Motorized vehicles would be allowed seasonally on two roads and a pedestrian bridge built over the Cedar River under a plan for the Essex Chain Lakes proposed last week by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
DEC is taking public comments through July 18 on two draft management plans involving newly acquired lands in the central Adirondacks, including the Essex Chain.
In addition to the plan for the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex, another plan would establish multiuse trails — open to snowmobiling — linking Newcomb, Minerva and North Hudson.
DEC said the plans represent “increased opportunities for outdoor recreation in the central Adirondacks.”
“The projects described in these two plans will provide a significant increase in outdoor recreational opportunities for the public and economic opportunities for the nearby Adirondack communities,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement.
Improved access will allow the public to camp, mountain-bike, horseback ride, paddle, fish, hunt and snowmobile on the lands, which are part of the former Finch Pruyn forest lands being purchased from The Nature Conservancy, he said.
“Governor Cuomo and DEC are committed to providing quality outdoor recreational experiences on Adirondack Forest Preserve lands and improving the Adirondack economy while continuing to protect the vast and precious natural resources of the region,” Martens said.
Some environmental groups, however, believe the plan improperly favors recreation over environmental protection.
“We believe this is some of the worst Forest Preserve planning we have seen in two decades,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks.
The plan would allow the existing Polaris bridge over a wild section of the Hudson River to remain in place, he said — and efforts to promote snowmobile tourism will be hampered by lack of snow.
“The reality is it’s not the lack of trails hindering the development of snowmobile tourism, it’s the lack of snow,” Bauer said.
The Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex includes the 6,956-acre Essex Chain Primitive Area, the 2,788-acre Pine Lake Primitive Area and a portion of the 42,537-acre Blue Mountain Wild Forest. The lands are in Essex and Hamilton counties.
The draft plan would allow mountain bikes on select roads; seasonal motorized access to the Chain Lakes Road South and Camp Six Road for big game hunting; construct public parking near Fourth and Fifth Lakes; designate canoe carries; and construct a bridge over the Cedar River for hiking, cross-country ski and equestrian use.
The draft trail plan would allow trails to be built between the communities of Newcomb, Minerva and North Hudson. Campsites would be developed near Great Camp Santanoni and on the Hudson River near Northwoods Club Road.
The draft plans are available for viewing and downloading on DEC’s website. Comments may be sent to Josh Clague at NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, N.Y. 12233-4254 or e-mailed to email@example.com.