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March 9, 2014

Public hearing set for historic fire tower land-use

RAY BROOK — Fire tower unit-management plans go to public hearing on Wednesday, March 12.

The public is being asked to weigh in on how these two new historic sites comply with the State Land Master Plan.

The Department of Environmental Conservation prepared management plans for the Hurricane Mountain and St. Regis Mountain Historic Areas that apply to one-half acre of land under former fire-watch towers erected in the early 1900s.

The Adirondack Park Agency made provision for the historic sites in 2010.

NEW AMENITIES

The plans allows for tower maintenance in compliance with the State Historic Preservation Act, meaning the historic sites will include “interpretive materials related to the fire tower as an historic resource.”

New signs in and around the tower will provide interpretive history of fire towers used by forest rangers in the Adirondacks.

DEC will add kiosks at trailheads and interpretive information on their website. 

MAINTENANCE

In addition, DEC and the Historic Preservation Office established a checklist for maintenance.

The list, which is an addition to the management plans, requires DEC to inspect structural members, base pads, bolts and anchors of the towers and replace parts of the tower or repair the cabins on top, if needed.

The checklist says “a visual inspection of the tower should be performed on an annual basis in perpetuity.

“Any significant changes in expected use or otherwise questionable findings should be reported to the engineer for further investigation.”

IMPROVEMENTS

The land-use plan allows DEC and Friends groups of the fire towers to make “necessary structural improvements to allow for safe public access,” with provisions for helicopter access in transporting materials to the sites.

The Hurricane Fire Tower plan also includes permission to install a radio repeater and solar panels on that structure in Keene to “strengthen emergency communications for NYS forest rangers and Environmental Conservation officers.”

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