ELIZABETHTOWN — The new leader of the Adirondack Park’s top environmental group is telling Essex County lawmakers he wants to mend fences with local governments.
A smiling Adirondack Council Executive Director William “Willie” Janeway took the podium at this week’s County Board of Supervisors meeting.
“Are there any questions folks have for me?” he asked. “I hope we can work together in the areas we have common ground.”
Since the Adirondack Council and local officials have often been at odds at how the 8 million-acre Adirondack Park should be managed, there were lots of questions, which Janeway fielded with apparent good humor.
ESSEX CHAIN LAKES
He said one of his top issues is the state classification of the new lands in Essex Chain Lakes at the border of Hamilton and Essex counties.
Local governments are asking for a Wild Forest classification, which would allow some motorized access, while environmental groups want Wilderness protection, which is much more restrictive.
“As we work on the classifications to protect them (the land), we need to work together to promote them,” Janeway said. “The council is advocating for Wilderness protection for them.”
An environmental coalition that includes the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild is lobbying for the Adirondack Park Agency to recommend a Wilderness classification for the newly acquired lands.
But many town leaders and residents of Indian Lake, Newcomb, North Hudson and Minerva, where most of the new state land is located, want Wild Forest classification. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make the final decision after the APA vote, likely this month or next.
Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) noted Janeway came to Jay, and he took him on a tour.
“On the flip side of the land classification, the supervisors here who are affected the most, we are a ways apart,” Douglas said.