Protect the Adirondacks, the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Adirondack Council, and other green groups have started an online petition to encourage the state not to back out of an agreement to purchase sixty-five thousand acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands for the Forest Preserve.
In its petition, the environmentalists contend that “a small but vocal group” is pressuring Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to keep the lands in private ownership.
“This proposal undermines a carefully balanced project that is a sound investment both in the local economy and in the environment and in the ecological integrity of the Adirondack Park,” the petition asserts.
The Adirondack Nature Conservancy bought all 161,000 acres owned by Finch, Pruyn in 2007. It has since sold ninety-two thousand acres to a Danish pension fund, subject to easements that prohibit development and allow some public access.
Many local leaders argue that most of the lands earmarked for the Forest Preserve should follow the easement model, thus allowing forestry to continue and hunting camps to remain.
Members of the Gooley Club have been among the most adamant opponents of deal. The club is located near the Essex Chain of Lakes, which is slated to enter the Preserve. George Earl wrote about the club’s fight in article that appeared in the Adirondack Explorer in 2011. Click here to read that story.
Other natural gems that would become part of the Preserve include the Boreas Ponds, a long stretch of the Hudson River, OK Slip Falls, and Sugarloaf Mountain, a potential rock-climbing venue.
DEC officials have repeatedly said that they have no intention of backing out of the deal.
Other sponsors of the petition include Adirondack Wild, Audubon, and the Sierra Club. They intend to present the petition to governor and DEC later this year.
The petition has been online for a few months, but the council sent out an “action alert” this afternoon, asking people to sign up by Monday, August 6. Scott Lorey, the council’s legislative director, said the drive is winding down. To date, the online petition has gathered more than 4,900 signatures.
Click here to add your name to the petition.