The state Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public input on its plans to manage a pair of historic Adirondack fire towers.
DEC recently released draft unit management plans for the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area in the town of Keene and the St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area in the town of Santa Clara. The plans contain a series of management proposals for the two towers that, if implemented, would result in increased tourism opportunities in Essex and Franklin counties, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release.
"Throughout the 20th century, fire towers played a critical role in the protection of New York state's natural resources, and resuming maintenance of these structures for educational purposes will attract travelers and provide the public a better appreciation of that legacy," Martens said.
A fire tower is seen on St. Regis Mountain.
(Enterprise file photo — Chris Knight)
A fire tower is seen atop Hurricane Mountain.
(Enterprise file photo — Mike Lynch)
Both fire towers have been closed to the public since they were discontinued for use as fire observation stations. The Hurricane Mountain tower was closed in 1979, and the St. Regis Mountain tower was shut down in 1990.
The towers had been slated for removal because Hurricane Mountain is classified as a primitive area and St. Regis Mountain is in a canoe area. Both land classifications called for the fire towers to eventually be removed.
However, the two towers are also listed on the state and national registers of historic places, which under state and federal historic preservation laws allowed DEC and the state Adirondack Park Agency to look at alternatives that would allow for the preservation of the structures. In October 2010, the APA board voted to classify the land beneath the two towers as historic, a move that allowed them to remain and be restored.
Under the draft UMPs, DEC says the towers would be restored to a condition that will allow full public access to the structures and include interpretive materials related to the towers' history.
The department is accepting public input on the plans through Nov. 15. Comments may be mailed to Josh Clague, Natural Resources Planner, DEC, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4254, or emailed to email@example.com.
The plans are available for public review at DEC headquarters in Albany and the Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook. CDs of the plan will be available at the same locations, as well as the town of Keene and Santa Clara offices. The Hurricane UMP may be viewed or downloaded at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/78001.html, and the St. Regis UMP may be viewed or downloaded at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/78006.html.