The state Adirondack Park Agency board determined that a plan for 75,000 acres of state land in the Tri-Lakes conforms with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan at its February monthly board meeting. The Saranac Lakes Wild Forest Unit Management Plan, originally released by the NYSDEC in 2017, was more than 15 years in the making. The Plan calls for sweeping changes to public lands around the Saranac Lakes, and includes proposals on everything from increasing public access to relocating camp sites and trails.

Unit Management Plans (UMPs) are individual management plans for each unit of state land classified in the State Land Master Plan. The plan refers to Upper Saranac Lake as the “centerpiece” of the SLWF unit. Since just under ½ of USLs shoreline and the vast majority of our watershed is state owned and mostly within the SLWF, the UMP has a direct effect on USL and its residents. It is for this reason that the Upper Saranac Foundation has provided input on the UMP and participated in discussions at every level with the DEC.

The USF’s involvement, along with individual comments, helped guide the DEC into making revisions of the original draft plan. The Foundation’s focused concerns of introductions of aquatic invasive species, and the need to better address preventive strategies to thwart their spread. In addition, to assess the impact of public use on the resources, ecosystem and public enjoyment of the area and to identify the appropriate balance between environmental protection and access development.

The USF is pleased that the DEC was open to our suggestions and is prepared to implement a plan to help protect the natural character, environmental quality and recreational enjoyment of the watershed. This continued partnership of shared values and active stewardship will continue to improve and protect the water quality and beauty of Upper Saranac Lake into the future.