Protect the Adirondacks has released a proposal calling for the creation of a new 39,000-acre Upper Hudson River Wilderness Area. This proposed new Wilderness Area would be centered on 22 miles of the Upper Hudson River that stretches from the Town of Newcomb to North River and would include over five miles of the Cedar River and four miles of the Indian River as well as dozens of other lakes and ponds.
The new Wilderness Area would be created from roughly 19,000 acres of former Finch Paper lands to be purchased by the State of New York from The Nature Conservancy and 20,000 acres of existing Forest Preserve lands in the Hudson Gorge Primitive Area (17,000 acres) and in the Blue Mountain and Vanderwhacker Wild Forest Areas (3,000 acres).
After the announcement by Governor Cuomo in August 2012 that the state would purchase 69,000 of former Finch Paper lands from The Nature Conservancy for addition to the Forest Preserve, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) began planning for the classification of these new Forest Preserve lands.
The DEC has stated that the 69,000 acres will be purchased over the next five years. It is expected that the 22,000-acre Essex Chain Lakes tract will the first tract purchased. The purchase is expected to close in early 2013. The DEC has stated that it will move ahead with classification as each tract is purchased.
The new Upper Hudson Wilderness Area would also include much of the new Essex Chain Lakes lands to be acquired by the state within the next few months.
DEC has indicated that it plans to continue floatplane access to 1st and Pine Lakes, on the edge of the proposed new Wilderness Area, according to a statement issued by PROTECT. “PROTECT recognizes the established floatplane use on these lakes and has drawn the Wilderness Area boundary to classify those lakes as Wild Forest,” the organization’s statement said. “PROTECT also recognizes public interest in access to the Essex Chain Lake for canoe camping and has drawn its Wilderness boundary for road access to this area through conservation easement and Wild Forest lands. The northern Wilderness boundary along the Essex Chain Lakes also provides good opportunities for disabled access camp sites and recreational experiences. Wild Forest corridors are also proposed to provide access to the Hudson for launching/take-outs as well as emergency services at the north and south ends. These road corridors will also provide access to lands, especially during hunting season.”
PROTECT also says it believes the new Wilderness Area would enhance Hudson River-Indian River whitewater rafting by managing the Hudson as an integrated resource and by providing improved day use and camping opportunities in the Hudson River Gorge. “An Upper Hudson River Wilderness will protect the whitewater rafting industry over the long-term. This industry has proven to be highly successful as well as sustainable and provides terrific opportunities and wild river experiences for visitors to the Adirondack Park,” Peter Bauer said.
The new Upper Hudson Wilderness Area would be larger than nine other Wilderness Areas in the Adirondack Park.