APA pushes Finch land decision back another month

RAY BROOK – The state Adirondack Park Agency has once again given itself an extra month to decide on the classification of former Finch, Pruyn and Co. timberlands in the central Adirondacks.

APA spokesmen Keith McKeever said Thursday the Finch land classification will not be on the agency board’s agenda when it meets next week. After two meetings in August and September when the classification proposals were examined at length, this will be the second month in a row the topic hasn’t made it to the board table for discussion.

“APA staff continue to diligently respond to public comment and conduct all required analysis to prepare the Final Environmental Impact Statement in support of a state land classification for the Finch lands,” McKeever said in an email. “This is a very demanding and complex process. We are being thorough and taking the time necessary to reach a recommendation that will be in the best interest of the Adirondack Park.”

The classification proposals involve 21,000 acres in the towns of Indian Lake, Minerva and Newcomb that the state acquired from The Nature Conservancy, which had bought them and other land from Finch, Pruyn in 2007. The lands in question include the Essex Chain of Lakes tract, the OK Slip Falls tract and the Indian River tract. The agency is also considering reclassifying the Hudson River Gorge Primitive Area, and portions of the Vanderwhacker and Blue Mountain wild forests.

The agency is considering seven classification alternatives for the lands. Each option before the agency is a mix of classifications: wilderness, which is the most restrictive, primitive, canoe and wild forest. Each option contains more wilderness than anything else.

The option the agency picks, if Gov. Andrew Cuomo approves it, will determine the extent of recreational access to the lands, some of which have been off limits to the general public for 150 years.

Agency commissioners have said they’re eager to begin the debate over the classification options, but they also don’t want to be rushed into one of the biggest and most closely watched decisions the agency has made in years.

The agency received nearly 3,800 letters and emails about the classification package and five petitions containing more than 2,300 signatures. More than 640 people attended a series of eight public hearings held around the state earlier this summer, at which 250 people spoke.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or