Essex Chain of Lakes is one parcel that the state of New York will be buying over five years from the Nature Conservancy. It was once owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company. The initial purchase of about 18,000 acres (out of 69,000 acres) was made in December.
continued On the northern edge of this tongue of wilderness designation is the Cedar River, and north of that is the Chain of Lakes Area that the DEC proposes to be classified as wild forest as far as the lands of the Goodnow Flow. The limitation of further motorized access along the road crossing that the DEC indicates wilderness would make it necessary for individuals and families to hike a distance if they wanted access to the Cedar River.
By many in the audience, this was seen as a major impediment to tourism and associated economic benefit to the town.
Indian Lake Town Councilman John Valentine said it would be more favorable to Indian Lake if the road provided car and truck access as far as the Cedar River at the point where the old bridge once stood. This would allow families, sportsmen and those other than the extremely physically fit to have access to the river from the south as easy as from the north.
Valentine said that such access would allow a family to put into the Cedar River from Pelon Road and take out where the Chain of Lakes Road would meet the Cedar. With such access in mind and what it would do to afford the economic opportunities for the town, he questioned whether some sort of corridor could be made that would allow car and light truck use of the road to reach the Cedar River.
The DEC’s Martin suggested that the road could be deemed usable if “the case can be made that it is a former town motor road. Then it could be grandfathered in.” It was stressed that paperwork that attested to this fact would be the best proof.
Valentine said he would like to see families have the opportunity for a “wilderness” experience without having to hike a tremendously long distance with boats and gear. He also said he would like to see sportsmen have access to the area from the south without facing the same distances with gear and game.