An environmental group on Friday proposed establishing a new wilderness area in the southern Adirondacks combining almost 4,000 acres of timberland that New York recently bought with about 9,000 acres of century-old state forest preserve.
The wilderness designation, which prohibits motorized vehicles, fits since that area west of Great Sacandaga Lake has no roads, according to Protect the Adirondacks. The group has established an online petition and written to state officials urging the change.
The land is in Fulton and Hamilton counties. It would reclassify part of what's now the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.
Peter Bauer, executive director, said the new state land allows consolidating the older tracts into a cohesive area of rugged terrain with low ridges, the meandering West Stony Creek and wetlands. "The best protection for this stunning river system is a wilderness classification," he said.
Jim Elmore, president of the New York State Snowmobile Association, said Friday he'd want to see details of the proposal.
"I do respect their opinions what they're looking to do," Elmore said. "There should be common ground for everyone to enjoy the land that we as taxpayers bought and paid for."
According to state data, New York has about 1.3 million acres of state-owned wilderness, "having a primeval character," and 1.4 million acres of wild forest that are considered less remote and "permit a somewhat higher degree of human use." The state prohibits development on another 850,000 acres of land covered by conservation easements.
Altogether, those designations cover 3.4 million acres of the nearly 6 million-acre Adirondack Park.