MINERVA — New York state taxpayers now own 18,294 additional acres of timberland that once largely comprised a working forest.
The Essex Chain of Lakes was conveyed recently by the Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley to the people of New York, according to the Essex County Clerk’s Office, for $12,389,320.
As state land, it will be reclassified from its current use of Resource Management and opened for public access, according to plans being laid out by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
DEC is working on a draft Public Access and State Land Classification proposal for the entire 69,000-acre property, DEC Director of Public Information Emily DeSantis said in an email to the Press-Republican.
That proposal will be submitted in the near future to the Adirondack Park Agency, she said.
“The APA plans to release a draft land classification plan for the tract in the coming months.”
Release of the draft plan will be followed by a public comment period, and public hearings will be held before the final recommendations are sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for approval.
DEC’s intention is to open access to the unleased parts of the tract in the spring, DeSantis said.
This sale is the first of several in queue, transferring former Finch, Pruyn and Co. property for preservation in the Adirondack Park.
The Essex Chain is roughly a third of the total 69,000 acres targeted for addition to the Forest Preserve in a deal announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last August. These are the last parcels of the 161,000-acre land transaction made by Finch, Pruyn to the Nature Conservancy in 2007.
The Essex Chain was purchased despite a last-ditch effort by local government officials to rethink the expense.
The Local Government Review Board had been asking the state to deploy easements to the property, thus allowing timber management and recreational use to coexist.