“In response to public comments from local businesses, community representatives, individuals and a variety of stakeholders – including many who recommended that potential locations for a snowmobile trail should be addressed in the current Draft UMP – DEC has decided it will revise the Draft UMP to fully assess the options for locating a snowmobile trail and propose a preferred alternative,” a statement to the press said.
DEC expects to release the revised draft UMP for public comment this fall and complete the UMP in time for implementation in 2015. Until that plan is approved, DEC will continue to manage these recently acquired lands and resources under a stewardship plan to guide access and recreation.
When the APA issued its classification of these Essex Chain lands and adjacent areas earlier this year, it anticipated that DEC would consider alternatives for locating a snowmobile trail through these lands to connect the communities of Indian Lake, Newcomb and Minerva. In June, DEC released a Draft UMP for public review, which noted that the location of this snowmobile trail would be addressed in a future amendment to the UMP.
In addition to addressing the preferred alternative for a snowmobile route through the Essex Chain Complex, the revised Draft UMP is expected to include proposals in the previously released draft plan to designate mountain bike routes on gravel roads used by the lessees within the Essex Chain Complex through 2018, limited parking near the Chain of Lakes, and the construction of a bridge over the Cedar River. Originally, this bridge had been proposed for non-motorized recreation including hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
DEC is also expected to update its interim recreation plan for the Essex Chain Area and issue a formal Stewardship Plan designed to guide DEC’s management of the area.
DEC has been working with partners, including the towns of Newcomb, Minerva, North Hudson, Indian Lake and Long Lake, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Adirondack Ecological Center and the Student Conservation Association to implement the Stewardship Plan.
Public access projects already completed include:
Designating 13 primitive tent sites on and around the Essex Chain Lakes and related water bodies, which require a (free) permit;
Posting signs prohibiting fires within 500 feet of water bodies and at all permitted sites;
Posting signs indicting no at-large camping within the Essex Chain and Pine Lake Primitive Areas;
Designating primitive tent sites throughout the remaining area of the Complex;
Establishing parking areas in the vicinity of Deer Pond;
Relocating a parking area closer to the Polaris Bridge;
Establishing parking at the vicinity of the Outer Gooley Club;
Designating canoe carries;
Establishing a horse trailer parking/staging area along the Chain Lakes Road (north); and
Designating a cross-country ski loop.
The Stewardship Plan will also include enhanced seasonal access during big game hunting season on the Camp Six Road and Chain Lakes Road (South). This enhanced recreation access will be allowed on an interim basis and will also be addressed in the revised Draft UMP.
Photos: Above, The Essex Chain (by Nancie Battaglia); and below, the entrance to the new Upper Hudson and Cedar River lands on Route 28 in Indian Lake (by John Warren).