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APA public hearing Thursday regarding state lands

SARANAC - The state is seeking input from its residents.

The Adirondack Park Agency will hold a public hearing at Saranac Town Hall next Thursday, Jan. 28, regarding the state's proposal to reclassify state lands within the Adirondack Park. The parcels to be reclassified include a tract of land north of True Brook Road formally owned by private companies.

Richard E. Weber, supervisor of regional planning for the APA, explained the state has "the legal responsibility" to examine the classification of properties within the park once they are acquired by the state.

"As newly-acquired lands go into state ownership, the agency has a legal obligation to take those public lands and put them through the state land classification process, according to Section 816 of the APA Act," explained Weber.

The process involves examining 91 parcels in 10 different counties, said Weber, who noted ones of chief interest to the people of the Saranac area would be a 17,190-acre parcel known as the Sable Highlands/Lyon Mountain Tract.

"The largest tract of the entire classification package for this year is the area around Lyon Mountain," Weber said.

The purpose of the public hearing will be for the APA to take comments from those in attendance regarding how the parcels should be classified. There are seven possible classifications for the parcels, said Weber - Wilderness, Primitive, Canoe Area, Wild Forest, Intensive Use, Historic and State Administrative.

Wild Forest, the least restrictive classification which allows public access, has been advocated by the APA, state Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Saranac Town Council. That classification permits "a somewhat higher level of use, and more varied types of recreation," explained Weber.

"It does permit limited motor vehicle access," Weber gave as an example.

Other environmental groups are reportedly in favor of the Primitive designation, with the intention of having the parcel then reclassified as Wilderness, one of the most restrictive classifications. Wilderness does not permit public use of motor vehicles of any kind, said Weber, whether they be motorboats, aircrafts or snowmobiles or vehicles on roads.

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