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Debate Over Adirondack Land Classification Continues as Public Hearings Near Close

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Last year New York State acquired 69-thousand acres of forest lands in the Adirondacks, and the lands must now be classified. The Adirondack Park Agency has been holding public hearings regarding the first three tracts of land and the final hearings are being held today in Albany and Queensbury. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley looks at the debate between conservationists and residents over the potential land designations.

The Adirondack Park Agency is offering a series of alternative land use options for the nearly 21-thousand acres that include the Essex Chain Lakes, the Indian River, and OK Slip Falls tracts. The property includes 22 miles along the Hudson River. There are seven potential land use classifications from wilderness to intensive use.

Most Adirondack environmental and conservation groups support what’s called Alternative 1A, in which the new state lands would be classified primarily as wilderness, with some wild forest and restrict any motorized vehicle use.

Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth calls that option a good balance of wilderness protection, access to the Hudson River and wise management of the lakes.

Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway also supports the 1A option.

Many communities within the park prefer another classification. The five towns within the tracts - Indian Lake, Long Lake, Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson - have formed the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub. They are in support of any classification that would boost the local economy, primarily through tourism. Town Of Minerva Supervisor Democrat Sue Montgomery Corey says that would best occur with a Wild Forest classification.

Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe has hiked into the newly acquired lands and says while the Hudson River Gorge meets a wilderness criteria, the other tracts do not.

Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer supports the wilderness alternative classification even though the region has been used by people.

Town of North Hudson Supervisor Republican Ron Moore says the classification must not ignore the people who are living and working in the region.

The final public hearings are being held by the Adirondack Park Agency today at the DEC Headquarters in Albany at 1 p.m. and at 7 p.m. at the Warren County Board of Supervisors Room in Lake George. Written comments can be submitted until July 19th.

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