Friday, May 17, 2013

Hearings On New State Lands to Begin June 12

Essex ChainThe 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:

Wilderness Options

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

Photo of the Essex Chain Lakes by Carl Heilman II.

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

2 Responses

  1. Josh says:

    It would be fantastic to see photos of the existing roads around the Essex Chain in order to get a sense of the character of the roads in question. You’ve been back there correct? In the absence of photos, maybe a detailed description of the character of the roads would be nice.

  2. Phil Brown says:

    Josh, I have been on only one road, the one leading from the Polaris Bridge on the Hudson to the Goodnow Flow Road. It was a rocky dirt road, fairly typical of a logging road. We passed a couple of other roads that looked similar. This will be the only road in the Essex Chain tract open to the public this spring and summer. Gooley Club will lose exclusive rights to the tract at the end of September.

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