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For Immediate Release: February 11, 2016

Keith P. McKeever | keith.mckeever@apa.ny.gov 
Public Information Officer | Adirondack Park Agency | Press Office | (518) 891-4050

APA Determines The Remsen Lake - Placid Travel Corridor UMP Conforms to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan

Plan dramatically increases travel options for the public, extends scenic railroad and promotes historic preservation

Ray Brook, NY - After thorough deliberation during its February board meeting the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) determined that proposed amendments to the 1996 Remsen - Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan/FSEIS (The 2016 Plan) conforms to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP). The APA will now forward the conformance resolution to the Commissioners of the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation for final adoption. The 2016 Plan governs the use of the 119-mile Corridor from Remsen to Lake Placid.

The 2016 Plan includes a preferred alternative to divide the Corridor into rail and trail segments. The rails will be retained within the Corridor from Remsen to Tupper Lake (Segment 1) and the rails will be removed within the Corridor from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid (Segment 2). The entire length of the Corridor will remain in State ownership (Department of Transportation) and will remain classified under the APSLMP as a Travel Corridor.

Key APSLMP conformance points include:

- Jurisdiction over the entire Corridor is retained by the Department of Transportation;

- The Department of Environmental Conservation's management of Segment 2 - by agreement with the Department of Transportation - is intended to preserve the potential for reestablishment of rail service there, if ever needed; and

- The facilitation of travel, the movement of people by a variety of modes of transportation, remains the primary purpose throughout the entire Corridor.

Acting APA Chairman Arthur Lussi said, "We commend our colleagues at the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Transportation for conducting such a comprehensive process. This plan represents over two years of extensive public outreach and regional planning. It maximizes public recreational opportunities in a way that minimizes environmental impacts. It is fully consistent with the guidelines of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The Adirondacks benefit immensely when we come together and find solutions which result in the greatest possible good for the greatest number of individuals."

"I commend the APA Board for determining that this proposal is compliant with the Adirondack State Land Master Plan. This significant step will facilitate new and exciting opportunities for travel and recreation on this currently under-utilized public corridor," said Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Once finalized, this action will simultaneously create one of the largest excursion trains in the country, and create a unique, long distance recreational trail in the heart of the Adirondacks, to be used by residents and visitors to the Olympic region."

"This proposal will strengthen the existing excursion railroad from Utica and extend its operation to Tupper Lake - a distance of more than 100 miles," said DOT Commissioner Driscoll. At the same time, we will work to mitigate impacts and to preserve the character of communities along the rail corridor.

In Segment 1 tracks will be improved from Big Moose to Tupper Lake and rail service extended 45 miles from the Big Moose Station to the Tupper Lake Station. Connections to existing trail systems on adjacent public lands will be established increasing opportunities for remote hunting, fishing, paddling, camping, and hiking. This wilderness-access train could potentially serve as a means by which people of all ages and abilities access remote areas they would otherwise never see. In winter, the Corridor will continue to provide snowmobile access as well as expedition camping via cross country-skiing and snowshoeing.

The preferred alternative calls for the removal of rail infrastructure between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid and conversion of Segment 2 to a recreation trail suitable for a range of activities including walking, running, biking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and use by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and Olympic Training Center for biathlon and cross-country ski athletes. This route will also serve as an environmentally-friendly way for local residents to commute safely between communities.

The railroad currently operates on Segment 1 of the travel corridor between Remsen and Big Moose Station. The 2016 Plan will facilitate a longer-term lease agreement with a train operator. In addition, the plan identifies a strategy to link the railroad to DEC recreational facilities on adjacent Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands.

Snowmobile use will continue along the entire length of the travel corridor. In response to concerns raised about the impacts the rails have when they are exposed during the snowmobile season, the plan outlines alternatives to locate and construct snowmobile trail connections that do not rely on travel along the travel corridor where rail service will continue. Some communities that would be connected along these alternative trails include Long Lake, Raquette Lake, Eagle Bay, Inlet and Beaver River. The 2016 Plan also emphasizes that snowmobile trail connections will be encouraged from Tupper Lake through existing Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands to link with existing trail systems on the Tug Hill and in the western Adirondacks. The 2016 Plan will enhance the interpretation of historic assets along the travel corridor. It outlines options to rehabilitate historic assets within the travel corridor for educational purposes and use as warming stations for the public year round.

The 119-mile Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor is a unique public land resource. Its uninterrupted length, historical significance, and extremely gradual and low cumulative gradient set it apart from other public land resources in the Adirondack Park. Also, no other State land parcel intersects as many natural and human communities. From the remoteness of the Five Ponds Wilderness Area to the community centers it traverses, the travel corridor connects Adirondack inhabitants and visitors alike with the landscape, allowing them to directly access core Wilderness and Wild Forest lands within the Adirondack Park. UMPs are required by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan for each unit of State land in the Adirondack Park.

The plans integrate the goals and objectives of the Master Plan, related legislation, and resource and visitor use information into a single document.

The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit www.apa.ny.gov.