell.
Outdoor programs for area youth
Over the past few years, I have written numerous columns about the pressing need to connect our children with the outdoors.
I've often stressed the need for adult mentors to foster the connection, whether hunting whitetails or turkey, paddling a stream, climbing a mountain or some other outdoor adventure.
I've argued for the pressing need to provide local youth with the skills, knowledge and tools to properly utilize and enjoy their natural surroundings. Such skills are essential, as the outdoors is the most readily available recreation resource. In some communities, it is the only one.