DEC proposes 'intensive use' for land next to Belleayre

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By Jay Braman Jr.
After months of preparation, New York State’s plans for what to do with the 1,204 acres of land in Big Indian that were acquired at the end of 2011 from the Belleayre Resort developers have been made public.
The state paid $5.6 million for the land, which was previously owned by developer Dean Gitter’s Crossroads Ventures LLC, a company that had plans to build the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park on the property, as well on another several hundred acres west of the 1,200-acre tract that is now in the hands of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
The plan released by the state is called, “The Catskill Park State Land Master Plan Land Classification Amendment.”
The classification of the lands will determine the recreational opportunities in the development of plans for the property while ensuring protection of natural resources.

Lands in question
DEC is proposing to classify 263 acres of the Big Indian acquisition as Intensive Use, to be added to Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.
“To allow for consideration of groomed cross-country ski trails, as well as a possible alpine (downhill) ski trail connection with the hamlet of Pine Hill, and because the terrain in the area can accommodate this additional trail development, this portion of the newly acquired property will be classified Intensive Use and added to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center,” the plan states. “Actual trial lay out would be considered through an amendment to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Unit Management Plan.”
Approximately 361 acres of land purchased in the Lost Clove area of Big Indian will be classified wilderness and added to the Big Indian Wilderness Area.
“When added to the Big Indian Wilderness Area it will expand the outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation that are present in the Big Indian Wilderness Area,” the plan states.
The bulk of the lands making up the Big Indian acquisition, approximately 542 acres on the eastern ridge of Belleayre Mountain, will be classified Wild Forest and added to the Shandaken Wild Forest.
“This is proposed because of its ability to accommodate a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities including hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain bicycling and hunting,” the plan continues. “As well as the property’s lack of wilderness character due to an existing wood road network and regular (including recent) timber harvesting.
At the same time, the DEC also plans to remove 149 intensive use acres from Belleayre Ski Center because those lands encompasses steep, south and southeast facing slopes that are not suitable for intensive recreation. Those acres will become wilderness area.

Not about resort
Wendy Rosenbach, a DEC spokeswoman, said Monday that although these lands and this plan are related to the Belleayre Resort proposal, a public hearing at Belleayre on Tuesday was only about the proposed classification of the 1,200 acres and not another hearing on the resort project.
All of the lands are located within the town of Shandaken in Ulster County. Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley could not be reached for comment Monday. Comments on the draft revision of the plan can be submitted at the Region 3 office:  NYS DEC, Region 3, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz.
For a comprehensive explanation of state land classifications and a copy of the classification proposal, visit: dec.ny.gov/lands/43013.htmt wprudge@gw.dec.state.ny.us.  Written comments will be accepted until September 30, 2013.
For a comprehensive explanation of state land classifications and a copy of the classification proposal, visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/43013.html.
wprudge@gw.dec.state.ny.us.  Written comments will be accepted until September 30, 2013.
For a comprehensive explanation of state land classifications and a copy of the classification proposal, visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/43013.html.
wprudge@gw.dec.state.ny.us.  Written comments will be accepted until September 30, 2013.
For a comprehensive explanation of state land classifications and a copy of the classification proposal, visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/43013.html.