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State schedules hearing on Adirondack fire tower restorations

Monday, February 24, 2014
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— The Adirondack Park Agency will hold a public hearing March 12 in Ray Brook on plans that could allow restoration of two historic fire towers.

The proposed plan would establish Hurricane Mountain and St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower Historic Area unit management plans, and provide for the two towers to be restored and reopened to the public.

The two fire towers sit in areas that are primarily wilderness, where the state would otherwise seek to have them removed — but preserving them is seen as having historic and economic development merit. Other fire towers around the Adirondack Park have proved to be popular hiking destinations, both for the views they provide and the knowledge they can impart about the days when towers were important for early identification of forest fires.

The restoration plans for each tower were developed by state Department of Environmental Conservation and presented to the APA board earlier this month.

The public hearing will begin at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at APA headquarters in Ray Brook. The public will be able to review relevant documents starting at 5 p.m.

The APA will also accept written comment until March 26.

The Hurricane Mountain fire tower historic area is in the town of Keene, Essex County.

The St. Regis Mountain fire tower historic area is in the town of Santa Clara, in Franklin County.

Both towers closed to the public after ceasing to function as fire observation towers. The Hurricane Mountain tower closed in 1979, and the St. Regis Mountain tower shut down in 1990. Both are listed on the state and national registers of historic places,

Establishing the historic districts would allow for making structural improvements to allow for safe public access to the towers, and allow for interpretive and educational materials at the sites.

There are also plans to install a radio repeater and solar panels on the Hurricane Mountain tower to strengthen emergency communications for DEC forest rangers and environmental conservation officers working in the High Peaks region.

Written comments on the proposed plan may be directed to Kathy Regan, senior natural resource planner, Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977, or emailed to apa_slmp@gw.dec.state.ny.us

 
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