December 20, 2013
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Funding to Improve and Expand Outdoor Recreation in the Central Adirondacks

Governor Cuomo Announces Funding to Improve and Expand Outdoor Recreation in the Central Adirondacks

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced funding for multiple projects that will expand and improve outdoor recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Park including $750,000 to upgrade the Abanakee Dam on the Indian River, which was the site of yesterdays Adirondack Challenge. The 2nd Annual Adirondack Challenge was held in Indian Lake to highlight recreational opportunities and promote the regions tourism industry. Additionally, the Governor announced $250,000 for the development of new equestrian facilities and trails in Essex and Hamilton Counties that will transform the region into a premier horseback riding destination, as well as the opening of a new hiking trail leading to OK Slip Falls in the Hudson Gorge Wilderness.

The Adirondack Park is an unparalleled outdoor destination for New Yorkers and visitors, and also a major driver of tourism and economic activity for the surrounding communities, Governor Cuomo said. Yesterday we hosted the Adirondack Challenge to draw attention to all that the region has to offer, and today were going a step further by expanding and improving the facilities that help to draw travelers from around the globe. The Parks lakes and forests are the perfect backdrop for hiking, paddling, horseback riding and so many other outdoor activities, and this funding will help local communities realize the full economic potential of these exceptional natural resources.

The Adirondack Challenge drew hundreds of elected officials, business leaders and tourism industry representatives to the region for a day of outdoor activities designed to highlight the many opportunities available to travelers. As part of the Challenge, Governor Cuomo participated in a whitewater rafting race with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.

Photos from the Adirondack Challenge can be found here, and h264, mp4 format video with b-roll of Governor Cuomo and Governor Shumlin rafting is available here. At the conclusion of the days events, Governor Cuomo hosted a Taste NY lunch reception and award ceremony to recognize the days participants. Video of Governor Cuomos remarks at that reception can be found here, and video of Governor Shumlins remarks can be found here.

Upgrades to Lake Abanakee Dam

The Town of Indian Lake will receive $750,000 to repair and upgrade the Lake Abanakee Dam on the Indian River, which will bring the dam into compliance with state dam safety regulations. The upgrade will also allow continued water releases from the dam for rafters who paddle down the Indian River into the Hudson River and through the picturesque Hudson Gorge. The rafting component of the Adirondack Challenge was held on this section of the Indian River.

Rafting is an exciting and popular activity for visitors to the area, and the rafting industry also provides economic benefits to residents and the Town of Indian Lake. The rafting industry depends on the water releases from Lake Abanakee to ensure the water levels needed to raft the Hudson River throughout the summer season.

Equestrian Network

The towns of Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson in Essex County and Indian Lake and Long Lake in Hamilton County will receive a total of $250,000 to develop horseback riding facilities in each of their communities. Among the projects being funded are:

  • Five parking areas for horse trailers in each town;
  • A pole barn with concrete floor and water;
  • A 1,000 gallon holding tank for disposal of gray water and sewage from trailers;
  • Two accessible mounting platforms; and
  • A horse washing station.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is currently working to identify and designate horse trails in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex that surrounds the five towns. DEC has also proposed constructing a bridge over the Cedar River in the Town of Indian Lake that would allow horses and their riders to access the Essex Chain Lakes Complex from the south.

The beautiful lands and waters of the Adirondacks offer a range of recreation activities for people of all ages and abilities, and thanks to Governor Cuomo, we continue to create new opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. This funding will allow local communities to attract visitors who will have additional opportunities to enjoy the outstanding scenery and breathtaking view in the Adirondacks.

The 19,200-acre Essex Chain Lakes Complex is part of the newest forest Preserve lands in the Adirondacks. Eighteen water bodies totaling 785 acres, ranging in size from the 3-acre Chub Pond to the 216-acre Third Lake are located in the Complex. The upper stretches of the Hudson River form its eastern boundary and the Cedar River passes through the southern portion of these lands.

Horseback riders will be able to enjoy views of some of the lakes, ponds and rivers, and also the nearby Vanderwhacker Mountain and Fishing Brook Mountain Range.

OK Slip Falls Trail

A trail to OK Slip Falls in the Hudson Gorge Wilderness officially opened to the public yesterday as part of the Adirondack Challenge. The three-mile hike leads to an overlook that provides a scenic view of the complete falls.

The parking area for the trailhead is located on the south side of Route 28, approximately 7.5 miles east of the community of Indian Lake. The trailhead itself is on the north side of Route 28, 0.2 miles west of the parking area. The trail also provides access to Ross, Whortleberry and Big Bad Luck Ponds. Approximately a half mile up the trail hikers should turn right onto the trail to OK Slip Falls. Follow the trail another 2.5 miles to the overlook on the east side of the OK Slip Gorge.

OK Slip Falls is considered one of the highest falls in the Adirondacks and its waters flow into the Hudson River near the center of the Hudson Gorge. The falls are located on the 2,780-acre OK Slip Falls Tract which the state purchased from The Nature Conservancy in 2013.

These projects build on Governor Cuomos efforts to expand outdoor recreation activities to promote tourism and boost regional economies.

In August of 2012, Governor Cuomo announced a five-year agreement under which New York State would acquire 69,000 acres of land from The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The lands had been acquired by TNC as part 161,000-acre land sale by the former Finch Pruyn Company. As part of this, the State purchased most of the lands in the Essex Chain Complex in 2012 and the lands around the confluence of the Hudson and Indian Rivers in 2013.

Earlier this month Governor Cuomo announced that campers, paddlers and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts can now enjoy additional recreational opportunities in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex. Thirteen designated primitive tent sites along the shores of lakes and ponds in the area are available at no charge through a permit system administered by DEC and the Adirondack Ecological Center, and access improvements are providing increased hiking and paddling opportunities.

Town of Indian Lake Supervisor Brian Wells said, A big thanks to Governor Cuomo. The Town of Indian Lake appreciates the governor's actions that will enable repairs be made to Lake Abanakee Dam. This is critical not only for dam safety but to protect a key economic infrastructure in our town. We are also very enthused about the recreational opportunities. The governors funding will help make these horseback riding facilities a reality. These funds are practical investments in our community that will help us capture new economic opportunity.

Town of North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore said, I and the whole Town of North Hudson are thrilled with this announcement and the possibilities this funding will have in promoting horseback riding in this region. We know there is interest. This will help not just North Hudson, but the five towns capture this recreational opportunity.

Town of Minerva Supervisor Steve McNally said, What an exciting time for the five town area. Governor Cuomo has certainly been instrumental in helping the five towns with their goal of making our area a Class A destination. We appreciate the cooperation with the governor's office as well as with all the state agencies and look forward to moving forward together.

Town of Long Lake Supervisor Clark Seaman said, That's fantastic. These funds will most certainly help develop the infrastructure we need to bring to reality a quality equestrian destination. It will bring a whole new group of recreational users and with that comes new economic benefits to our towns.

Town of Newcomb Deputy Supervisor Wes Miga said, Thank you Governor Cuomo! This investment in equestrian recreation is a great opportunity to enhance economic development and put to good use a new recreational opportunity shared by the five towns. The governor's leadership makes this happen now; it would otherwise have been a long time coming. He's helping make things happen.

Neil Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said, "The Adirondack Mountain Club is supportive of the five towns receiving $250,000 in funding to develop equestrian facilities that will facilitate increased equestrian opportunities on the Forest Preserve within the five towns. "

John F. Sheehan, Director of Communications for the Adirondack Council, said, We applaud Governor Cuomo for this investment in the communities around the Essex Chain Lakes and Upper Hudson River watershed. We look forward to its use in protecting the areas ecological integrity as the state works to enhance appropriate public recreational opportunities."