Twin Sheds Draft Plan: Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn Forests

Written comments will be accepted until April 7, 2013. Please be sure and read the comments on this article.

Dear State Forest Stakeholder:

I am pleased to announce that the Twin Sheds Draft Unit Management Plan, which covers both the Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn State Forests, has been completed and is available on the web at: You may recall that a public meeting was held at Tompkins-Cortland Community College on February 11, 2010 at the beginning of the planning process. I’ve attached the comment summary from that meeting:

Please see the new public meeting notice below.


WHEN: Thursday, March 7, 2013, from 3:30 pm to 5:45 pm, and 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm

WHERE: At the Tompkins-Cortland Community College Forum Room, located at 170 North St., Dryden, New York. Directions to Tompkins-Cortland Community College are available at the following link:

WHAT: To invite and accept public feedback on the Draft Twin Sheds UMP. The draft plan is posted on the DEC’s website at A limited number of copies of the plan are available on compact disk (CD). Please contact the DEC Cortland Lands and Forests office at (607) 753-3095 ext. 217 to request a copy. Two separate public sessions will be held; the first  will be held from 3:30 pm to 5:45 pm; the second  session will be held from 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm.  The first half hour of each session will be an open house format which provides time for the public to informally discuss the draft plan with DEC Lands and Forest  staff.  Beginning at 4 and 7 pm, respectively, DEC  staff will briefly present highlights of the draft plan.  Following the presentation, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the plan. Those unable  to attend the meeting are invited to submit comments to the DEC by mail to:  NYSDEC, Division of Lands and Forests, Attn: John Clancy, 1285 Fisher Avenue, Cortland,  New York, 13045- 1090, or by email  to: Written comments will be accepted until April 7, 2013.

WHY: The Twin Sheds Draft Unit Management Plan was developed to address short and long term state forest land management needs, values and opportunities.

John M. Clancy
Senior Forester, Region 7
NYS DEC Division of Lands and Forests
Bureau of State Land Management
1285 Fisher Ave.
Cortland, New York  13045
(607) 753-3095 or 800-388-8244 ext. 258
FAX:  (607) 753-8532
B.S., M.B.A., Society of American Foresters CF
Serving Since 1991
– Visit the DEC Web Site at:
– DEC Division of Lands and Forests Web Site at:
– DEC Region 7 Web Site at:

– Strategic Plan for State Forest Management
– New York State Conservationist Magazine
Laws change; people die; the land remains.

– Abraham Lincoln

3 thoughts on “Twin Sheds Draft Plan: Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn Forests

  1. NYS DEC has done a nice job pulling this all together. They need your support and suggestions. Even if you are pleased with the way it is written, they need to hear that too. There is a lot of language here to protect these forests as natural areas and provide outdoor space for a variety of recreational uses. Follow the link above to DEC website and scan the draft plan; tell them what you think.

  2. Here are some things to think about. There are more of course, but a couple to start with …

    DEC Meeting tonight

    No outing tonight: go to DEC meeting at TC3! Re: Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn. 2 time slots from 3:30 pm to 5:45 pm, and 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm I’ll be at the early one. Details here

    Twin Sheds Draft Plan: Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn Forests. Public comments needed. NYS DEC has done a nice job pulling this all together. They need your support and constructive critical suggestions. Even if you are pleased with the way it is written, they still need to hear that too. There is a lot of language here to protect these forests as natural areas and provide outdoor space for a variety of recreational uses. FULL STORY HERE

    Written comments are accepted until Apr 7th. If you have not written anything, go to the meeting and learn what you can and then write something.

    Some things to think about …

    There are many other topics that need attention, but here are 2 that keep coming up in recent discussions: GAS DRILLING and ILLEGAL TRAIL CONSTRUCTION. There are 3 documents on the DEC website. I noticed a couple things about these 2 issues in the big one that I want to learn more about


    We can’t trust Albany to keep the fracking out of our favorite public forests even though right now the plan is “no surface drilling” on this type of forest and they are voting in a “moratorium” for all of NY as I write this. Local DEC still needs to have a contingency plan to deal with gas and other mineral extraction in case it does happen here. BUT: This language needs to be MORE protective of the forests. Example “One well every 320 acres” means 10+ fracking rigs at Hammond Hill?

    Action 3.2.4: Minimize well pad density. If leasing occurs, the Division of Lands and Forests recommends that well density does not exceed one well pad per 320 acres.

    Action 3.2.3: Consider leasing the State Forests for oil and natural gas exploration and development.

    Action 3.2.6**: Minimize environmental impacts from pipelines. Pipelines may be constructed on State Forest lands if …

    UNAUTHORIZED TRAIL USE and CONSTRUCTION and the Twin Sheds Draft Plan

    There is some language in the DEC’s draft plan for Hammond Hill and Yellow Barn Forests that is upsetting some of the mountain bikers. I am a cyclist, but I am in favor of this language and it is really important that DEC hear written support from the other hundreds or thousands of responsible forest users. Right now I am guessing they are getting form letter responses only from a very select group. Please protect our public forest and show your support to DEC. Please send written comments to DEC now, supporting their protection of the forest with a “yes” on Action 2.2.12. by mail to: NYSDEC, Division of Lands and Forests, Attn: John Clancy, 1285 Fisher Avenue, Cortland, New York, 13045- 1090, or by email to: Written or emailed comments will be accepted until April 7, 2013.

    This is difficult for me, I have long been in favor of little or no restrictions to bicycle traffic. However, Hammond Hill State Forest is beginning to show signs of suffering from the “tragedy of the commons”. It is being loved to death. In order for it to remain to be a beautiful and peaceful place that is home to variety of plants, animals and us occasional visiting people; we need to continue to limit the amount of new trail construction. This is difficult to oversee if modern mechanical devices like mountain bikes can travel anywhere their owners take them without restriction. Limiting bicycles to the current multi-use trail system is a reasonable and prudent precaution.

    This quote from the draft plan is accurate: “Unauthorized building of single track mountain bike trail has recently increased on the Unit, particularly on the Hammond Hill State Forest.” As a neighboring land owner who has lived here for 25+ years, I can verify this.

    What is probably not known to the general (non-mountain biking) public is that mountain bikes are currently permitted anywhere in this type of forest. This is where the problem arises: There are a number of people building unauthorized new trails at Hammond Hill (this is illegal) and then mountain bikers are riding on them (bicycles are currently permitted anywhere). This is not exclusive to mountain bikes of course; some of this trail building activity is potentially from hikers and xc-skiers. But it appears to be mostly bicyclists using the unauthorized trails and some of the traffic is quite heavy. Parts of the new trails even cross onto private lands. This language below (Action 2.2.12) is intended to help curb that problem: It is nearly impossible for law enforcement to catch the trail builders (and probably always will be). Currently, once the new unauthorized trails are in place, it is perfectly legal to use the trails over and over and over again. That is happening now.

    By the way, this new language below means that the “Bikeski” gang would not be able to bicycle on the 30+ yr old logging access trail behind my home known as “sauna trail” because that is not currently part of the multiple use trail network. I can live with that. Walking and skiing would be ok if I read this right. If anyone has other more creative solutions to this unauthorized trail use and building problem, tell DEC in your comments.

    Action 2.2.12: Limit Mountain Biking to the Multiple Use Trail Network and Public Roads (this is new)

    Limit mountain bike use to the multiple use trail network, public roads and parking lots. Close all areas to mountain bike use on the Twin Sheds Unit (including undesignated routes, fire lanes, former logging trails and single use pedestrian foot trails), except the Multiple Use Trail Network and Public Forest Access Roads.

    Unauthorized building of single track mountain bike trail has recently increased on the Unit, particularly on the Hammond Hill State Forest. The Department has received several complaints regarding unauthorized single track trail and structure construction from volunteer stewards and neighboring landowners, and, unless curtailed, the problem will continue to grow. Unauthorized trail and structure building is of concern because: 1) improperly built unauthorized trails and structures may create a personal safety hazard, 2) unauthorized trails are not officially mapped or marked and may confuse novice recreationists, 3) improperly located trails may result in chronic erosion and maintenance problems, stretching already thin volunteer and DEC stewardship capabilities, and 4) closing of established unauthorized trails and removal of structures requires significant resources.

    Action 2.2.2: Prevent unauthorized construction of trails and structures. (this is not new: no change that I can remember)

    Per Department regulations, building trails without authorization from the DEC is prohibited. In addition, structures such as jumps are not allowed unless specifically approved in writing by the Department. Accordingly, Lands and Forest staff will 1) collaborate with DEC Adopt-A-Natural Resource Stewards, neighboring landowners and the DEC Division of Law Enforcement to educate and inform the public of applicable policy and regulations, and 2) work with law enforcement officials to enforce applicable regulations if necessary.

    Action 2.2.11: Limit trail development.

    No new trail networks are currently planned on the Unit. Trails that connect the Unit’s existing trail network to other trail systems will be considered on a case by case basis. The total unit trail network, including any new connecting trails, will not exceed 30 miles (a change of about 11%) during the planning period (the current trail network is about 27 miles).

  3. Hi All

    I’m saddened and perplexed by this situation, but honestly do not see a way to stop it, other than changing the regulations to directly address what has been a growing problem for years. I am grateful to hear that [one of the local mt biking clubs] is trying to discourage illegal trail building, but they are appealing for cooperation from individuals who seem to think the laws are for the rest of us and don’t apply to them ( shades of Wall Street!)

    There has been an acceleration of illegal single track trail building over the past decade, not just on Hammond Hill but Yellow Barn and Robinson Hollow. This was brought to the forefront once again last spring, to the point that special signage regarding it was posted in several places around Hammond Hill. I am glad this activity was discussed among mountain bikers, but the illegal trails, rather than disappearing, got hammered in emphatically last year.

    Apparently the only illegal part of these illegal trails is installing them, not riding on them, so everyone seems to feel somehow they are exempted from blame for what really amounts to multiple acts of collusion with an illegal act. It seems the DEC has reluctantly decided that the only way to stop the illegal trail building is to make using them illegal too.

    I explored many of the illegal trails last year, to see for myself where they are situated, how well they are sited for safety and so on. I went so far as to appeal to DEC to make the new trails part of the trail network, marking them for use only by hikers and bikers, with the caveat that absolutely no new ones went in. Despite my considerable pull with these folks, built up over decades of cooperation with them, I was turned down. Part of their complaint was that these trails went in DESPITE the law, as rather a “to hell with you! ” attitude, and that to say, ok, we’ll accept these trails, would only seem to condone more such behavior in future, once theses trails got “boring.” I DO understand the desire for more trails, and “more interesting and challenging” single track. But I ALSO understand and support the DECs position as outlined in their Twin Sheds outline. Ignoring what is already law and cutting in trails anyways… hm. It’s NOT OK. It’s not just people and their desire to recreate in the woods we need to consider. Mike’s comment about the tragedy of the Commons is a very real concern to all of us who love this place.

    Does anyone have wording that could substitute (for that which the DEC has crafted) that would address the problem, and not slam the door shut on those mountain bikers who are conscientious about playing fair and protecting the natural beauty of the place? As I understand it, it simply says they must ride the DEC marked trails and roads, which is what [some of the local mountain bikers] have said to me that they intend, themselves. But, how can DEC stop the scoff laws if there isn’t something that attempts to make them play by the same rules of etiquette that the rest of us (hopefully!) observe as a matter of honor? And how would that set “the biking community” against “the rest of trail users” many of us who ALSO ride bikes? I could understand this position if horse people (just for example) were also building illegal trails and promoting them yet somehow were exempted from the new language, but at this time, it is members of the bike community who seem to be the ones responsible for bad behavior.

    Can we gather a group of mountain bikers who will make it a goal this year to eradicate each and every illegal trail on Hammond Hill, Yellow Barn and Shindagin Hollow? Possibly they should also threaten to turn in the ones responsible for marking them unless they cease and desist entirely? Would that cause the DEC decide to give the rest of the biking community a pass? I don’t know if it would (it might be too late for such actions) but it would be a good faith gesture and worthwhile thing to do, anyways. It would certainly “put your money where your mouth is,” to use that turn of phrase.

    The proposed new laws are an intermediate step. If this trail building/riding continues unchecked, we risk having mountain biking banned entirely. This has happened elsewhere, as you all are only too well aware of, I’m sure. And that would be a tragedy for all of us, for there is nothing I want more than to make our corner of the earth inclusive and peaceful for everyone who comes here, no matter how they choose how to enjoy it. Let’s keep sharing insights and inspirations for the benefit of our entire community, it’s the only way we make this dream a reality.

    best regards, Ann Leonard

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