The Wilderness Area would combine 3,925 acres of former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that the state recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy and 8,925 acres of existing Forest Preserve in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.
“The West Stony Creek area is rugged terrain dominated by low ridges and mountains and the meandering West Stony Creek and associated wetlands. The Forest Preserve sections have old-growth forest communities,” Protect Chairman Chuck Clusen said in a news release today.
Protect also says a Wilderness classification would offer stronger protection for a six-mile stretch of West Stony Creek that is designated a Scenic River within the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System.
The Wilderness classification would prohibit the use of motor vehicles, including snowmobiles, in the tract, which is now roadless, according to Peter Bauer, Protect’s executive director. However, a snowmobile trail forming the tract’s southern boundary would not be affected by the proposal. The tract would be bordered in the north by Benson Road.
Bauer also noted that the southern end of the Northville-Placid Trail passes through the tract.
Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, said he hadn’t had a chance to study Protect’s proposal. Typically, local officials regard Wilderness as too restrictive.
“I’d be willing to present it to the Review Board to see what their thoughts are,” Monroe said. “They’re open-minded, but in general local governments favor Wild Forest because it is more accessible to more people.”
“I think there will be some concerns about converting Wild Forest to Wilderness,” he added.
Bauer pointed out that there is more Wild Forest (1.28 million acres) than Wilderness (1.16 million acres) in the Park. Even if the West Stony Creek Wilderness is created, he said, there will still be more Wild Forest than Wilderness.
The West Stony Creek Wilderness would be the southernmost Wilderness Area in the Adirondacks. The Silver Lake Wilderness lies just north of the tract.
Protect has started an online petition drive to support the proposal.
The proposed West Stony Creek Wilderness is shown in the upper-right corner of the above map.