---- — FRANKLIN — New facilities in Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands in Franklin and Clinton counties are now available for public use.
Located in western Clinton and eastern Franklin counties, Sable Highlands totals more than 28,000 acres of lands over 14 public-use areas, with 56,000-plus acres leased by the landowner, the Forestland Group of Chapel Hill, N.C., to hunting, fishing and recreation clubs for exclusive private use.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation and its partners have constructed new parking lots, opened some linear-recreational-corridor roadways for motorized use and installed informational kiosks that provide access and enhance the usage of specific public-use areas.
The corridors, DEC said in a press release, are roads and trails on the property that travel through private lease areas as a means to provide ingress and egress to and from public-use area.
Among the recently completed facilities are new six-vehicle parking areas, one on the Blair Kilns Road in the Town of Bellmont for the 3,900-acre Figure 8 Public Use Area and the other on the Standish Road in the Town of Saranac for the 2,500-acre Cold Brook Public Use Area.
Informational kiosks and register boxes at each parking area provide information for people using these lands. 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.
In the D&H Road Linear Recreation Corridor, the 6.5-mile D&H Road is now open to motor vehicles and mountain bikes in summer and fall; closed in winter and during mud season.
The road, available year-round by hikers, skiers and snowshoers as conditions warrant, connects Franklin County Route 26 near the hamlet of Loon Lake in the Town of Franklin with 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, the release said. The 3,900-acre Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area buts 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, the release said.
The 3.9-mile Barnes Pond Road is open to motor vehicles during the fall hunting seasons, with recommended use only for high-clearance sport-utility vehicles and trucks. It 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 get to 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 Adirondack Program worked for more than three years to construct the facilities. It would not have been possible, the release said, without the cooperation and assistance of the landowner.
The new facilities complement a number of existing facilities and improvements previously constructed on the property by DEC, including, all in the Town of Franklin: the Fishhole Pond Fishing Access Site; Grass Pond Fishing Access Site; two designated campsites accessible by the public on foot or by mountain bike in the 3,900-acre Plumadore-Inman Public Use Area; one designated campsite and a parking area with an informational kiosk, enhancing access to the 415-acre Saranac River Public Use Area.
DEC forest rangers and environmental conservation officers conduct regular patrols of the locations and nearby conservation easement lands to educate users, enforce environmental laws and regulations and ensure the proper and safe use of the area, the release said.
Parking areas and access points are marked with DEC signs, informational kiosks, maps and public-recreation-usage guidelines specific to each use area.