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NY buys 6,200 acres in Adirondacks; includes pristine stretch of Hudson River headwater

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ALBANY, New York — Paddlers have a new area to explore at the upper reaches of the Hudson River and hikers will get better access to some mountains with the state's purchase of 6,200 acres at the southern edge of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Area.

"People will be astonished at the beauty of this area," Mike Carr, executive director of The Nature Conservancy, said Thursday. "The fact that we still have places like this to preserve in 2015 is amazing."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state purchased the land in the town of Newcomb for $4.2 million from The Nature Conservancy, which bought it from the Finch, Pruyn timber company in 2007 as part of a 161,000-acre acquisition. The state purchase is part of 69,000 acres of former Finch lands Cuomo has vowed to protect for public access.

"The acquisition of this property is another step to boost recreation opportunities and community-based economies in the region," Newcomb Town Supervisor George Canon said in a prepared statement.

Since 2012, the state has purchased 48,604 acres of former Finch holdings scattered throughout the Adirondacks and the Lake George-Lake Champlain watershed. Cuomo said the state expects to acquire the Boreas Ponds tract — the sole remaining former Finch Pruyn parcel — in the current state fiscal year.

Access to the new parcel is from Tahawus Road that heads north from Newcomb to an area at the southern edge of the High Peaks that once had an iron mine and extensive timbering operations. Finch, Pruyn sent logs down the Hudson from there to its paper plant in Glens Falls.

Now, paddlers will be able to explore 5.2 miles of the Hudson and 7 miles of the Opalescent River.

"The junction of the Opalescent and Hudson is hallowed ground," Carr said. "There are big sandbars and incredibly clear water. We paddled it a couple of times and it's just spectacular."

The Department of Environmental Conservation says the tract will be open immediately for paddling and fishing, with the Hudson accessible from several points along the Tahawus Road. The agency will develop hiking trails in the future.

The tract may provide a shorter route to the summit of Allen Mountain, often cited as the least favorite mountain of those who aspire to climb the highest 46 Adirondack peaks because it requires an 18-mile roundtrip hike on unmarked trails.

An existing dirt road through the tract comes within 2 miles of Allen's summit. But the DEC will determine the amount of motorized access allowed in the tract.

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