APA to begin Finch land classification deliberations

RAY BROOK – State Adirondack Park Agency commissioners will begin deliberations Thursday on the classification of 47,000 acres of state-owned land in the towns of Minerva, Newcomb and Indian Lake, including 21,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn and Co. timberlands the state recently acquired from The Nature Conservancy.

However, APA officials say the board will not take any action on the classification package during this month’s meeting. Agency staff have not prepared a preferred altrenative to recommend for this meeting.

The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, a half-hour earlier than normal. Agency Chairwoman Lani Ulrich will introduce new APA board Members Karen Feldman and Daniel Wilt, and consider committee chair assignments. APA Executive Director Terry Martino will then present her monthly report to the board.

At 9:15 a.m., the agency’s State Land Committee will be given an informational overview of issues raised during a public comment period on the classification package, which included hearings held across the Park and around the state from mid June to early July.

The committee will review State Land Master Plan classification criteria, the classification alternatives presented during public hearings and public and written comments received, according to an APA press release. The committee will also be briefed on recreational opportunities, including community connector snowmobile trails.

At 10:45 a.m., APA staff will provide background presentations on general issues presented during the public comment period. The committee will hear presentations on natural resource considerations and existing road infrastructure, followed by board discussion.

At 1 p.m., the committee will discuss biological considerations, including the Essex Chain and Hudson River fisheries, rare species and natural communities and wetlands, according to the release. The committee will also review social and economic issues such as existing buildings, existing infrastructure, and reserved rights and easements on the Essex Chain and OK Slip Falls parcels.

The Thursday agenda will conclude with board discussion and a question-and-answer session.

At 9 a.m. Friday, the Regulatory Programs Committee will hear informational presentations on an emergency road repair project along state Route 73 and road construction on state Route 28N.

At 9:45, the State Land Committee will reconvene to discuss the next steps involved in the Finch classification process to develop the Final Environmental Impact Statement. This will include: response to public comments, revisions to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement with updated information, and consultation with DEC on classification recommendations in preparation for a staff presentation to the board in September.

At 10:45, the Economic Affairs Committee will meet for a presentation on the J & L Steel Site in the town of Clifton, St. Lawrence County.

At 11:45, the full agency will assemble for committee reports, Local Government Review Board comment, public and member comment.

The two-day meeting will be held at the APA headquarters in Ray Brook. It will be webcast on the agency’s website, www.apa.ny.gov, where meeting materials are also available for download.