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For Release: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

DEC Issues Draft Plan to Improve Access and Expand Recreational Opportunities in Essex Chain Lakes Complex

Public Hearings to be held July 7 in Newcomb and July 9 in Indian Lake

Tourism would be bolstered by a range of recreation opportunities in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex under a proposed Draft Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (draft Plan/DEIS) for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. DEC will accept public comments on the proposed draft Plan/DEIS and hold public hearings in the towns of Newcomb and Indian Lake to discuss details of the proposal and gather public input.

"The proposed Plan helps fulfill the Governor's goal that the Essex Chain Lakes become a tourist destination and an economic engine for the towns that host this magnificent natural resource," Commissioner Martens said. "Since the state acquired this land from The Nature Conservancy as part of the historic Finch acquisition, the public has explored and enjoyed the Essex Chain Lakes and our partners in the five host towns have seen an increase in economic activity. Consistent with the Governor's request that stakeholders come together for the overall benefit of the Adirondack Park, this proposed management plan would greatly improve access for people of all ages and abilities and provide additional outdoor recreational opportunities, while also protecting the natural treasures that draw people to this area."

DEC is accepting public comments on the draft Plan/DEIS until July 27, 2015. Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, July 7, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Newcomb Central School, 5535 Route 28N, Newcomb, and on Thursday, July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Indian Lake Theater on Main Street, Indian Lake. The meetings will provide an opportunity for people to learn more about the proposed management actions in the draft Plan/EIS and comment on the proposals. The meeting facilities are wheelchair accessible. Please call 518-897-1248 at least two weeks in advance of the meeting if you have specific accommodation requests.

The Essex Chain Lakes Complex (Complex) is located in the Central Adirondack in the towns of Minerva and Newcomb in Essex County, and the Town of Indian Lake in Hamilton County. The Complex includes the Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area, the Pine Lake Primitive Area and portions of the Blue Mountain and Vanderwacker Mountain Wild Forests.

Key proposals in the draft Plan/DEIS include:

  • Establishing a system of trails for biking and equestrian use;
  • Extending the Upper Hudson Ski Loop to the Ord Road and ultimately to the Town of Newcomb;
  • Designating routes for public motor vehicle access, including parking;
  • Designating administrative access routes throughout the Complex to allow for the maintenance of bridges and trails;
  • Establishing a community connection, multiple use, trail which connects Indian Lake to Minerva, over the Cedar River and the Hudson River on the Polaris bridge;
  • Constructing a bridge over the Cedar River to provide a route for four season recreation including hiking, biking, horse riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing;
  • Providing access for persons with disabilities to a tent site and waterway access between Fourth and Fifth lake and designated campsites along the Cornell Road, Camp Six Road and Chain Lakes Road (South);
  • Enhancing paddling opportunities, including providing additional canoe carries between the Chain of Lakes and along the Hudson River;
  • Designating additional camping opportunities including the placement of lean-to's within the Complex area;
  • Managing continued floatplane use at designated tent sites on First and Pine Lakes;
  • Maintaining 2.5 miles of public motor vehicle roads for access and camping during big game hunting season; and
  • A proposal to maintain the historic farmhouse at the Outer Gooley and evaluate potential, future administrative uses until a final disposition for the structure is determined.

The eight lakes comprising the Essex Chain Lakes are the namesake and main attraction of the Complex, which also includes many other scenic and natural features, including the Hudson and Cedar rivers, numerous other lakes and ponds, and forested hills. Current recreational opportunities include paddling, fishing, camping, hunting, horseback riding, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The Complex contains 18 water bodies totaling 785 acres, ranging in size from the three-acre Chub Pond to the 216-acre Third Lake. Ten miles of the Hudson River on the eastern boundary and four miles of the Cedar River in the southern section make the area a paddler's paradise.

The 32 designated primitive tent sites in the Complex provide a variety of camping experiences. Most of the 11 sites along the waters of the Essex Chain Lakes and nearby waters can only be accessed by paddling, and currently can only be used, under a permit system, between May 15 and October 15. In addition, two campsites on First Lake and one on Pine Lake are reserved for float plane customers only, providing a unique camping and fishing experience.

Additional access and recreational opportunities identified in the previously approved Stewardship Plan will be developed this summer. This includes access for people with disabilities to Fifth Lake, a parking area for vehicles with horse trailers on the Chain Lakes Road North, bicycling opportunities and designation of horse trails.

The draft Plan/DEIS will be posted on the DEC website on Friday, June 12. Copies of the draft Plan/EIS will also be available June 12 on CD at the following locations: DEC's headquarters in Albany, NY (5th floor); DEC Region 5 Headquarters in Ray Brook NY; DEC Region 5 Office in Warrensburg, NY; and town hall offices in Indian Lake, Minerva, and Newcomb.

Public comments should be sent by July 27 to Corrie O'Dea, Senior Forester, NYSDEC Lands & Forests, 232 Golf Course Road, Warrensburg, NY 12885 or e-mailed to

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