Thursday, April 23, 2015

State Acquires 6,200 Acres of Former Finch, Pruyn Land

MacIntyre EastThe state has acquired a 6,200-acre tract next to the High Peaks Wilderness that includes long stretches of the Hudson and Opalescent rivers, making them easily accessible to flatwater paddlers.

The state bought the property for $4.24 million from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy as part of a multi-year agreement to acquire sixty-five thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands. It is now open to the public.

Known as MacIntyre East, the property lies between Mount Adams and Allen Mountain and just east of the road leading to the Upper Works Trailhead in Newcomb. Last year, the state bought a companion tract known as MacIntyre West, which lies on the other side of the road.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the deal as part of a celebration of Earth Week.

With the acquisition of MacIntyre East, the state has only to buy the Boreas Ponds Tract (twenty-two thousand acres) to complete its deal with the Nature Conservancy. The state is expected to buy that property this fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2016.

Environmentalists want all of MacIntyre West and most of MacIntyre East to be added to the High Peaks Wilderness. A Wilderness classification precludes motorized use.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, noted that a railroad line and power line cross the western portion of MacIntyre East. He favors a Wild Forest classification for this part of the tract, but he said the rest should be added to the Wilderness Area.

Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, agrees that this portion of MacIntyre East should be classified Wild Forest. He also wants at least part of a dirt road on the tract to be kept open to facilitate public access.

Monroe and his father hunted on MacIntyre East for many years as members of the East River Club. He said keeping the road open would benefit hunters, anglers, and hikers. “There are a lot of mountains you can access from back there,” he said. As to the hunting, he added, “there weren’t a lot of deer, but the ones that were there were big bucks.”

Monroe noted that the road also provides access to conservation lands that are not part of the Forest Preserve. Indeed, part of the road forms the border between the newly acquired state lands and privately owned timberlands.

The road penetrates deep into the MacIntyre East tract. If it were kept open, hikers could enjoy easier access to Allen Mountain, one of remotest of the High Peaks. Typically, people going to the 4,340-foot summit start near Upper Works and endure an eighteen-mile round trip. The end of the dirt road (as shown on maps) comes within two miles of Allen’s summit. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will look into building new trails to Allen and other High Peaks.

Paddlers also stand to benefit from the acquisition. MacIntyre East contains more than five miles of the upper Hudson, including a still-water section known as Sanford Lake. Although the river parallels a road, the public previously had few legal options for accessing the river. As a result of the purchase, paddlers will be able to get to the river from several places. (In earlier phases of the Finch, Pruyn deal, the state purchased about thirteen miles of the upper Hudson and, as a consequence, created the Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area. The newly acquired stretch of the Hudson lies farther north, near the river’s source.)

MacIntyre East also contains seven miles of the Opalescent, one of the wildest rivers in the Adirondack Park. As a result, nearly all of the Opalescent is now in the Forest Preserve, including its confluence with the Hudson. A small portion flows through land protected by a conservation easement. Paddlers will be able to go up the Opalescent from the Hudson. Click here to see an aerial video of the Opalescent and nearby peaks.

The classification of the nearby Boreas Ponds Tract, which also borders the High Peaks Wilderness, could prove more controversial. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has suggested adding the ponds themselves to the High Peaks Wilderness while classifying the southern part of the tract Wild Forest. This would allow DEC to keep open a dirt road, enabling people to drive most of the way to the ponds. Some people want the whole tract classified as Wilderness, which would force the closure of the road.

The Nature Conservancy bought all 161,000 acres of Finch, Pruyn’s timberlands for $110 million in 2007. The state purchased conservation easements on eighty-nine thousand acres and agreed in 2012 to purchase another sixty-five thousand acres outright for the Preserve (as well as four thousand acres of non-Finch lands). The easements protect the lands from subdivision and development but allow responsible logging.

Among the natural jewels acquired in earlier years are the Essex Chain of Lakes in Newcomb, a twelve-mile stretch of the Hudson River between Newcomb and Indian Lake, OK Slip Falls, Blue Ledge in the Hudson Gorge, and Sugarloaf Mountain, a large rock-climbing cliff near the Moose River Plains.

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Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit 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.




35 Responses

  1. Bill Ingersoll Bill Ingersoll says:

    Good news! Is there any word about when the new land will be open to the public, if it is not so already? With some of the other recent Finch Pruyn purchases the public had to wait to a specific date, due to the existence of lease agreements.

  2. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    I will find out. My guess is that the rules will be the same as those for the MacIntyre West tract acquired last year. That is, hunting clubs will have exclusive use to one-acre envelopes around their camps for a few years, but the rest will be open to public.

  3. Marco says:

    Great News! Thanks, Phil!

  4. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    I have made a few changes. First off, the amount of land acquired was 6,200+ acres, not 6,800 acres. The news release had it wrong. I noticed the map had a different figure, so checked with DEC. Second, in response to Bill’s question, I clarified that the land is now open to the public. DEC is checking on whether hunting clubs have one-acre easements around camps. You can access the river from several spots along the road. Hunting will be allowed as the seasons open.

  5. Steve Collins says:

    Fantastic! Where would the put-in be to paddle the Opalescent River?

  6. Phil Brown says:

    @Tim, my assumption is that the road is not open to vehicles, but I will check with DEC tomorrow.

    @Steve, the logging road crosses the Hudson about a quarter-mile downriver from the Opalescent confluence. That would be the easiest put-in. The logging bridge is visible from the county road, but I’ll have to check the mileage.

    • Steve Collins says:

      Thank you for the info Phil!

    • Steve Collins says:

      Phil, from what I can see, based on your description, the access would be below Sanford Lake off of Rt. 25. Does the logging road cross 25? Thanks!

      • Phil Brown says:

        Based on my Topo software, the logging bridge is about 4.25 miles north on County 25 from the Blue Ridge Road. The logging road does not cross the highway. I seem to recall an open area to the left of the highway in the vicinity of the logging road. The bridge and river are close to Route 25 on the right.

        • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

          I returned this week. Based on my odometer, it is 4.4 miles from Blue Ridge (or Boreas) Road to the logging bridge.

    • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

      The road is gated and closed to vehicles.

  7. Paul says:

    I am not a huge fan of the state adding more land to the Forest Preserve in general but this addition makes perfect sense. It’s relatively small and protects the type of land that clearly should be well protected. In private hands with a conservation easement would be best but this is the next best thing.

  8. Paul says:

    Almost 700 per acre for land that timberland is well above the market price. The state could have gotten a better deal and had quite a bit of money left over for maintenance. This is good for the town.

  9. william Deuel,Jr says:

    The best access is from Sanford lake, the easiest anyway. This used to be part of the Newcomb Sportsmans Club. The logging road which used to go to the North River club as well as the opalescent club still has a gate on it which I am sure will be left open or removed. Remember as you go down stream you run into the Tahawus Club, which I believe owns both sides of the river. They also own where you go over the bridge on the hudson. The pull off across from the logging road I am not sure who leased that but the Newcomb club Land which is not part of the land purchase is on that side of the road. Yes I am part of that club and have had a camp there for 20 years. I only mention this as we have had some vandalism and theft. People will walk right around the gate at the entrance to the Newcomb Club. I can not tell you how many folks just walk right in. Most are not a problem a select few have been a little difficult when asked to leave. I really think the state needs to put the signs up sooner than later to avoid any confusion.

  10. Hawthorn says:

    Fantastic news! IMHO that land is priceless. An incredible deal.

  11. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Sure…let’s classify it as wilderness and once again more “State Land” will be forever locked out and inaccessible to the average New Yorker who is not under 30, physically fit and able to portage canoes, hike for miles to get to a pond, etc. etc.

    Wild Forest is a far better classification and should be applied to the entire parcel.

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Tim,

      You have the facts exactly backwards. There are very few spots in the Adirondacks that are beyond 3 miles from a road, and the most remote spot is about 5.2 miles from a road. There are far more lakes you can drive right up to, indeed right in to, than there are large wilderness lakes where you can’t. The Forest Preserve leans far more toward access than isolation – that’s a fact.

      Your idea that there are mostly places you can’t simply drive to is demonstrably wrong. There is for example, more land classified wild forest than wilderness.

      • Tim-Brunswick says:

        Mr. Warren:

        I highly doubt that I have my facts backwards. I am 67 years of age and very active and assuming your picture is fairly current I doubt I’ll be around when you arrive at the same age. I would guess you’re obviously a very presumptuous individual. You certainly don’t tolerate opposing viewpoints!

        Notwithstanding that, if you do manage to reach my age try shouldering a pack for a 5-day trip and head into the same wilderness areas that you were able to reach as a younger man. ( i.e. “West Canada Lakes, “Five Rivers” interior, etc.)

        “Senior” outdoors people are being shut out of more and more ADK areas by extremist “wilderness” advocates and I’ll exercise my right to speak out about it any time I feel the need.

        Thank you

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          You have not presented a single countering statement to the facts I’ve pointed out, because you are wrong and don’t have a counter argument.

          And like the other ridiculous claims you’ve made at the Almanack elsewhere, you seem to prefer to leap to your politics and an inflated sense of your self before considering evidence and thoughtful reasoning.

          I’m not sure what your age has to do with your inability to take on 5-day trips, or any trip for that matter, but you are only 20 years older than I am. Two years ago an 80 year-old man climbed Mount Everest.

          And by the way, you ought to thank me for providing you the space here at the Almanack – which I created – to air your views, despite the fact that they are built on no facts at all. Instead, you whine and pretend that someone has limited your ability to express yourself. You may be 67, but you act like you are 7.

          • Scott van Laer scottvanlaer says:

            I never understand these arguments, “I don’t have the skill set or fitness to traverse it.”, as people apply it to justify motorized access to the Forest Preserve. We are all faced with some limitations in wild settings. These challenges are what it so special about these lands. Pick something that is within your fitness and skill set and go for it. There is plenty out there. Don’t mar the experience with motors because it’s beyond your scope. Our society and everyday life is so vastly shaped around motors and civilization. Let’s have more lands that free us from that chain. Let us leave our motorized transportation behind when go into the Forest Preserve.

            • Hawthorn says:

              My Dad turns 85 this summer, and if we hold to tradition we’ll do a High Peak to celebrate it. Sure, he’s dialed it back some and maybe the 5-day trip isn’t in his plans, but he still enjoys the Adks greatly. A friend of mine with a heart problem and I did a lesser peak recently and we had to take things a lot slower than we did when we were teenagers, but we got no less enjoyment from being out there. Someone disabled could be driven up the Tahawus road into an area of great beauty and peace. My point being that saving wilderness is not reducing the availability of wonderful outdoor opportunities for all abilities.

      • Dave Waite says:

        Tim, When you have time could you tell me where I can find the map of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness that shows the road that will get me within 5.2 miles of Siamese Ponds? The only way I have ever gotten there is the nearly 7 mile trail off of Rte 8. Thanks, Dave

        • John Warren John Warren says:

          Dave, every spot in the Adirondacks is within 5. 2 miles of a road, and there are only a few places that are 3 to 5.2 miles from a road – everywhere else is within three miles of a road. Just because you take a 7 mile trail, does not mean that there isn’t a shorter route to a road – there is.

  12. Jon Pleban says:

    Hi Phil
    Thanks for all your great work.
    Any idea how far up the the Opalescent one could paddle? All the way to the current wilderness areas near Livingston Pond/Lake Colden? If so that would seem to be a great trip…
    Jon

  13. […] Source: State Acquires 6,200 Acres of Former Finch, Pruyn Land – – The Adirondack Almanack […]

  14. Charlie s says:

    Tim-Brunswick says: “I am 67 years of age and very active…if you do manage to reach my age try shouldering a pack for a 5-day trip and head into the same wilderness areas that you were able to reach as a younger man.”

    Clarence Petty climbed a High Peak when he was 100 (?) years old (or older),if memory serves me correct. I read his biography…what an interesting man! I’ve got a ways to go be a 100 but if I make it that far I doubt i’d be able to achieve such a feat.I’m starting to feel things i’ve never felt before at my young age.
    When the day comes that I am unable to hike the trails in the Adirondacks because of my anatomy slipping I would not want to turn the park into a motorized-use zone just to appease my condition. It’s not about me,it’s about that wonderful haven which should be preserved in as natural a state as can possibly be for future generations whose world is going to be far noisier than ours.

  15. Bill Ingersoll Bill Ingersoll says:

    The aging Adirondack veteran who was fine hiking longer miles into the wilderness areas when he/she was younger, but who now demands increased motorized access with age, holds limited sympathy with me. Such people are hypocrites. They benefited from the presence of large wilderness areas when they were in their prime, but they now want to rob those same experiences from their children and grandchildren by insisting that they need roads everywhere, lest they be denied “access.”

    Hogwash.

    Every one of who lives long enough, without exception, will someday face the issue of no longer being able to enjoy the rigorous pursuits of youth. One of my favorite quotes on this subject (from a Bill McKibben book) is: “We all get our time in the woods, and then we get our memories.”

    Previous generations of aging outdoorspeople were concerned about the wild legacy they wanted younger people to inherit, even if they knew their own time in the woods was reaching its sunset. Unfortunately, this idea is not espoused as often today.

    Here is a vote for as much wilderness as possible, from an able-bodied middle-aged explorer who sees no sunset on his horizon… yet.

    http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2015/03/how-much-adirondack-wilderness-is-there.html

  16. Marco says:

    Bill, I agree, I do. I do. I do…

    Well said!

  17. Paul says:

    The norther section of the land (where is says “MacIntyre East” on the map) looks like land that obviously should be added to the HP Wilderness. The narrow stretch that runs between two sections of easement land and is bordered by a road doesn’t really look like a Wilderness parcel. Or is that easement land owned by TNC that will be added later also?

  18. Max says:

    When will the wilderness vs wild forest designation(s) be made? Until it is, are there restrictions on the use of the roads?