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Judge Upholds NY Snowmobile Trail Legality, Opponents Vow To ‘Fight Another Day’

By Nick Longworth

The State of New York earned another victory in court this week, which in turn is a win for snowmobilers and the communities they support in the Adirondacks.

On Thursday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court supported the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups as a result of state plans for land use around the Essex Chain of Lakes.

According to the Albany Times Union, the state’s plan calls for 22 miles of snowmobile trails between Indian Lake and Newcomb. It would also construct a new snowmobile bridge over Cedar River, and allow snowmobile use of a former Finch logging bridge (Polaris Bridge) on the upper Hudson River.

Work has not yet begun due to the lawsuit filed two years ago by Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild – which argued against the legality of expanding motorized uses in the state’s Adirondacks Forest Preserve, and claims the plans for the trails violate the Forever Wild clause of the state’s constitution aimed at protecting the preserve.

The executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, Fred Monroe, has said that there is local support for the snowmobile plan.

However, Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said the ruling still allows opponents to “live to fight another day.”

Part of the ruling included a dissenting opinion on whether the snowmobile plan violates the state Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act adopted in 1972, as well as, the park’s State Land Master Plan. The dissenting opinion now allows for an appeal in the Court of Appeals. 

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