ALBANY - New York state regulators have scheduled deliberations next week on classifying how new state land in the central Adirondacks can be used.
The woodlands and waterways in the towns of Indian Lake, Minerva and Newcomb were acquired by the state from The Nature Conservancy, which bought the land from the Finch, Pruyn timber company in 2007. The land includes the Essex Chain of Lakes, Hudson River Gorge, OK Slip Falls and a tract along the Indian River.
The Adirondack Park Agency will consider staff recommendations that include designating 33,000 acres as wilderness or primitive areas where motors are prohibited, a new snowmobile trail, a road to one lake in the Essex Chain for the handicapped and allowing float planes on First Lake and Pine Lake. Deliberations are scheduled for Wednesday through Friday in Ray Brook.
Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway said the group supports plans to protect in perpetuity some of the state's most ecologically sensitive areas.
Neil Woodworth of the Adirondack Mountain Club, like Janeway, said he wants 38,000 acres designated as wilderness, but understands that the park agency is "committed to balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders." That commitment includes building the proposed snowmobile trail largely along existing gravel roads that town officials say they need for their winter economies.
Protect the Adirondacks said a proposed 23,000-acre Hudson River Gorge Wilderness Area will "preserve the wonders and beauty of the Hudson Gorge for all time and protect the Hudson at its wildest." However, the group was disappointed the Essex Chain of Lakes wasn't designated wilderness and that some motorized use will be allowed nearby.
Bill Farber and Randy Douglas, chairmen of the Hamilton County and Essex County boards of supervisors, respectively, issued a joint statement saying the proposal would allow for key recreational opportunities in the affected towns.
"Did our communities and constituents get everything we wanted in the proposed Essex Chain designation? Of course not!" their statement reads. "But the opportunities that could soon be before Essex and Hamilton Counties to provide unparalleled recreational opportunities and spur important new economic activity are exciting and historic, and set the stage for a much brighter future for our communities."