APA’s Proposed Guidelines for Snowmobile Trail Siting, Maintenance, and Construction

To See the actual APA position Paper click here

From the NYSSA Board of Directors:

Recently the Adirondack Park Agency released proposed Guidelines for Trail Siting, Maintenance, and Construction.  These proposed Guidelines were presented by the DEC on Thursday, September 10th.  The APA has set a public comment period through October 16th, 2009

 Many snowmobilers and snowmobile clubs both in and around the Adirondacks and throughout New York State need to have an interest in these Guidelines and make comment to the APA on them.

 The NYSSA BOD is preparing a resolution of support for the Guidelines with notations of concern.

 These talking points can be used to assist in forming a comment letter.  All comment letters must be sent to the following no later than September 30th:

James Connolly, Deputy Director-Planning
Adirondack Park Agency
P O Box 99
Ray Brook, NY  12977
Or email to apa_slmp@gw.dec.state.ny.us

The following statement reflects concepts, conditions or procedures that are considered positives of the Guideline:

Guidelines flesh out concepts in the Adirondack Snowmobile Plan.

 Guidelines call for community connector trails to be nine feet wide compared to the current 8 foot wide trails.

 Guidelines call for trail conditions identified as needing maintenance addressed through case-by-case work plans developed by the DEC and APA, rather then subjective interpretation and implementation of broad-brush regulation.

 Guidelines call for designation of Class II community connector trails as accomplished through the UMP process. 

 Guidelines allow for tracked grooming using equipment that is narrower than the trail width to reduce damage to trees.  It can be pointed out that tracked groomers with a blade can reduce berm buildup on curves for improved trail safety, help reduce effects of some side slope conditions, and assist in gathering snow where there are expectations that snow should be used to fill in the low spots on a trail.

 Guidelines allow small landscaping equipment to be used for trail work authorized by an approved work plan.

 Guidelines call for reroutes, some tree cutting, and some rock removal as potential descriptions of work plans that could be employed to remove obstacles for trail improvements and safety while retaining the natural character of the terrain as much as possible.

 Previously the Adirondack Snowmobile Plan did not allow rocks protruding 6 inches and lower to be removed. The new guidelines allow for removal of any rock if approved in a workplan.

 Guidelines do not describe snowmobile trail characteristics resembling a foot trail as being narrow like some hiking trails.

 Guidelines all for unsafe side slope conditions on Class II trails being corrected through full bench cuts, likely reducing maintenance demands.

 Guidelines were developed by both DEC and APA staffs who participated in extensive field work that identified unsafe conditions and potential actions to mitigate these conditions.

 Guidelines provide a greater opportunity for the use of motorized equipment for pre-season work trips.

 Negatives

 Class I trails need clarification, as some access trails for groomers and to services can be as heavily traveled as any connector trail.  Class II trails do contain provisions to be spur trails that link a community to a longer community connector trail.  Clarification is needed so that Class II designation is possible for heavily used spur trails to services.

 Class I trails have a cleared width of 8 feet throughout, even on corners and steep terrain.  This can cause unsafe conditions on curves and on hills.

 Tracked groomers are described as small tracked groomers and that grooming equipment is sufficiently narrower than the approved trail.  This is a concern that no groomer currently used on trails as part of an AANR be denied approval as not deemed “small”. 

 Groomers need to be allowed to pull in snow from outside the normal trail width in areas that are natural clearings.  This is especially needed in locations where it is expected that snow from the trail area will be used to fill in low spots in the trail tread.

 Only hand tools may be used for trail work on Class I trails, with small landscape equipment allowed only if absolutely necessary.  There is concern over how restrictive the phrase “only if absolutely necessary” is interpreted.

 Class I trails will be bench cut to remedy side slope, but not full bench cuts.  This will result in a continuous need for maintenance.

 Areas with existing dense local trail networks may see some of them closed or classified to Class I trails.  These areas should not be punished by having legitimate trails closed.

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