Protect the Adirondacks has released a proposal to expand Wilderness areas in the Adirondack Park by over 36,500 acres. This includes Wilderness classification for much of The Nature Conservancy/former Finch, Pruyn and Company lands that border the High Peaks Wilderness and the creation of a new West Stony Creek Wilderness area in the southern Adirondacks.
This would be the biggest expansion of Wilderness in the Adirondacks since Governor Pataki acted in 2000 to establish the 20,000-acre William C. Whitney Wilderness area, which included upgrading of the 7,500-acre Lake Lila Primitive Area to Wilderness, and expanded both the Five Ponds Wilderness and Pepperbox Wilderness by over 21,000 acres.
Ours is a realistic proposal that provides Wilderness classification and protection for the most important natural resource areas of the land involved. It also aims to facilitate motorized access for limited roads open to the public and snowmobiles. We make a good faith effort at providing a workable and realistic classification and management that complies with the law, protects natural resources, and meets the objectives of many different interests. » Continue Reading.
In 1936, the conservationist Bob Marshall made a list of forty-eight forested areas in the United States that exceeded three hundred thousand acres and that remained roadless — that is, relatively pristine. Evidently, he considered three hundred thousand acres to be the minimal size of a true wilderness.
“We would like to point out that the 300,000 acres is not a roadless area in any pioneering sense,” Marshall wrote in the magazine Living Wilderness (with co-author Althea Dobbins). “Actually, a 300,000-acre tract is only about 21½ by 21½ miles, something which a reasonably good walker could traverse readily in a day if there were a trail.”
Although the Adirondack Park boasts more than a million acres of officially designated Wilderness, where motorized use is forbidden, no single Wilderness Area comes close to Marshall’s criterion. The High Peaks Wilderness — the largest in the Park — covers only 204,000 acres. » Continue Reading.
Two of the Adirondack Park’s four major environmental organizations filed a legal challenge to the Essex Chain management plan, but the two others have legal questions as well.
Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild filed a lawsuit today in State Supreme Court in Albany, claiming the management plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, the state Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers Act, and state snowmobile-trail policy.
Named as defendants are the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which drafted the management plan, and the Adirondack Park Agency, which approved it. Both agencies refused to comment on the suit.
Christopher Amato, a former assistant commissioner at DEC, told the Almanack that the Essex Chain plan is “blatantly illegal.” Amato is now an attorney at Earthjustice, a nonprofit organization that is representing Protect and Adirondack Wild in the lawsuit.
Amato said Earthjustice will file a motion to prevent DEC from implementing the management plan until the lawsuit is resolved.
A proposal to expand the High Peaks Wilderness has received the endorsement of two of the Adirondack Park Agency’s founding figures.
The High Peaks Wilderness already is by far the largest Wilderness Area in the Park, but the Adirondack Council and seven other environmental groups are urging the state to add 80,000 acres, expanding it to 284,000 acres.
Enlarging the Wilderness Area “will place New York State and the Adirondack Park in a position of national leadership for creation and maintenance of Wilderness lands equal to any in the Continental United States,” Peter Paine and William Kissel declared in a joint letter. The council intends to use the letter in its campaign for the Wilderness proposal and sent a copy to Adirondack Almanack on Friday.» Continue Reading.
I wish to recognize Adirondack Park Agency board member Art Lussi for his insistence over the past several months that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) provide a legal rationale for allowing expanded motorized uses in the Forest Preserve’s protected river corridors. When DEC failed again last week to provide that legal explanation, Lussi joined Richard Booth in voting no on DEC’s plans for the Essex Chain area because they fail to comply with the State Land Master Plan. » 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 state has acquired a 6,200-acre tract next to the High Peaks Wilderness that includes long stretches of the Hudson and Opalescent rivers, making them easily accessible to flatwater paddlers.
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. » Continue Reading.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has opened a new cross-country-ski trail on former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that takes you along the Goodnow and Hudson rivers in the town of Newcomb.
I skied the 4.2-mile loop trail on Wednesday afternoon with my neighbor, Tim Peartree, and we had a blast.
“I liked the variety, the ups and downs, the scenery. It’s a terrific trail,” Tim said after our trip.
The ski trip is possible thanks to the state’s purchase of lands in the Essex Chain Lakes region from the Nature Conservancy a few years ago. The conservancy had purchased the land from Finch, Pruyn & Company in 2007.
$500,000 in grants will be awarded to communities in the Adirondacks to enhance business development and access to the State’s newly-acquired former Finch, Pruyn & Co. lands.
The Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub grants, provided by The Nature Conservancy, will be used to fund nine projects designed to increase tourism opportunities, support small business growth, and expand recreational offerings with an overall goal of strengthening the region’s local economy and supporting jobs. » 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.
Protect the Adirondacks is urging the state to create a 12,850-acre West Stony Creek Wilderness Area in the southern Adirondacks.
The Wilderness Area would combine 3,925 acres of former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that the state recently purchased from the Nature Conservancy and 8,925 acres of existing Forest Preserve in the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.
“The West Stony Creek area is rugged terrain dominated by low ridges and mountains and the meandering West Stony Creek and associated wetlands. The Forest Preserve sections have old-growth forest communities,” Protect Chairman Chuck Clusen said in a news release today.
Protect also says a Wilderness classification would offer stronger protection for a six-mile stretch of West Stony Creek that is designated a Scenic River within the state’s Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System.
The state has completed another purchase of former Finch, Pruyn timberlands, totaling 8,500 acres, and though the deal is not as momentous as previous Finch deals, bigger things are on the horizon.
By year’s end, the state intends to purchase two large tracts of former Finch lands that border the High Peaks Wilderness, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Known as McIntyre East and McIntyre West, the tracts encompass nearly twelve thousand acres near the Upper Works trailhead in the town of Newcomb. » Continue Reading.
Two years ago, when Governor Andrew Cuomo revived the massive Finch, Pruyn land deal, first engineered by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy in 2007, he shifted the terms of a long-running debate over big land-conservation projects in the Park. Funding for open-space conservation had been under attack in Albany for years, including a moratorium on new spending. Even many Democrats were questioning the value to taxpayers of protecting more “forever wild” land in the Park.
The governor turned that debate on its head, arguing that vast tracts of new public lands would be a boon to the state’s tourism economy—rather than a costly burden—and would give struggling Adirondack towns a long-needed boost. “Today’s agreement will make the Adirondack Park one of the most sought-after destinations for paddlers, hikers, hunters, sportspeople, and snowmobilers,” Cuomo declared in August 2012 as he committed the state to spending $47 million on sixty-nine thousand acres of timberlands over five years.
Cuomo pointed to “extraordinary new outdoor recreational opportunities” that he asserted would spark investment and help revitalize the tourism economy in struggling mountain towns. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the latest phase of New York State’s acquisition of 69,000 acres, part of 161,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands (and others) purchased by the Nature Conservancy in 2007, as well as $875,000 in available grants for projects to develop tourism and recreation facilities within the Adirondack Park.
The State will pay $5.7 million to acquire the tracts from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), using the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) which is funded by real estate transfer taxes. Already, the state has completed two acquisitions from TNC totaling 30,037 acres. An additional 89,000 acres of the original TNC-Finch 161,00-acre purchase was set aside for logging and other motorized uses in 2010.
With this purchase New York State will add to the Forest Preserve 8,451 acres spread over 14 parcels in Fulton, Warren, Essex and Hamilton counties, along with a few parcels in Saratoga County that are outside the blue line. The Saratoga County properties include the Daniels Road tract (519 acres), the Penn York tract (241 acres) and the Town Line tract (176 acres). In addition, the Town of Edinburg will be able to move forward with the acquisition of 1,248 acres on Fox Hill Road. Another 154 acres known as Town Corners will consolidate wetlands in Greenfield. » Continue Reading.
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