A popular snowmobiling route located in one of the prime snowmobiling spots in the state will be closed this winter due to hard feelings between the property owner and local officials.
Local snowmobilers and others feel the action is connected to a huge, proposed windmill project in the towns of Redfield and Worth in Oswego and Jefferson counties, respectively.
Matt Smith, director of operations for the Salmon River Timberlands LLC, a subsidiary of WoodWise Land Company, recently informed Redfield Snowmobile Association President Edward B. Montieth in a letter that his company will not open snowmobile trails to the public on his company’s land because the Redfield Town Board and the Tug Hill Commission have allegedly “rejected the idea of working with our company in a reasonable manner.”
JPGWoodWise Land Company, of which Salmon River Timberlands is a subsidiary, bought the land in Redfield and other nearby parcels totaling 28,000 acres in 2012 for more than $12.4 million, which at the time was called one of the largest private property sales in the history of the Tug Hill. The proposed windmill would be on the largest parcel shown on this map.Syracuse.com
“All gates will be locked throughout the winter, so in the interest of safety, it is imperative that the club makes every effort to notify the people who have utilized these trails in the past,” Smith said.
He provided no addition information and did not return several phone calls and emails.
The area that will be restricted contains about 20 miles of trails that essentially amount to the southwest gateway to the Tug Hill Region. The Tug Hill is popular with snowmobilers across the state and beyond because it gets more snow than any other part of New York. Sledders use the trail as a main route to ride back and forth between northeastern Oswego County and neighboring Lewis County.
Snowmobile club officials and others told NYup.com the letter came as a surprise and appears to be connected to town’s discussions concerning the proposed, Mad River Wind Farm, 125-turbine project proposed by Avangrid Renewables on some 200 acres of Timberland’s 20,000-acre property.
Montieth believes Smith’s letter resulted from problems caused by Redfield’s efforts to create a zoning ordinance that was prompted by the windmill project. The ordinance at this point has not been approved.
“He’s trying to get a wind project going and is having some bickering with the town over the project and just wants to take it out on someone else,” Montieth said, stressing his club is not taking a position on the windfarm project and intends to stay out of the controversy.
“He (Smith) told me snowmobilers don’t do nothing for him. All we do is use his land and don’t do nothing else,” the snowmobile club president said.
Town Supervisor Tanya Yerdon did not return several phone calls for comment.
However, Elaine Yerdon, who is also on the town board and related to the town supervisor by marriage, said, “This is just a big power play and we have done nothing to provoke it.”
An Avandgrid spokesman said the windfarm is expected to cost “hundreds of millions of dollars” and would generate some $2 million a year in revenues at the local and county levels.
Montieth said his 700-member snowmobile club has members from throughout the state, along with from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and the New England states. He said snowmobile has a huge economic impact on Redfield and the surrounding area, with many sledders having winter camps there along with eating meals and drinks, buying groceries and gas and making other purchases.
He said club members are hard at work looking for, and sekking permission for alternative snowmobiling routes in the area.
Paul Coleman, communications manager for the Portland, Oregon-based, Avandgrid, said his company is working closely with the town and the land owner on the project. He said whatever is Smith’s issue, “it is unrelated to the windmill permitting efforts.”
“Our windmills in New York and elsewhere have supported snowmobiles and all-season trail use,” he noting his company has part ownership in the Maple Ridge project in Lowville, which is also in the Tug Hill region. He added that Mad River project is still very early in the permitting process and that it will take several years, requiring approval at the local, state and federal levels.
He added the windmills will be built on some 200 acres of land and is “compatible with existing land use.” He said his company has roughly 60 windmills around the country, with a handful under construction and “a number of them under consideration.”
“There’s nothing about snowmobiling that’s incompatible with us doing a study, evaluations or having consultants on site,” he said. “This is going to take years of efforts on our end.”
For more on the project, see the Avandgrid website.
The company has scheduled two “open houses” concerning the project. Both are scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m and 6 to 8 p.m. both days. The locations are:
Sept. 20, Lorraine Fire Hall, 20876 County Route 189, Lorraine
Sept 21, Redfield Fire Hall, 4879 County Route 17, Redfield
WoodWise Land Company, of which Salmon River Timberlands is a subsidiary, bought the land in Redfield and other nearby parcels totaling 28,000 acres in 2012 for more than $12.4 million, which at the time was called one of the largest private property sales in the history of the Tug Hill.
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