APA’s Proposed New Road Policy

The Adirondack Park Agency is currently reviewing their policy on roads in Wild Forest areas and holding a public comment period on their proposed alternatives. Roads are a critical topic for AWA: no issue in the Adirondack Park more affects our core mission to preserve and increase remoteness and solitude.

In an ever more developed world, this is an issue of global importance, as few places on Earth are more than three miles from a road. Even in our magnificent Forest Preserve, only a small amount of public land is more than three miles from a road or snowmobile trail, as the map at right, which AWA produced during the Boreas campaign, clearly shows.

Unfortunately, the APA seems anxious to give itself a “road budget” by seeking public approval for reinterpretation of the “no material increase” guidance that has attempted to cap the amount of motorized roads and trails in the Adirondack Forest Preserve since 1972. By posing it as a question that requires public response, the Agency seems to be manipulating the outcome toward a “compromise” that, regardless of the specifics, will permit more motorized uses in the Forest Preserve than currently allowed.

Compromises can be a positive achievement—make no mistake. But reframing a 50-year-old policy as a “question” requiring public review is a blatant attempt by the Agency to get around that policy, and all the intended development caps that policy was designed to implement. Rather than trying to abide by its own regulations, APA is attempting to divide public opinion—and then resolve that intentional conflict with a “compromise” that effectively rewrites the same policy it no longer finds convenient.

Specifically, the APA is entertaining various interpretations of the meaning of “no material increase,” including one based upon snowmobile guidance adopted in in 2008 that would consider increases up to 15% to be acceptable—at a time in history when an inflation rate of 8.5% is causing significant national alarm. Proposals such as this defy common sense, and in our opinion they represent a direct threat to the wilderness values of remoteness and solitude for which we advocate.

We are also disturbed that the APA is still focusing mostly on calculations of road mileage, which has little to do with preserving the character of Wild Forests. The focus should be placed instead on all motorized uses, not just mileage. The clear intent of the State Land Master Plan (SLMP) was to limit motorized use in the Forest Preserve, explicitly requiring no material increase over the motorized use in 1972, when the SLMP was written.

AWA is submitting official comments to the APA that are consistent with our mission and with our official policy on motorized recreation (which you can read here).

But we need your help in sending a message to the APA that wilderness advocates are paying attention! The Agency is currently seeking public comments on this topic through July 12, 2022, so to find out how you can participate, follow the link below.

Read the Official State Documents