On April 22, 2015, Earth Day, DEC posted the Final Unit Management Plan for the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.  This project has been a flash point in the battle against oil and gas drilling on public land in New York, especially in efforts to stop High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) on or under state-owned lands. The Final UMP states, that “no drilling for oil or gas will be allowed on Hemlock-Canadice State Forest for the duration of this UMP.”  ADK applauds the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for this important decision. As the UMP states, it is a decision that is consistent with the most important function of the property, which is protecting water quality.  It is clearly a victory for all of the groups, citizens, and government leaders who have been working together to protect this important resource and special place. ADK’s Genesee Valley Chapter members attended the public hearing in scores and many more wrote letters.  By preventing horizontal drilling for natural gas under state lands, we protected the adjoining private upland watershed lands from HVHF drilling sites to extract that gas.

Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has been a leader in the effort to protect Hemlock Canadice, first by ensuring that HVHF would not be permitted on any state lands, including state forests. ADK became more deeply involved in the protection effort when DEC announced that although they would not allow HVHF on the state-owned lands of Hemlock-Canadice, they could permit horizontal drilling from adjacent lands under the state forest. With support from the Conservation Alliance and many members of our Genesee Valley chapter,  ADK campaigned to protect the  7,000 acres comprising the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest (H-C SF).  About 24 miles south of Rochester, NY, the H-C SF is one of the most valuable and unique public properties in New York.  The area encompasses the only two undeveloped Finger Lakes left of the original 11 lakes.  The cold, deep waters of Hemlock and Canadice lakes provide pure fresh drinking water for nearly a quarter million people in the greater Rochester area.

The steep shorelines of the H-C SF are a refuge for mature temperate deciduous forests, that provide a vital nesting habitat for many neotropical songbirds.  The secluded shores of the Hemlock-Canadice were selected for the first successful hacking site for re-introduction of the bald eagle in New York.  The spectacular scenery of the lake draws many kayakers and boaters.  The magnificent forests have 14 miles of hiking trails with many vantage points of the lakes. The H-C SF is totally surrounded by the forests and wetlands of the watershed of the City of Rochester. The springs and tributaries of that watershed feed these lakes.

Hemlock-Canadice is truly a jewel. ADK is extremely pleased to see the sound decision made by DEC to protect this special resource.

Photo Credit: Steve Knapp www.keukaview.com