DEC opens more access to Sable Highlands

MOUNTAIN VIEW – New access opportunities are now available for public use of the Sable Highlands conservation easement lands in Franklin and Clinton counties, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Monday.

Conservation easements are used to protect a variety of important natural resources and landscape values such as water quality, wildlife habitat, sensitive ecosystems, wetlands, scenic areas, agricultural land, working forests and historic sites. The primary function of an easement is to limit or eliminate future development and undesirable land uses on a property while allowing for continued private ownership and traditional management. Some conservation easements, like at the Sable Highlands, allow public access to the protected property.

DEC and its partners have constructed new parking lots, opened some recreational corridors and roadways for motorized use and installed informational kiosks that provide access and enhance the usage of specific public use areas in the Sable Highlands. Recreation corridors are roads and trails on the property that travel through private lease areas as a means to provide access to the lands, DEC said. The recreation corridors will have posted signs and be managed in a manner that best facilitates public access while ensuring that public use has a minimal effect on private club members’ enjoyment of their posting leases.

Because these lands were recently logged and have abundant water, they provide high-quality game habitat sought by hunters and trappers, according to the DEC. The forest consists mainly of hardwood tree species that will be changing colors, which will offer opportunities for pleasant nature viewing walks, biking or leisurely drives during the fall foliage season.

The following is a list of new areas and facilities available to the public:

-Cold Brook Public Use Area – A new, six-vehicle parking area has been constructed on the Standish Road in the town of Saranac in Clinton County, providing access for recreational users to the 2,500-acre Cold Brook area. Informational kiosks and register boxes at each parking area provide information. Access beyond the parking areas is by foot or mountain bike only. DEC plans to provide additional opportunities for public motorized access in the future.

-Figure 8 Public Use Area – A new, six-vehicle parking area has been constructed on the Blair Kilns Road in the town of Bellmont in Franklin County, providing access for recreational users to the 3,900-acre Figure 8 area.

-D&H Road Recreation Corridor – The 6.5-mile D&H Road is open to motor vehicles and mountain bikes during the summer and fall. It will be closed in the winter and during mud season. The road can be used year-round by hikers, skiers and snowshoers as conditions warrant. The road connects Franklin County Route 26 near the hamlet of Loon Lake in the town of Franklin with, on the other end, the Wolf Pond Road just east of the hamlet of Mountain View in the town of Bellmont. The road is for motorized through traffic only as there are no parking areas or pull-offs along the road. The 3,900-acre Plumadore-Inman area abuts the road on the west along much of the road. The public should be aware that a number of private landowners and privately licensed recreation clubs have exclusive use on other properties along the road. Trespassing on those lands is prohibited.

-Barnes Pond Road Recreation Corridor – The 3.9- mile Barnes Pond Road is open to motor vehicles during the fall hunting seasons. It is recommended that only high-clearance SUVs and trucks use the road. The road can be accessed from a parking area on the True Brook Road in the town of Saranac. Hunters and others can use the road to access the 3,700-acre Barnes Pond public use area. Wheeled camping equipment up to 20 feet in length, such as pop-up campers, truck campers and tow-behind camper trailers, can be used at six fully accessible designated campsites along the road. At this time, motor vehicle use on the road is allowed from Oct. 4 through the end of the Northern Zone big-game rifle season only. Weather and road conditions permitting.

DEC Region 5 operations staff and members of the Student Conservation Association’s Adirondack Program worked for more than three years to construct these facilities. Construction would not have been possible without the cooperation and assistance of the landowner, The Forestland Group of Chapel Hill, N.C.

The new facilities complement a number of existing facilities and improvements previously constructed on the property by DEC, including:

-Fishhole Pond Fishing Access Site, town of Franklin

-Grass Pond Fishing Access Site, town of Franklin

-Two designated campsites, accessible by the public on foot or by mountain bike, in the 3,900-acre Plumadore-Inman public access area, town of Franklin

-One designated campsite and a parking area with an informational kiosk, enhancing access to the 415-acre Saranac River public access area, town of Franklin.

Forest rangers and environmental conservation officers will conduct regular patrols of these locations and nearby conservation easement lands to educate users, enforce environmental laws and regulations, and ensure the proper and safe use of the area.

Parking areas and access points are marked with DEC signs, informational kiosks, maps and public recreation usage guidelines specific to each public use area.

The Sable Highlands conservation easement lands include more than 28,000 acres of lands distributed over 14 public use areas, all of which are open and available for public access and recreation in accordance with the April 2009 Interim Recreation Management Plan. More than 56,000 acres of the Sable Highlands conservation easement lands are leased by the landowner to hunting, fishing and recreation clubs for their exclusive private use.

More information – including descriptions of the areas and recreation corridors, directions and usage guidelines – can be found on the DEC Sable Highlands conservation easement lands website at or by contacting the DEC Division of Lands and Forests Region 5 office at 518-897-1291.