Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Essex Chain of Lakes and the State Land Master Plan

Third Lake, Essex ChainThe Department of Environmental Conservation has recommended that the new Forest Preserve acquisition at the Essex Chain of Lakes be classified Wild Forest, while the Upper Hudson River just to the east become part of a river corridor Wilderness. Several organizations previously submitted ideas for how these landscapes should be classified.

The APA is now charged with preparing classification documents for 18,000-acres comprising the Essex Chain of Lakes, and Upper Hudson tracts. Those classification documents will be subject to the State Environmental Quality Review Act and must involve public hearings and a public comment period. It will prove most interesting to see if APA acts with the independence it has in law, respects the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, and acts contrary to DEC recommendations on the Essex Chain of Lakes.

Fortunately, all the ideas and recommendations thus far have benefited from four years of intense field research and documentation by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, by DEC staff and by efforts within the DEC to solicit ideas and advice last summer and fall.

Now, all recommendations need to be tested against the guidelines in the State Land Master Plan, which guide APA’s classification. Since few have commented yet on this testing, I will attempt it for the Essex Chain of Lakes.

As far as the lakes are concerned, the problem with the DEC’s Wild Forest recommendation is that it appears to be a bad fit with the Master Plan’s unifying theme, classification system and management guidelines, all of which have the force and effect of law (derived from the APA Act). If the Adirondack Park Agency has the will to abide by its Master Plan, it should reach a different conclusion than the DEC on how to classify the chain of ten lakes lying south of Goodnow Flow and north of the Cedar River. Fortunately, alternative classifications, or a diversity of classifications when combined over the 13,000-acres permit a substantial amount of public recreational uses.

In its Introduction, the Master Plan states “if there is a unifying theme to the master plan, it is that the protection and preservation of the natural resources of the state lands within the Park must be paramount. Human use and enjoyment of those lands should be permitted and encouraged, so long as the resources in their physical and biological context as well as their social or psychological aspects are not degraded. This theme is drawn not only from the Adirondack Park Agency Act and its legislative history, but also from a century of the public’s demonstrated attitude toward the forest preserve and the Adirondack Park.”

“Fortunately,” the Intro continues, “the amount and variety of land and water within the Adirondack Park provide today and will provide in the future, with careful planning and management, a wide spectrum of outdoor recreational and educational pursuits in a wild forest setting unparalleled in the eastern half of this country.”

In Chapter II, the Classification System and Guidelines, the Master Plan requires the APA to classify the state lands “according to their characteristics and capacity to withstand use.” A “fundamental determinant of land classification is the physical characteristics of the land or water which have a direct bearing upon the capacity of the land to accept human use.” It goes on to emphasize how fragile many of these landscapes are. “These fragile areas include most lands above 2500 feet in altitude, particularly the boreal, sub-alpine and alpine zones as well as low lying areas such as swamps, marshes and other wetlands. In addition, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds and their environs often present special physical problems.” Biological considerations, social and psychological factors, sense of remoteness and degree of wildness, and established facilities on the land, as well as uses now being made by the public are all factors to be taken into account in classification.

So what are the natural resource factors to be observed and protected in the Essex Chain of Lakes, and what classification makes the most sense given the APA’s and DEC’s “ paramount responsibility” ?

I hasten to say that my knowledge and familiarity with the Essex Chain is limited. Few members of the public have been allowed to see the area, so I appreciate efforts by the Conservancy and NYS DEC to sponsor several field trips there. I’ve been most impressed by the lakes themselves which appear completely undeveloped, save for the leasehold structure on Third Lake which must be moved in 2018.

As we paddled them, all the lakeshores appeared thickly vegetated with spruce-fir swamp, lake margin bogs, and tamarack bogs. Loons were fishing on the chain of lakes, along with a member of the lease club (who caught a big fish as we paddled by). An osprey nest was visible on Third Lake. Despite knowing of the road system around its edges, I experienced a feeling of remoteness paddling in the chain of lakes, which are only about 7-8 miles in length, and took us only part of a day to travel back and forth.

According to Conservancy ecological maps of the area, calcareous bedrock underlies the entire chain of lakes, and there are several rare plants known to grow here. Places of good, deep mineral soil for locating primitive tent sites on the chain’s shorelines appeared few and far between. The fishery includes stocked Rainbow Trout, Lake Trout and Landlocked Salmon. The Conservancy, the leaseholders and the DEC apparently feel the fishery is very vulnerable and that significant damage from overfishing or the use of bait fish could occur in the first year of public use.

Carrying capacity of the fishery, the boggy riparian areas, and the remote, unconfined nature of the lakes are all highly sensitive to disturbance and overuse, and require a form of wilderness management – while a different classification may be justified along the roads and access points to the north. Managing perimeter access and parking to match the interior capacity of the lake region to withstand public use appears to be critical.

DEC proposes a Wild Forest classification for the entire area. The Master Plan defines Wild Forest “where the resources permit a somewhat higher degree of human use than in wilderness, primitive or canoe, while retaining an essentially wild character. A wild forest is further defined as an area that frequently lacks the sense of remoteness of wilderness, primitive or canoe and that permits a wide variety of public recreation.” I’ve experienced plenty of Wild Forest that is remote and magnificently wild, thankfully, but APA must classify Essex Chain according to the Master Plan.

Do boggy, undeveloped lakeshores which should not be degraded lend themselves “to a somewhat higher degree of human use?” How about a highly vulnerable fishery for which special management regulations must be considered? What about calcareous bedrock under the lakes which sustains rare plants? Then, there is that clear sense of remoteness I and others have experienced along these waterbodies.

I suspect that one of the reasons DEC has proposed Wild Forest has less to do with natural resource considerations, and more to do with its recommendation for seasonal-only float plane use of Third Lake at the center of the chain, a use disallowed under a Wilderness, Canoe or Primitive classification. Pilots could bring in fishers and hunters for multiple day and overnight use during the spring and fall. Yet, floatplane access in and out of Third Lake would come at the expense of the sensitive natural shorelines where shoreline camping may not be appropriate at all, and also harm the sense of remoteness at the very center of this lake chain. Unless the planes were thoroughly inspected and washed before each visit, float planes might also introduce aquatic invasive plants into this lake system.

The Adirondack Nature Conservancy has already worked out an agreement to permit ongoing float plane use near the perimeter of the Essex Chain at First Lake and Pine Lake. Such uses could continue indefinitely if both of these perimeter lakes were added to the immediately adjoining Blue Mountain Wild Forest. Additional float plane use at the very heart of a sensitive Essex Chain makes little management sense.

DEC may also be recommending Wild Forest because that classification allows for all-terrain bicycles, and motor vehicle use on roads open for such use. Yet, a split classification, one for the lakes, another for the area between them and Goodnow Flow, would accommodate all users while giving the APA the chance to classify the lakes as they should – according to Master Plan requirements.

For instance, a Canoe classification for the Essex Chain and immediate shorelines may be the one that most closely meets SLMP classification definitions and guidelines. A Canoe area is one where “watercourses or number and proximity of lakes and ponds make possible a remote and unconfined type of water-oriented recreation in an essentially wilderness setting.” That definition appears to be a dead-ringer for the Essex Chain. In addition, Canoe basic guideline 1 is all about protecting “the quality of the water and fishery resources while preserving a wilderness character on the adjacent lands.” If this important fishery is to be safeguarded through education and regulation, a Canoe classification appears to make sense. A Canoe classification also makes the most sense if, as I suspect, lake monitors will be asked to inspect canoes and kayaks and educate paddlers to avoid introduction of aquatic invasives.

With all the waterways acquired over the past fifteen years for public use, one would think the Adirondack Forest Preserve and the public would be ready for a second Canoe area – but one that has to be carefully managed.

Given the small, intimate nature of the lakes, and natural resource constraints on overnight camping on their shores, there will be a premium on controlling public use to achieve primitive camping guidelines and to stay within lake carrying capacity limits. A Day Use only, or an overnight camping reservation system may be vital at the outset of DEC’s management later this year, and a Canoe classification makes successful implementation of these user management tools more likely than Wild Forest.

Canoe areas guidelines would allow mountain bikes to be used on existing roads designated for such use. The Wild Forest classification might be best suited for the northerly part of this unit south of Goodnow Flow, affording miles of mountain bike use on good gradients, as well as snowmobiling opportunities on the road system leading to Deer Pond on the west, and Fifth Lake on the east. Primitive corridors could be extended for several miles beyond the gates here to afford better hunting access along the roads during big game season.

One of the DEC’s best recommendations is a partnership with the State University’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the Town of Newcomb to both welcome and manage the variety of visitors who will be attracted to the Essex Chain and the Upper Hudson River, partners who will help to boost the “wild economy” of the central Adirondacks.

These and other Master Plan “paramount” considerations need to be on the minds of APA staff and commissioners in the months ahead. The Master Plan is one of the APA’s most critical responsibilities. The Adirondack Park Agency Act, from which the Master Plan is derived, requires APA to classify the state lands in the Park according to “their characteristics and capacity to withstand use.” Come spring, I trust commissioners will paddle out on the chain of lakes, and drive the dirt road system to see and experience all those characteristics personally.

Photo: Third Lake, Essex Chain.

Dave Gibson

Dave Gibson

Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for nearly 25 years, much of that time as Executive Director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and then as first Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

During Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history.

Currently, Dave is a partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

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38 Responses

  1. Bill Ingersoll Bill Ingersoll says:

    Dave,

    Great commentary as always, but I think you may be mistaken in regards to bicycle use in Canoe Areas. I believe the SLMP only allows bike use on designated truck trails:

    “All Terrain Bicycles: The same guidelines will apply as in wilderness areas except that all terrain bicycles may be used on existing roads legally open to the public and on state truck trails specifically designated for such use by the Department of Environmental Conservation, as specified in individual unit management plans.”

    Remember that the Canoe Area designation was specifically created so that the state fishery could continue to operate in St. Regis. Many of the trails there are actually used by motor vehicles for fish stocking projects.

    So if the Essex Chain was designated a Canoe Area, the roads would have to be designated as truck trails first before bike use could be authorized under the SLMP.

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  2. Dave, what a nice, well thought out and well researched article! You raise points that have not come up previously in this discussion: especially about the sensitivity of the fishery and the potential lack of suitable sites for primitive camping near the lakes in the Essex Chain. I’m sure that no one wants to see the lakes get “hammered” and “mobbed”, especially in the first year of use.

    What will the DEC do about primitive camping? It takes time to properly site and make campsites. Plus how much
    pounding can a relatively pristine area take in its first year of use? It’s sort of scary. (I myself thought about the possibility of visiting the Essex Chain for canoeing and hiking on just a day-trip basis while I do my field mapping of the area once it is open to the public, and camping off site somewhere else until things get fully ironed out.)

    I’m glad you bring up the concern about Third Lake and Floatplanes and the possibility of bringing in invasives. This is a good point, along with the sensitivity of the fishery. For fishing, do you think the DEC will go with “catch and release” for now? Also there is the ongoing problem with baitfish. Thanks again for more food for thought.

    Teresa the Cartographer

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  3. Bill,

    Hello there! Good point about the SLMP and cycling and the State Truck Trails. I am wondering in the St. Regis Canoe Area- I have not looked at its UMP in a while, but I wonder with the aproximately 5 mile long truck trail (?) to Fish Pond in the interior, how often does the Fish Hatchery actually use it for restocking? Or for administrative purposes? The truck trail seems to be reverting to a grassy path- sort of dissolving back into the woods. It’s interesting that the legal on paper status of a state asset is one thing, but the physical, on the ground status can be a bit different! Anyways, I did manage to haul myself up to Fish Pond this past summer- on a day trip- having canoed across Little Clear Pond and St. Regis Pond, and then walked into Fish Pond on the truck trail- now a wide grassy path. Many large-diameter trees were down across the (truck) trail. Good point that the designation of the road system into State truck trails will determine where the bikes can legally go in a canoe area and where they cannot.

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    • Bill Ingersoll Bill Ingersoll says:

      Hi Teresa,

      I don’t know how often the DEC fishery people drive in there, but they have the option to. I admit that I don’t get quite that far north much myself.

      But I had a conversation once with a DEC forester named Rick Fenton, who used to work out of the DEC Northville office. We were talking about why a place like the Whitney Wilderness (which includes Little Tupper Lake and Lake Lila) had not been classified Canoe instead of Wilderness. I don’t remember his exact words, but basically DEC did consider proposing the Canoe designation but dismissed it as not being suitable, because it was perceived to be a one-off designation with St. Regis.

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      • Bill,

        Yes, that always intrigued me about the St Regis Canoe Area in the first place- ie. why just this one area- not several? Was it just this one-off deal?

        On my way home from a meeting on Water Quality this afternoon, I happened to speak to a floatplane pilot.
        He says there is perhaps “maybe a dozen guys” that fly into the Adirondacks as a whole, and only the two commercial operators left. He says the commercial operators have upgraded to tri-propellers, which are much quieter than the old two bladed propellers, and that to remind all that the other guys are in very small, very quiet aircraft- like piper cubs and such. “You wouldn’t even notice us!” he claimed. Interesting that The Nature Conservancy is interested in keeping the floatplane rights alive- in their own internal research/conservation of the property, perhaps they have not perceived them as a conservation threat? I try to see all sides of this issue, and I think a varied discussion is helpful to us, and it is of course more lively!

        Teresa DeSantis

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  4. Frank says:

    Im not saying it shoul or should not be designated wiilderness but A wilderness designation isn’t going to protect the fishery, look what happend to little tupper.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. Jack says:

    Frank,

    Little Tupper has a paved road leading right to its edge and a massive parking lot on its shoreline. It was doomed from the start. Let’s not do that the Essex Chain.

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  6. Penn says:

    Yet again another shill for the Adirondack “Council.” Destroying economic opportunity one acre at a time. Wilderness classification will not benefit any of the actual people who live and work in the area.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11

    • Penn,

      Please speak more. Would you go more for Wild Forest, with a Canoe Overlay- as better for economic development?
      What do you think??

      Teresa the Cartographer

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  7. Mightymike says:

    You say that there are several rare plants that grow here. Do you know what species. I was told there were only 2 rare species, not “several”.

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    • Mighty Mike,

      Hello there! I looked at The Nature Conservancy’s website, and it is on there, under the Essex Chain- I think it is 87 or so uncommon plants, and rare ferns, and something about protecting the habitat of Bicknell’s Thrush. If you go to their site, you should find it.

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  8. William Deuel,Jr says:

    Most of the remote ponds and lakes already have a ban on the use of baitfish for trout fishing, it is right there on the DEC website. As someone who has fished many of these places as a member of a club and having run a guide service out of Newcomb I would be more concerned with the rivers and creeks. Trout are all about water temperature if the cover along these tributaries are reduced the water temp will rise and the trout will suffer. The lakes and ponds are more about spring holes and you will find the trout will congregate in these area’s, once again for water temp and oxygen so the cover along the edge will not effect the fish to the same extent. I do wish the state would do more for the Brook Trout which is the native fish to the adirondacks, the Rainbows and Browns are not. Almost all the people I have guided want to catch Brook Trout, you can catch the Browns and Rainbows in many other locals .Brook Trout are actually not a trout but a Char and require cold clean water, anything over 70 degrees and they really suffer and many will die. To me they are a good indication on how healthy the water system is at that time. The Browns and Rainbows can withstand higher temps are cheaper to stock and generally a put and take fish.

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  9. Wally Elton Wally says:

    Great article. I’ll be saving it for the public comment period! I am pleased that you noted that management of use even in a canoe classification will need to be very careful.

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  10. Bob says:

    I enjoyed reading Dave’s post. A quick correction;parts of the chain and surrounding ponds hold Brook Trout as well as those fish mentioned in the post. They are all from stocked strain. Also, at least some (or perhaps all) of the Lake Trout in the chain reproduce naturally and may be indigenous. One of the more remote ponds holds a heritage strain of brook trout that were stocked by DEC a number of years ago.

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    • William Deuel,Jr says:

      Bob,
      I believe you were referring to my post on the trout ? You are correct and I should have included the Lake trout in the post. Newcomb Lake has a good population of them as they also require cold deep water within these lakes and ponds. They are not stocked, not recently anyway as they are never on the stocking lists. In regards to Brook trout many wild trout are found in the smaller streams in the park, usually only 6 inches long but they do find their way into some of the lakes and ponds and on some of those days when the fish are hitting you can catch yourself a wonderful native adirondack Brook trout.

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  11. Paul says:

    “As we paddled them, all the lakeshores appeared thickly vegetated with spruce-fir swamp, lake margin bogs, and tamarack bogs. Loons were fishing on the chain of lakes, along with a member of the lease club (who caught a big fish as we paddled by). An osprey nest was visible on Third Lake. Despite knowing of the road system around its edges, I experienced a feeling of remoteness paddling in the chain of lakes, which are only about 7-8 miles in length, and took us only part of a day to travel back and forth.”

    Too bad this could not have been preserved. It sounds like an easement would have been the best way to have continued what was apparently working very well (and it would have had a much lower cost).

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    • Paul,

      I know, certainly there are advantages to keeping private land private, and putting it into a Conservation Easement.
      Certainly that is an option for many people, to keep their
      ownership of the land, but to get the advantages of having a Land Trust take over the development rights. In this case, though, it seems that The Nature Conservancy and the State of New York are both really happy with this particular outcome. It will be interesting to see what happens in the months ahead!

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  12. Scott D says:

    I’m glad fisheries are being discussed as part of the access issue facing these new public lands. In my view, water ‘polution’ with invasive species is just as important as all the haggling over travel method. Unfortunately, the real enviro-’thugs’ ie. the parties that put bass in Little Tupper to intentionally destroy the brook trout fishery after DEC implemented C&R regs to protect it have probably won and we will never see a C&R reg attached to a new land acquisition. This scenario also illustrates the need to protect these lakes from easy access where this kind of activity can take place. According to ALS and anecdotal reports, these lakes are already home to many invasive and non-native species such as smelt, shiners, rainbow trout, and brown trout but an introduction of other more competitive species would ruin the DEC’s ability to manage these lakes for trout in general. Therefore, IMHO access to these lakes by motor vehicle should at least be 2 miles away which would significantly deter the carrying of bait pails. Even with the existing no live bait regs, we all know this kind of stuff still goes on so this isn’t fool proof but it would help.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Paul says:

      The only way to really protect a fishery is to keep it on private land and limit access like they did here in the past. These guys could drive right to the water but they took care to make sure that it didn’t get wrecked.

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      • Scott D says:

        Did they? As I mentioned, there are already a plethora of non-native species in there circa the mid-80′s when the ALS survey took place. Who knows what’s in there now. If they really took care of it, there would be Brook and Lake trout along with perhaps some native dace that were in place since the last ice age. Your point about private land holds no water, literally. My only point was that now we’re transitioning to public ownership, some access limitations would help keep the bucket brigade at bay. The only way to keep invasives out completey would be to keep ALL the humans out which as you know is not possible.

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  13. Bob says:

    William,
    I enjoyed your post as well. I was referring to the original post by Dave which mentioned the Lake Trout in the chain as stocked, which very likely were not. There remains a vigorous and reproducing population in the chain, particularly in Third and Fifth. The original post also failed to mention Brook Trout. Several of the ponds (First, Pine, Grassy, Deer, Jackson) as well as the chain itself hold stocked Brook Trout that are not likely reproducing, although both Grassy and Deer Ponds hold enough of various sizes that might warrant further investigation. Pine, Grassy and First have been stocked by DEC, the others by the lease holder. Little Round Top holds the Heritage strain, (Horn Lake?) stocked by DEC after being reclaimed and which did not reproduce in any numbers. Pine, Grassy and First are all accessible from State land, and Pine has produced some very nice Brook Trout over the years, if you can get there early before the blue gills become active. Good Luck.

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  14. Peter says:

    Thank you all for all of the perspectives and the dearth of information about this area. The one perspective that I think is needed to balance this discussion is a perspective of wilderness, not for human consumption, but for itself. This area does not need easy access to be valuable to the people of New York. It’s protection and isolation may well be enough. I’ll throw it out here just for the sake of discussion: recreationalists are a relatively selfish bunch. Their goals, by all appearances, are about access for their specialized groups. In this way, the Adirondack Mountain Club and ATVer’s are really very similar. In fact, the AMC is often quite worse when it comes to conservation because they lobby for access to areas that should be left alone. Their selfish concerns for recreation pale in comparison to the long term conservation of parts of the planet that are not impacted by our needs to recreate. So my own perspective is to make access as difficult and inconvenient as possible. I hope someone adds that to the mix in the discussion.

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    • Paul says:

      Peter, I think that this land was better preserved and protected when access was limited like it was in the past. The land appears to have been well preserved despite several disturbances (some logging and some recreational leases). When you see Dave describe the undisturbed shorelines for example that will change even under a Wilderness designation. These folks want to recreate on the shores and the will. Just look at the St. Regis Canoe area and you can see what is in store for this land even under those stricter classifications. But with all that said. The deal is done the public recreation folks have gotten the land. It was sold as an “economic” engine for the region. So you gotta go with whatever will allow the most use and positive economic impact. Like you say this is a recreation issue not a preservation issue with all these user groups.

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    • Peter,

      Thanks for an interesting take on this! But how would you make “access as difficult and inconvenient as possible?” How would you go about doing it??

      Teresa

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      • Peter says:

        I’m not as familiar with the property as the knowledgeable people here. From my own perspective, I’d put a parking lot at the southern access point, and keep a few trails open if any.
        And even if it was sold as an economic engine, we can still hold out hope and some political will to balance that view.
        There is no valid argument for human use outside of personal pleasure, and the selfish individual use of the property (let’s say a person stays there for a week in their lifetime) does not outweigh the value of conserving the acreage in its more natural state. This view may sound a bit extreme, but there’s plenty of recreational access in the Adirondacks. Leave this place alone. It doesn’t need to be seen to be valuable.

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  15. Mightymike says:

    Dave,

    Do you have a list of the ‘several’ rare plants that are known to grow here? I was told there were 2 rare species.

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  16. Dave Gibson says:

    Thank you, all, for this valuable exchange, which I’ve read with great interest, and also promoted with NYS DEC and other state agencies because of the potentially valuable information and most valuable perspectives presented.

    Mightmike, I do not have a list of rare plants in and around the Essex Chain, just general information that they exist in the area. The NYS Natural Heritage Program – a partnership between the Nature Conservancy and NYS DEC, may have this information, but would naturally be concerned about broadcasting specific site locations without a strong reason to have the information.

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  17. Mightymike says:

    Dave,

    You mentioned that there are several species. Where did you get this info and did the info state “several” or a number? I understand that it’s a factor in the potential classication but have had no luck finding info on this.

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  18. Phil says:

    As a member of the club I can tell you that float planes have been going into 3rd lake for about 50 years already with no problem. The fish species in the chain lakes are the same as in most Adirondack Lakes. Shiners, dace,bullhead, bluegill, sunfish, brookies, rainbows,smelt, lakers,and salmon. Salmon and rainbow would die out without the stocking by the club. Lakers are not stocked… brookies are but they probably would spawn in some parts of the chains. Smelt were snuck in by some unknown person which is what I am willing to bet will happen with bass when it is opened to the public. Club rules long before DEC had bait regs were to only use bait caught in the water you were fishing. Roundtop had special rules, catch and release with artificials only. Those shorelines will not look like they do now if it goes to wilderness. The beavers will have everything flooded within a couple of years. The paddle will be a lot longer then it is now. It is amazing to me how people are fighting over this property. Just remember taxpayers paid for it and maybe the should be the ones getting the benefit from it.

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  19. Peter says:

    As to entitlement for the recreationalists to use the property because “we” paid for it, it’s worth looking at the numbers. 20 million people in the state. 60 million for the property. If the state just owned it for one year, that’s three dollars a person. 10 years… 30 cents a year. Because 99% of New Yorkers won’t go there, it doesn’t entitle the far less than 1% to have easy access for recreational pleasure. On a percentage basis 99%+ of New Yorkers “bought” that property NOT to use it and trash it. I just hope the DEC, the APA, and the Governor represent them when they classify the land.

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    • Matt says:

      I understand your biocentric perspective on this matter, but I think it should be noted that your contention that there should be as little access as possible is also an expression of entitlement. The question of access is always a matter of values and balance. I agree with you that lands should be preserved for their own sake, and I respect your right to not want every type of recreation everywhere. However, I find you’re approach to the matter negative and counter-productive when you describe those that would advocate for access as only seeking an entitlement. This looks like political posturing entering into the arena of land-use planning, and I see nothing good coming of it.

      Additionally, your justification for lack of access with numbers is critically flawed. Those 20 million New Yorkers you’ve referenced don’t necessarily share your opinions on access(whether they get to go there or not), so assuming it’s OK to spend their money(no matter how much it might be) how you happen to see fit is heavily flawed logic.

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  20. Bill Miller says:

    As one who has fished First Lake/Essex chain since 1971 i think i can speak with some knowledge of the fishery and habitat of that specific part of the Finch Pryne acquisition. Finch Pryne land abouts State land in the appromimate midpoint of the lake with a ancient blazed boundary going towards Grassy Pond. There are 3 campsites in this particular area. Towards the outlet on same side of the lake is one larger camping site with room for 2-3 tents. Across the lake there is one camping site at the approximate midpoint of the lake.

    The fishery has devolved in recent years from brook trout to rainbow trout as the bluegill population has exploded. It is all but impossible to troll a worm in the shallows for any kind of trout without having massive bites from blue gills. While DEC chooses not to respond to methods of blue gill control the brook trout population is approximately non existant probably almost entirely from Blue Gill predation of young.

    In the 70s lake trout were hammer handles and 20 inches was a big one. I probably was one of the factors in getting the longer lake trout length limit applied to First lake. Since the introduction of smelt (by Finch Pryne supposedly) the average size of lake trout has increased in length and girth but the catch per unit of effort has decreased severely.Ive made by feelings known to DEC about rechanging the length limit but the original fish bologist is no longer employed by the state and the current one has no stomach for discussing the current state of the fishery.

    If the use of seaplanes were going to bring in invasive species it should have happened by now since access to First lake has been almost exclusively by sea plane.

    To those of us who previously had the priviledge of enjoying First Lake the proposed loss of sea plane access will effectively rule out our participation in this endeavor. Hey im 70 and there is no way im gonna be able to hike from a highway to First aint gonna happen.(yes i do have a vested interest and ill be the first to admit it.)And while i may live out of state i still get the proviledge of paying taxes in New York on the family homestead.

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