Stage set for conversion of railroad to multi-use public recreational trail, after used, dirty oil tanker railcars prohibited from storage on Adirondack Park rail lines
Protect the Adirondacks has worked for more than 100 years to defend and expand environmental protections for the Forest Preserve and wild lands of New York’s Adirondacks Park for current and future generations to enjoy. Spanning 92 towns and 12 counties over 6 million acres, the Adirondack Park is the last remaining piece of the large, intact, northern hardwood forest that once extended from Minnesota to Maine, and contains over 2.6 million acres of public Forest Preserve lands, protected as “forever wild” in the NY Constitution.
Last October, the New York State Attorney General submitted a letter to the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) formally requesting voluntary abandonment of the 29-mile Tahawus Railroad that runs from North Creek to Tahawus Mine in Newcomb. This follows on state actions requesting abandonment from the STB that was started in 2018. Protect the Adirondacks has long supported abandonment of this line.
In 2017, with its tourist train and rock/aggregate transport businesses failing, Iowa Pacific embarked on a plan to store 2,000-3,000 out-of-service oil tanker railcars on the dormant 29-mile-long Tahawus Railroad in the Adirondack Park. Iowa Pacific brought in over 100 dirty oil tankers to the Tahawus line and stored them on siding track on the banks of the Boreas and Opalescent Rivers, creating an eyesore for users of the public Forest Preserve. This plan was met with widespread opposition, and Protect the Adirondacks vehemently opposed this effort. In partnership with local government leaders, Protect the Adirondacks produced a video about the issue and became a leading voice in opposition to this effort.
The voluntary abandonment will accomplish three things. First, Iowa Pacific bought itself some good will with the state. The company is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and is looking to sell its ownership of the Tahawus Rail corridor. The state has stated that it is not interested in purchasing the rail corridor at this point. Second, voluntary abandonment permanently prevents the rail line from being used for storage of rail cars. Third, voluntary abandonment will keep the rail corridor intact in the event that Iowa Pacific goes bankrupt, which would enable conversion of the railway to a multi-use, public recreational trail.