The New York State Conservation Council contends that designating the Essex Chain Lakes a Wilderness Area would hurt the local economy and violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.
In a letter to the Adirondack Park Agency, the council calls for designating the Essex Chain a Wild Forest Area, a less-restrictive classification. Motorized use is permitted in Wild Forest Areas but not in Wilderness Areas.
The council, which represents hunters and anglers, argues that the 17,320-acre Essex Chain Lakes Tract does not meet the definition of Wilderness in the State Land Master Plan. The organization points out that the land has been logged extensively and contains more than forty miles of gravel roads. » Continue Reading.
The hearings on the classification of the former Finch, Pruyn lands are finished, but the public can submit written comments to the Adirondack Park Agency through July 19.
In one such comment, a former APA board member recommends classifying the Essex Chain Lakes a Canoe Area.
Rick Hoffman, who served on the board as a representative of the New York State Department of State from 1998 to 2008, argues that a Canoe classification would be as protective of the natural resources as a Wilderness classification and would stimulate paddling tourism. » Continue Reading.
This week’s Adirondack Park Agency public hearings in Minerva and Newcomb about the classification of new Forest Preserve land along the Upper Hudson River, Essex Chain of Lakes, Cedar and Indian Rivers were well attended and informative. At Minerva Central School, there was no applause, no heckling. Folks listened to differing viewpoints respectfully, and several speakers noted a fair amount of common interests.
While most speakers favored a Wild Forest classification which would allow motorized access through an area long closed to public use, one former Finch, Pruyn manager noted the damage done to the roads by all-terrain vehicles. There was only one speaker in Minerva who favored unrestricted, unregulated, all-out motorized use from the Goodnow Flow to the Cedar River. Most appreciate the havoc this would cause to a region they know, or wish to get to know. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park is held up as the great wilderness area in the eastern United States. It’s the place where people come for a wilderness experience and to enjoy the great outdoors. One great myth about the wild Adirondack Park is that there is an abundance of motor-free lakes and ponds. In fact, the Park faces a scarcity of quiet waters where one can paddle a canoe or kayak without interruption from motorboats, jet skis, floatplanes, and other types of motorized watercraft.
Of the 200 largest lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park, from Lake Champlain, with 262,864 acres, to Round Pond in Indian Lake, covering 134.9 acres, the overwhelming majority of big lakes and ponds provide abundant opportunities for motorized watercraft—but scant opportunity for quiet, motor-free waters. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled a hearing in New York City on various options for classifying of 21,200 acres of former Finch, Pruyn land and up to 24,200 acres of adjacent Forest Preserve. The classification decision will determine whether motorized access and recreation will be allowed on the lands and waters in question.
The hearing will be in the Downtown Conference Center at Pace University on Wednesday, June 19, at 6 p.m. The center is located at 157 William Street, 18th Floor, in Manhattan.
The APA plans to hold eight hearings throughout the state on the Finch, Pruyn lands, which the state recently acquired from the Nature Conservancy. The agency had previously announced the dates and locations of the other seven. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has promulgated seven “alternatives” for public hearing for the official classification of new and existing Forest Preserve lands on the Hudson River and around the Essex Chain Lakes. But these public hearings seem like pure theater because one of the alternatives is the preferred option of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and it sure seems like a sure thing that the APA will end up approving the DEC’s plan.
The DEC’s preferred option is alternative 4b [pdf] in the APA classification package, centered on a “Wild Forest Special Management Area” around the Essex Chain Lakes. The other six alternatives, which include two Wilderness options, one Primitive option, two Canoe options and one other Wild Forest option for the Essex Chain Lakes, are mere props to the DEC’s preferred alternative. These six alternatives were created by the APA staff through the usual process, but in reality they all revolve around the DEC preferred option like planets around the sun. (In the interest of full disclosure Protect the Adirondacks supports alternative 1a.) » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency will kick off on June 12 a series of public hearings on the use and management of 22,500 acres of new state land, including the Essex Chain Lakes and parts of the Hudson River.
After the hearings, the APA will decide how to classify the lands—a decision that will affect how people can recreate and how accessible the lands will be. The state recently bought the former Finch, Pruyn timberlands from the Nature Conservancy. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency board voted Friday to schedule public hearings on seven options for classifying about 22,500 acres formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company as well as up to 25,300 acres of adjacent Forest Preserve.
The APA has yet to determine the dates and locales, but the hearings likely will take place in June and July in several communities around the state, including hamlets inside the Park.
The agency could vote on a preferred option as early as its August meeting.
The pending classification of the former Finch lands already has sparked disagreement among the Park’s various factions. At stake is the degree of access to the Essex Chain Lakes, a string of connect pond in the interior, and to takeouts on the Hudson River.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is proposing newly acquired Forest Preserve in Newcomb and Minerva to be classified Wilderness in honor of one of the Park’s most influential conservation leaders of the 20th century.
The group wants New York State to recognize Paul Schaefer’s historic legacy of protecting the Upper Hudson River by advocating for a Paul Schaefer Wild Rivers Wilderness that is inclusive of the recently acquired Essex Chain of Lakes-Cedar River tract (13,000 acres), Hudson River Stillwater tract (5,000 acres), the Indian River tract (1,400 acres), and the OK Slip Falls tract (2,800 acres). » Continue Reading.
The staff of the Adirondack Park Agency has proposed seven options for the classification of 22,538 acres of former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands recently acquired by the state, all calling for the creation of a Hudson Gorge Wilderness.
The size of the new Wilderness Area—which would require the reclassification of lands already in the Forest Preserve—would range from 18,829 acres to 45,347 acres, depending on the option.
Under six of the proposals, the Wilderness Area would extend from just south of Newcomb through the Hudson Gorge to just north of the hamlet of North River. Under the other proposal, part of the river corridor would instead be classified a Canoe Area.
Because motorized use is forbidden in Wilderness Areas, local governments often oppose such a classification in favor of Wild Forest, which is less restrictive. However, Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, thinks local officials can accept the creation of a Hudson Gorge Wilderness. The battle, he said, is likely to be waged over the classification of the nearby Essex Chain of Lakes and the degree of motorized access to both the Essex Chain and the Hudson. » Continue Reading.
A former top official in the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says the department’s proposal for managing the Essex Chain of Lakes will jeopardize the region’s natural resources.
In the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, Christopher Amato calls for classifying the Essex Chain as a Canoe Area, a designation that would prohibit the public use of motorboats, floatplanes, and motor vehicles. DEC has proposed classifying the area as Wild Forest, which would permit motorized access.
Amato’s proposal is closer in spirit to proposals by the Adirondack Council and Protect the Adirondacks to classify all or most of the tract as Wilderness. Motorized use is also prohibited in Wilderness Areas. But Amato, who served as DEC’s assistant commissioner for natural resources from 2007 to 2011, contends that the Canoe designation is a better fit.
More than five years after the Nature Conservancy bought all 161,000 acres of Finch, Pruyn & Company’s timberlands, the state has acquired eighteen thousand acres for the Forest Preserve and intends to open up some of the land to the public this spring.
As a result of the state acquisition in December, canoeists and kayakers will be able to paddle south on the Hudson River from Newcomb to a takeout just south of the confluence with the Goodnow River.
Wayne Failing, a longtime fishing and rafting guide, describes the six-mile stretch as a mix of flatwater and mild rapids in a wild setting. “It’s a fabulous section,” he said. “I’ve done the trip many times.” » Continue Reading.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has recommended that the new Forest Preserve acquisition at the Essex Chain of Lakes be classified Wild Forest, while the Upper Hudson River just to the east become part of a river corridor Wilderness. Several organizations previously submitted ideas for how these landscapes should be classified.
The APA is now charged with preparing classification documents for 18,000-acres comprising the Essex Chain of Lakes, and Upper Hudson tracts. Those classification documents will be subject to the State Environmental Quality Review Act and must involve public hearings and a public comment period. It will prove most interesting to see if APA acts with the independence it has in law, respects the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, and acts contrary to DEC recommendations on the Essex Chain of Lakes. » Continue Reading.
Generally, I regard the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan as a sound document, but when it comes to mountain bikes I have some qualms. It seems to pit environmentalists against bikers, and the bikers I know consider themselves environmentalists.
I thought of this while reviewing the state’s proposals for the classification and management of the former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is recommending that bikers be allowed to ride on a network of dirt roads in the Essex Chain of Lakes area and on the access road to the Boreas Ponds Tract (known as Gulf Brook Road). » Continue Reading.
Protect the Adirondacks has come up with a vision for the former Finch, Pruyn lands that is at odds with the management plan proposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Essentially, Protect wants more land classified as Wilderness.
The biggest difference is that Protect wants the Essex Chain of Lakes to be included in a 39,000-acre Upper Hudson Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area would encompass lands that the state owns or intends to acquire over the next several years, including OK Slip Falls and the Hudson Gorge.
As I reported here this week, DEC proposes to classify the Essex Chain Wild Forest. Given this classification, DEC intends to keep open several interior roads, permit floatplanes to land on Third Lake in the Essex Chain (only during mud season), and allow mountain bikers to ride on a network of dirt roads in the vicinity of the chain—all of which would be banned under a Wilderness designation. » Continue Reading.
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