Posted on November 16th, 2009 13 comments Add a comment >>
The Adirondack Park Agency is poised to classify Lyon Mountain as Wild Forest—a decision that would run into opposition from the Adirondack Council, one of the Park’s leading environmental organizations.
Brian Houseal, the council’s executive director, said he would like to see the Lyon Mountain tract classified as Primitive, with an eye toward eventually classifying it as Wilderness, the strictest of the APA’s nine state-land zoning categories.
“There’s no Wilderness now in that sector of the Park,” Houseal said after the APA’s meeting last week.
Located in the northeastern Adirondacks, west of Plattsburgh, 3,830-foot Lyon is one of the Park’s tallest mountains outside the High Peaks region. The state acquired it from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy late last year.
On Friday, the APA voted to send to public hearing a proposal to classify 91 parcels of Forest Preserve scattered throughout the Park, totaling 31,780 acres. Most of the parcels are small, encompassing less than a hundred acres. At 17,190 acres, the Lyon parcel is by far the largest.
Houseal pointed out that the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan permits parcels greater than ten thousand acres to be classified as Wilderness.
Lyon Mountain has nonconforming facilities, including a fire tower and an access road, that make it ineligible for Wilderness designation now. The land also contains ruins of old ski lifts and evidence of former ski trails and logging roads.
The APA staff cited the “extent of established facilities” on the land as one reason for designating it Wild Forest, a less-strict classification that would permit the fire tower and the road to remain.
Houseal, however, argued that the parcel could be classified as Primitive and managed as Wilderness until the nonconforming facilities are removed. “It’d be a Wilderness-in-waiting,” he remarked.
The APA expects to hold public hearings on the classification proposals early next year. They could be modified, based on comments received.
Also included in the land-classification package is a 6,132-acre parcel near Tahawus acquired from the Open Space Institute in January 2009. The APA staff recommends that this be added to the High Peaks Wilderness.
The institute retains the right to generate electricity from the dam at Henderson Lake. The power would be used by the nearby Masten House, which the institute is leasing to the state College of Environmental Science and Forestry. To accommodate the institute, the APA staff recommends that the dam and the short road leading from the dam to the Upper Works parking lot at Tahawus be classified as Primitive rather than Wilderness.
Below is a map of the Lyon Mountain tract. Click here to view other maps and documents related to the 2009 State Land Classification Proposals.
Posted on September 28th, 2009 2 comments Add a comment >>
Last weekend I climbed Lyon Mountain, the 3,830-foot peak west of Dannemora. What a great view! I had been up it a few times before but not since the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) rerouted the trail.
The old trail was an old jeep road that shot straight up the mountain. It was a rubbly mess. The new trail switchbacks up the eastern face, so gradually that at times you hardly realize you’re climbing. At 3.3 miles, the rerouted trail is about a mile longer than the old one, but it’s much easier on the knees.
In fact, the trail is so user-friendly that a strong trail runner could probably jog up it. I didn’t try that, but I did jog on the way down, and it was exhilarating.
Another change is that the fire tower on the summit has been refurbished. From the cab, you can see in all directions: the High Peaks to the southwest, the Champlain Valley and the Green Mountains to the east, and the St. Lawrence River to the north. Chazy Lake is spread out at the foot of the mountain. The view also now encompasses the huge wind farms just outside the Adirondack Park.
Kudos to ADK for redesigning the trail. And to the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, which bought Lyon Mountain from Domtar Industries in 2004 and sold it to the state in 2008.
Word must be getting out about Lyon (our publisher, Tom Woodman,wrote the new trail in the January issue of the Explorer), because there were more than 20 cars at the trailhead when I began my climb on Saturday afternoon–many of them from Quebec.
Directions: From the village of Dannemora, drive 9.3 miles east on NY 374 to Chazy Lake Road. Turn left and go 1.7 miles to a dirt road on the right. Follow the dirt road nearly a mile to its end. If coming from the south, turn onto Chazy Lake Road from NY 3 in the hamlet of Saranac and follow it 9.6 miles to the dirt road. (Chazy Lake road takes a left turn at 0.5 mles and a right turn at 2.4 miles, the latter at a four-way intersection.)