Thursday, October 10, 2013

Essex Chain Lakes deserve Wilderness protection

Essex Chain Lakes, photo credit:  Nancie Battaglia

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

Dear Governor Cuomo:

It’s an interesting and ironic coincidence that October 1, 2013, the first day of the federal government’s shutdown, also marked the first day of public access to the Essex Chain Lakes. At the same time that our National Parks – America’s best idea – were closed, new lands in the Adirondacks – New York’s best idea – were opened for hiking and paddling.

In the coming weeks, the Adirondack Park Agency is expected to make its recommendation to you on the classification of the former Finch Paper lands surrounding the Essex Chain Lakes. That recommendation will be one of the APA’s most important decisions in years.

These newly acquired lands are not only rugged and wild, they are also among the most biologically rich and environmentally sensitive in the entire Forest Preserve. As you know, the State Land Master Plan states that “protection and preservation of the natural resources of the state land within the Park must be paramount. Human use and enjoyment of those lands should be permitted and encouraged, so long as the resources are not degraded.” Only a classification that is primarily Wilderness will suitably protect the special ecological value of these lands.

At the same time, these lands offer tremendous opportunity for non-motorized recreation. Therefore, a “Wilderness with access” classification – specifically, APA’s classification alternative 1A - strikes the best balance between resource preservation, recreation, access and economic opportunity for the surrounding communities.

The entire sixty-nine thousand acres of former Finch Paper lands – including the Essex Chain Lakes – recently acquired by New York State from The Nature Conservancy represent much more than the largest single addition to the Adirondack State Forest Preserve in more than a century. These lands represent a jewel in the crown of the Adirondack Park for their ecological diversity, astounding beauty and recreational opportunities. Future generations of New Yorkers and Americans deserve the protection of these lands that only a Wilderness classification can provide.

New Yorkers widely recognize the importance of protecting the Essex Chain Lakes. Public comments received by the APA support a motor-free Wilderness classification 4 to 1. I respectfully request that the only classification that should be accepted and approved by you for the Essex Chain Lakes is a Wilderness classification.


Jeffrey Farbaniec
Saratoga Springs

It’s not too late to make yourself heard! The APA has not yet made its recommendation to the Governor. Regardless of that recommendation, the Governor has the final say. Write to Governor Cuomo at:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224


You should also copy the APA and DEC:

Leilani Ulrich, Chair, and Members
NYS Adirondack Park Agency
PO Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Joseph Martens
Commissioner, DEC
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-1011

and your state legislators:

(find your New York State Senator here)
(find your New York State Assemblyman here)

photo credit: Nancie Battaglia

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