The State Supreme Court in Albany issued a decision recently that allows a lawsuit to advance over snowmobile trail management on the Forest Preserve filed by Protect the Adirondacks in February 2013 against the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The judge ruled against the state’s Motion to Dismiss this lawsuit, while also ruling against PROTECT’s Preliminary Injunction against construction of new class II community connector snowmobile trails.

This decision could be spun as a victory for either side. PROTECT is pleased that this lawsuit was deemed worthy and not dismissed and the merits of this case will get their day in court. Lawyers for both sides are now developing a schedule to complete this case. After that is completed, the state will submit its formal “Answer” to PROTECT’s initial pleadings. PROTECT will then assert its right to conduct discovery provided for all Constitutional lawsuits. Final papers will likely to prepared and submitted in 2014.

PROTECT alleges that state actions by the APA and DEC violate state law and the State Constitution. PROTECT has long opposed an expansion of snowmobile trails to widths of 12 feet or wider. We see these “trails” at that width as road-like with far-reaching ecological impacts. PROTECT believes that construction and grooming with large tracked groomers of these new types of wide, road-like trails violates state law and regulations.

PROTECT believes that recent actions on “Class II community connector” snowmobile trails violates the “Forever Wild” clause of the State Constitution due to the vast number of trees cut down and the vast alteration of the natural terrain.

State law requires that snowmobile trails be "essentially the same character as a foot trail." Not many foot trails have bedrock chipped away or oversized bridges built to facilitate oversized multi-ton groomers.

PROTECT also believes that state law and regulations are being violated by the allowing large, several-ton tracked “groomers” on designated foot trails on the Forest Preserve. PROTECT also contends that construction of these large, flattened road-like class II community connector snowmobile trails violates requirements in state laws and regulation that the “wild forest atmosphere” be maintained in the Forest Preserve.

Groomers, defined as "snowcats" in state law, are motor vehicles that are only allowed on designated roads. The only motor vehicles allowed on a designated snowmobile trail on the Forest Preserve is a snowmobile.

Here’s more background information. See PROTECT responds to state motion to dismiss this lawsuit. PROTECT started this lawsuit in February 2013 and filed additional materials in April. Here’s an indepth discussion of the necessity to this legal action.

Here’s a recent post about conditions of the Seventh Lake Mountain Trail. Here’s a policy discussion about the problems with construction and grooming these road-like snowmobile trails.