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Officials not happy with state's decision to close off gated roadways

Moose River Plains is a sprawling expanse of beautiful forests and sparkling waterways that unfolds like a vast tundra between the small Adirondack towns of Inlet on the west and Indian Lake on the east.

Connecting the two is a 40-mile stretch of dirt roads that is perhaps the most wild and scenic Adirondack roadway accessible to motor vehicles.

That is, until now.

The DEC - facing staggering cuts in the governor's proposed budget - has announced it will close the roads through Moose River Plains, as well as a handful of other roads leading into ponds, campsites and hiking trails.

The problem, they say, is a lack of funding to maintain and patrol the areas.

Gates across these roads will remain locked indefinitely - although the areas remain open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders because of the wilderness classifications there.

Trout ponds stocked by the state in the area like Bear, Squaw, Lost, Helldiver, Icehouse and Mitchell will be all but cut off to the outside world.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of this decision, though, is the fact it slams the door on anyone except the most physically fit from utilizing these areas.

At the same time, officials of Inlet and Indian Lake say the decision will mean a significant financial blow as the thousands who utilize the area every year for hunting and fishing chose other locations to spend their cash.

Handicapped access has long been a tremendous problem in the Adirondacks, as was evidenced by the state losing a lawsuit over the issue a few years ago.

Under the terms of the suit, the state was required to increase handicapped accessibility, and one of the areas where they did so was Moose River Plains.

In the past two years, they have built more than a dozen handicapped-accessible fishing and camping sites there - all of which are now inaccessible to the handicapped.

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