This acquisition complements the state’s purchase of the 18,318-acre Essex Chain of Lakes property in late 2012. The state will pay full property taxes on the land.
The parcels purchased from The Nature Conservancy include the OK Slip Falls tract in Hamilton County, the Casey Brook tract in Essex County, the Spruce Point tract in Washington County, the Saddles tract in Washington County, the Hudson Riverside / Ice Meadow Tract in Warren County and the Indian River tract in Essex and Hamilton counties.
“Adding these lands to the Adirondack Forest Preserve will open a magnificent stretch of the Upper Hudson to the public and attract new visitors to the interior of the Adirondacks,” NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said.
The deal is part of an agreement announced last summer by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, under which the TNC will sell 69,000 acres to the state pursuant to a phased five-year contract that began in 2012.
Once complete, the acquisition of the former Finch lands will be the largest addition to the Forest Preserve in 118 years.
DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency are working together to plan the future classification of the lands. DEC has completed a Proposal for Public Access and State Land Classification for the entire 69,000-acre property, based upon input from local governments and other stakeholders, and submitted it to the APA and stakeholder groups.
The APA will release a draft land classification plan for the parcel later this year. A public comment period will begin once the draft plan is released and public hearings will be held before final recommendations are sent to the governor for approval.
Once land classifications are approved, DEC will develop unit management plans that will guide long-term use of the properties. An open and transparent process, including a public comment period, will be held for each UMP.
RIVER ACCESS SOON
The APA and DEC are working on an interim public access plan to provide early access to the Hudson and Cedar rivers through the Essex Chain of Lakes and Indian River tracts. This interim public access should be released in the next few weeks, with public motor vehicle access beginning in late May or early June, depending on road conditions.
Town of Indian Lake Supervisor Brian E. Wells said, “The state’s acquisition of the OK Slip Falls and Indian River parcels represents a new mind set coming out of Albany. The governor has proposed these land acquisitions as not only an environmental necessity but also an economic necessity.”
The most exciting and popular whitewater rafting experience in the Adirondacks starts on the Indian River and continues for nearly 15 miles down the Hudson River Gorge. Adding this 940-acre tract to the publicly owned forest preserve will keep the experience wild.
The parcel is critical to preserving the rafting experience that draws 25,000 people annually. It is also key to unlocking new recreational opportunities by providing long-awaited access and take-out points that will make the enticing stretch of the upper Hudson River to the north a viable option for paddlers wishing to experience calmer waters than the class III/ IV rapids of the gorge.
This aspect of the project will be open to public use this year. Up-to-date details on public access will be provided on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov.
OK SLIP FALLS TRACT
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Adirondack Park, OK Slip is part of a 2,800-acre property that will soon be made available to the public for hiking and other outdoor pursuits.
The tract contains 2.1 miles of the Hudson River, the Blue Ledges and the Hudson River Gorge as well as Carter, Blue Ledge and Pug Hole ponds. It includes one of the most exciting sections of a popular whitewater route that draws more than 25,000 adventurers who annually pass through this property.
This tract is believed to harbor more rare and significant plants, mosses and liverworts than any other site in the Adirondack Park. It is also the only place in New York state where purple mountain saxifrage, hair-like sedge, wild chives and other rarities are known to exist.