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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

Essex Chain of Lakes almost ready for lots of summer visitors

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The state is expecting a large number of visitors this summer to one of the key acquisitions in the Finch, Pruyn and Co. land deal. A limited number of campsites will be available to the public in the Essex Chain of Lakes in the central Adirondacks starting next month.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a longer-term management plan to guide recreation for this new tract of Forest Preserve.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

Tom Martin, DEC's regional natural resources supervisor, told Adirondack Park Agency commissioners last week that the department plans to make a total of 13 primitive campsites available by July 1 in the new 7,000-acre Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area, located south of Newcomb.

Camping will be by permit only for a maximum of three nights, Martin said.

"The intent of that, obviously, is because we expect large demand, and if we did our standard two-week camping permits, I think the area would not be available to as many people as we'd like to make it available to," Martin said.

In addition to the campsites, Martin said DEC is also developing and relocating parking areas, designating and marking trails, creating a horse staging area and posting signs in preparation for summer visitors to the Essex Chain.

This land was among 69,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn timberlands that Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to buy from The Nature Conservancy in the summer 2012. In December, the APA approved a state land classification package for the lands. Cuomo signed it in February.

This week, DEC released a draft unit management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes. Martin said the plan is designed to protect the area's natural resources and set the stage for recreational access to the lands and waters.

"Although the public has traveled through these lands throughout history and individuals have had recreational access to the lands with permission of the landowners and through other agreements, the general public has not had unfettered use of these lands in over 100 years," Martin said.

DEC's plan would allow seasonal hunting along some of the roads on the property, develop campsites and other facilities for people with disabilities, build a new bridge over the Cedar River and allow the use of some of the property's roads by mountain bikes.

DEC has released a separate trail plan that outlines possible routes for community-connector snowmobile and multi-use trails that would link Newcomb to North Hudson and Minerva. Comments on both plans are being accepted through July 18.

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