Displaced, but still tied to the land

Notes from the North Woods

 Joe Hackett spends a fair amount of time in the vast Lows Lake region, fishing and paddling with guests.

Joe Hackett spends a fair amount of time in the vast Lows Lake region, fishing and paddling with guests.

In a similar fashion, members of the many hunting, fishing and sportsmens clubs that leased lands on the Essex Chain of Lake, the Boreas Ponds, the Hudson River and other properties in southern Essex County will likely maintain a positive relationship with their former haunts. Even though The Nature Conservancy sold the lands to New York State, these former club members will still have the upper hand when it comes to knowing the lay of the land. Undoubtedly, in some cases there are third and possibly even fourth generations of former leaseholders, who love these lands as if they were their own. And there is no doubt they have treated them accordingly.

There is and likely always will be, a conundrum of opinion over the development, or protection of wild lands, especially in rural areas. While the protection of park land in the middle of New York City is of obvious benefit to local residents, it is not such a clear chose in rural areas, such as the Adirondacks and Catskills, where park lands are much more prevalent.

In the Northeast, the remaining wild lands feature a mix of both state and federally protected parkland, as well as managed timberlands and large private estates and other inholdings.

Although large tracts of managed timberlands are located adjacent to designated wilderness lands, in both the Adirondacks and elsewhere, land designation is often an arbitrary label. Over the years, I’ve traveled through the wilderness and encountered crowds that resembled Times Square on New Years eve.

Conversely, I’ve driven in motor vehicles through vast tracts of seemingly untracked territory on private lands that have been in the hands of the same families since the 1800’s. One particularly massive Adirondack property has been in private hands since 1848, and it remains as wild, or wilder today than it was when it was originally purchased.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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