---- — ALBANY — New York state has added to its ownership of former Finch Pruyn lands in the Adirondacks, including the Indian River tract in Essex and Hamilton counties.
At a cost of $6.3 million, the state purchased the 9,300 or so acres from the Nature Conservancy and will pay full property taxes on the land, according to a press release.
“This acquisition complements the state’s purchase of the 18,318-acre Essex Chain of Lakes property in late 2012,” it said.
“The acquisition of these properties, announced in August 2012 by (Gov. Andrew Cuomo), will ensure their continued protection and an expansion of tourism opportunities in the park, benefiting local communities.”
The parcels also include the OK Slip Falls tract in Hamilton County, the Casey Brook tract in Essex County, the Spruce Point and Saddles tracts in Washington County and the Hudson Riverside/Ice Meadow tract in Warren County.
“There is not a more fitting way to celebrate Earth Week than protecting spectacular property in the Adirondack Park that will create tourism opportunities and bring more visitors to this magnificent place,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“With these newest acquisitions, we are building upon past state investments in the Adirondacks as we enhance a world-class park that contains a wealth of private and public lands in one of the most beautiful settings on Earth.”
‘REDUCED FLOOD RISK’
The Nature Conservancy also granted $500,000 to the state “to support community connections and economic development linked to the properties in Newcomb, Minerva, North Hudson, Indian Lake, Long Lake and other towns,” the release said.
“Adding these former Finch lands to the Forest Preserve will open a magnificent stretch of the Upper Hudson to the public and attract new visitors to the interior of the Adirondacks,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement.
Protecting the tracts not only benefits tourism, recreation and wildlife, said Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in New York, and “helps keep New York’s water clean and reduces the risk of floods during extreme weather events like hurricanes Irene and Sandy.”
“The scale of this project is enabling us to collectively achieve significant ecological protections, while allowing for a variety of compatible uses, as well as creating some really exciting, world-class recreational opportunities,” said Michael Carr, executive director of the Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter.
The Nature Conservancy bought the entire 161,000-acre property from Finch Pruyn in 2007; 90,000 acres were sold to a private company for timber management.
The sale of a total 69,000 acres to New York state will take place over five years; it began in 2012.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency are working together to plan for the future classification of the former Finch lands.
DEC’s Proposal for Public Access and State Land Classification for the entire 69,000-acre property is based upon input from local governments and other stakeholders. It has been submitted it to the APA and to park stakeholder groups.
The APA will release a draft land classification plan later this year.
A public-comment period will follow, with public hearings conducted before the final recommendations are sent to the governor for approval.
With land classifications in place, DEC will develop unit management plans to guide long-term public and administrative use of the property.
“The acquisition of these tracts will increase hiking opportunities and provide direct access to the Upper Hudson River from the Newcomb Town Beach,” Newcomb Town Supervisor George Cannon said in the release.
“Attracting more visitors to the interior should increase economic opportunities for Adirondack communities.”