36 Church Street
Saranac Lake, New York 12983
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) does not agree with the viewpoints expressed by Norm Van Valkenburgh in his article "Snowmobiles don't belong" which appeared in the January/February issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Mr. Van Valkenburgh continues to debate an issue that was determined in 1972 with the passage of the Adirondack State Land Master Plan (ASLMP). Pursuant to the ASLMP, snowmobiles are an allowable use in non-wilderness areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
We are currently involved in a public discussion over a Draft Snowmobile Plan (Plan) for the Adirondacks prepared by DEC and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). All comments on that draft Plan are welcome and will be aired in a series of public meetings to be held across the State during the months of February and March. However, the dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric used by Mr. Van Valkenburgh in his article is counterproductive and has no place at the table of public debate. Such cavalier mention of boobytrapping snowmobile trails should be strongly renounced by everyone who wishes for a civil public process.
Mr. Van Valkenburgh claims that "those who believe in the constitutional mandate want them gone-forever." I disagree. Many defenders of the Constitutional mandate found in Article XIV have accepted snowmobiles as an allowable use in the Adirondacks. These same conservationists are interested in working with snowmobiling enthusiasts and local communities to develop a future Snowmobile Plan for the Adirondacks that creates safer trail systems, sustains the economy of the Region; while also improving the wild forest character of the Forest Preserve. These important discussions in regard to the draft Snowmobile Plan should be conducted with those goals in mind.
I hope and believe that Mr. Van Valkenburgh stands alone in his insistence on arguing the battles of the past and his reliance on such confrontational language as he chose to use in his recent Adirondack Explorer article.
The Department recognizes the importance of the snowmobile issue, and encourages all interested parties to provide input during the public review period for the Draft Plan. Public participation is essential in developing a comprehensive plan which takes into account all perspectives for snowmobile use in the Adirondacks. We look forward to working with all involved stakeholders in this matter.
Robert K. Davies, Director