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Independence River Wild Forest - Unit Management Plan

The Independence River Wild Forest (IRWF) covers approximately 79,519 acres of the New York State Forest Preserve. The Unit is located in the towns of Watson, Greig and Lyonsdale in Lewis County, and the town of Webb in Herkimer County. It is bounded on the west by the Adirondack Park boundary, to the south by the Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness area, the Beaver River on the north and the Pigeon Lakes Wilderness to the east.

The Independence River Unit is a Mecca for many different recreational uses. The Otter Creek Horse Trail system provides over 60 miles of equestrian trails on the western boundary of the unit. While to the north, the Stillwater Reservoir provides for water related activities, camping and access to the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. During winter months, snowmobiling is the most popular recreational pursuit on the unit. Corridor trails provide a connection between Brantingham and areas to the south with Stillwater, and points north.

Numerous motor vehicle roads, such as the McCarty road and Smith road offer access into the interior of the unit. Designated campsites along these roads are commonly used during the big-game season by hunters.

Unit Management Plan Revision

The Department is currently in the early stages of revising the UMP for the Independence River Wild Forest. Individuals or organizations interested in providing comments or receiving additional information about the development of the UMP can reach out to the contact below:

Keith Rivers
7327 State Route 812
Lowville, NY 13367
(315) 376-3521

Current Unit Management Plan

DEC completed a Unit Management Plan for the Independence River Wild Forest in October 1986. If you have questions, comments, or would like to obtain a copy of the original UMP, please email us at: r6.ump@dec.ny.gov.

April 2010 Amendment - Parking/Trailhead Relocation

This amendment proposed the construction of a new three-car parking area, including one accessible space, off the Big Moose Road, and a reroute of the foot trail to the summit of Stillwater Mountain. The need for a new parking area was due to a current conflict between use of the current trailhead and use of a primitive, accessible campsite which is across Big Moose Road from the trailhead. Because the existing trailhead had no official parking, hikers frequently use the parking area for the campsite due to its proximity to the trailhead, thereby inadvertently preventing persons with disabilities from being able to access the primitive campsite. Moving the trailhead and associated parking to another location improved the likelihood of persons with disabilities gaining access to the campsite.

Download the Amendment

2010 Amendment to the 1986 Independence River Wild Forest UMP (PDF) (719 KB)

August 2011 Amendment/FEIS - Snowmobile Trail Configuration

This proposal is for the classification of all the snowmobile trails in the unit and for the relocation of four existing snowmobile trails or trail segments. The proposed snowmobile trail network is designed to provide community connections between important destinations and communities within and surrounding the Independence River Wild Forest, as well as to maintain a limited number of back country or traditional Adirondack snowmobiling experiences. The trail system is also designed to, a) provide for limited alternatives in the community connection network in anticipation of periodic disruptions to the most commonly used corridors where they may be plowed for winter logging, and b) accommodate the very high volume of snowmobile traffic that typically occurs in this area when other regions of New York are receiving less-than-normal snowfall. The net result of this proposal is a better system of trails for the snowmobiling community, and a system that is more environmentally benign and has fewer miles of snowmobile trails than currently exist.

Download the Amendment/FEIS

2011 Amendment to the 1986 Independence River Wild Forest UMP (PDF) (3.11 MB)