Essex Chain Lakes Plan Fuels Debate

ADIRONDACKS — Of all the 65,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands the state is buying in the central Adirondacks, the Essex Chain Lakes was among the most coveted by nature-lovers.

The remote region between Indian Lake in Hamilton County and Newcomb in Essex County was off limits to the public for a century, and is studded with little-seen lakes, ponds and rivers, including a long stretch of the upper Hudson.

The 19,600-acre complex, which the state acquired in 2013, is currently the topic of a heated debate over how easy it should be for the public to reach the interior, and whether economic or wilderness values should prevail in land use planning.

Last month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation last month released a draft land management plan and environmental impact statement that emphasizes the tourism potential, and goes beyond just encouraging hiking and fishing opportunities…

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