Newcomb outfitters waiting for APA decision before expanding

Essex Chain Lakes up for classification

Ruth and Dave Olbert, owners of Cloud-Splitter Outfitters in Newcomb

Ruth and Dave Olbert, owners of Cloud-Splitter Outfitters in Newcomb

— While the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) does not have the Essex Chain Lakes classification on its agenda for the Nov. 14-15 meeting, according to APA spokesman Keith McKeever, the upcoming decision is weighing heavily on small business owners in the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub — the towns of Long Lake, Indian Lake, North Hudson, Minerva and Newcomb.

It’s the chicken or the egg thing.

Do small businesses invest in building accommodations and hope an influx of tourists will come to the Adirondack Park to explore the new Forest Preserve in the Essex Chain Lakes? Or do they wait until Gov. Andrew Cuomo approves the Adirondack Park Agency’s recommendation on what the property will be classified?

Ruth and Dave Olbert at Cloud-Splitter Outfitters in Newcomb are ready to expand and offer more accommodations for travelers. But, at this point, it’s a gamble and a waiting game.

“We’re kind of one foot in the air,” Ruth said. “We’re waiting on the classification like everybody else. We’re kind of ready to expand. There’s a need to expand, definitely, but there’s fear involved because it’s been pretty quiet here for a long time.”

Ruth is convinced that a wild forest classification would liven things up in Newcomb, economically. It would bring in more tourists for the Essex Chain Lakes, a tract of land to the south of Newcomb recently acquired by the state. Wild forest means more users because it could have motorized uses such as watercraft with small engines on the lakes, snowmobiles and mountain bikes. Or, depending on the Unit Management Plan, which is drafted after classification, it could simply mean mountain bikes and no motorized traffic. Either way, it would attract more people, and that means more business for the Olberts and the town of Newcomb.

The Essex Chain tract — including the Hudson River and 11 lakes and ponds interconnected or within portaging distance of each other — provides an opportunity for hunting, day rafting, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, overnight river trips and camping.

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