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Time to move forward with multi-use recreational trail

September 22, 2012
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

In recent days, the weather has turned toward autumn in a hurry, with a combination of heavy frost, driving rain and blustery skies. As hillsides begin to display a brilliant blend of red, orange and crimson colors, the fall season continues to rapidly unfold.

Last week, the North Elba town board passed a resolution to request the DOT to remove the train tracks between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake in order to permit the development of a multi-use recreational trail.

In a blinding glimpse of the obvious, the town board recognized the fact that a functioning railroad line is not compatible when combined with a multi-use recreation trail.

Although a federal grant to fund the side-by-side trail project is already in place, a majority of board members voted on the resolution that stated, "The North Elba Town Council respectfully requests that the train tracks currently in the travel corridor, within the town of North Elba, be removed."

Hopefully, the brave resolution will finally put an end to the ongoing controversy over which method of conveyance is the most appropriate and economically beneficial form of transport over the old rail line.

It is an issue that has divided communities and fractured relations. Now, it is time for state and federal authorities to take action and respect the town board's decision to remove the tracks. Certainly, the train offers a nostalgic reminder of the "Hey Days of the Adirondacks," however it is now time to move on.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has been allowed more than enough time to realize it's full potential. Undoubtedly, the issue is fraught with emotion and a sentimental attachment to days gone by.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation seems to indicate that the economic benefits of a seasonal, 9-mile tourist train are minimal. It simply is no match for the economic and quality of life opportunities that would be available with the development of a year-round, multi-use recreation trail.

Beyond the railroad operation's obvious lack of any significant economic impact, there are a number of other issues, ranging from the environmental impacts and quality of life issues that revolve around a rumbling locomotive passing through residential areas. The blare of a train's horn may conjure up a sentimental memory for many, but in reality it is more often viewed as an annoyance.

I expect tourists travel to the Adirondacks more often to escape the intrusion of train traffic, rather than to enjoy it. It is time to move forward!


The hunt begins

In recent weeks, I've received numerous reports of moose sightings, and often the reports indicate bulls have already been pairing up with cows.

As the annual moose-mating season nears, it is important for moose watchers to maintain a safe distance. It is also wise to keep a close eye out for moose while traveling the local highways, especially around dusk.

The state Route 3 corridor from Saranac Lake to Plattsburgh is a particularly common area to encounter moose at this time of year, as they are out looking for love in all the wrong places.


DEC announcements

With New York's annual big game hunting season looming on the near horizon, there are a number of important announcements from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

- Some hunters have been confused by a statement on page 31 of the 2012-13 New York Hunting and Trapping Guide, regarding new regulations adopted by DEC. The text refers to "allowing Deer Management Permits (DMPs, "doe tags") to be used in all seasons in the Northern Zone."

This means that hunters who obtain a DMP for a Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) in the northern zone may use that tag during any open deer hunting season in that WMU. The only WMUs with DMPs available this year are 6C, 6G, 6H, 6K and 6R.

- DEC has confirmed that junior hunters ages 14 to 15 will be able to hunt deer during a special youth firearms deer season over Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6 through Oct. 8.

"Implementation of this youth deer hunt is a hallmark moment for New York hunters and represents continued efforts of DEC to engage more young people in nature and outdoor recreation," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

The youth deer hunt will take place Columbus Day weekend in both the northern zone and southern zone; a youth hunt was not established on Long Island due to restrictions in the Environmental Conservation Law. Junior hunters (ages 14-15) with a big game hunting license will be eligible to take one deer of either sex with a firearm when properly accompanied by a licensed and experienced adult. Junior hunters may use a Deer Management Permit or Deer Management Assistance Program tag for an antlerless deer or, during the youth firearms season only, they may use their regular season tag to take a deer of either sex.

In areas restricted to bowhunting only (Westchester County and parts of Albany and Monroe counties), junior hunters may only use bowhunting equipment to take deer during the youth hunt weekend.

"Bowhunting seasons remain open during the youth hunt, but I encourage bowhunters to set your bow aside for the weekend and be a mentor for a youth's first firearms deer hunt," Martens stated.

While there is pending legislation that may impact future youth hunts, until it has been acted on, DEC's regulations remain in effect. More details of the Youth Firearms Deer Hunt and rules for junior hunters and their mentors are available at

DEC also offers special opportunities for junior hunters (ages 12-15) for waterfowl, wild turkey and pheasants.



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