There will be more public access to southern Adirondack lands in parts of northern Fulton and Saratoga counties, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said.
The DEC on Thursday announced it has finalized an access plan for 6,147 acres of land on which the state holds public recreational access easements. The lands are among those obtained under the 2007 deal that opened 161,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn paper company lands to public use.
The lands, known at the Sacandaga Block Conservation Easement, are owned by a private timber company, but with recreational access rights held by the state. Where there are existing private hunting leases, they will continue, and those lands won't be open for public hunting.
"DEC has worked cooperatively with the private landowner and land managers to develop public access, while protecting natural resources, hunting and other opportunities for private leaseholders, and retaining vital timber management jobs," DEC Region 5 Director Robert Stegemann said.
The lands include the Jackson Summit Road West and Dennie Road tracts in Mayfield; the Hohler Road and Benson Road tracts in Bleecker; the Gordon's Creek and Johnny Cake Lake tracts in Edinburg; and the Lake Desolation Road tract in Greenfield.
Access improvements are planned at each location, but use of lands off of approved trails will be considered trespassing on timber company property, DEC officials said.
In Fulton County
— At Dennie Road, 7 miles of groomed cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails will be developed. At Jackson Summit, 3 miles of trail will be developed, including one to the top of Bernhardt Mountain. At Benson Road, a new community connector snowmobile trail will link Caroga Lake and Mayfield, and a motor vehicle route will be lengthened to improve access to the West Stony Creek.
In Saratoga County
— Existing snowmobile trails maintained and groomed by local snowmobile clubs will be continued on the Gordon's Creek, Johnny Cake Lake and Lake Desolation tracts. Two trails, a boat launch and four primitive campsites are being developed on Archer Vly in the Lake Desolation tract, which is just outside the Adirondack Park boundary. Canoes, kayaks and electric motor boats will all be able to use the launch.
The Adirondack Council, a conservation group, praised the plan, noting that the DEC is specifically prohibiting all-terrain vehicles, other than those belonging to the timber company or private leaseholders.
"Our hats are off to Commissioner Basil Seggos and Regional Director Bob Stegemann for this plan to improve public recreational access, while still protecting water quality, forest health and wildlife," council Executive Director William C. Janeway said. "DEC has opened thousands of acres for hiking, biking, hunting and fishing, while also protecting the environment by restricting the use of all-terrain vehicles by the public."
The complete access plan is available for review on DEC's website.