Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Land deal won't mean immediate access

Steve PiattThe state's announcement that it will purchase a total of 69,000 acres in the Adirondacks can be seen as great news to hunters, anglers, trappers and others who want to plunge into the wilderness, but let's not get too excited just yet.

For starters, the lands won't be open to the general public until the transaction is complete, and indications are it will happen in piecemeal fashion over a five-year period.

Too, keep in mind that this is pretty rugged country. The brochures won't come right out and say it, but you could die out there if you're not prepared and familiar with backcountry travel. Paddling the Hudson River gorge, depending on water levels, isn't something just anyone should tackle. Ditto for hunting in the 22,000 acres of the Boreas Ponds tract that border the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

But the real decisions – those that will tell us just how accessible much of this acreage really will be – related to the land purchase have yet to be made.

The state, via the much-maligned (and often rightfully so) Adirondack Park Agency, must come up with Unit Management Plans for each tract purchased by the state. While the parcels will become part of the state's Forever Wild forest preserve, the APA will develop land use plans and classify the tracts accordingly.

Early indications are that the remote interior acreage will fall under Wilderness guidelines, which will restrict them to foot travel only. As such, you had better be intimately familiar with backcountry travel, have legs of steel and a strong back if you want to hunt, fish or trap on much of that land.

The more accessible areas will likely be classified as Wild Forest areas, which allow for more vehicle access – including, perhaps, snowmobiles.

I'm always a little leery when the state touts its total acreage available to hunters, since I know most of it really isn't, because the average hunter generally doesn't wander more than a few hundred yards from his truck. Some of these Adirondack parcels are available only to the fittest of hunters; some, too, is lousy habitat for wildlife – old-growth forest with virtually no understory. So even if you could get there, you wouldn't want to hunt there when you arrived.

All you have to do is look at the state's annual deer hunting forecast, a unit-by-unit preview of the upcoming whitetail season, to see what I'm talking about. Many Southern Zone Wildlife Management Units have virtually no public access for hunters. So propping up those acreage statistics with the vast Adirondacks offerings is a little – no, a lot – misleading.

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