Hike vs ride: Debate heats up over next Adirondack land buy

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, Adirondack High Peaks, including snow-capped Mount Marcy, the state’s highest summit, rear center, are reflected in Boreas Pond in North Hudson, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has committed to purchasing the 22,000-acre Boreas Pond tract from The Nature Conservancy by the end of March, completing the acquisition of 69,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn timber company lands to expand the state’s constitutionally protected Forest Preserve. (AP Photo/Mary Esch)

NORTH HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) — As New York officials prepare to buy the last piece of Finch timber company land from The Nature Conservancy, debate is heating up over public access to the tract just south of the Adirondack High Peaks.

Environmental groups launched a campaign this month urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to designate the 22,000-acre Boreas Pond tract as wilderness, the most restrictive classification which bans motorized access. Groups including the Adirondack Council and Adirondack Mountain Club want it to be part of an expanded High Peaks Wilderness.

But local officials say wilderness and the hikers and paddlers who use it don’t bring economic benefits to nearby towns. They want the state to keep some of the former logging roads open to cars, snowmobiles and mountain bikes.

Cuomo has said the state will purchase the tract by the end of March.

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