Dates have been set for Adirondack Park Agency hearings on changing the master plan for state lands inside the park.
While the hearings are intended to focus on potential amendments to the Essex Chain Lakes management plan, it is the first time the parkwide master plan has been open to amendment since the 1980s — and some local government leaders are calling for fundamental changes.
As part of the Essex Chain Lakes classification, the APA has agreed to consider allowing all-terrain bicycles in a “primitive” area and the use of non-natural materials in construction of a new bridge over the Cedar River.
A hearing will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, at the state Department of Environmental Conservation headquarters, 625 Broadway, Albany. Other hearings are scheduled at APA headquarters in Ray Brook, from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29; Newcomb Central School, 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3; and the school gym in Old Forge, 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Written comments may be sent through Dec. 5 to Kathy Regan, APA deputy director for planning, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977, or [email protected]
Following the public comment period, the APA will conduct an environmental review of the Essex Chain Lakes proposed changes, and develop a timeline for considering other changes.
There’s been general interest in re-opening the plan, with environmental groups noting new activities have arisen since the plan was last amended in 1987, and the understanding of the region’s ecology has also improved.
Local government leaders also welcome the chance to comment, with many feeling there needs to be more emphasis on economic activities.
“Many of us in local government have advocated for a broader look,” said Fred Monroe, Chestertown supervisor and executive director of the Adirondack Park Agency’s Local Government Review Board. The master plan was written in 1972 and last amended in 1987.
The Essex Chain Lakes lands in Hamilton and Essex counties are among 169,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn forest land the state is in the process of acquiring from The Nature Conservancy, and similar land use reviews are expected as more of the parcels are acquired over the next several years.
Meanwhile, the two state agencies studying whether to convert parts of an historic Adirondack railroad line into a recreational trail have begun taking public comment. The Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Conservation are considering converting the Lake Placid-Tupper Lake section of rail into a trail and further promoting rail use on the rest of the line.
Scheduled hearings are at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Utica state office building; 1 p.m. Wednesday at The View in Old Forge; 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake; and 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, at the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid. Written comment will be taken through Dec. 15.