Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that the state has purchased two jewels of the former Finch, Pruyn lands—OK Slip Falls and Blue Ledges—as well as a takeout on the Hudson River that will open up a twelve-mile canoe trip from Newcomb.
In all, the state bought 9,300 acres from the Nature Conservancy for $6.3 million. The land is split among six parcels, four in the Adirondack Park, two lying just outside it.
One parcel coveted by paddlers is a 940-acre tract at the confluence of the Hudson and Indian rivers. With this acquisition, the public will be able to put in Harris Lake at the town beach in Newcomb and then paddle south on the Hudson, taking out at the confluence.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation expects that paddlers will have access to the newly acquired river corridor in late May or early June.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said this stretch of the Hudson contains mild rapids, but experienced paddlers who can execute “simple whitewater maneuvers” should be able to handle them.
“It’s going to be a kinder, gentler experience than the Hudson Gorge,” Woodworth said.
The Hudson enters the gorge beyond the confluence, a journey recommended only for expert whitewater paddlers.
The 2,800-acre OK Slip Falls tract, also purchased by the state, includes 2.1 miles of riverfront in the Hudson Gorge. Whitewater paddlers and rafters will be able to stop in the gorge and hike to OK Slip Falls, one of the biggest cascades in the Park. This parcel also includes the Blue Ledges, a marble cliff where rare mosses grow. The tract is expected to be open to the public this spring.
Also purchased were:
- Casey Brook Tract, a 1,587-acre parcel that will provide a link between the High Peaks Wilderness and Dix Mountain Wilderness once the state acquires Boreas Ponds. It will be open to the public this spring.
- The Hudson River Ice Meadows, a 727-acre parcel in Warren County where spring ice jams create a microhabitat for rare plants. It will be open to the public in October.
- The Saddles, a 2,540-acre parcel with dramatic cliffs on Lake Champlain’s South Bay. The area is home to timber rattlesnakes and peregrine falcons. It’s located outside the Park in Washington County. It will be open to the public this spring.
- Spruce Point, a 726-acre parcel with a variety of forest types, lying outside the Park in Washington County. It will be open to the public in October.
“These are very biologically important parcels,” said John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council. “They are rich in habitat for wildlife and rare plants.”
This is the second phase in the state’s acquisition of sixty-nine thousand acres from the Nature Conservancy (all but four thousand acres were formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn). In December, the state purchased the 18,318-acre Essex Chain of Lakes tract. Most of that tract, including the Essex Chain, will remain off limits until at least fall, when a sportsmen’s club’s lease expires.
The Nature Conservancy bought all of Finch, Pruyn’s 161,000 acres in 2007. Last year, the state signed an agreement to acquire 65,000 acres of the Finch land over the next five years. In addition, the state has purchased conservation easements on another 90,000 acres to protect them from development.
Photo by Carl Heilman II: Blue Ledges.