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.