Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve filed a lawsuit on January 11, 2016 challenging the State’s approval of a new Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex in the central Adirondack Park. The suit claims that the UMP violates state law by allowing motorized and mechanized recreational uses in remote, wild areas that the law declares shall be off limits to such activity. The lawsuit was filed in state court in Albany and the groups are represented by Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm.

Click here to read a Press Release.

The Essex Chain Lakes tract was purchased by the State and added to the Adirondack Forest Preserve in 2012. The tract includes a multitude of remote and wild lakes, ponds, and wetlands; secluded and undeveloped stretches of the Hudson, Cedar, Indian, and Rock Rivers; and thousands of acres of intact, unfragmented forest. Because of its remote and wild character, the fragility of its natural resources, and its scenic beauty, most of the tract is protected under state law from motorized and mechanized recreational uses.

In November 2015, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), by an 8-2 vote, approved a controversial Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Essex Chain lands prepared by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The two APA members who voted against approval of the UMP expressed serious concerns about the plan’s legality.

The lawsuit claims that the approved UMP calls for a number of management actions that violate the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act, the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, and Snowmobile Trail Management Guidance, including:

➢ construction of a massive new snowmobile bridge over the remote and scenic Cedar River, which is protected under State law from motorized recreation;

➢ opening of a logging bridge that crosses the remote and scenic Hudson River to public snowmobiling within a River area that is similarly protected under State law from motorized recreation;

➢ opening of a former logging road along a remote, Wild stretch of the Hudson River to motor vehicles in violation of state law;

➢ construction of a new snowmobile corridor through a remote, roadless and trailless part of the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest, which duplicates an existing snowmobile route; and

➢ opening of two large Primitive areas, which are required by law to be managed essentially as wilderness, to all terrain bicycle use, which is prohibited by the State Land Master Plan.

This UMP was highly controversial. Read PROTECT’s reflections on the decision by the APA and DEC to approve this plan. Part 1 focuses on the poor public process administered by the APA. Part 2 focuses on widespread violations of snowmobile management policies. Part 3 focuses on violations of the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act.

A view of the Polaris Bridge where it crosses the Hudson River. The section of the Hudson River is classified as a Scenic River under the NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. Motor vehicles are prohibited in Scenic River areas.

A view of the Polaris Bridge where it crosses the Hudson River. The section of the Hudson River is classified as a Scenic River under the NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. Motor vehicles are prohibited in Scenic River areas.


 
Click here to read the Memorandum of Law

Click here for the Notice and Petition

Click here for Exhibits 1-2

Click here for Exhibits 3-19

This is a typical former logging road on the Essex Chain Lakes tract. The new UMP will allow biking on these roads and management and maintenance by state officials using motor vehicles.

This is a typical former logging road on the Essex Chain Lakes tract. The new UMP will allow biking on these roads and management and maintenance by state officials using motor vehicles.


 

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