continued Wild Rivers Wilderness
The proposed Wild Rivers Wilderness Area would surround the Essex Chain of Lakes, the Hudson River Gorge, Blue Ledges, and OK Slip Falls. When purchased, the Council asked the state to combine these new parcels with existing sections of the Blue Mountain Lake Wild Forest, Vanderwacker Mountain Wild Forest and Hudson Gorge Primitive Area. It would include 48 miles of wild rivers, nine interconnected lakes and ponds, and one of the Adirondack Park’s most majestic waterfalls.
“More important are the rich variety of wildlife, the forests, wetlands, and fisheries this new wilderness would protect,” Fish said. “The foremost duty of the state, according to the State Land Master Plan, is to protect the rare natural resources on these lands from potential overuse, pollution, noise and invasive species that motorized traffic would bring. There are many ways to gain access to wild lands and waters without driving automobiles directly into the center of them. Creative solutions can be found.”
Fish reminded the commissioner that more than 90,000 acres of former Finch lands had been protected from development by conservation agreements with new private owners, which allow motorized public access and sustainable harvesting. Those lands are near the lands being purchased for addition to the public Forest Preserve.
The Council proposes that less than 50,000 acres of the former Finch lands become wilderness. That would mean another 18,000-plus acres of former Finch lands being purchased for the Forest Preserve would be eligible for motorized access.
The Council’s proposal calls for about one-third of Finch’s 161,000-acre former holdings to become wilderness.
Fish challenged Commissioner Martens to see this purchase as a part of a larger plan for the rational completion of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and sought to reassure him that designating an area as Wilderness will not prevent its use.