Posted on June 11th, 2012 7 comments Add a comment >>
The logging road to Madawaska Flow and Quebec Brook, waterways acquired by the state in 1998, is closed to the public, the Adirondack Explorer has learned.
I intended to drive to Madawaska on Sunday to take photos for a paddling guidebook and was surprised to find the gate locked. A sign indicated that the road was closed on June 4 and that public access was prohibited.
The road provides the only motorized access to Madawaska Flow, the centerpiece of a 5,800-acre tract known as the Madawaska Flow/Quebec Brook Primitive Area. The area is used by birders, paddlers, and hunters.
Dave Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said a private landowner, Winston Towers, closed the road but did not give a reason other than to say the land will soon be put on the market.
DEC has conservation easements with public-access rights on the timberlands bordering Madawaska (known as the Santa Clara Tract), but the beginning of the road crosses non-easement lands.
“DEC is actively seeking a solution to this issue and seeks to reestablish public access to Madawaska Pond in the near future,” Winchell said, adding that the agency considers this a priority.
Normally, visitors reach Madawaska by driving nine miles over a dirt road that traverses commercial timberlands. The road starts on Route 458 in the town of Duane.
“The road is the only public-access road to the Santa Clara Easement Lands and Madawaska Flow,” Winchell said. “DEC has a public access right of way in another location, but there is no road; it would have had to been built.”
It’s possible to reach Madawaska Flow by paddling upstream on Quebec Brook from Blue Mountain Road, but travelers must carry around rapids.
Posted on November 11th, 2009 Add a comment >>
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, is not happy with the proposed modification of the easement agreement with Heartland Forestland Fund. (See previous two posts here and here.)
Woodworth contends that the modification would weaken protection of the 110,000 acres covered by the easements by allowing hunting camps to remain, with members allowed motorized access.
”This is the first time we have downgraded an easement to make it less protective of the environment,” he said.
The state purchased the easements in a 1999 deal with Champion International, the prior owner. The easements prohibit development but allow logging. As part of the deal, the state also purchased outright 29,000 acres of Champion land, mostly along river corridors.
Woodworth said the river corridors are narrow, in places only a half-mile wide. At the time of the original deal, ADK raised concerns that paddlers would be disturbed by hunting-club members, perhaps riding dirt bikes or all-terrain vehicles. However, Woodworth said state officials assured him that wouldn’t be a problem, since the camps were to be removed.
When the state Department of Environmental Conservation reopened the easement agreement, Woodworth argued that the river corridors in state ownership should be expanded to two miles in width, “but DEC refused to do that.” Instead, Heartland agreed to give the state 2,146 acres along or near the Deer River.
Woodworth sees less value in this acquisition. “Frankly, we had recreational rights on that already,” he said. “I don’t see a big change here.” (Note: DEC says 515 acres, located just north of the Park, were not covered by the easements.)
Despite his misgivings, Woodworth said ADK will not sue over the modification. He is pleased that DEC will not allow hunters to access the camps by ATVs except when the easement-land roads are impassable by cars or trucks.
State offices were closed for Veterans Day, so DEC could not be reached for comment.
Posted on November 11th, 2009 Add a comment >>
In a post yesterday, I reported that Heartland Forestland Fund would donate 2,661 acres to the state under a plan to modify a conservation-easement agreement in order to allow hunting camps to remain on timberlands in the northern Adirondacks. I now have a map of the lands in question, shown above.
Most of the land (2,146 acres) lies within the Adirondack Park and will be added to the Deer River Primitive Area, which is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The remainder (515 acres) lies just north of the Park and includes three quarters of a mile of river corridor along the Deer. Since it is outside the Park, this parcel would become part of the Deer River State Forest.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation says both parcels contain ecologically valuable wetlands. The larger parcel also contains frontage on Cole Hill Road, which can be used for access.
Most of the Deer River inside the Park and beyond is canoeable. In Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson writes that the biggest attraction for the cruising canoeist is an eight-mile level known as Deer River Meadows, which overlaps the Blue Line. The 515-acre parcel contains part of this stretch.
In an earlier post, I wrote about canoeing the Deer River Flow. A longer story on this trip will appear in a future issue of the Adirondack Explorer. I’m looking forward to paddling the river proper next year.
Posted on November 10th, 2009 4 comments Add a comment >>
When the state signed a deal a decade ago to protect 139,000 acres owned by Champion International, Adirondack residents complained that it called for the demolition of hunting camps that had been in use for many years.
As a result, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to modify the deal to allow the 220 camps to remain. In exchange, the current owner, Heartland Forestland Fund III, will donate 2,661 acres to the state. The company supplements its timber revenue by leasing land to hunting clubs.
In 1999, the state bought 29,000 acres outright from Champion and protected the remaining 110,000 acres via conservation easements that prohibit development but permit logging.
The original deal required the camps to be demolished after June 30, 2014. Under DEC’s proposal, released today (Tuesday), they will be allowed to remain indefinitely. Each camp will have a one-acre footprint that will remain off limits to the public. The rest of the land will be open for public recreation.
The land to be given the state includes a 2,146-parcel near the Deer River in the northern Adirondack Park. Most of the Deer River corridor within the Park was purchased from Champion in the 1999 deal and is now called the Deer River Primitive Area. The new parcel will be added to this Forest Preserve tract. Also, a 515-acre parcel will be added to the Deer River State Forest just north of the Park.
Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan said the modified agreement will benefit the Forest Preserve, the hunters, and Heartland. “We’re not thrilled that they reopened an easement that the state settled a decade ago, but we can live with the result,” he said.
The modifications must be approved by the state attorney general and the state comptroller. DEC will be taking public comments on the proposal until December 11. Comments may be e-mailed to Heather Carl at HFF3DEIS@gw.dec.state.ny.us.
Click the links below for PDF files of DEC’s announcement and details of the proposal.