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Grant will enhance connections to new state lands

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Updated: 8:31 AM

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

LAKE PLEASANT -- Essex County has applied for a $500,000 grant for recreation-based improvements to lands recently added to the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

The former Finch, Pruyn & Co. timberlands were purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 2007 and then sold to the State of New York. The state agreed to purchase 69,000 acres over five years starting in 2012.

The lands touch six counties and 27 towns, with more than 80 percent located in the central Adirondack towns of Minerva, North Hudson, Newcomb, Long Lake, and Indian Lake -- the Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub.

Essex County has made the application on behalf of the five-town coalition. It was due July 18.

TNC announced a year ago that it would provide $500,000 to help develop new projects around the former timberlands, which include the Essex Chain Lakes - Hudson River, OK Slip Falls - Blue Ledges, and Indian River parcels.

"We feel an obligation to continue our stakeholder outreach with the communities involved in the transaction because of its scale," TNC Executive Director Mike Carr said when the grant fund was announced in August of 2013.

TOURISM DRIVER

The idea is to help boost the Adirondack Park's tourism economy. "Our hope is that $500,000 in seed money will help germinate new ideas for recreation-based development in host communities touched by this project," TNC Director of Communications Connie Prickett said.

The State of New York's Natural Heritage Trust program and Department of Environmental Conservation are administering the fund.

The money will be used to enhance connections between the new forest preserve lands and local communities, including but not limited to the Adirondack Park Upper Hudson Recreation Hub.

POSSIBLE PROJECTS

Projects that could potentially be supported by this program include: providing infrastructure to support recreational use such as mountain biking, horse trail riding, snowmobiling and hiking; seasonal shuttle service for hikers, bikers, canoeists, etc.; trailhead parking or waterway access on municipal lands; visitor orientation including traditional signage and new technology; connector trails to access public lands; hut-to-hut hiker accommodations; and the establishment of guide services.

In addition to TNC grant money, $300,000 in the NYS Environmental Protection Fund has been earmarked for the Adirondack Smart Growth grant program. This money will also be used to enhance public access to the new forest preserve lands.

The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors voted July 3 to support Essex County's grant application.

     

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