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Hudson Gorge scenic purchase completed

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
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— The state has wrapped up the purchase of 9,300 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands in the southeastern Adirondacks, including OK Slip Falls in the Hudson River Gorge.

The acquisitions announced Tuesday are the second in a series of planned state purchases from The Nature Conservancy.

The new state lands include the 2,800-acre OK Slip Falls piece; the 1,587-acre Casey Brook tract in Essex County; the 727-acre Hudson Riverside/Ice Meadow tract near North Creek; 940 acres at the confluence of the Hudson and Indian rivers in Hamilton County; and more than 3,200 acres in two parcels in Washington County.

The state is paying $6.3 million for them; The Nature Conservancy is giving the state $500,000 to be used for developing access to and promoting the use of the lands.

“There is not a more fitting way to celebrate Earth Week than protecting spectacular property in the Adirondack Park that will create tourism opportunities and bring more visitors to this magnificent place,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.

The acquisitions are part of a complicated land deal that’s been taking shape for several years.

The Nature Conservancy purchased 161,000 acres from Finch Pruyn in 2007, then sold 90,000 of those acres to a private timber management company. The state acquired conservation easements on those lands in 2010.

Under a 2012 agreement, the remaining 69,000 acres are being sold to the state over a five-year period. The first acquisition, of more than 18,000 acres in the Essex Chain of Lakes area, closed in December.

Once completed, state officials said the former Finch lands will be the largest addition to the Forest Preserve in 118 years.

The lands acquired Tuesday are generally in the southeastern part of the Adirondack Park, the closest to the Capital Region. They include lands conservationists have long desired, particularly the OK Slip Falls.

“Adding these former Finch lands to the Forest Preserve will open a magnificent stretch of the upper Hudson to the public and attract new visitors to the interior of the Adirondacks,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said.

DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency are working to determine which lands should be classified as “wilderness” and which should be considered less-restrictive “wild forest.” The APA will release a draft land classification plan later this year, state officials said.

There’s no word yet on when the lands acquired Tuesday will be made accessible to the public.

The OK Slip Falls tract includes the 250-foot waterfall, one of the tallest in the Adirondacks, and 2.1 miles of the Hudson River Gorge.

The two properties in Washington County, though outside the Adirondack Park, include dramatic cliffs, 2,250 feet of undeveloped Lake Champlain shoreline, and wildlife corridors between the Adirondack and Green mountains, state officials said.

 
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