RAY BROOK — Public comment is still sought on recreation maps and plans for public access to Essex Chain of Lakes.
The varied mix of land-use classification approved by the Adirondack Park Agency in February opened new areas previously closed to the public.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation created two unit-management plans for the new state lands.
One is for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, and a second outlines options for a Connector Trail, a thin band of Wild Forest that bisects Wilderness and Primitive areas and connects the towns of Newcomb, Minerva, North Hudson and Indian Lake.
“The projects described in these two plans will provide a significant increase in outdoor recreational opportunities for the public and economic opportunities for the nearby Adirondack communities,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in releasing the unit plans.
“Improved access will allow the public to camp, mountain bike, horseback ride, paddle, fish, hunt and snowmobile in a manner that preserves the unique resources of these areas.”
The area defined as “Chain Lakes” encompasses 6,956 acres around the lakes once owned by Finch, Pruyn & Co. (now Finch Paper).
It is classified as Primitive and borders a heavily worn logging road.
Pine Lake Primitive and Blue Mountain Wild Forest acres adjoin the Essex Chain Lakes Complex.
DEC’s plan proposes to:
• Allow mountain-bike use on select roads within the complex.
• Allow seasonal motorized access to the Chain Lakes Road South and Camp Six Road for big-game hunting.
• Construct public parking near Fourth and Fifth lakes, including spaces for people with disabilities.
• Designate canoe carries.
• Construct a bridge over Cedar River for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and equestrian use.
Public use of motorized boats is not allowed in any of the Essex Chain waters.
The Connector Trail, which would be open to snowmobile use, would be developed in four distinct segments.