Communities brace for snowmobiling boon

Alexandra Roalsvig, director of the Long Lake Tourism Department, recently spoke to some snowmobilers who were gassing up at the local Stewart's Shop, and she liked what she heard.

"They came to Long Lake because they knew they could get to Indian Lake from Long Lake," Roalsvig said. "By hooking up with Indian Lake, we're getting a whole new audience."

There are more than 100 miles of free, groomed trails in the town of Long Lake, home to the Moonlighters Snowmobile Club. There are no permit fees, which could draw sledders from other areas, such as the towns of Old Forge and Inlet, where permits are required on the hundreds of groomed trails there. And connecting to Indian Lake can draw long-distance sledders from as far away as Speculator.

Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Harding, co-owner of Marty's Chili Nights restaurant in Indian Lake, said she hopes the new trail will attract more snowmobilers to her town.

"It should be a help in the long run," Harding said, adding that the chamber has already received some inquiries about Trail 538.

Any town with restaurants and lodging has an opportunity to draw the snowmobiling crowd, especially those who want to travel long distance. Long Lake and Indian Lake are ready, but Newcomb today only offers a couple of choices in the winter. Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said he hopes that will change with time and that Trail 538 will spark some economic development. There is even talk about extending snowmobile trails to Minerva and North Hudson.

When the Nature Conservancy announced the $30 million easement purchase in a press release on Dec. 30, 2010, officials said the agreement - which limits development, allows for the harvest of timber, and opens up the land to outdoor recreation - "supports timber industry jobs, boosts the state's recreation and tourism economy and, at the same time, preserves 89,000 forested acres concentrated in the geographic heart of the Adirondacks."

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