Essentially, Protect wants more land classified as Wilderness.
The biggest difference is that Protect wants the Essex Chain of Lakes to be included in a 39,000-acre Upper Hudson Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area would encompass lands that the state owns or intends to acquire over the next several years, including OK Slip Falls and the Hudson Gorge.
As I reported here this week, DEC proposes to classify the Essex Chain Wild Forest. Given this classification, DEC intends to keep open several interior roads, permit floatplanes to land on Third Lake in the Essex Chain (only during mud season), and allow mountain bikers to ride on a network of dirt roads in the vicinity of the chain—all of which would be banned under a Wilderness designation.
DEC also proposes to create a Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area. It’d be similar to Protect’s, but smaller. It would exclude the Essex Chain area as well as land near the confluence with the Indian River, which will become a takeout for paddling trips on the Hudson. DEC wants to classify the takeout Wild Forest so paddlers will be able to drive to a parking area near the takeout. Protect says paddlers can be accommodated by classifying the road as a Wild Forest corridor. Likewise, Protect’s plan calls for designating two other roads as Wild Forest corridors to give access to the Essex Chain Tract.
The Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club also want the Essex Chain classified as Wilderness.
In its plan, DEC proposes to designate the region the Essex Chain Canoe Recreation Area. It would be a “special management area” within the Blue Mountain Wild Forest.
“We oppose floatplane use on Third Lake, in the heart of the Essex Chain,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect, “and we believe that Essex Chain should be motorless and a Wilderness Area. We have no confidence in a special management area to protect the area’s natural resources.”
Protect the Adirondacks also would like to see more of the Boreas Ponds Tract classified as Wilderness. Here the biggest difference with DEC is that under Protect’s plan, a corner of the tract that includes Ragged Mountain would be Wilderness, not Wild Forest.
Protect and the Adirondack Mountain Club agree with DEC that most of Gulf Brook Road, a dirt lane that traverses the tract, should be kept open to give paddlers and hikers easier access to Boreas Ponds, a waterway with spectacular views of the High Peaks. The Adirondack Council would like to see the road closed and more of the region classified as Wilderness.
NOTE ON MAPS: The first map shows Protect’s proposed classifications for the Essex Chain Tract, the Indian River Tract, and OK Slip Falls Tract. The second shows its recommendations for the Boreas Ponds Tract and the MacIntyre Tracts near Tahawus. These maps should be compared with the DEC maps that we published with my story on the Almanack Thursday.
Maps produced for Protect by James A. Zack, Xtra-Spatial Productions, LLC.