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The Essex Chain of Lakes. The process is now underway to determine what kind of recreation and public use will be allowed. Photo: Carl Heilman, courtesy Adirondack Nature Conservancy
The Essex Chain of Lakes. The process is now underway to determine what kind of recreation and public use will be allowed. Photo: Carl Heilman, courtesy Adirondack Nature Conservancy

Historic Finch land hearings to begin

Correction: The broadcast version of this story and an earlier web version incorrectly stated that the public hearing would be Tuesday evening at 6 pm. In fact, it will begin Wednesday evening at 6pm. We regret the error.

State officials begin a month of public hearings Wednesday as they sort out how to manage a big chunk of the former Finch, Pruyn timberlands in the Adirondacks

The sessions are expected to lead to creation of a new Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area. But big questions remain about what kinds of recreation will be allowed near the Essex Chain of Lakes.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

The hearing Wednesday evening is the next step in the process first engineered by the Adirondack Nature Conservancy to add a big parcel of former timberland to the state forest preserve.

Roughly 21,000 acres of new land are being classified, along with the classification of a chunk of existing state land.

The state has put forward seven different management options. It appears all but certain that a big new Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area will be created, possibly including as many as 33,000 acres.

Less certain is how the state will manage logging roads and waterways around the Essex Chain of lakes.

Local government leaders prefer the least restrictive designation, which would allow motorboats, mountain bikes and cars in some areas.

Many environmental groups prefer management options that lean more toward wilderness or a canoe area designation that would sharply limit motorized recreation.

Another flashpoint could be the state's proposal to allow float planes to land on Third Lake in the Essex Chain in the spring and fall.

Wednesday's hearing begins at six pm at APA headquarters in Ray Brook. Over the next month, hearings will also be held in the towns most directly affected by the project — Indian Lake, Minerva and Newcomb.

Sessions will also be held in Albany, New York City and Rochester.  A final vote by the Adirondack Park Agency's board could come as early as August.

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