Minerva New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials Wednesday, Aug. 29 met with the Minerva Town Board to discuss the state’s purchase of 69,000 acres of land from Finch Pruyn.
DEC Region 5 Director Robert Stegeman asked board members for comments regarding possible uses of the soon-to-be state land. The focus of the discussion was the 8,000 acres that are within and around the town of Minerva, an area including the Essex Chain of Lakes.
Stegeman said that he had been meeting with towns to hear their thoughts on how tie these lands to the surrounding towns’ interests. This is an opportunity for communities to share their ideas.
“These lands are coming to the state,” Stegeman said. “What we want to know is how you would like to see these lands come to the state.”
One of the central challenges is how to balance the need for conservation with the importance of helping people enjoy this natural resource.
“We want to make varying degrees of wilderness experience available to the public,” Stegeman said, adding that they would like to provide access for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Town Councilman Eric Klippel said he was happy to hear this because he knows many seniors can’t manage the physical demands required to get out into woods, even though they would like to.
Councilman Stephen McNally said that without roads, there would only be a handful of people who would make use of the land.
While looking at a map of the area being discussed, he suggested that a road providing access to Sixth Lake would be ideal because from that point, the entire Essex Chain of Lakes would be accessible. He also wanted to know who would build and maintain these proposed roads.
DEC Regional Forester Kris Alberga told Town Board members that the DEC would be responsible for the maintenance.