Friday, June 12, 2015

DEC Seeks Major Backcountry Development Of Essex Chain

Essex Chain MapA draft plan for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex produced by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) calls for major back-country development in some of the most unique lands in the Adirondack Park, only recently acquired by the people of New York.

The plan for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, located in the towns of Minerva, Newcomb, and Indian Lake, includes a snowmobile trail that would cross the Hudson River on the Polaris Bridge and the Cedar River on a newly constructed bridge; extensive mountain biking and equestrian trail networks; new ski trails, carry trails, and lean-tos; and expanded road access and parking areas. The proposal also seeks to maintain the Outer Gooley Club’s farmhouse building.

The plan for the Complex includes Unit Management Plans for the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area and the Pine Lake Primitive Area, and amendments to the Unit Management Plans for the Blue Mountain and Vanderwacker Mountain Wild Forests. The plan also includes River Area Management Plans for the Hudson and Cedar Rivers, as required by the Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act, and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Complex contains 18 water bodies totaling 785 acres, ranging in size from the three-acre Chub Pond to the 216-acre Third Lake. Ten miles of the Hudson River on the eastern boundary and four miles of the Cedar River in the southern section are of special interest to paddlers. There are currently 32 designated primitive tent sites in the Complex, 11 can only be accessed by paddling. Two campsites on First Lake and one on Pine Lake are reserved for customers of private float plane companies.

The draft Plan/DEIS is available on the DEC website here.

DEC is accepting public comments on the plan until July 27, 2015. Public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, July 7, at 7 pm in the auditorium of the Newcomb Central School, and on Thursday, July 9 at 7 pm at the Indian Lake Theater.

Public comments should be sent by July 27 to Corrie O’Dea, Senior Forester, NYSDEC Lands & Forests, 232 Golf Course Road, Warrensburg, NY 12885 or via email to

Map provided by DEC.

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8 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    No matter what the do to the interior sections I hope DEC attorneys have at least been careful to ensure that the state has the necessary deeded easements for these two access roads that are crossing private property. If not it will end up like the boondoggle into the Madawaska flow area. Here is what they say at the DEC website about access to those lands we purchased:

    “Public access to these lands from Route 458 is unavailable at this time. DEC continues to work to reopen public access to this area. (2015)”

    Here was a story that Phil wrote on this at the Explorer:

  2. Jim S. says:

    They left out the roller coaster and bumper cars!

  3. Charlie S says:

    The DEC.They certainly aren’t what they used to be and it makes sense if you look at what we are as a society overall…. narcissistic fools. It used to be they were there to protect the woods not turn them into parking lots or mega havens for travelers who get around by every conveyance other than feet. If you read the old NY State Forest Fish & Game Reports,the old Conservationist magazines,you’ll get a good feel of where they were morally when it came to protecting our woods and waters. Now look at what they propose…. “extensive mountain biking and equestrian trail networks; new ski trails, carry trails, and lean-tos; and expanded road access and parking areas.”

    This is not the conscience of the early DEC in New York. Just read the old literature and you will see how so true this is. We’re going backwards in every area it seems. Now more than ever we need to protect what’s left of the eco-systems not turn them into entertainment centers for egomaniacs.

  4. John S. says:

    Where are Doc and Hayduke now that we need them?

  5. Paul says:

    A little perspective here would be good. How many roads are being closed to motor vehicles as part of this? Many of the “trails” here are roads being converted to bike or horse trails. How many buildings are being torn down? Sure there are going to be some new campsites and a few lean tos but this is all less development not more.

  6. Bob says:

    Being intimately familiar with these lands and waters for many years, I strongly favor much of this plan to provide access to all citizens. It would be a shame to minimize access in the name “wilderness” since we have so much of that already available to the relatively few people who are fit enough to enjoy it. And, the previous comment is probably true that even under this plan, the number of people using the tract would likely be less than when the clubs were in full operation during the summer and fall.

    • Paul says:

      Bob, I was not commenting on the number of users I was just pointing out that after these actions are over there is going to be far less “development” there than there is currently. The number of people using the land after these changes, that is yet to be known.

  7. Dave Olbert says:

    This plan is vital to the economy of the towns of Newcomb, Indian Lake, and Minerva. It is encouraging to see DEC follow through with negotiated compromises.

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