The Adirondack Park Agency will kick off on June 12 a series of public hearings on the use and management of 22,500 acres of new state land, including the Essex Chain Lakes and parts of the Hudson River.
After the hearings, the APA will decide how to classify the lands—a decision that will affect how people can recreate and how accessible the lands will be. The state recently bought the former Finch, Pruyn timberlands from the Nature Conservancy.
Much of the debate is likely to be over motorized use. Sportsmen and local officials want the public to be able to drive into the interior of the tract, providing fairly easy access to the Essex Chain and to takeouts and put-ins on the Hudson. Some environmental activists, however, want to ban motorized vehicles from the region.
The first hearing—which will be telecast over the Internet—will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at the APA offices in Ray Brook. People may show up early to ask questions of agency staff and view maps of the lands in question.
The agency plans to hold eight hearings altogether, including six in the Park. A full schedule is expected to be announced on Monday.
The APA staff has drafted seven proposed land-classification schemes that will be the starting point for discussion in the hearings. In the most restrictive scheme, nearly all of the new lands will be classified as Wilderness, where all motorized use is forbidden. In the most lenient, most of the land is classified as Wild Forest, where some motorized use is allowed (as well as biking).
In all seven proposals, the state would set aside part of the land for a Hudson Gorge Wilderness (which would require reclassifying existing Forest Preserve as well). However, the size of the Wilderness Area varies. They differ also in how close people will be able to drive to the river. Under one scheme, paddlers would have to carry about three miles to a takeout near the Goodnow River confluence. In other scenarios, the carry would be only a quarter- to a half-mile.
Starting Monday, Adirondack Almanack will run a series of weekly articles explaining the seven options in detail. They will be accompanied by color maps showing the proposed classifications.
Options for new State Lands:
The APA board may vote on a preferred option as early as August.
People can comment on the proposals by sending an email to APA_SLMP@gw.dec.state.ny.us.
Photo of the Essex Chain Lakes by Carl Heilman II.