Saratoga County

Saving old fire tower takes a step forward

Saratoga County supervisors on Tuesday will authorize transfering the land beneath the Spruce Mounta

Saratoga County supervisors on Tuesday will authorize transfering the land beneath the Spruce Mountain fire tower to the state, a critical step toward restoring the 84-year-old fire tower.

The conveyance of 2.55 acres to the state will make good on a January state-county deal that should eventually make a restored fire tower a new public hiking destination in South Corinth.

“After this there is only one more step in the process, and that’s actually transfering the land,” said Stillwater Supervisor Ed Kinowski, chairman of the county Trails Committee.

The county, which used a site near the fire tower for a public safety communications tower for many years, has resisted allowing public access because of liability concerns. The state is expected to allow access, and perhaps help with restoration of the tower, which is already owned by the state.

Located just inside the southern boundary of the Adirondack Park, the land under the fire tower will become part of the state-owned Forest Preserve.

People have continued to try to climb the tower over the years, even though the bottom rungs of steps have been removed to discourage climbers.

There’s already an informal hiking trail up the 2,009-foot mountain that crosses land owned by the state, the conservation group Saratoga PLAN, and Lyme Timber. There’s a conceptual agreement among the remaining parties to make it an official trail and permit public access, but details still must be worked out.

“Everyone understands it would be better for one entity to own the easement, and we’re looking at three or four options,” said Saratoga PLAN Executive Director Maria Trabka.

There’s no schedule yet for when the tower will be restored.

The 73-foot-tall tower, the tallest state-owned fire tower in the Adirondacks, was built in 1928, and used for fire-spotting until 1988.

Discussions about restoring the tower to usable condition started a few years ago, but the effort has faced several obstacles, including the county’s liability fears.

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