Friday, December 6, 2013

APA Staff Proposes Motorless Essex Chain

FULL SIZE - APA Essex Chain Lakes Recommendation MapAfter months of negotiations and deliberation, the Adirondack Park Agency staff has come up with a proposal to designate the Essex Chain Lakes a Primitive Area, a classification that would preclude the use of motorboats.

In addition, the APA staff recommends establishing a 23,774-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area, which would encompass about fifteen miles of the upper Hudson River.

The APA developed the proposal in collaboration with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The APA board is scheduled to vote on it next week. The final plan will require the approval of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Joe Martens, the head of DEC, described the proposal as an attempt to satisfy all stakeholders, including environmental activists and local officials.

“What it reflects to me is a universal desire to provide a high degree of protection to the Essex Chain itself—the lakes and ponds—and the potential for diverse recreational opportunities and to connect the towns around the tract,” Martens said. “I think the plan does this very well.”

Although neither side got everything it wanted, some environmentalists and local officials said they can stand behind the proposal.

The Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack Council issued a news release in favor of the proposal. The chairmen of the boards of supervisors in Hamilton and Essex counties, where the lands are located, released a statement praising the APA plan, saying it promises to create “unparalleled recreational opportunities and spur important new economic activity.”

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, praised the creation of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area, but he said he has “a lot of questions” about other parts of the plan. Adirondack Wild, another green group, also criticized elements of the proposal.

Environmentalists wanted the Essex Chain and adjacent lands classified as Wilderness, which would prohibit all motorized recreation, but the Primitive classification achieves essentially the same thing. Not only will motorboats be kept off the chain, but floatplanes will not be allowed to land on Third Lake, the biggest of the eight lakes in the chain. Initially, DEC proposed allowing planes to land on Third in spring and fall. Pilots will still be allowed to continue to land on First Lake and Pine Lake as local towns own the floatplane rights on these water bodies.

Local officials had pushed for a Wild Forest classification, which could have opened the door to a variety of motorized recreation.  One of their major goals was to establish a snowmobile trail connecting the hamlets of Indian Lake, Newcomb, and Minerva. The APA proposal would allow for such a trail by creating a Wild Forest corridor between the Primitive Area and the new Wilderness Area. Depending on where the snowmobile trail goes, the state may need to build a bridge over the Cedar River. The APA also would leave intact a steel bridge over the Hudson for snowmobile use.

Local officials also want mountain biking to be allowed on a network of dirt roads in the vicinity of the Essex Chain. Generally, biking is prohibited in Primitive Areas, but state officials are talking about amending the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan to allow mountain bikes on the Essex Chain roads. Such a decision would not be made right away. Meantime, bikes would be allowed on the lands classified as Wild Forest.

In all, the APA staff proposes to classify roughly 22,000 acres that state acquired from the Nature Conservancy in the past year—6,166 as Wilderness, 8,111 as Primitive, and 8,072 as Wild Forest. (The lands were formerly owned by the Finch, Pruyn timber company.) In addition, about 20,000 of pre-existing state land would be reclassified.

Bauer said he is disappointed that the APA did not recommend incorporating the Essex Chain into the new Wilderness Area. “We feel that a historic opportunity was missed,” he said.

He also questioned the establishment of a Wild Forest corridor to accommodate snowmobiles and the creation of an apparently permanent Primitive Area. Usually, the Primitive classification is regarded as a temporary designation, a steppingstone to Wilderness in cases where a nonconforming use precludes a Wilderness classification.

“We’re concerned that you have a checkerboard of classifications that were created in order to support motor-vehicle use,” Bauer said.

He said he doesn’t know if Protect will support the whole proposal.

Adirondack Wild said it would press the APA board to include the Essex Chain in the Wilderness Area. “The APA and DEC appear to have compromised their mission by facilitating snowmobiles between the Hudson River and the Chain of Lakes all the way to the Cedar River,” the group said in a news release.

The APA staff had considered seven options. Its recommendation reflects an eighth option developed in talks with DEC and various stakeholders. The agency also took into account hundreds of comments from the public.

The APA’s discussion of the various alternatives is contained in a final environmental impact statement. Click here to read the document.

The map reflects the APA staff’s classification recommendations.

Related Stories

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.

69 Responses

  1. Scott van Laer says:

    Very Sad. The creation of all these small new management areas is ridiculous. Note: The ADK and Council were quick to put on the pom poms again.

    • Matt says:

      Just as quick as you were to complain about them. How do you know these newly drawn management areas are ridiculous?

    • Steve says:

      Small management areas like campgrounds, state offices and prisons? Highway corridor? The RR corridor? How about small isolated tracts of forest preserve. Are those ridiculous? Should the state start liquidation any small, isolated tracts?

  2. Bill Ingersoll says:

    These split classifications with spot-zoned facilities are more a sign of administrative paralysis rather than leadership, and an indication that there is no single classification in the SLMP that truly reflects the characteristics of this property. Without adding additional options to the master plan we can only expect this hair-splitting to continue with each phase of the acquisition.

    But at the same time, classifications are malleable. If enough people aren’t satisfied with this decision, it can be reviewed again after the dust has settled. Preferably, sometime after 2018.

  3. Steve says:

    Didn’t Protect make a map showing your recommendation that has narrow strips of wild forest for roads that go into a wilderness?

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      If this is directed at me (suggested by the use of the word “your”) then I should point out that I’m not affiliated with PTA in any way.

      But yes, PTA’s proposal wasn’t that fundamentally different than the APA’s.

  4. Steve says:

    I was not directed at you. If it were, I would have “replied” to you comment and mine would be indented.

    I just think Protect is surprised that the area isn’t all WF like he’s been saying it was going to be, so he now has to split hairs to justify his existence,

  5. Phil Brown says:

    There is at least one major difference between Protect’s proposal and the APA’s. The latter has a snowmobile corridor crossing the tract. The snowmobile trail appears to be the main reason for the patchwork classification.

    Some time ago we had a conversation about whether mountain bikes should be allowed on designated trails in Wilderness Areas. The state is now thinking of changing the State Land Master Plan to allow them in the Essex Chain Primitive Area. Perhaps it’s time to think again about the place of mountain bikes in the Preserve.

  6. Bill Ingersoll says:

    “The state is now thinking of changing the State Land Master Plan to allow them in the Essex Chain Primitive Area. Perhaps it’s time to think again about the place of mountain bikes in the Preserve.”

    As I recall, that conversation was about bikes in Wilderness, not the Forest Preserve in general. Bicycling in the Essex Chain property would not be an issue, if the classification allows it. You may recall my suggested solution, which is essentially what the state seems to be contemplating:

  7. Phil Brown says:

    I do recall the Backcountry proposal. Perhaps Primitive could be modified to do the same thing. Instead of its being always being a temporary classification, it would carve out its own niche–essentially Wilderness with bikes.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      The issue with that is that Primitive is not just “wilderness with bikes.” It is also “wilderness with any non-conforming use.” Most Primitive Areas are ROWs through Wilderness Areas that the state intends to buy out someday. So if you remove the “temporariness” from the Primitive classification, you remove the impetus to complete the Wilderness Areas.

      Whereas Backcountry would be an independent classification, with its own independent standards. You would not, for instance, need to make whitewater rafting companies conform to Wilderness group size restrictions.

    • zyxw says:

      As much as I like mountain bikes–and I was mountain biking before anyone called them that–I don’t think they belong on wilderness trails. I have seen firsthand the amazing amount of destruction they can do to trails, and hikers and mountain bikes do not play well together. Whenever you have dramatically different speeds between trasportation modes you need to separate them. It’s why we don’t allow bicycles on superhighways, and why we don’t allow bicycles on sidewalks. And, sadly, I must say that the mountain biking community needs to do some self-policing of their more aggressive members, as they are not always good ambassadors for the sport.

      • Adam says:

        in terms of destruction, mountain bikes do far less damage, and leave much less, well, “garbage” on the trail than horses, and those are apparently allowed on the wilderness trails. Of course, I may be wrong, but according to the above map, Horses and Horse and Wagons are allowed on trails in the wilderness area. So, if you want to get hard on the MB’s, maybe the equestrian crowd should be self policing as well and remove the remnants of their excursions from the trail.

  8. Steve says:

    Phil, I looked at the APA meeting agenda and it looks like they plan to vote on this next Friday! I remember several commissioners saying they wanted to have a month to review the final plan. Do they all get this material a month before the public or are they rushing this decision for some reason?

  9. APA classification proposal for Essex Chain Lakes and Hudson River brings good and bad news for the Forest Preserve | Protect the Adirondacks! says:

    […] will provide a more detailed analysis of this proposal. Here’s a report on the Adirondack Almanack. Here are documents on the APA website (they take a long time to […]

  10. Dan Crane says:

    Another disappointing result from the APA, but not totally unexpected given the current political climate. Too bad they lack the guts to do the right thing and level the playing field between Wild Forest and Wilderness.

    I fear these snowmobile and mountain bike corridors will have the very same result as the ATV one along Bear Pond Road did, where anything that even resembled an old road or trail was repeatedly driven on regardless of the amount of signage restricting access.

    At least they didn’t propose swapping all the land so a mining company could make giant pit, although the way things are going the Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club lapdogs may have praised that plan as well.

    • Paul says:

      Dan, as far the playing field goes this adds 23,744 acres of Wilderness. It adds 8,072 acres of Wild forest. About 3 to 1 for Wilderness.

      • Dan Crane says:


        I was referring to the Adirondacks as a whole when I wrote about the imbalance between Wilderness and Wild Forest, not just these newly classified tracts.

        I should have made that more clearly in my original comment.

        • Paul says:

          Dan, I think I understood that. I think we have discussed this before. I was just commenting that this particular classification does moves the bar in that direction.

  11. Keith Silliman says:

    Actually, a pretty good result. Something for all users of the Park. Not everything for one constituency attche expense of all others. The key will be in implementing and overseering the land.

  12. Brad says:

    No motors on the lakes! That’s something to cheer. Hopefully the proposal will hold up through the week!Thank you again to the Nature Conservancy, the agencies and all the environmental groups for their efforts. Wag more!

  13. John Henry says:

    Looks to me to pretty well done. A big component to me was ability of the handicapped to have accessible area’s this plan allows for that.

    When the usual gang here is not 100% happy or 100% unhappy that is confirmation!

  14. Peter says:

    Somebody has to say it. The Nature Conservancy is awesome. They took the huge risk to invest in the purchase of 161000 acres to be ultimately purchased by the great State of New York. The APA and DEC worked diligently with a limited staff to develop comprehensive plans to transitions those lands into the forest preserve.

    And what happens? A bunch of sniveling whiners complain about not getting what they want. Listening to the drivel is like watching a January thaw. It’s a platform for the ineffectual. Comments like “Very Sad. The creation of all these small new management areas is ridiculous” are testament to the bunch of spoiled losers. And what happens as a result is that what we should be celebrating becomes mired down in contentious myopia. Get over yourselves. We have wonderful access to free speech in this country, so I don’t question your rights to whine and sniffle, but freedom of speech also preserves the right of other readers to call you out as prattling gasbags of idiocy.

    Look at the map and celebrate. There is 23000 acres of new Wilderness. Green is beautiful, light blue is awesome, and lime green is acceptable. The fact remains that the Essex Chain has no motorized use and limited access. The bulk is Primitive and Wilderness. I dislike the Wild Forest Corridor for snowmobile access, but I can celebrate, without whining, the whole proposal. My hat is off to the hard work of the APA and DEC. And thank you to the Nature Conservancy, the environmental groups, and all the donors that made this happen.

    • John Henry says:

      Here here single best post I have read on this as site

      • Kevin Donovan says:


        Your first and third paragraphs were well-written statements of your position Your middle paragraph added nothing to your position but was instead an attack on others that did not further your argument. Was it really necessary and did it improve the discussion?

  15. Running George says:

    I refuse to join the cheering of a few on here. This is supposed to be about conservation and preserving a pristine area for the future… not political bargains between Willie Janeway, Neil Woodworth, and Governor Cuomo, so Cuomo can look good to a few people that will never vote for him anyway.
    I guess we know who the organizations are that were involved in the backroom horse trading that Peter Bauer wrote about. The Council is reaching for new lows, even it appears, to the point of firing staff people that disagree with Willie.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      The corruption of the Council is most disturbing to me. They were a great organization, incredibly helpful in securing the APA act with all the legal tests that were thrown at it at the time. I don’t know what happened. They are now a Pseudo-environmental organization with a board composed primarily of “one percenters” who are too far removed from the issues at hand.

      • Justin says:

        I’m pretty sure your view that the input and needs of the local communities should be ignored is the elitist one.

      • Peter says:

        Given the context of this discussion, there is some outrageous naivety in the above statement about “a board composed primarily of “one percenters” who are too far removed from the issues at hand.” Really? The statement screams of ignorance, and ignorance is a relatively scary thing. So a response is warranted here. First, untold millions were invested by the Nature Conservancy and its very appreciated donor base, and while the project included broad based support, my assumption is that the bulk of the donations to carry the costs of the 161,000 acre purchase was made by “one percenters.” And the reason the Nature Conservancy could take such a financial risk is based on their faith in the intimate knowledge many of their donors have in the “issues at hand.” Without the authentic interest and understanding of conservation on the part of some very wealthy people, there would be no discussion about the land classification (And lest we forget, we should all remember the value of the “easement” lands directly west of the Essex Chain.) So I, for one, am very thankful for the many “one percenters” who have chosen to be educated about the issues at hand, and have freely chosen to donate to such projects. So if you want to whine about them, at least do so with an understanding of the absurdity, and the counterproductive nature, of your whining. I have met and interacted with three Council board members in the last few years. In these three individual cases, your comment simply echos with youthful naivety. These three, at least, showed concern, understanding, and a great deal of knowledge.

        Next, there is a lesson in here that is worthy of learning: moral idealism is a valuable thing. It is something that is critical in the environmental debates that will shape the park, but when it is coupled with anger, self-righteousness, or myopia, it becomes ineffectual. (From my own view, this is the reason that some environmental groups are simply left out of the discussions like children at a 19th century holiday meal: served the same food but sequestered at a different table, away from the interactive communication of adults.) It takes sophistication and maturity to sustain idealism and hope while understanding that pragmatic solutions will inevitably emerge. The Council is capable of doing just that.

        So Scott, your frustrations with the Adirondack Council, to me, emerge as logical: to confuse pragmatic outcomes with a loss of idealism is a sign of unbridled nescience. No wonder you feel outrage.

        • Scott van Laer says:

          Good Post! Scary. I agree, The Nature Conservancy is Awesome!

          • Peter Bauer says:


            Interesting posts.

            Methinks your narrative doesn’t give enough credit to Dick Booth, the chair of the APA State Lands Committee, who was largely sidelined in these discussions until he circulated a legal/policy memo that the APA-DEC-Executive could not refute. The Booth memo was the gamechanger for the Essex Chain (the Hudson was alway going to be Wilderness — the only questions was how big). Booth turned the whole discussion back to the law. That the APA has refused to release this memo is silly and undermines the integrity of the process.

            Certainly this is a time for rejoicing the vast acreage that will become either Primitive or Wilderness, even as we lament a missed opportunity for a Wilderness classification for the Essex Chain. I submit that the enduring magnificence of the Essex Chain Lakes and Hudson Gorge will long outshine any classification controversies.

            Yet it’s impossible to ignore the real legal issues around: 1) maintaining the Polaris bridge; 2) possibly building a new bridge over the Cedar River; 3) a Wild Forest corridor that extends deep into the heart of the proposed Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area; 4) a Wild Forest corridor snowmobile trail that contravenes the APA-DEC Snowmobile Trail Guidance; 5) public floatplane and motor vehicle use within a Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act corridor; or, 6) novel interpretations about a new set of conforming uses for Primitive Areas. As we review the various documents others will likely arise. How the APA-DEC reconcile these issues will effect long-term Forest Preserve management.

            Many disparage independent public oversight as whining. But to do so ignores our responsibility to hold public agencies and public officials accountable.

            A set of political dictates shaped the final recommendations and circumscribed the classification process. Both the process and the results here are instructive for the future.

            Wilderness advocates will have steep cliffs to scale in the classifications ahead for the Boreas Ponds and other lands out there that the state may purchase over the next decade.

        • me says:

          The Nature Conservancy are real estate brokers for the wealthy and a Republican tax shelter

  16. Running George says:

    The Snowmobile Corridor has got to go and the Primitive area needs to be Wilderness. Definitions are becoming meaningless while the political operatives are playing their games.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      If the “Snowmobile wild forest” were truly a compatible use with the area then you would not have a Wilderness and Primitive area on either sides of it. The map looks more like an area acquired in different decades rather than a contiguous parcel acquired at one time. No landscape approach here just an attempt to appease all with boundaries not consistent with SLMP or what has been done in the past.

      • Nature says:


        I believe this has been done in the past. Wasn’t there a primitive area created around Lows Lake Dam to allow it to stay? My recollection may be incorrect, But I remember when that was in the press a few years ago the idea was to keep the dam to provide a Wilderness canoe route. Am I remembering wrong?

        You can find pictures of the dam on the following website:

        I can see why they excluded the dam from the wilderness area, but I would say it doesn’t exactly look “primitive” either. If you asked what comes to mind when I hear the words wild forest this wouldn’t exactly fit their either. I guess the pattern of multiple classifications to suit a desired outcome was already set.

  17. Running George says:

    Phil’s article states that “the APA took into account hundreds of comments”. As I remember it, comments favoring Wilderness outnumbered other options by about a 3-1 margin.

    Looks to me like the APA DISCOUNTED hundreds of comments.

  18. John Henry says:

    Reading into some of Phil and Peter’s past writings, both knew they were not going to get it all. Yet because of the groups they lead desired outcome, the positions they hold both could not outright say that.

    The fact is the legal rights of the towns to the certain area’s were ignored, never countered or even acknowledged in this sides arguments. Understandable in that does not back the outcome they promote. In no way could the APA just step over the rights of the towns and other right holders.

    Some here cry politics, but really all these facets had to be addressed to make this legal. If something was done illegal just to get one desired result it would go to court with lawsuits dragging on and overturned. That is if it even got by the Governor.

    As far as 3-1 in support of 100% wilderness, what I have been told it was pretty even when all the letters and forums were counted. In the papers it was reported public forums held in the park leaned to more open uses.

    So quit acting like you got cheated out of your fair share at the dinner table. You got the biggest cut of meat and a large piece of the pie in this one.

    I would bet if put a vote you would see something in the range of 2/3 majority on accepting this plan. Once again it always screamed “politics” when you do not get all you want, but it is the people speaking when you win. You cannot have both ways.

    So where to go from here? how about working to make a few adjustment where you see flaws, make sure rules are followed and enforced in the use of snowmobiles. How about the fishing, it was stocked by the clubs, will the state be picking this up? Work on things that can improve in this plan, just crying you wanted it all will not be effective going forward.

  19. Pete Klein says:

    This was a complicated deal.
    Never forget the fact that all of the new land could have been sold to one forest product company or one super rich person who could have put up posted signs and kept everyone out.
    Now we have a case of the glass is half full for some and half empty for others.
    I consider myself as someone who cares for the environment and someone who lives here primarily because I like the fact that the trees outnumber the human animals.
    But in the 27 years I have lived here, I have grown sick of the environmentalist who seem to suffer from a greed for wilderness – wilderness as they define it.
    To me, 99.9% of all the land classified as wild forest is just as wild and in some cases more wild than those classified as wilderness.

    • Scott van Laer says:

      I consider myself a wilderness advocate and find your position against it’s general classification mind boggling.

      However, I see this decision as a corruption of the SLMP and the entire process. If “they” truly believe snowmobiling is the correct useage, the primitive area west of the snowmobile trail should all be wild forest. This proposal is a nightmare for those who will be writing UMPS and those who will be the stewards of the land implementing that plan. To keep motorboats off the lakes, if that is an object just don’t build drive up boat launches! Don’t violate the SLMP and create small ridiculous Unit mgmt boundaries. Primitive was not intended as a permanent classification and does not fit.

    • Mike S. says:

      Pete, Agreed, I spent a few days on the NPT and made a mental note of how nice (and wild) the wild forest areas were. The wilderness was looked like a mess of overgrowth,swamps and blowdown. Man can be an asset to the woods if he wants to be.

  20. Running George says:

    Choosing to live where the trees out number human animals doesn’t equate as having the best judgment in maintaining that ratio. This is about what policy will save Wilderness for future generations and the current proposal is another crack in the wall towards weakening protections. A lot of people choose to live in wild areas and then spend their time trying to figure out how to exploit it and end up costing themselves and others the very reason they chose to live there.
    “Greed for Wilderness” in my book beats “greed for me, myself, and I” any day. They just aren’t making Wilderness anymore.

  21. Pete Klein says:

    I would say to Running George and others of a similar persuasion that making wilderness is exactly what is being attempted when converting logged land into wilderness with the stroke of a pen and lines draw on a map.
    In fact, if truth be told, this is exactly what has been happening with all of the wilderness designations in the Adirondacks.

  22. Running George says:

    … and with a stroke of a pen Wilderness is turned into a corporate strip mine while Pete Klein and “others of a similar media persuasion” failed to ask hard questions.

  23. John Henry says:

    Pete do not try and use reason here, this is about feelings and heartfelt angst.

    RG and others have in their view lost 2 in a row, they need to find blame and assign it others not taking time to ask maybe they have it wrong and mix use planed well is not really such a bad thing.

    I look at this way this as it will be a great proving ground.

    If the area sees little increase in economic activity it ends the argument we need greater access as we are dying a slow economic death from those who want only tree huggers in the park.

    If the snowmobilers and other users damage the area and impact the places it will show they cannot be trusted to use a resource given them.

    If the state is found lacking in its duty to control, maintain and enhance the area it will be known.

    In five years the whole thing can be re-looked at for the the above and modified if any of the above have true negative impacts.

    The best part is none of this is new use and none of it will be ruining a virgin area. This place has been in like use for over a 100 years

  24. Wally says:

    I recall clearly that when the 7 options were presented for public comment, some writers here declared that the outcome (Wild Forest) was a forgone conclusion and the APA/DEC were just going through the motions. Instead, it appears that they listened to the comments and responded -though not 100% as anyone wanted. All in all, it is heartening.

  25. Running George says:

    Thanks for the psycho analysis John Henry… you missed your calling.
    What’s so appalling about this decision is once again the complete lack of advocacy on behalf of the Park or perhaps, I should say, the advocacy malpractice of the Adirondack Council and ADK Mountain Club.
    It’s pretty clear that Willie is more than happy to dance to the Cuomo Administration’s tune and Neil is his dance partner.
    This behind the scenes trading missed the point of protecting the Park became about appeasing special interests.

    • mike says:

      George…name calling will get you no where. You are welcome to do so, recognizing free speech and all that, but it will not further your cause. I think it harms it. Recognize facts, argue with logic and reason and compassion. If you wish to, that is.

      I am saddened that you cannot even acknowledge any other point of view as valid. I think that style of behavior is a major problem in our nation today, and in some parts of ADK advocacy. Like I said, go on as you wish but know you are damaging your cause, at least in my opinion….and I’ll grant you that my opinion does not matter either.

  26. Running George says:

    The rest of John Henry’s remarks were essentially a list o “ifs” that highlight the danger of the current decision. There should not be Wilderness traded for snowmobile trails… the point has been missed.

  27. Doug says:

    As a person that was on the fence about classification during the public comment period, I quickly formed an opinion once I was able to travel on the tract. Within a week of it opening to the public my friends and I were paddling its’ waters. As absolutely beautiful as the chain lakes are, they are no Canoe Area when viewed from the perspective of the St. Regis Area.

    A week after our canoe trip we were back again, this time on mountain bikes. The biking was superb! The 20 or so miles of all weather, permanent logging roads are in great shape and truly set the character of the tract. To lose this network of roads ideally suited for biking would be a true shame. BTW the scores of little mining sites (gravel pits) along the roads have almost all been reclaimed. My hat is off to the Nature Conservancy and the DEC for making that happen before the transfer.

    For those that are worried about snowmobile use, remember that there is a snowmobile trail mileage cap in the Park, so if new miles are designated here, that same number of miles will need to be taken out of the system somewhere else. In addition, as a x-c skier I do not see the roads in the Chain Lakes Tract as very desirable trails, mostly due to the fact that the winter access to them would make day trips extremely difficult for most skiers. I would be glad to exchange the miles here for better opportunities elsewhere.

    After my two visits to the tract I came to favor a Wild Forest classification, but unfortunately I was too late to provide a comment to the process. Now, I have to say that I am both surprised and pleased with this proposal. Classification is supposed to be based on the character of the land and its’ ability to withstand use. I am glad to see the DEC and APA come out with a plan that provides the nuance to capture both these aspects on these lands.

    • Colvin says:

      There is much to celebrate here. First, congratulations to the Nature Conservancy for protecting these lands from development while the State came up with the money to buy them. Second, congratulations to Commissioner Martens and the staffs of both DEC and APA who worked on developing this classification package. Also, congratulations to the local governments who worked hard to insure there would be the snowmobile connectivity between their communities which is so important to their winter economy.

      Finally, special congratulations to the Adirondack Council and the Adirondack Mountain Club for having the courage to work cooperatively with local governments to come up with a solution to a complex classification puzzle even though they knew they would be criticized by the extreme environmental groups. Criticism of the Mountain Club and Council is unwarranted and unsupported by the facts of this classification. Let’s remember that at the beginning of this process the local governments wanted the entire acquisition to be classified as Wild Forest with motorized access throughout–including on the Essex Chain of Lakes. Instead, we have a new nearly 24,000 acre Wilderness area and a new large Primitive Area for the Essex Chain of Lakes area on which motorboats will be prohibited. Clearly, these two new areas would never have been created without the hard work of Willie Janeway and Neil Woodworth. Without their hard work, the Towns-who have the ear of the Governor–would likely have gotten everything they asked for. It is refreshing to see the towns and environmental groups working together to cooperatively solve what could have been a politically explosive issue that could have derailed the next phases of the Finch acquisition and, ultimately, the acquisition of Follensby Pond.

      This classification package protects the area’s natural resources, creates large Wilderness and Primitive (“almost Wilderness”) areas, provides access for all user groups, considers public health and safety needs, and benefits the winter economies of the local communities. This is a wonderful piece of work–CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!!!

      • John Henry says:

        A voice of reason thank you

      • Bill Ingersoll says:

        It should be noted that ADK and the Council issued a joint press release of their own expressing disappointment with the APA’s classifications, but essentially conceding that they were powerless to do anything about it:

        “Janeway and Woodworth noted that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) recommendation is not ideal and would allow a snowmobile trail between the two motor-free areas, which disappoints environmental advocates. The Mountain Club, the Council and other environmental organizations had wanted the state to combine both areas into a single Wilderness Area. The Governor’s APA classification plan balances competing interests.

        ““It is no secret that we and the Adirondack Council had strongly advocated for a 38,000-acre Wilderness designation, believing it would have been better for these sensitive waters and forests, as well as for the rural communities that surround them,” Woodworth explained. “However, we also understand and respect that Governor Cuomo’s APA is committed to balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders and making New York Government work, producing positive results for the people of the State.””

        So they are whining too, in their own way. Make no mistake: ADK and the Council had no more involvement in this process than anyone else. They’re just along for the ride, because that’s the best deal they can get.

        See the full press release here:–about-the-park-14/news/park-agency-proposes-new-wilderness–adjacent-motor-free-area-to-protect-central-adirondack-waters–375.html

  28. Running George says:

    So where’s the name calling? I called no one names.

    I did recognize the political gamesmanship that’s going on behind the scenes and I stand by that. It’s clear to me that the Council and ADK were involved in closed door “negotiations” and Willie and Neil are dance partners in this.

    Had this not been the case they would not have been in full throated support of this before the ink was dry.

    Had the council been really looking out for Wilderness, rather than immediately endorsing an APA staff idea, they would have at a minimum called for the removal of the snowmobile trail and called for a set timetable to convert the Primitive area to Wilderness.

    They didn’t do this. They have chosen to dance with Cuomo. Rather than being the Council’s emissary in this matter, it really appears to me Willie has brought Cuomo’s agenda to the Council… and I stand by that point of view.

  29. Paul says:

    I think this idea of a permanent primitive designation is kind of weird.

  30. Paul says:

    Phil, remind us with the “wilderness” plan how close could you drive to the Essex Chain?

  31. Justin says:

    Give an ideologue a glass 2/3 full and he’ll dump it into a bucket so he can rant to his choir about how little he got. I’d hate to see the rhetoric if most of this ended up as Wild Forest, which some seem to forget was a possibility.

    I put a lot of time into my letters in favor of WIlderness, knowing that WIld Forest proponents had many compelling arguments of their own. My hope was that the classification would end up somewhere in the middle.

    This is a nicely balanced plan where both sides got their top priorities – a motor-free Essex Chain of Lakes for Wilderness advocates, and a snowmobile connector trail for the Wild Forest advocates.

    Protecting as much of the Adirondacks as possible depends on the cooperation of the local communities, politicians, and governments. I’m grateful that some environmental groups recognize that fact and are willing to listen to and work with them.

    Thanks to all who worked hard and negotiated in good faith to create this balanced plan. I’m not ecstatic about it, but certainly can live with it, and am glad that the other side can as well.

  32. John Henry says:

    I do not line up with protect often, yet I respect them and am glad they fight the good fight, why? Without groups like protect the center moves to far right. They offer a conter, so I do not want them win all the time but am glad they are to keep things from moving to far one way.

  33. dave says:

    This certainly strikes me as good politics. Looks like a plan designed to try to make everyone happy.

    But is the purpose of the APA to try to make everyone happy? Was the APA created to “balance the needs of multiple stakeholders”?

    Should they be in the business of brokering deals? Or should they be making decisions based on science and law?

    Their mission statement says this: The mission of the APA is to protect the public and private resources of the Park through the exercise of the powers and duties provided by law.

    So, I think the big question we need to be asking is this…

    Is this hodgepodge plan, that has something for everyone, also a plan that adequately protects these resources according to the powers and duties provided by law?

    If it is, then great.

    If it isn’t, then there are a lot more questions we need to be asking.

    • Doug says:

      In the creation of the APA the NYS Legislature provided for the Department of State, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Economic Development to all be represented on the broad. That would be an indication to me that the Agency is supposed to “balance the needs of multiple stakeholders.”

      • Paul says:

        Absolutely, the APA has language that speaks specifically to economic development in the Act. They also have an Economic Services Unit:

      • dave says:

        All that means is that the APA has the means to consider all aspects of an issue – not that its decisions are supposed to balance the needs of multiple stakeholders.

        The APA is supposed to look at the facts, gather information, and make decisions based on science and law… not broker compromises.

      • dave says:

        It is a regulatory agency. Not an arbitration agency.

  34. Running George says:

    Well stated,Dave. Said more diplomatically than me. I feel the players playing politics for their own interests rather than following the mission statement need to be exposed for who and what they are.Too many careerists at the helm in key areas as previously stated.

  35. Mike says:

    Wow, can you imagine the different tone all this would have if the recommendation was to classify the whole parcel as wilderness? Accolades, and compliments about the great foresight the APA has shown to preserve the land and make sure no one ever gets to see it, much less ride a bicycle into it, or heaven forbid a snowmobile in the dead of winter.

  36. Paul says:

    remember this all just a recommendation for the governor lets see what he thinks.

  37. Running George says:

    Anyone seen the Adirondack Council’s latest press statement on this plan… talk about heavy duty butt kissing! It’s repulsive.

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox