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Moose River Plains changes accommodate bikers

November 23, 2010
By MIKE LYNCH, News Outdoors Writer
The state Adirondack Park Agency is recommending that a 12,269-acre section of the Moose River Plains become its own wilderness area as part of the changes being made to the area to accommodate mountain bikers. Originally, the APA and state Department of Environmental Conservation had proposed adding the 12,269 acres, plus another 2,000 acres, to the West Canada Wilderness. That changed after the decision was made to create a wild forest corridor on the Wilson Ridge Road and Otter Brook truck trail. The corridor was created in order to allow for mountain bike usage along the corridor. If it had become wilderness, bikes would have been banned. The proposed corridor runs along the current edge of the West Canada Wilderness. By creating two distinct wilderness units, the corridor won’t have to go through the West Canada Wilderness. The recommendation — which has to be signed off on by the governor’s office — to create two wilderness areas was made by APA State Lands Committee Chairman Richard Booth last Thursday. “The result will be that there will not be a bicycle corridor going through a wilderness area, and I think in terms of future decisions, there’s some advantage in doing that,” Booth said. “The basic idea of wilderness areas ... is areas are undivided.” Booth’s recommendation was approved by the State Lands Committee and the full board. Booth brought up the issue after it was introduced by APA’s Deputy Director of Planning Jim Connolly. “The acreage of this area being proposed for wilderness is over 14,000 acres, and therefore does fit within the guidelines for (State Land Master Plan) for wilderness classification on its own merits, so that is a significant point,” Connolly said. He later added that “our staff is highly supportive of this approach.” Allowing and creating mountain bike trails in the Moose River Plains has been supported by the local community and its officials. The Moose River Plains is already the site of the annual Black Fly Challenge, a mountain bike race held every summer. It also receives recreational traffic. This route along the Otter Brook truck trail would be one that would appeal to more extreme riders. “It’s not going to be the whole mountain biking community that is looking for a 30-mile loop,” DEC forester Keith Rivers said. “It’s a small segment of it. Just like it’s a small segment of it that’s looking for a 5-mile loop. But if you put them all together (then) there’s quite a bit of use there.” Although the Moose River Plains is heavily used by snowmobiles, all motorized use will be banned on this new corridor. The mountain biking trails aren’t expected to have a huge impact on other recreation users, unless they are sharing the same trails. “With mountain biking, like any trail, if you aren’t within a couple hundred feet of the trail, you really don’t see it,” Rivers said. “And with biking, unlike motor vehicle use, you also don’t hear it. So the only time you are really going to see it is if you are on the trail at the same point.”

Article Photos

Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News
The terrain in the Moose River Plains lends itself to mountain biking, including the Otter Brook trail.



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