Adirondack Park Agency Approves Recommended Changes To Travel Corridor Definition

Dec 28, 2018

The Adirondack Park Agency has approved an amendment to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan that will reclassify the definition of a Travel Corridor.  The move could allow both rail and trail use along a rail line in the Adirondacks.

A long-running debate over the Remsen-Lake Placid rail line has centered on whether the rail tracks should be removed and a recreational trail be created.  Last year a state Supreme Court judge in Malone ruled that a plan to create the rail-trail violated the Unit Management Plan and that led to the revisions the Agency board was voted on at its monthly meeting last week.

APA Deputy Director for Planning Kathy Regan reviewed the proposal and explained the that court ruling found that the Master Plan defines Travel Corridors in terms of either automobiles or railroads. Therefore the planned rail-trail conversion of 34 miles between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid did not comply with the definition.  “We came up with a new definition of travel corridor that more clearly distinguished between these highway and railroad corridors. The definition will continue to include the Remsen-Lake Placid travel corridor as a defined corridor.”
The full agency board approved a revision to define a railroad corridor as “…lands that that include a railbed for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor and any future acquisition that may be considered for classification as a travel corridor, existing either (1) for the operation of rail cars and/or (2) to serve as a rail trail.”  It does not require tracks to be removed and allows for development of trails parallel to existing tracks.  The board unanimously approved the recommendation.
APA Acting Chair Karen Feldman: “All those in favor?”
Board: “Aye.”
Feldman:  “Are any opposed? Okay that passes.”  

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates Founding Director Tony Goodwin says the APA action removes one objection that Judge Robert Main had to the original 1996 Unit Management Plan.  “The DEC will now dust that plan off and propose it again with the 34 miles of recreational trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid and the resurrected railroad from Big Moose to Tupper Lake.”

Goodwin believes the APA decision makes up for what should have been done decades ago. “The 1996 Unit Management Plan clearly stated that if recreational use was the ultimate use for the corridor there needed to be an amendment to the State Land Master Plan. So this was really just making up for what should have been done before.”

Adirondack Wild Friends of the Forest Preserve Partner Dan Plumley says their primary concern is the environmental impact from any change of use from the current rail line, especially from potential snowmobile use.  “We felt that the original Environmental Impact Statement didn’t go far enough to evaluate the potential impacts to private landowners along the corridor or sensitive resources in Wild Forest or the canoe area for example from the noise and potential intensive use of the corridor in the winter for snowmobiling because that’s a new use.”

The recommendation goes to Governor Cuomo for a final decision.