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Draft Plan to Improve, Protect Sentinel Range Wilderness
New York Ag Connection - 11/15/2017

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released the Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Sentinel Range Wilderness, Regional Director Bob Stegemann announced.

The Draft UMP for the Sentinel Range Wilderness provides a variety of recreational opportunities and means for continued protection of its natural resources," said Director Stegemann. "Governor Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos are committed to encouraging people to enjoy New York's outstanding environment and this DRAFT plan advances that commitment."

A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 at DEC Region 5 Headquarters, 1115 State Route 86, Ray Brook. The meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to learn more on the proposed management actions in the draft UMP and to comment on the proposals. The meeting facility is wheelchair accessible. Please submit requests for specific accommodations to (518) 897-1361 at least one week in advance of the meeting.

The Sentinel Range Wilderness (www.dec.ny.gov/lands/101901.html) is comprised of 23,874 acres of Forest Preserve lands in the towns of Keene, Jay, Wilmington, and North Elba, Essex County. The lands consist primarily of rugged, mountainous forest land with relatively few ponds and wetlands. Mountain views are one of the area's main attractions.

Hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and climbing are popular outdoor recreational activities in the wilderness. The summit of Pitchoff Mountain offers outstanding views of the surrounding area. Recreational use occurs mainly on the trails to Pitchoff Mountain or Copperas and Owen ponds. Most visitors are day users, but some camping does occur at the Copperas Pond area. Much of the unit is undeveloped and provides outstanding opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation.

The draft UMP includes management proposals for the wilderness and the Bartlett Primitive Area, which is located on the western edge of the wilderness. The draft UMP includes:

New Trails and Trail Reroutes:

- Convert two existing herd paths used to reach rock climbing routes into designated trails;

- Convert an old woods road to the East Branch Ausable River into a designated trail;

- Develop a ski trail near Lake Placid at Scotts Cobble;

- Reroute significant portions of Pitchoff Mountain Trail; and

- Relocate the western Pitchoff Mountain Trailhead and develop a new section of trail to address parking concerns along State Route 73.

Trail-less Area: Leave most of the core of the wilderness (about 10,500 acres) undeveloped and managed as an area without trails to help preserve remote and undeveloped recreational opportunities. While formal trails will not be built or maintained in the trail-less area, informal herd paths may remain.

Group Size Restrictions: Develop regulations limiting group sizes to address impacts to natural resources and visitor experience. Regulations will limit camping groups to no more than eight people and day use groups to 15 people. This is consistent with regulations proposed in other wilderness UMPs.

Campsites: Close two currently designated tent sites and build one new tent site to comply with Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan guidance and address impacts to natural resources. If the UMP is undertaken, there will be three campsites and one lean-to left in the wilderness. Construction of additional campsites is limited by the steep slopes of the area, limited number of trails, and amount of day use.

Rock Climbing: A moratorium on the placement of fixed anchors, similar to the other wilderness UMPs.

DEC will accept comments on the draft UMP until Dec. 22. The draft UMP is available for viewing and downloading is available on DEC's web site at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22589.html. Paper copies are also available for public review at DEC's Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook, DEC Central Office in Albany, and at the offices of the towns of Keene, Jay, Wilmington, and North Elba. Copies are available in electronic format for distribution on compact disc and may be requested by calling DEC at (518) 897-1291.

Written comments may be sent to Steve Guglielmi, Forester, DEC, PO Box 296/ 1115 State Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or emailed to R5.UMP@dec.ny.gov.

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