Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today approved the State Land Classifications for 42,000 acres recently added to the State Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park, which bolsters his strong emphasis on natural resource preservation balanced with community connectivity and public access and recreational needs. The classification of the properties, formerly owned by Finch Pruyn & Company, will ensure the protection of lands and waterways of unparalleled natural resource and beauty for generations to come and supports the growth of vibrant communities where residents can raise families and visitors can enjoy the preserves breathtaking wonders.
I am thrilled to approve this land classification plan that will allow the State to both preserve the Adirondacks magnificent natural resources and provide public recreational and tourism opportunities that will help grow the regions economy, Governor Cuomo said. The addition of thousands of acres of land to the State Forest Preserve is a major step in both protecting and preserving the Adirondack Park for future generations. At the same time, this plan enhances the States efforts to attract more visitors to the Adirondacks and grow the regions tourism industry and communities. Todays announcement marks a momentous occasion for New Yorks history and landscape.
The land classification was endorsed by the Adirondack Park Agency on December 13, 2013 as the preferred alternative and will provide something for everyone; it is a balanced approach that protects the lands but also provides for diverse opportunities and public access. The plan will allow recreation access to the newly acquired lands for people of all abilities for a wide variety of uses including hiking, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, horse riding and snowmobiling.
Specifically, the approved classification provides for a mixed use of Wilderness, Primitive and Wild Forest classifications. The Wilderness and Primitive Areas will protect the nearly pristine water bodies, intact fisheries, wetlands and endangered plants. The Essex Chain Primitive Area will establish a new remote paddling experience that is within reasonable access to the general public. The Primitive classifications will allow for float plane access for sportsmen and sportswomen from First and Pine Lakes. Also, a Wild Forest buffer between Hudson River Gorge and Essex Chain Primitive Areas will provide much needed community connectivity through a multi-use, four season trail, including mountain biking and snowmobile uses, linking Indian Lake, Newcomb and Minerva. This community connector trail supports the goal of public access and recreation, which supports tourism development and opportunities through the Park.
The approval of the land classification marks an important accomplishment stemming from a deal between Governor Cuomo and The Nature Conservancy in the summer of 2012 by which the 69,000-acre property will be sold to the state pursuant to a phased five-year contract. Once complete, the acquisition of the form Finch lands will be the largest addition to the State Forest Preserve in 118 years.
In total, the Finch lands contain 180 miles of rivers and streams, 175 lakes and ponds, 465 miles of undeveloped shoreline (rivers, streams, lakes, ponds), six mountains taller than 2,000 feet and countless smaller hills. There are a variety of mountains, cliffs, wilderness lakes, ponds, bogs, fens, swamps, alluvial forests, and flat-water and white-water rivers. Terrestrial habitat exists for mammals such as moose, bobcat, and black bear, and aquatic habitat exists for brook trout, landlocked salmon, and smallmouth and largemouth bass.
APA Chairwoman Leilani Ulrich said, This is truly an extraordinary moment in the history of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. On behalf of the Adirondack Park Agency, we extend our appreciation to Governor Cuomo for his leadership throughout this complex process. Together we succeeded in finding common ground amongst diverse stakeholders and the Adirondack Park will benefit from these actions. The Agency is also very thankful for the foresight of the Nature Conservancy in acquiring these magnificent parcels.
State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens said, "The acquisition of these former Finch lands illustrates Governor Cuomo's commitment to protecting the Adirondack Park's crown jewels and expanding a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities to people of all ages and abilities. APA did an outstanding job in developing the classification of these lands, which will protect sensitive natural resources, provide public access, and benefit Adirondack communities."
Governor Cuomo extended appreciation to the Board and staff at the APA for their careful and thorough work and analysis and to Commissioner Joe Martens of the Department of Environmental Conservation for his dedicated consultation efforts throughout the classification process.