The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a Stewardship Plan to guide interim management for public access and use of newly acquired lands in the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex in the Central Adirondacks. The Stewardship Plan outlines a range of recreational activities that may occur in the Essex Chain while DEC develops a long-term Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Complex area. This new Stewardship Plan supersedes the 2013 Interim Access Plan.
The Stewardship Plan is now in effect and can be viewed on DEC’s website via pdf. Under the plan, additional access to the Essex Chain Lakes includes:
- Public motor vehicle access into the Essex Chain Lakes and surrounding waterbodies via the Cornell Road to the Deer Pond Road;
- Motorized access to the Hudson River via the Chain Lakes Road (North) to Drakes Mill Road, off of the Goodnow Flow Road;
- Motor vehicle access and camping during big game season for sporting activities such as hunting, fishing and trapping and other recreation along Camp Six Road and Chain Lakes Road (South);
- Motorized access for people with disabilities to the Essex Chain Lakes at the “tube” between Fourth and Fifth Lakes, including parking and waterway access. Accessible camping will be available along Deer Pond Road;
- Camping opportunities for people with disabilities along the Cornell Road, Deer Pond Road, Camp Six Road and Chain Lakes Road South; and
- Marking of trails (old roads) open for horses and a cross-country ski “lollipop” trail near the Goodnow Flow outlet.
Access opportunities to the Essex Chain Lakes complex announced earlier this year include:
- 13 primitive tent sites (11 waterfront) on and around the Essex Chain Lakes and related waterbodies. Access to these sites will require a permit administered in partnership with the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb. In addition, primitive tent sites are established throughout the remaining area of the Complex Area including: four primitive tent sites along Camp Six Road, four primitive tent sites along Chain Lakes Road (South), four primitive tent sites along the Cornell Road within the Blue Mountain Wild Forest, two primitive tent sites along the Deer Pond Road and one primitive tent site on Pine Lake in a current location;
- A 6-car parking area within a pre-existing parking area at Outer Gooley;
- A 25-car parking area in the vicinity of Deer Pond, with one side of the lot for day use (10 cars) and the other side for overnight use (15 cars);
- Relocation of parking for 6 cars closer to the Polaris Bridge on the Drake’s Mill Road at a point approximately .3 miles west of the Hudson River;
- Canoe carries will be formally designated between Second Lake and First, between First and Grassy Pond, and around Long Falls and Ord Falls along the Upper Hudson River; and
- Horse trailer parking/turnaround/staging area with room for five horse trailers.
In addition, DEC is expected to post signs prohibiting fires within 500 feet of waterbodies and at all permitted tent sites, and additional signs indicating “camping at designated sites only within the Essex Chain and Pine Lake Primitive Areas.”
When the APA classified the lands of the Essex Chain 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 and Newcomb. DEC will propose a preferred alternative for this snowmobile trail in a revised Draft UMP, subject to public review and comment this winter.
In addition to determining the preferred alternative for a snowmobile route through the Essex Chain Complex, the revised Draft UMP will address proposals to: designate mountain bike routes on gravel roads used by lessees within the Essex Chain Complex through 2018; parking closer to the Chain Lakes for persons of all ages and abilities; and construction of a bridge over the Cedar River to provide all-season recreation access from Indian Lake to the northern area of these lands.
In February 2014, Governor Cuomo approved a State land classification package for approximately 42,000 acres, including several tracts recently added to the Forest Preserve. These recently acquired tracts, including the former Essex Chain Lakes and Indian River tracts, were purchased from the Nature Conservancy and formally owned by the Finch Pruyn Company. These newly classified lands now exist as the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area, the Pine Lake Primitive Area and portions of the Blue Mountain Wild Forest. For land management and planning purposes, this area is being defined as the Essex Chain Complex Area.
After acquisition of these lands, public visitation necessitated issuance of an “Interim Access Plan” (issued in September, 2013) which limited public access to protect the resource. This new Stewardship Plan supersedes the 2013 Interim Access Plan.