In the News  Archive

APA urged to take time

Albany - As a state agency wrestles with the question of how to manage tens of thousands of acres of new public lands — including pristine ponds, turbulent stretches of river and immaculate forests — a coalition of major environmental groups is urging the decision-makers to take their time.

The Adirondack Park Agency's Board of Commissioners "should not try to make this decision at its September meeting," said Neil Woodworth, executive director and counsel for the Adirondack Mountain Club, in a prepared statement released by a group that also included Adirondack Wild, Protect the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Council.

The APA will decide how to classify the former Finch-Pruyn timberlands in Essex and Hamilton counties that the state has purchased or promised to buy. In all, more than 60,000 acres are coming into state control.

There was no indication the agency, which helps govern land-use policies in the vast Adirondack Park, was going to release classifications for the lands during its Sept. 12 and 13 meeting.

But the agency could come to a decision in the next several months — a prospect that is ramping up the debate.

The newly purchased state land includes the Essex Chain of nearly a dozen ponds and lakes near Newcomb; the area surrounding OK Slip Falls, a remote 250-foot waterfall that few have seen since it has been surrounded by private property. Sections of forest along the Hudson and Indian rivers also are part of the mix.

Environmentalists say much of the area should be maintained as wilderness with limited access to power boats, motor vehicles including ATVs and even bicycles. That would be in keeping with long-term goals of the park, and would better protect the waters from invasive species that have plagued other areas such as Lake George.

They also believe more study is needed for tasks such as looking at wetland protection.

Others, including some local town officials, want to let vehicles use a bit more of the old logging roads in the area, to better reach hunting spots or boat launching sites.

They also want a snowmobile trail that would link the towns of Minerva and Newcomb, roughly on the south and north sections of the tract.

"We're hopeful that we will have a four-season recreation area when all is said and done," said Minerva town Supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey. "That means access for snowmobiles."

APA officials didn't return a call late Friday.

Some of the decisions that the agency's commissioners must make are a matter of degree.

The amount of roads that would stay open, for instance, could impact how long canoeists might have to portage, or carry their craft.

A longer portage would likely mean fewer boaters, but less fishing pressure or danger that invasives are introduced. With that in mind, the APA is looking at seven broad options, with different levels of access.


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