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

At the same time, allowing the roadways to be open to the non-motoring public creates its own problems, according to Indian Lake Supervisor Barry Hutchins.

"Our main concern aside from losing the tourism dollars is search and rescue," Hutchins said, noting that local volunteers are often summoned to help lost or hurt individuals in Moose River Plains.

"Will we get a key to drive emergency vehicles in there, and if so, will the roads be passable with no maintenance," he questioned.

Hutchins said he and his colleague, Inlet Supervisor John Frey, are so concerned about the loss of revenue to their towns and the precarious situation it puts them in for rescues that they offered to maintain the roads with their own highway crews.

They also offered to help the state patrol the area, or pay a portion of its patrol costs, but the DEC is standing firm on its decision.

"If it was a big money issue, I could understand," Hutchins said. "But, this to me is a no-brainer. It would cost the state no money to open those gates."

But, DEC officials disagree.

DEC spokesman David Winchell said in the past, two assistant forest rangers and one operations staff were assigned full-time to maintain and patrol the Moose River Plains corridor.

Winchell noted the assistant forest ranger program has been eliminated in the 2010-11 state budget, and said regional operations staff has been significantly reduced.

"New York State, and therefore DEC, do not have a budget at this time. The budget extender bills do not include funds for non-personnel service. DEC has no fiscal year 2010 funding for work. These factors clearly underscore the fact that at this time DEC does not have the resources to maintain a high use areas such as the Moose River Plains Road System and the other roads that we announced will remain closed," Winchell said.

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