The Adirondack Park Agency has announced that it has deemed DEC’s application complete for the Frontier Town Campground, Equestrian and Day Use Area along the Schroon River in North Hudson. State and local officials have been touting the proposed facility as a “Gateway to the Adirondacks.”
The plan proposes an accessible public campground at the site of the former Frontier Town theme park. The campground would include RV, tent, and equestrian camp sites and facilities, and trails connecting to the snowmobile trails leading to Schroon Lake and Ticonderoga, and a new trail to Newcomb being proposed in the yet unapproved Boreas Ponds Tract Management Plan. The campground is part of the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub Master Plan.
The Adirondack Park Agency board will soon lose its strongest defender of wilderness: Dick Booth does not intend to serve another term.
Booth’s current four-year term expires June 30, but he said he will stay on awhile if a successor is not appointed by then.
A professor in Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning, Booth told Adirondack Almanack he is leaving partly out of frustration with decisions at the agency. He also said the long drive from Ithaca to Ray Brook for monthly meetings and poring over stacks of documents in preparation for those meetings proved draining over the years.
“I’ve been there eight and a half years,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it, but at some point it’s time to step aside.”
DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos signed the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) in late March, and issued a Findings Statement required by law.
The final UMP and the Findings do not appear to alter the basic management decisions ratified by the Adirondack Park Agency last November as being in compliance with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Those management decisions include creation of motorized corridors within Wild and Scenic River areas and other matters which the nonprofits Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and Protect the Adirondacks considered in serious violation of existing law and regulation. Two members of the APA voted against the UMP compliance determination because of the Environmental Conservation Department’s apparent disregard for provisions in the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act and regulations. The nonprofit organizations consequently filed a lawsuit in January. The legal matters are pending in court.
DEC has asserted from the beginning and continues to assert that as a matter of law prior uses by the private owner Finch,Pruyn and Company and its private lessees and guests, uses ending when Finch, Pruyn sold the property in 2007, justify continued uses by the public today after the land reverted to publicly- owned Forest Preserve in 2012. This is one of the several contested issues before the court. » Continue Reading.
I have heard from many who have gone into the Essex Chain Lakes area and encountered relatively few other people. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has stated that public use has been very high but provided no numbers. When I rode my bicycle from Newcomb to Blue Mountain Lake on a beautiful 75 degree Saturday of Labor Day weekend last year there were two cars at the Deer Pond parking lot to the Essex Chain Lakes area. This contrasted with the fairly heavy use of people hiking into OK Slip Falls, which is part of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness area.
Through a freedom of Information letter, I requested trailhead logbooks from the DEC to look at the use of other flatwater canoeing locations in the Adirondack Forest Preserve – Little Tupper Lake, Low’s Lake and Lake Lila. These are all wonderful motorless areas that provide incredible flatwater canoeing and overnight opportunities. I had certainly envisioned that the Essex Chain Lakes would become another such vaunted Wilderness destination where visitors were guaranteed a wild experience, away from motor vehicles.
Two of the Adirondack Park’s major environmental groups are suing the state over the management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes region—a large tract of forest, ponds, and streams that the state acquired from the Nature Conservancy as part of the blockbuster Finch, Pruyn deal.
Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Albany contending that the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency board voted 8-2 Friday to approve a management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes region that one of the dissenters denounced for its “legal fiction.”
One of the major controversies is over the decision to retain an iron bridge over the Hudson River for use as a future snowmobile trail.
The Hudson in that area is classified as a Scenic River, a designation that normally precludes motorized uses and large bridges. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, contends that motorized use over the river predated the law and thus can continue.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is accepting public comments on how their Essex Chain Lakes Complex Plan conforms to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The comment period will conclude on October 16, 2015.
The plan addresses the continued development of controversial bicycling and snowmobiling projects, including the construction of a bridge over the Cedar River continued maintenance of the Polaris (Iron) Bridge over the Hudson River, and the construction of a new snowmobile trail between Indian Lake and Minerva. » Continue Reading.
This week, Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Member Richard Booth continued his efforts to get his Agency to focus on its policy and legal obligations.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which has a seat on the APA, presented its Final Draft Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area. Mr. Booth, who chairs the APA’s State Land Committee, has repeatedly advised the DEC that drafts of the controversial UMP are not ready for APA public comment because they violate key sections of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, which has the force and effect of law.
The DEC, apparently prodded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, bulldozes ahead irrespective of the law. » Continue Reading.
There has been a long-held belief about Newcomb among many Adirondackers visitors and residents alike – there’s nothing there. I’ve heard this about Newcomb on and off for thirty years. It’s Nonsense!
Sure, I don’t deny that the Newcomb area could benefit from more places to dine and stay the night. But I can’t think of any place better equipped to appeal to one class of tourist the Adirondack region has so far mostly ignored: ecotourism. » Continue Reading.
The contradictory, disconnected, segmented, illegal and impractical ways that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (with full cooperation from the Adirondack Park Agency so far and support from Governor Andrew Cuomo) is going about the business of planning and building community connector snowmobile routes in the Adirondack Park continues apace. Work planning for the just approved community connector between Newcomb and Minerva, for example, will prove very interesting indeed and will be challenged in every sense of that word. » Continue Reading.
A third public hearing regarding the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex Draft Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be held on Wednesday, July 22 in Albany, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.
This is the third public hearing on the management of the newly acquired lands along the Upper Hudson and the Cedar River, the first and only such hearing outside of Northern New York.
DEC will hold the additional public hearing at 1 pm in room 129A of DEC Headquarters at 625 Broadway in Albany. More information about the plans being made to develop the Essex Chain Lakes for recreation can be found here. » Continue Reading.
A 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. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is investigating potentially significant changes to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP), which sets Forest Preserve management standards and guidelines. As part of the resolution passed by the APA in December 2013, two issues were identified for SLMP reform: 1) the requirement that bridges in Wild Forest areas be constructed with natural materials; 2) the prohibition of mountain biking on designated roads in Primitive Areas.
Last fall, the APA solicited public comments on these two items, as well as anything else members of the public want to see changed in the SLMP and afterward convened a group of stakeholders for a scoping meeting. Because APA staff has not yet released recommendations for SLMP changes and the APA Commissioners have not yet acted to start the public review process, we are still in the early stages of formulating a process and schedule for how to undertake SLMP reform and select issues.
As they move ahead, APA would be well-served to adhere to the adage that good science makes good policy. The APA needs to bring solid data to the public about the issues they select for SLMP reform. We live in an age of stunning research and science, yet this is also an age where politics rather than science drive public policy. SLMP reform by anecdote is unacceptable. » Continue Reading.
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