Looking for adventure beyond Minnewaska State Park or the Catskills? Ready for a new challenge? Soon, a whole new world will open up, only a hop-skip-and-a-jump up I-87.
Recently, Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens announced the planned purchase of 69,000 acres in the Adirondack Park. This is the single largest addition to the park in over a century—and the park itself is the largest park in the country (at 6.1 million acres). To give you a sense of the scale of it all, the total area of Gardiner is 28,736 acres. Take a look at the map at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/83963.html (and on the back page of this issue), showing where the new land—multiple small and large parcels—will be added to the existing park.
In 2007, The Nature Conservancy purchased 161,000 acres of land formerly owned by Finch, Pruyn and Company (a paper manufacturer). 89,000 of those acres are now protected under conservation easement, and the rest will be purchased by the state. It will cost $49.8 million, and the contract is being phased over five years. The Environmental Protection Fund, which has a pot of money dedicated to land acquisition, will be the source of the funds.
Most significantly, this purchase was approved by all 27 of the host communities, and locals will have significant input on the future plans for the land. Additionally—a key for the cash-strapped North Country—the State will pay all local taxes on the land. As part of the deal, local communities also bought several thousand acres for their own future economic development possibilities.
The public hasn’t had access to these parts in 150 years, and it will offer a plethora of recreational opportunities—hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, paddling and cross-country skiing. It provides critical links in the snowmobile trail system, and thus a big boost to the winter tourism economy. It will also protect key local businesses, such as logging on “working” forests. Here’s an enticing description from the DEC’s website: “Mountains, cliffs, wilderness lakes, ponds, bogs, fens, swamps, alluvial forests, and flat and white-water rivers. Moose, bobcat, black bear, brook trout, landlocked salmon, small and largemouth bass. 180 miles of rivers and streams, 175 lakes and ponds, 465 miles of undeveloped shoreline along rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, six mountains taller than 2,000 feet and countless smaller hills.”
What’s not to like?