Express News Staff
INDIAN LAKE – The Indian Lake Town Board threw its unanimous support behind classifying a majority of newly acquired state-owned lands as Wild Forest when it met Monday, Sept. 9.
The lands recently acquired by the State of New York for the Adirondack Forest Preserve are in the towns of Indian Lake, Long Lake, Newcomb, Minerva and North Hudson (the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub).
The Upper Hudson Recreation Hub strongly opposes any classification that does not allow all forms of recreational activities, including but not limited to hiking, canoeing, camping, snowmobiling, skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, dog sledding and ATV riding on the 69,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn and other lands purchased from The Nature Conservancy.
A Wild Forest classification would allow motorized and wheeled uses, while a Wilderness classification would not. The lands have an extensive network of logging and access roads.
The board adopted a resolution saying it fears the “…Adirondack Park Agency, may be poised to do business as usual,” and presents a list of reasons why the Wild Forest classification is more in line than a Wilderness classification would be with the Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks’ vision for a more sustainable / usable Adirondack Park, the [Adirondack Partnership Recreational Work Group] asserting the need for more recreational opportunities, the Adirondack Futures vision for a more usable park, the highly touted success story of the Moose River Plains partnership among the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the towns of Indian Lake and Inlet and Hamilton County, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated vision for these lands and DEC Commissioner Joe Martens’ stated vision for these lands.
In addition to calling for the majority of the lands to be classified as Wild Forest, the resolution calls for the creation of an Intensive Use Corridor, similar to the successful example demonstrated in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest that allows roadside camping at greater densities than Wilderness would allow, designed to entice use away from more environmentally sensitive areas.
An Intensive Use Corridor would also open up the opportunity for a groomed cross-country ski trail connections among the participating towns.
The roadside camping would be along existing roads that have been used in logging operations and by the hunting and fishing clubs that have leased these lands for camps for many years.
The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors and the Town of Lake Pleasant have adopted virtually the same resolution.
The lands to be classified are the Essex Chain of Lakes Tract (18,888 acres), Indian River Tract (945 acres), OK Slip Falls Tract (3,015 acres) and OSC Tract (160 acres). Some Forest Preserve lands adjacent to these tracts are being considered for reclassification.
The argument is basically over how much of the land will be closed to motor vehicles, mountain bikes and horses.