Action Needed! Essex Chain Lakes

New York State DEC is taking public comments on recreation plans for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex Draft Unit Management Plan until July 18th July 25th. It’s summer, but we can’t fall asleep on this one. Read up and get ready to take ACTION!

Update 7/17/14: DEC has extended the commentary period for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex Draft UMP until July 25th!

Update 6/27/14: Indian Lake Town Supervisor Brian Wells stressed the fact that we need a 10 foot clear width bridge that will handle groomers, wagons and horses. We need original letters (NOT form letters or petitions) to emphasize the importance of having multi-use trails to accommodate mountain bikes, horses and snowmobiles!


Essex Chain Lakes

The Essex Chain Lakes and Indian River tracts were divided into 4 parts:

  • Hudson River Gorge Wilderness
  • Essex Chain Lakes Primitive Area
  • Pine Lake Primitive Area
  • Blue Mountain Wild Forest

As we know, snowmobiling is only permitted in Wild Forest.

Notwithstanding the hundreds of people who showed up at the public meetings last summer overwhelmingly in favor of Wild Forest classification, the “tree-huggers” had a better letter-writing campaign. The written commentary favoring the more restrictive Primitive and Wilderness classification outnumbered Wild Forest by a ratio of nearly 4:1 with over 3,000 email and letters submitted.

The map reveals a plan that favors restricted access into the former Finch, Pruyn lands, devoid of public motor vehicle use despite the existence of numerous logging roads throughout the tracts as illustrated last summer in my Exposé on the “Southern Gateway” into the Essex Chain Lakes tract

However, in response to the unprecedented unity between county and town governments that made a spirited stand, the State did include a provision for a snowmobile trail that would connect Indian Lake to Newcomb and Minerva to points beyond, including North Hudson and Schroon Lake. Go back to the map and note the light green strip of Wild Forest corridor between the Primitive and Wilderness areas.

What the Draft Unit Management Plan says about snowmobiling within the Essex Chain Lakes Complex Area:

There are currently no snowmobile trails which exist or are proposed to be designated in the Complex UMP Area. The lessees, however, have the right to use snowmobiles to access their camp buildings until their leases expire on September 30, 2018.

The 2013 APA classification contemplated further analysis of options for a snowmobile trail connecting the Town of Indian Lake to points north through the newly classified land area. This trail is anticipated to connect the Town of Indian Lake to Newcomb and Minerva. The Department, in consultation with APA staff, will examine the alternatives for locating this trail as anticipated during classification.

Alternatives for the location of this future trail will be addressed in the future, through the UMP process, subject to public review and comment, and will include a full environmental review (that will be no less protective of the environment) independent of the environmental review completed for this proposed Complex UMP.

What this means:

  • The possible snowmobile trail would follow the existing Chain Lakes Road for about 3.7 miles until the Cedar River.
  • A bridge needs to be constructed over the Cedar River that will accommodate snowmobiling.
  • A few miles of new snowmobile trail would need to be cut through the narrow corridor of Wild Forest trail to a reach a preexisting road.
  • The snowmobile trail is NOT a sure thing. We must tell DEC in overwhelming numbers that we want the multi-use/snowmobile trail!

What we must do:

  • Read the entire Essex Chain Lakes Complex Draft UMP: CLICK HERE
  • Write or email New York State DEC and tell them we want the multi-use/snowmobile trail!
  • Pass this notice to your snowmobiling friends and tell them to contact DEC.

The commentary can be as simple or eloquent as you’d like. We must tell DEC that we want the multi-use/snowmobile trail! Be sure include your name and town of residence with any letter or email so it can be considered as legitimate commentary.

DEC will be accepting comments on the Essex Chain Lakes Complex Draft UMP until July 25, 2014. Comments can be sent to:

Josh Clague, Natural Resources Planner
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233-4254


Snowmobile trails don’t “just happen.” Usually, the hard-working volunteer snowmobile clubs and local municipalities do the grunt work to make snowmobiling happen for us. But Draft UMPs offer the public a unique opportunity to help shape our snowmobile trail system here in ilsnow land. 

If you attended a meeting last summer or wrote a letter: Thank you. But we need to do it again! To those who didn’t: You have another opportunity to tell DEC what we want. DON’T BLOW IT!

Just get it done! You know I’ll be stumping this until July 25th.

Darrin @

Comments welcomed!


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