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For Release: Monday, December 8, 2014

DEC Announces Stewardship Plan to Guide Interim Management of the Essex Chain Lakes Complex

Plan Outlines Public Access and Use of Lands That Will Be Allowed

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released a Stewardship Plan to guide interim management for public access and use of newly acquired lands in the Essex Chain Lakes Management Complex in the Central Adirondacks, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced. The Stewardship Plan outlines a full range of recreational activities that may occur in the Essex Chain while DEC develops a long-term Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Complex area.

"The Essex Chain Lakes features exceptional natural resources and this Stewardship Plan will allow people of all ages and abilities to enjoy these lands," Commissioner Martens said. "The Stewardship Plan will provide for interim access to these beautiful lands and waters for camping and other recreation activities, while protecting the natural resources until a final unit management plan is in place."

DEC worked with various partners, including the towns of Newcomb and Indian Lake, the Adirondack Ecological Center, which is part of SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), and the Student Conservation Association to establish public access under the Stewardship Plan.

Town of Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said, "Our thanks go out to Governor Cuomo, DEC Commissioner Martens and our many partners for actively engaging with local government leaders to create a stewardship plan for this important property that is already providing the public with a great outdoor destination in the Town of Newcomb."

Brian Wells, supervisor, Town of Indian Lake, said, "The Town of Indian Lake appreciates DEC listening and addressing to our wants and concerns when developing the stewardship plan. The Town of Indian Lake has benefited greatly this past fall as a result of DEC quickly implementing a user friendly plan. We look forward to proceeding with developing UMP through the working relationship we have with DEC Commissioner Joe Martens and his staff."

William Farber, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, said, "We thank Governor Cuomo, the DEC and the many partners who have worked hard to open up the Essex Chain to public use. I am optimistic that this stewardship plan will help generate expanded public use of this wonderful place and sustain its natural resources for the future."

The Stewardship Plan is now in effect. People can view the plan on DEC's website. Under the plan, additional access to the Essex Chain Lakes includes:

  • Public motor vehicle access into the Essex Chain Lakes and surrounding waterbodies via the Cornell Road to the Deer Pond Road;
  • Motorized access to the Hudson River via the Chain Lakes Road (North) to Drakes Mill Road, off of the Goodnow Flow Road;
  • Motor vehicle access and camping during big game season for sporting activities such as hunting, fishing and trapping and other recreation along Camp Six Road and Chain Lakes Road (South);
  • Motorized access for people with disabilities to the Essex Chain Lakes at the "tube" between Fourth and Fifth Lakes, including parking and waterway access. Accessible camping will be available along Deer Pond Road;
  • Camping opportunities for people with disabilities along the Cornell Road, Deer Pond Road, Camp Six Road and Chain Lakes Road South; and
  • Marking of trails (old roads) open for horses and a cross-country ski "lollipop" trail near the Goodnow Flow outlet.

Access opportunities to the Essex Chain Lakes complex announced earlier this year include:

  • 13 primitive tent sites (11 waterfront) on and around the Essex Chain Lakes and related waterbodies. Access to these sites will require a permit administered in partnership with the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb. In addition, primitive tent sites are established throughout the remaining area of the Complex Area including: four primitive tent sites along Camp Six Road, four primitive tent sites along Chain Lakes Road (South), four primitive tent sites along the Cornell Road within the Blue Mountain Wild Forest, two primitive tent sites along the Deer Pond Road and one primitive tent site on Pine Lake in a current location;
  • A 6-car parking area within a pre-existing parking area at Outer Gooley;
  • A 25-car parking area in the vicinity of Deer Pond, with one side of the lot for day use (10 cars) and the other side for overnight use (15 cars);
  • Relocation of parking for 6 cars closer to the Polaris Bridge on the Drake's Mill Road at a point approximately .3 miles west of the Hudson River;
  • Canoe carries will be formally designated between Second Lake and First, between First and Grassy Pond, and around Long Falls and Ord Falls along the Upper Hudson River; and
  • Horse trailer parking/turnaround/staging area with room for five horse trailers.

In addition, DEC will post signs prohibiting fires within 500 feet of waterbodies and at all permitted tent sites, and additional signs indicating "camping at designated sites only within the Essex Chain and Pine Lake Primitive Areas."

When the APA classified the lands of the Essex Chain and adjacent areas earlier this year, it anticipated that DEC would consider alternatives for locating a snowmobile trail through these lands to connect the communities of Indian Lake and Newcomb. In response to public comments from individuals, local businesses, communities and environmental organizations - who all indicated that alternatives for the location of this snowmobile trail should be addressed in a Draft UMP - DEC decided to delay formal release of a Draft Essex Chain Complex UMP to fully assess snowmobile trail options.

DEC will propose a preferred alternative in a revised Draft UMP, subject to public review and comment this winter. This will provide an opportunity for people to provide their input on the future use of the property.

In addition to determining the preferred alternative for a snowmobile route through the Essex Chain Complex, the revised Draft UMP will address proposals to: designate mountain bike routes on gravel roads used by lessees within the Essex Chain Complex through 2018; parking closer to the Chain Lakes for persons of all ages and abilities; and construction of a bridge over the Cedar River to provide all-season recreation access from Indian Lake to the northern area of these lands.

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