Wild rivers, pristine ponds, deep forests, marble cliffs, a towering waterfall—the former Finch, Pruyn lands recently acquired by the state seem to have everything. If not everything, then more than enough to satisfy a variety of outdoor recreationists: paddlers, hikers, backcountry campers, anglers, hunters, and perhaps mountain bikers and horseback riders.
The ecological richness and recreational appeal of these lands, encompassing 21,200 acres, make them an invaluable addition to the Forest Preserve, environmentalists say. But this very diversity has led to hard and complex questions for the state officials tasked with regulating and managing the lands.
Consider the Essex Chain Lakes, a string of backcountry ponds at the heart of one of the Finch, Pruyn tracts. In theory, visitors could drive to the ponds on logging roads. But is this advisable? If access is too easy, might not overfishing or the introduction of baitfish endanger native brook trout? Will boggy shorelines become trampled? » Continue Reading.