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Protect lawsuit will not stop snowmobile bridge

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PARISHVILLE - Continuation of a lawsuit granted Protect the Adirondacks on construction of community connector snowmobile trails in the Adirondack Park will not stop the planned replacement of a bridge that is part of a trail from Colton to Parishville.

“We already have trails there in most areas,” said Debbie A. Christy, president of the St. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association. “We’re still proceeding with the bridge.”

The five-mile trail goes from Morgan Road to Pickettville Road to Clear Pond to Stark Road.

On March 28, the Appellate Division allowed Protect to continue trying to establish that community connector snowmobile trails administered by the Adirondack Park Agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation violate the Forever Wild clause of the state Constitution.

The suit also claims that the state land master plan and DEC regulations are violated by the use of large groomers on trails.

Protect’s lawsuit challenges recent policy and snowmobile trail construction in the park. It specifically mentions the cutting of more than 2,200 trees in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest area as excessive and notes that other community connector trails approved in the Wilmington and Jessup River Wild Forest areas will also require cutting hundreds of trees.

“Protect estimates that the entire community connector trail system planned by the DEC in its Adirondack Park Snowmobile Plan will result in cutting over 8,000 trees and clearcutting almost 50 acres of the Forest Preserve,” the group wrote in a statement. “In addition to the illegal tree cutting, Protect alleges that the Forever Wild clause of the Constitution was violated by the widening, clearing, grading, flattening, tree removal, rock removal, destruction of bedrock, bench cutting, use of gravel, and bridge building involved in creating the new community connector snowmobile trail in the Moose River Plains.”

According to Protect’s press release, the lawsuit focuses on how the APA and DEC manage and groom snowmobile trails in the park and is not about the elimination of snowmobiles or other motorized vehicles.

The St. Lawrence County Snowmobile Association has been told the lawsuit should not affect the bridge replacement it is planning, Ms. Christy said.

If Protect is successful in eliminating the use of large, tracked groomers on snowmobile trails, that could be another matter. Protect believes state law provides that the only motor vehicle allowed on a designated snowmobile trail is a snowmobile.

“We all use those groomers and have been using them since the 1970s,” Ms. Christy said.

While the groomers look large, she said their rubber tracks create no more damage than a snowmobile.

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