Essex Chain of Lakes is one parcel that the state of New York will be buying over five years from the Nature Conservancy. It was once owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
It was all about compromise.
That is what four members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors felt made the difference in the Adirondack Park Agency’s Dec. 13 land classification of four parcels of land purchased by the state of New York from the Nature Conservancy, who had previously bought the same tracts from Finch and Pruyn.
The purchase included lands known as the Essex Chain Lakes Tract, Indian River Tract, OK Slip Falls Tract and the OSC Tract.
Bordering the towns of Indian Lake and Long Lake, both in Hamilton County; and Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson in Essex County, these local officials sought land classifications that would allow for access and connectivity of a snowmobile/hiking trail between all five townships.
The APA board chose an option that called for a mix of land classifications, creating five new Forest Preserve Units and a multi-use Wild Forest corridor between the Primitive and Wilderness Units, adding a variety of new public recreation opportunities in the park including hiking and walking; kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing; snowmobiling, including the potential for connections between the towns of Indian Lake, Newcomb, and Minerva; whitewater and flatwater rafting; cross country and backcountry skiing; fishing; hunting; snowshoeing; horseback riding and mountain biking.
Essex County leaders were pleased with the result and the work that went into the final decision.
“Everyone knew going in they were not going to have everything that they wanted out of this,” Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said. “I think that everyone walked away from the table with half-a-smile and half-a-frown. Getting the snowmobile connection will be a huge boon for the five towns.”
Canon said that there are already trail connections between the towns of Long Lake, Indian Lake and Newcomb. With the classification, the trails would now be able to continue into Minerva and North Hudson.
“To have all five towns connected is going to be a great advantage for everyone,” Canon added.
North Hudson Supervisor Ronald Moore praised the APA for their work on the matter.
“It was a long, hard decision and I thank the APA for all of their hard work,” Moore said. “This is a historic decision. No one got everything that they wanted, but we all got something. We were focused on the trails and access between the five towns and this offers opportunity for that.”
Moore said there was more work to be done.
“We need the bridge that is proposed to go across the Cedar River to be put in place,” Moore said. “There is still some heavy lifting to be done.”
Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey said the decision represented a “balance.”
“It was a good, solid decision that balanced a lot of very difficult issues,” Corey said. “We were asked as towns to try and work with the environmental groups and did so in a very positive experience.”
The decision by the APA board will be moved forward to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for final approval while the APA and DEC will start to draft Unit Management Plans for each of the newly classified areas.