Essex Chain by ©Nancie Battaglia
Essex Chain by ©Nancie Battaglia

You can view part 1 of this post here.

On September 7th, I continued to explore the Finch Pruyn acquisition lands, this time from the Indian River Tract and the Chain Lakes Road that travels north from Route 28 near the Town of Indian Lake. For this southern excursion I booked a site at the Lake Durant State Campground. On my drive north to Indian Lake from Albany I stopped at the Beaver Brook Outfitters in Wevertown. The proprietor here reminded me that I should not use my bike (which I brought with me hoping to ride the 7.4 miles round trip to the Cedar River) because the state was managing the acquisition lands as wilderness at least until the classification process was complete. I checked the DEC Interim Public Access Map and the outfitter was, of course, correct.

The Chain Lakes Road to the parking area, gate and kiosk at the Indian Lake Tract is in much better shape than the Chain Links Road in the north. It is well maintained for most of the drive, and is heavily traveled. It is an easy, 0.8 mile walk from the gate to the confluence of the Hudson River and the Indian River. The rivers are spectacular here. The 7.4 mile round trip hike to the Cedar River takes a few more snacks to get through, but nearly the entire hike is on the old sand road which allows a fast pace. The Cedar River at the access point is beautiful flat water.

I spent the evening of September 7th at the Lake Durant State Campground having only enough energy left to take some Advil, but not a shower (at the fabulous facilities there). The morning on Lake Durant after a night of rain was misty and scenic with a wonderful view of Blue Mountain.

As I am sitting now in the Albany Office reflecting on my hikes and research of the past few weeks, I understand that we all want a classification decision and management strategy for the Finch Pruyn lands and the Essex Chain Lakes that protects this important New York State investment, and its fragile ecosystem in the heart of the Adirondack Park. Local outfitters have real concerns about the impact of the decision on their businesses and about the difficulty of transporting their flotillas without direct motorized access to the Hudson River. Folks who enjoy bike riding or who have bum knees want to enjoy wilderness settings, but may not have the legs to get there. However, at the core of the decision must first be what protections the place needs to mitigate use. We know that science and fact will not be the sole measure for decision-making, but that local and state politics will also have a great influence on the ultimate classification choice and management strategy. Although we have robust agency guidance which does not permit, for example, the siting of snowmobile trails through a Remote Interior area, we know that there is significant pressure on state agencies to allow this type of motorized use. In fact, the proposal by local governments would allow intensive motorized use through the most fragile areas of the Finch Pruyn acquisition.

For these reasons, we must continue to respectfully insist that there be a classification decision that mitigates use and follows agency guidance. We must ask for what we know the Essex Chain Lakes need. We need you to respectfully request that Governor Cuomo support a Wilderness Classification for the Finch Pruyn Lands and the Essex Chain Lakes in our Adirondack Park.