Land classification battles are a common feature of new Forest Preserve acquisitions in the Adirondack Park these days, with the Essex Chain of Lakes property being a prime example. Typically, the disagreement boils down to Wild Forest versus Wilderness, the two most common land classifications in the Adirondacks. While Wilderness remains the more restrictive, Wild Forests are supposed to maintain a wild character despite the presence of dirt roads, snowmobile trails, etc. Unfortunately, this wild character seems to be slowly fading away in many cases, making room for increasing (and often illegal) human uses.
According to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, Wilderness are areas dominated by natural forces, where the Earth and its communities of life remain relatively untrammeled by man, while Wild Forests allow for a greater impact from humans, supposedly due to their lack of remoteness and ability to absorb the impact from such activity. The subjectivity of these definitions allows for a great deal of interpretation though. Often the classification of a new area appears mainly political, with the appeasement of certain user groups sublimating all other considerations. » Continue Reading.
The other day some friends and I enjoyed a day in the Forest Preserve, paddling on the waters leading out of Canada Lake, eating our lunches at a primitive campsite along the shore, and walking down a trail into a vly or large wetland flow. We were in the Forest Preserve unit known as the Ferris Lake Wild Forest, one of several large Wild Forests in the southern Adirondack Park. Ferris Lake WF is 147,500 acres in size, spanning parts of four towns in three different counties.
As we arrived at Stewart’s Landing and dam holding back Sprite Creek, the outlet of Canada Lake, we noticed a number of all-terrain vehicles parked and ready to ride. As we put our canoes and kayaks in the water near the dam we noticed and appreciated this Forest Preserve reminder: “Carry it in, Carry it Out.” This is a shared, public-private resource. One side of the flow is Forest Preserve, the other private Adirondack camps. Upstream, many kayakers and motor boaters were enjoying the Forest Preserve. With their motors turned off at their campsites, wildlife and their own awareness and appreciation of this beautiful wooded shore, held sway. A minority raced their boats as fast they could, kicking up waves and making paddling difficult. » Continue Reading.
The draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Essex Chain of Lakes is out and available for public comment until July 18th. To discerning readers, it will be clear that many of its recommendations and management actions, which the APA must deem to be in compliance with the State Land Master Plan, are just going ahead anyway. For example, primitive tent sites, parking lots and other facilities throughout are being completed this summer “prior to adoption of the Unit Management Plan.” These are not interim steps. These are final decisions as to number, design, and location.
I understand why the State appears to be rushing to complete this parking and camping by permit system on the Essex Chain and Upper Hudson River. These are vulnerable aquatic systems and nobody wants to establish an early pattern of recreational overuse which could degrade these ponds and their shorelines and rare ecological plant and fish communities. I conceptually support this UMP’s camping permit reservation system. It makes management and stewardship sense, as does the inclusion of the Student Conservation Association and the Adirondack Interpretive Center in managing such a camping reservation system. » Continue Reading.
Increased opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks would be available under two proposed plans released today for public review and comment, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced. Comments will be accepted on the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex Draft Unit Management Plan (Draft UMP) and a Draft Community Connector Multiple-Use Trail Plan (Draft Trail Plan) through July 18.
The Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex includes the 6,956-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area, the 2,788-acre Pine Lake Primitive Area and a portion of the 42,537-acre Blue Mountain Wild Forest. These lands are located in the Town of Indian Lake in Hamilton County, and towns of Newcomb and Minerva in Essex County. » Continue Reading.
For three days, the Adirondack Park Agency deliberated on a set of classifications for Forest Preserve in Newcomb, Minerva and Indian Lake that were never in doubt. The decisions were the Governor’s. APA took its direction from him, as it did with the Adirondack Club and Resort two years ago.
APA staff labored mightily over the past week to put those State Land decisions, and the maps into a format that their members might understand. The convoluted resolution was adopted unanimously but requires changes in inconvenient regulations and policies before the classifications are finalized. That is the price this Governor exacts from his state agencies in order to settle a controversial policy matter for these magnificent new parts of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency voted unanimously today to approve a staff recommendation to create a 23,494-acre Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area and a 9,940-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area on lands once owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
The vote climaxed a year of work that included public hearings, which elicited thousands of comments, and negotiations between state officials and various stakeholders.
Underscoring the importance of the decision was that Basil Seggos, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary for the environment, drove up from Albany to attend the APA’s meeting.
The current Forest Preserve classification process underway at the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) for the new lands around the Essex Chain Lakes and the Hudson River is likely go down as the worst administered process in the 40-year history of the APA. Since the close of the public hearing in mid-July, the APA leadership has openly subverted state law and moved decision making from an open and transparent public forum to a smokeless backroom.
The process has gone awry. The train has run off the tracks. This is evidenced by four recent events: » Continue Reading.
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