July 14, 2013

Last call for classification of Essex Chain Lakes

Eight public hearings were recently held across the state by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to solicit pubic input on classification of the first leg of an eventual 65,000 acre purchase by New York state of the former Finch, Pruyn Inc. lands.

I attended the last of these meetings held early last week in Warren County.

As usual with land deals in the Adirondacks, the issue comes down to classification and there were a variety of speakers with numerous interests and therefore reasons to support one form of classification over the other. The No. 1 concern was the Essex Chain Lakes and their classification.

The APA has come up with seven classification plans that range from being more restrictive to motor vehicles and thus include mostly Wilderness classification to leaning more toward Wild Forest, a classification more liberal to motor usage including vehicles, snowmobiles, boat motors, chain saws and even float planes. There are also options for a second Canoe area classification.

Here’s a look at some of the comments.

Town of Chester (Warren County) Supervisor Fred Monroe, who represents the Adirondack Government Review Board, which was created under the same law as the APA, called for a mostly Wild Forest classification.

“That enables use for the largest number of people,” he said. “DEC Commissioner Joe Martens made a comment that we would agree with. That was, this purchase of land doesn’t just benefit those who are fit enough to explore the backcountry.”

Access to the Essex Chain Lakes is extremely coveted and most of the proposals call for vehicle access to get approximately within a quarter-mile of Deer Pond where portages could connect paddlers to eight (possibly more) other ponds. It is in this vicinity where many of the plans call for a border (or don’t) between the two classifications.

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