This fall, the New York State Adirondack Park Agency will make one of the most important decisions it has ever faced ["Upstate land swaps on ballot," News, Oct. 14]. The agency will recommend to the governor a classification and management plan for more than 40,000 acres of wild lands and waters -- land the state recently purchased that includes some of the tallest mountains and wildest rivers within the Adirondacks.
The Adirondack Park might seem far away, but Long Islanders use these beautiful upstate public lands, too. And all New York residents have a say in what happens. The classification decision will affect the Essex Chain of Lakes in Minerva and Newcom, OK Slip Falls in Indian Lake, and parts of the upper Hudson, Cedar and Indian rivers. These largely pristine areas will be combined with the adjacent Hudson Gorge Primitive Area to create a single new block of "forever wild" forest preserve.
This rugged landscape in the center of the Adirondack Park sits on the border of Essex and Hamilton counties. It is one of the few places where a new wilderness area is still possible. Its interior doesn't contain year-round homes. Its dirt roads revert to foot trails.
These lands are biologically rich and environmentally sensitive. They should be protected as a wilderness, allowing automobile access only up to the edge. This is a rare opportunity to keep this area in its natural state.
Sarah J. Meyland, Huntington
Editor's note: The writer is a board member of the Adirondack Council, a conservation group.