Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Essex Chain Classification On Hold

Essex ChainWhen the Adirondack Park Agency board meets next week, it will not be voting on a question that has been the subject of public controversy for months: the classification of 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands.

“There will be no action on Finch at this month’s meeting,” APA spokesman Keith McKeever told Adirondack Almanack.

McKeever said the agency’s staff is still reviewing comments from public hearings held in June and July and analyzing various classification options. Eventually, the staff will present the board with a recommendation.

“It’s a very time-consuming process,” he said. “It needs to be done right, so we’re taking the time to get it right.”

The APA’s decision, if approved by the governor, will determine the type of recreation allowed on the former Finch lands, which include the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson Gorge. Most of the debate is focused on the Essex Chain.

Environmental groups want most of the property, including the Essex Chain, to be classified as Wilderness, a designation that would preclude motorized use as well as mountain biking. Local officials favor a Wild Forest classification, which would give the state the option of allowing the use of snowmobiles, floatplanes, automobiles, and bicycles.

The state bought the Finch lands from the Nature Conservancy in the past year. They are now part of the forever-wild Forest Preserve. In addition to the former Finch lands, the APA board will be voting to reclassify up to 24,200 acres of adjacent Forest Preserve. In all, the board will be classifying or reclassifying 40,670 to 45,370 acres.

Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan said he is not concerned about the delay in a decision. “It’s an important decision, and we want them to be careful about it,” he said.

McKeever said it’s possible that the staff will have a recommendation in time for the APA’s meeting in December. If that happens, the board could vote in December or request another month to consider the recommendation.

Photo of the Essex Chain Lakes by Carl Heilman II.



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Phil Brown

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.

3 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Waiting till it is cold and snowy and fewer people are paying attention? Probably not, there is a lot of material to go over.

  2. John Henry says:

    Why hurry? the area is open and being used. A few months or so to get it right is not a big thing. I just hope it is not being used to massage a preset decision.

    I think the vote this week shows the people of the state clearly want and will vote for things that make sense for the adirondack park. Prop 5 was close and had some concerns but was right for that area, the big issue to me was does it mean now will this open up more of this without going to the voters? I think a swap like this needs careful attention and planning long term.

    Also somethings are maybe too big an issue for the voter to understand via a statewide vote. I think CA has proven that model failed.

  3. Doug says:

    Unfortunately, all the comments were submitted before most of us had the opportunity to explore the Essex Chain Lakes tract and get a flavor of the character of the land. The 20 plus miles of logging roads are great mountain bike riding and it would be a travesty if they were not utilized for that. I am glad to have this beautiful area as part of the Forest Preserve and now that I have explored it I hope it will be properly classified as Wild Forest.

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