Express News Staff
INDIAN LAKE - As Shakespeare might say, "Wilderness or Wild Forest, that is the question."
At the Adirondack Park Agency, which determines regional land use, the question to answer will soon be, "More Wilderness or More Wild Forest" as the commissioners make their decision concerning the classification of 47,000 acres of newly acquired state lands in the towns of Indian Lake, Long Lake, Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson.
The APA will be considering seven classification options ranging from Wilderness, the most restrictive, to Wild Forest, where cars, motorboats, float planes and mountain bikes could potentially be allowed. But only two of the seven have received serious consideration from people who have attended the public hearings.
Local governments and a majority of the residents at the hearings have voiced support for Option 4A.
Option 4A would expand the Blue Mountain Wild Forest to include the Essex Chain of Lakes. It would result in an additional 33,942 acres of Wilderness and 11,653 acres of Wild Forest.
The vast majority of the environmental groups and their supporters favor Option 1A.
Option 1A would create a new 38,500-acre Wilderness area around the Essex Chain of Lakes and reclassify some existing Forest Preserve lands, including parts of the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest and the Blue Mountain Wild Forest areas.
The difference between the two options is 4,588 acres (7.16875 square miles). Picture two miles wide and 3.58437 miles long.
This may not sound like much but it has created a passionate debate between environmental groups and a large majority of the local population and their elected representatives.
The APA Board of Commissioners next meets Aug. 8 and 9. The agenda had not yet been posted on its website as of Tuesday morning.