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Fire Tower Study for the Adirondack Park

Background

At one time, there were fire towers at 124 locations in New York State, with 57 within today's Adirondack Park. With the advent of the light airplane for fire sighting and the rising costs of manning the fire towers, these once important stations were slowly deactivated. Of the remaining 34 towers in the Adirondack Park, 20 are on Forest Preserve land, with the other 14 on municipal or private land. Some of the towers and/or communication equipment on private land are owned by the State. In other cases access to towers on private land may involve crossing State lands.

Study Recommendations

The Study provides a summary of past use, existing use and condition, and anticipated future Department use for each tower under DEC jurisdiction. As part of the study process, the existing fire towers and associated observer's cabins were assessed. Various alternatives were analyzed for those towers that are non-conforming to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP). As a result of this analysis, a recommendation for each of those towers is described in the Study.

Specific study recommendations:

  • The Hurricane Mountain fire tower in the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area will be removed in conformance with APSLMP guidelines.
  • The St. Regis Mountain fire tower in the St. Regis Canoe Area will be removed in conformance with APSLMP guidelines.
  • The summit of Lyon Mountain, including the fire tower, was acquired in 2008. The lands are considered unclassified State lands and will be addressed through a separate Adirondack Park Agency (APA) classification process.
  • The Wakely Mountain fire tower and observer's cabin in the Wakely Mountain Primitive Area will be retained with future development of a radio repeater and repairs to the existing helipad considered essential for the communications needs of the Department.
  • Decisions regarding individual fire towers and/or observer's cabins on Wild Forest or Intensive Use classified lands will be made on a unit by unit basis through the UMP planning process.

Implementation

Implementation of recommendations in this Study may require revisions to DEC policy and the State Historic Preservation Act (SHPA) Letter of Resolution. Approval for specific activities on Forest Preserve lands will be done through the Unit Management Planning process, including determinations by APA regarding APSLMP conformance. Both of these processes require additional review pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and further analysis with respect to all governing authorities.

Fire Tower Study for the Adirondack Park (PDF) (3.2 mB)