The Adirondack Park Agency Board met May 9 at APA headquarters and discussed alternatives to classify the state’s newly acquired land formerly owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
The State Land Committee heard an informational presentation regarding proposed classification alternatives for the Essex Chain Lakes Tract (18,888 acres), Indian River Tract (945 acres), OK Slip Falls Tract (3,015 acres), and OSC Tract (160 acres), as well as Forest Preserve lands adjacent to these tracts which are being considered for potential reclassification.
The lands subject to these classification actions are located in the Hamilton County town of Indian Lake, and the Essex County towns of Minerva and Newcomb. The lands considered for reclassification are located within the existing Vanderwhacker Wild Forest, the Blue Mountain Wild Forest and the Hudson Gorge Primitive Area.
Staff from the Agency’s Planning Division presented classification alternatives to the State Lands Committee with two goals in mind. They asked committee members to 1) accept the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) for the classification package and to 2) authorize the staff to proceed with public hearings.
Members of the committtee — chaired by Commissioner Richard Booth — accepted the DSEIS with appropriate “tweaks” to the maps and approved going to the public hearing process. Members of the full Agency Board approved the committee's resolution at the meeting on Friday, May 10.
In his opening statements to the committee on May 9, Deputy Director of Planning Jim Connelly noted that these are not the only alternatives board members can approve, as boundaries can be tweaked throughout the process.
There will be six or seven public hearings, and the public comment period would extend to the end of July, according to Connelly, who said the staff would probably give a presentation at the APA’s August meeting with the their classification recommendations.
In the meantime, APA Board members would take multiple field trips to the affected regions of the Park before making their decision.
Once the land new land is classified and exisiting Forest Preserve is reclassified, the DEC will start the Unit Management Plan process, which could start as early as 2014, Connelly said.
Senior Natural Resources Planner Kathy Regan told committee members that there are four criteria the staff will be looking at when making its classification recommendation: physical, biological, intangible and existing uses.
She also stressed the difference between the classification and UMP processes. The APA first determines the classification (or category) of the land, as outlined in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Then the DEC takes the lead on writing the UMP, which details the uses of a unit.
During the presentation, Associate Natural Resources Planner Matt Kendall showed State Land Committee members the areas of discussion. As the APA’s map guy, he showed PowerPoint slides of the maps along with aerial photos taken from Brant Lake photographer Carl Heilman.
Associate Natural Resources Planner Walt Linck then explained the potential recreational opportunities in these four parcels and adjoining Forest Preserve.
“There is a lot of interest in these lands,” Linck said. “They are beautiful.”
When considering the recreational uses, Linck said the staff wasn’t looking at each parcel on a case-by-case basis. In order to provide for a wide range of recreational opportunities, the staff looked at the “whole package,” including the newly acquired lands and adjoining state lands.
“We’re obligated to look at the area as a whole,” Linck said.