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Lyon Mountain fire tower could use some friends

Efforts are under way to create a committee to preserve the Lyon Mountain fire tower as a historical asset and recreational draw for the small town.

Efforts are under way to create a committee to preserve the Lyon Mountain fire tower as a historical asset and recreational draw for the small town. Courtesy of VisitAdirondacks.com

— The peak here, where summertime staffers would daily climb the still-standing fire tower to stand vigilant against wildfires, remains a popular climb, in part because of the history of that now-disheveled structure.

With the building only partly restored after the New York Department of Environmental Conservation acquired it in 2008. Steps and landings were replaced and the tower was painted. It could use a few more friends to ensure it remains a draw, said Adirondack Fire Tower Association Director David Thomas-Train.

“Towers are rather magnetic,” said Thomas-Train. “Hikers, firefighters, engineers, environmentalists, educators all seem to like them. Kids love them.”

Dannemora Town Councilman Ken Brassard Jr. said on a recent holiday climb, he passed three groups of two on his way to the summit. Because the mountain hosted a small ski resort until the '70s, people often carry up skis or snowboards and slide down the old, overgrown glades.

There's no budget or group for tower maintenance right now, though it houses a radio repeater for the forest service. Clear needs at the tower include roof repairs, foundation work, stair fencing and railing installation. Before any of that work can begin, an engineering study has to be completed. DEC forester Dan Levy said he already initiated that process during the Feb. 21 meeting to gauge interest in forming a friends of the fire tower group.

The tower can become an asset to the mountain if preserved, and a destination if enhanced. Thomas-Train first became involved with the five-year-old fire tower association as a friend of the Pok-O-Moonshine tower, which today has brochures describing the building and its history along with interpretive elements to educate visitors.

The same sort of effort at Lyon Mountain would be pursued under and Adopt-A-Natural-Resource Agreement with the DEC. The agreement gives liability and workers' compensation insurance to volunteers working on a tower. It also makes the adopting group eligible for matching funds from the DEC that can cover costs like printing brochures and materials for tower repairs.

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