I am often asked why I advocate for wilderness areas. I think wilderness areas are incredibly important to human culture.  In wilderness areas we rediscover our place on the earth.  Away from mechanical sounds, we hear the songs created by loons and peepers and the beat of water lapping softly on the side of a drifting canoe. Beyond the reach of two-stroke engines, we experience the fragrance of sun warmed white pines on a soft wind. Wilderness also protects vital ecosystems and species that do not tolerate human infrastructure and mechanical conveniences well.

In the fall of 2012, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) purchased 65,000 acres of land (former Finch Paper lands) from The Nature Conservancy (TNC).  The crown jewel of this land purchase is the 10 lakes and ponds of the Essex Chain located south of Newcomb, NY.  These lovely and unspoiled lakes are interconnected with narrow channels and short portages. Like the St. Regis Canoe Area, the Essex Chain will be a canoe camper’s dream. However, if we want to make this dream a reality, we need your help. We need you to speak up for a wilderness classification for these special lakes.

The Adirondack Park Agency is currently in the process of deciding what type of land classification this new acquisition will be. Many towns in the region are calling for motor vehicle and snowmobile access to all of the Essex Chain Lakes. An undesirable proposal, supported by the DEC, calls for a land classification which would allow floatplanes and motor boats into Third Lake, the heart of  the Essex Chain. Since floatplane access is already guaranteed on 1st and Pine lakes, two of the periphery Essex Chain Lakes, DEC’s classification proposal would create an imbalance in regional recreational opportunities. Motor free lakes offer a quality canoe and kayak experience that is rare in the Adirondacks.

Only a Wilderness classification will protect the heart of  the Essex Chain from the noise and intrusions of motor vehicles, motor boats, and floatplanes. Classification Alternative 1A is ADK’s preferred option, a balance of access to the Essex Chain Lakes similar to the carry into Lake Lila.

If we want the quiet and unspoiled wilderness experience of Lake Lila or Little Tupper Lake, we must make our voices heard. Please attend one of the public hearings on this issue if you can and speak up for Wilderness Classification Alternative 1A. Please also consider writing or emailing James Connolly of the Adirondack Park Agency in support of Wilderness Classification Alternative 1A. Follow this link for hearing dates and times, talking points, and contact information for the Adirondack Park Agency.

Photo by Carl Heilman