The Adirondack Park Agency should classify the Essex Chain Lakes in the newly acquired Finch, Pruyn lands as a Canoe Area (Alternative 3A among the APA options). This would achieve the goals of strong resource protection and promotion of sustainable recreational activities.
There is no question that the area proposed for “Canoe” easily fits the description set forth in the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan: “an area where the watercourses or the number and proximity of lakes and ponds make possible a remote and unconfined type of water-oriented recreation in an essentially wilderness setting.”
The ten small lakes and ponds that would be included in this classification are close to each other and allow for short portages. There could be just a few, well-designed interior campsites, so that overuse may be prevented.
The “Canoe” classification, like “Wilderness,” would prohibit motor-vehicle access except for Department of Environmental Conservation administrative purposes.
The “Canoe” classification could really be called “Wilderness for Canoes,” in terms of its resource protection. And it could stimulate sustainable economic development. Paddlers would make the area a destination. Outfitters, guides, and associated support enterprises would likely locate in the town of Newcomb. New York has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance its goal of sustainable economic development without any sacrifice to wilderness protection.
Rick Hoffman, Saratoga Springs
Hoffman served as an APA attorney and later as the Department of State designee to the APA Board.