Essex Chain Plan (2016 January)
In November, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) approved a controversial management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes region on
land formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company. There has been much controversy over proposed recreational uses of the land,
including the recent decision to retain an iron (Polaris) bridge over the Hudson River for a future snowmobile trail.
The Hudson River in that area is classified as a Scenic River, which according to regulations does not allow motorized vehicles.
However, the DEC states motorized use on the bridge predates the law and can be grandfathered.
In August, the ADK and other groups
asked the APA to support a wilderness classification, limiting motorized uses, as the best choice for long-term natural resource
protection for these extraordinary lands, providing a wide variety of public access opportunities, and for preserving a wilderness
outdoor recreational experience. Environmental groups worry the grandfathering concept could set a dangerous precedent for future land
acquisitions in the Adirondack Park. Additional information on the Essex Chain Lakes is available at ADK.org. Stay tuned!
Boreas Ponds Tract (2016 January)
ADK has joined other environmental groups to urge Governor Cuomo to expand the High Peaks Wilderness area to include the 21,000 acre
Boreas Ponds Tract. The former Finch, Pruyn & Company property was recently purchased by the Nature Conservancy and the state is expected
to acquire the land by the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2016. The addition of the Boreas Ponds Tract, along with other recent
state purchases, to the High Peaks Wilderness would create a 280,000 acre Wilderness Area, larger than the Rocky Mountain National
Park or Mount Rainier National Park.
ADK is lobbying for classification of the area as "wilderness" which protects and preserves
the lands in their wild state. ADK is also proposing that the plan permit a snowmobile trail "to be constructed to connect the hamlets
of Newcomb and North Hudson along the Blue Ridge Road." Neil Woodworth recently stated that "The Boreas Ponds must be protected
inside a motor-free wilderness to preserve water quality, a fishery free of the threat of aquatic invasive species,
and a rare opportunity for solitude and quiet." More information and an ADK Action Alert is available at ADK.org.
Watershed Property to be Opened for Public Recreation (2015 November)
Officials from the City of Glens Falls and the Town of Queensbury have reached an agreement to open a portion of the City's
watershed property for public recreation. The property is located in the Town of Queensbury; the Town will develop trails on
the land and the City will retain its water rights. Past issues with adequately protecting the water supply had been an obstacle to opening the lands..
A loop trail around Butler Pond will be open for walkers and bicyclists during the non-winter months. Part of this trail is on a Warren County
snowmobile route, thus making it unavailable for other uses during the winter. Another short trail along Halfway Brook will be open year-round;
it will connect Aviation Road to Peggy Ann Road. Parking areas are planned for Butler Pond Road and Aviation Road.
Public Right of Navigation Upheld (2015 November)
In January, the Appellate Division of NY's Supreme Court upheld a 2013 lower court decision
in favor of a journalist sued by property owners who claimed that waterways on their land should be closed to the public. The lawsuit originated
when private landowners in an area near the Whitney Wilderness Canoe Area challenged a 1998 ruling establishing recreational use as a valid reason
for whether or not a waterway should be open to public use.
These landowners, who had put up barriers and 'No Trespassing' signs along Shingle Shanty Brook, filed a lawsuit against a paddler who published
an account of a paddling trip along the brook between Little Tupper Lake and Lake Lila. Supporters of paddlers' rights welcom January's ruling
and hope that it will open up more waterways for public use. The property owners said they will likely appeal this new ruling to a higher court - the Court of Appeals.
Budget Proposes Increase for Environmental Protection Fund (2015 November)
Governor Cuomo has proposed increasing the Environmental Protection Fund's (EPF) budget allocation from $162 million to $172 million.
Environmental groups, including the Adirondack Mountain Club, had been pushing for an increase to $200 million. The fund is used for
projects such as open space protection, stewardship of state parks and other public lands, controlling invasive species, and restoring historic sites.