DEC meeting on illegal use of Taconic Crest Trail

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Well-known member
Sep 3, 2003
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Near the Adirondack Blue Line
Important Update: We've rec'd a large turnout of people who want to attend. I was asked to post this: If you plan on attending, pls PM me with your name. DEC security has asked for the names of participants so you can be on a participant list. You will also be asked to produce a driver's license.

There's a meeting at DEC HQ next week. (***CORRECTION - Its Thursday 3/22)***For years, illegal snowmobile and ATV activity has been destroying sections of the Taconic Crest Trail and the DEC will have their enforcement and trail people in attendance.
Many of us have had run-ins and threatened by locals on snowmobiles and ATVs over their illegal use of this foot-traffic-only trail.
The result is large areas of trail have been eroded and destroyed and some ugly confrontations. This is not a new issue, its been going on for 20+ years, but the situation has reached the stage where DEC is serious.
If you're interested in attending, pls PM me for further details.

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Will DEC accept written comments on this issue?

I have talked to rangers who are assigned to the area about the rampant abuse of the area by ATVs, and they told me they were just as frustrated as I was. When they have attempted to apprehend illegal ATV riders, they have been told to lay off by their superiors, who fear the local political repercussions that a crack down would cause for the DEC.
Seen the damage and motorized vehicles

I too would be happy to provide written comments if there is that opportunity. I've been up to Berlin Mtn both winter and summer. Only in summer did I see the extensive damage from ATV's and I can verify that a gang of motorcycles dressed in motocross type suits came by while I was there. While they were reasonably courteous, the noise was offensive. I did not see snowmobile tracks when I was there (perhaps winter 2004).
Its really not a hearing. The head of all the DEC rangers will be there, the local ranger for Rensselaer county, and the Deputy Commissioner of DEC. This is not about laying off the violaters. They have been trying to catch them in the act. This is for people to describe the damage and run-ins people have had with the yahoos.
Written comments would be no where as effective as coming in person to relate what you've seen and experienced.
***Correction on date: Thursday 3/22 @ 7:30pm, DEC HQ in downtown Albany.***
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ATV enforcement can be difficult, and even dangerous for the officers involved. Cooperation from local law enforcement is needed. This can be complicated by the fact that many cops are quad riders, and local JPs who will hear any case will no doubt have friends and neighbors who are riders. There was a tragic incident in Mahwah, NJ, where NJ State Park Police attempted to apprehend illegal ATV riders. They met violent resistance and one individual was shot and killed. All of the officers involved in the incident were suspended, the officer who fired the fatal shot resigned and fled the state in the face of death threats. Local politicians lined up to condemn the Park Police and they were basically thrown to the wolves. This lesson was not lost on other conservation officers.
I would also like to make a statement to the DEC about the amazing damage to the Taconic Crest Trail around Rt. 20, if I can do that by mail or e-mail.

On another note, ATVs are showing up more on the South Taconic Trail as well. Check out the Trail Conditions report here in VFTT (Massachusetts) for 10/29/06. The poster encountered 3 ATVs south of Alander whose riders said they were members of a club doing trail maintenance, though they were causing a lot of damage.
I mentioned this post to a Mass. DCR ranger who said there is no way ATVs would have been given permission to ride up there.
The Taconic Crest Trail links Berry Pond State Forest outside of Pittsfield, MA and North Pownal, VT, but is mostly in NYS along the borders. Its an up and down trail, about 29 miles long, and end-to-end is about 7,200' ascent.
It has some beautiful view spots, goes over Berlin Mt(open top), and the great Petersburg Pass.
The problem is that the ridgeline traverses mostly open woods with small towns, farmland. Woods roads and trails access the TCT from every direction.
In the winter, illegal snowmobiling and the rest of the year, illegal ATVs ascend from below and use the TCT to get around. There are sections of the TCT that are mud wallows because of vehicle erosion, and the clashes between hikers and the drivers of the motorized vehicles are getting more frequent and aggressive.
Some feel DEC has been overwhelmed trying to catch the perps. Others feel its been a lack of resources. Others, a lack of desire.
The upcoming DEC meeting is important if you want to make your voice heard about this illegal activity.
Sending an email is nice, but really won't have much of the impact of coming in person. This is not a public hearing where both sides air their views. This is about a worsening and illegal activity and the head enforcement people of DEC will be there to listen.
If you live within reasonable driving distance, please come and express your concerns. Part of the reason for this meeting is that some of the confrontations could turn violent, and THAT is something that should concern the hiking public everywhere.
If there is someone who knows they are going, and are willing, that person can act as proxy (or try, don't know what the meeting procedures will be) and read statements by those not able to attend in person.

I've been a proxy at meetings before and have read MANY letters via proxy.

The e-mail just has to include a phrase more-or-less saying "I, so and so, do hereby appoint such and such, to act as my proxy for X meeting on Y date, to present the following statement: ..."

Better to be there in person, obviously. But we have made quite an impression this way, and it is much more personal and powerful than bringing in a petition with just names and addresses.

Just something to think about. Also for future meetings.

Good luck. I can't go, but think snowmobiles, and especially ATVs, are hideous they way there are now.

Great idea. If anyone wants to give me their proxy, it will be presented.
Just send it by PM. You'll probably need to provide your real name and address. If you have real life examples of running into motorized travel, or can relate damage you've seen first hand, please include it.
I'll cut and paste into WORD docs.

Thanks Sean for a most effective alternative.