NYBC seeks better mountain bike policies in Adirondack Park

Filed Under: Advocacy & Policy
Post By: jwilson
Posted On: December 8, 2014

New York Bicycling Coalition joined forces with the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) and 6 local trail organizations to submit formal comments on proposed amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) that have the potential to impact the development and maintenance of, and access to, off-road bicycling facilities in the Adirondack Park.

See our December 3rd letter here.

Mountain bikers enjoying trails on state land in the Town of Wilmington Photo credit Josh Wilson

Mountain bikers enjoying trails on state land in the Town of Wilmington
Photo credit Josh Wilson

New York Bicycling Coalition joins our national and local partners in supporting the development of diverse, sustainable and interconnected multi-use trail systems suitable for mountain bikes in the Adirondack Park, particularly where local trail groups are organized and able to assist the Department in the maintenance of these trail systems.

As part of the Essex Chain Lakes Complex classification, a vast tract of land recently acquired by New York State in the Central Adirondacks, the Adirondack Park Agency agreed to consider amendments to the APSLMP that would allow the use of mountain bikes on Primitive Bike Corridors in the newly designated Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area.

The classification of the Essex Chain raises many questions about how Primitive Bike Corridors could be managed in other areas of the Adirondack Park.  The Primitive Bike Corridor classification has been used in the Catskills since the revision of the Catskill Park Master Plan in 2008.

NYBC and our partners support the proposed amendment to allow mountain bikes to access certain routes in the Essex Chain, and we believe that the Primitive Bike Corridor classification should not be limited to the Essex Chain Lakes Complex.  We believe that if Primitive Bike Corridors are to be designated in the Adirondack Park, the APA should develop park-wide guidelines that clearly identify how, when, where and why this classification is to be used, and include that guidance in the State Land Master Plan, which governs recreational use of the Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park.

This would permit the DEC to propose the use of Primitive Bike Corridors in other units of state land, which would allow for trail connections between established mountain bike trail networks and communities that are currently separated by Wilderness or Primitive areas, where mountain biking is not permitted.  This kind of trail connectivity can transform a good mountain biking destination into a great one.

The Primitive Bike Corridor classification is a sensible management tool for connecting mountain bike trail systems in the Adirondack Park.  If used appropriately, the Primitive Bike Corridor classification does not compromise the state’s ability to protect and preserve natural resources within a Wilderness area, nor does it diminish the ability of Wilderness visitors to have the wild forest experience they seek.

Mountain biking is a low-impact, muscle-powered form of recreation that complements the outdoor culture of the Adirondack Park while providing diverse economic benefits for local communities, and NYBC is committed to working with Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency, and local mountain bike organizations to ensure that this activity is meaningfully accommodated in the Adirondack Park while preserving the wild forest character of the Forest Preserve.