A state panel voted Friday to create the Hudson Gorge Wilderness Area, a vast, new 24,000 acre stretch along the upper Hudson River.
This decision by the Adirondack Park Agency commission sets aside a sprawling area of wild rivers, pristine lakes, and forests where most human development will be banned.
Though Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed to get this deal done, committing the state to spending nearly $50 million, some environmentalists are angry. They say the compromise allows more roads, more snowmobile access and float plane landings on two remote lakes.
Peter Bauer of Protect the Adirondacks says his organization is already suing New York State to limit snowmobile trails in the Park.
“In many ways, what’s being proposed here—with a motorized wild forest corridor through the heart of a major new forest preserve area, bridges over wild scenic and recreational rivers—this is really the new normal,” Bauer says in this WNYC feature.
But others praise the "workable compromise" crafted in part by the governor himself.
“The governor made a great pick here and he will be in the history books for his vision,” says Mike Carr, the Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack director.
Creation of this new wilderness area is only the first step in a larger effort to protect the wildest stretches of the Hudson River. The Nature Conservancy is still holding roughly 40,000 acres of forest lands which the state plans to acquire by 2018.
This deal also protects the Essex Chain Lakes in a motorless primitive area. (Photo: Carl Heilmann III/Adirondack Nature Conservancy, used with permission)