APA reaches compromise on Moose River Plains

INDIAN LAKE - One of the most complicated land-management planning processes in the history of the Adirondack Park Agency took a last minute turn Nov. 18 as commissioners opted to split up a 14,700 acre region in an attempt to avoid setting a precedent.

For more than five years, agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation staff have struggled with the best approach at managing the extremely popular Moose River Plains Wild Forest.

Of particular interest are two aspects of the most recent proposed management plan that would see over 84,000 acres remain Wild Forest, while just under 15,000 acres would become Wilderness.

The DEC plan would have seen the southernmost 14,700 acres transferred into the West Canada Wilderness.

But that wilderness would have been bisected by the old Otter Brook Truck Road, which would remain open to mountain bikers and other non-motorized forms of recreation. The truck road would have constituted a wild forest corridor running through a wilderness area.

And setting such a precedent didn't make State Lands Chair Dick Booth very comfortable.

"I think it's a great idea; using what was a road for a bike corridor," he said. "But it raises some hard question about future decisions regarding wilderness decisions. What it amounts to is a wild forest corridor through the West Canada Wilderness. That will be the result."

Booth proposed a change to the plan that he said would change the legal aspect of the plan but not its actual implementation. His plan would see two separate wilderness areas created.

"A wild forest corridor between two wilderness areas is conceptually a different thing than a wild forest corridor running through a wilderness area," he said. "But on the ground they will be the same thing."

The amended Moose River Plain proposal unanimously passed state lands.

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