DEC Re-Opens Review Of Adirondack Rail Or Trail Corridor Between Tupper Lake And Lake Placid

Jul 11, 2014

Adirondack Scenic Railroad
Credit Howard Brier/Flickr

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced that it will reopen a review of an Adirondack management plan to study the feasibility of converting a rail corridor for recreational use.

The 119-mile long Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor’s Unit Management Plan is being re-opened by the DEC and the state Department of Transportation.  Currently a rail corridor, the agencies want to determine whether a 34 mile long segment between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid can be converted for recreational use and assess the economic potential of rail service along the remainder of the tracks.
According to the DEC, the assessment will explore how increased recreational use would promote tourism and economic growth in surrounding communities. It will review options to create and expand snowmobile use between Old Forge and Tupper Lake.  It will also evaluate long-term options for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad including needed improvements.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad President Bill Branson says the UMP did not need to be reopened.  “They’ve affirmed the corridor as far as Tupper Lake insofar as rail service, and that’s a good thing. They seem to be recommitting to that and its infrastructure. We like all of that. The fact that there will be continued study from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid is not a surprise. And I think it’s probably the right thing to do. This will help them work through a process that will alleviate the contentious nature, or at least allow everybody to say well at least they followed a process and came to a conclusion, whatever it is. We still believe, in fact we know, that it doesn’t need to be either-or. It can be both. We’re sort-of optimistic. We think we’re in a good place. We’ve gotten affirmation on a large chunk of the corridor.”

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates wants the rails removed and a continuous recreational trail created between Lake Placid and Old Forge. Co-founder Jim McCulley is excited to see the 34-mile Unit management Plan re-opened.  “Obviously we’re excited. I think it’s going to be a great boost for business. But the reality is for the section between Tupper and Old Forge, that section really needs to be done for snowmobiling especially during the wintertime because that’s a major thoroughfare for snowmobiling. We are concerned that the state has decided to either try to put a snowmobile trail on state land through this region and we don’t feel that’s a good idea. This corridor is the ideal place for a snowmobile trail. Moving the trail off the corridor onto state land to a wilderness area is not the recommended option that I think the state should be looking at.”

The Trails and Rails Action Committee is a group of about 40 volunteers that has been working to identify a network of existing trails within the area of the UMP that could be used along with the rail line, according to spokesman Bob Hest.  “It is not an either-or. We’ve been doing work as a group during the past year or so that has identified a network of existing trails within the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment that this particular reexamination of the UMP is focusing on that with not a whole lot of effort could be joined together that will make some pretty interesting adventures.”

The decision to reevaluate the Unit Management Plan was made after a review of public comments from four public meetings held by the DEC and DOT last year.