The proposed APA Classification map released last week for the Essex Chain of Lakes sustains some key recreational priorities for Essex and Hamilton counties, particularly within the five towns that represent the Upper Hudson River Hub while providing protections for the most sensitive environmental areas.
The establishment of a Wild Forest designation for key portions of the property will enhance recreational connections between our towns, and therefore economic opportunity for all of them. Plus, as we sustain the opportunity to connect these communities to the Forest Preserve, we cater to a broad group of recreational users and tie in our businesses back to the opportunity of the natural resource.
Of particular importance to our communities has been:
Connecting the communities directly together, for recreational opportunities from mountain biking to snowmobiling
Assuring the general public access which is close and proximate to the Essex Chain, the Cedar River, and the Hudson River
The packet released appears to assure the opportunities for those priorities and much more!
The recommendation represents a tremendous amount of hard work, collaboration and compromises on the parts of the local communities, stakeholders, the APA and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The result is a classification map which appears to weave together a rich maze of public comments, while achieving natural resource protection and fostering future economic opportunity.
Breaking down traditional parochial boundaries and thinking is not easy, particularly in the Adirondacks. The efforts that these five towns have made to come together, plan together and, frankly, stand together, should be applauded and emulated going forward. The local governments deserve particular credit for their efforts to invite public input through community meetings, to foster productive dialogue through group planning exercises and, yes, to take the time to listen and understand the positions of those with differing views.