Friday, August 5, 2016

Former Finch, Pruyn Lodge At Boreas Ponds Demolished

Boreas lodge webA large lodge at Boreas Ponds built by Finch, Pruyn & Company has been demolished, removing one thorny issue facing state officials responsible for drafting a management plan for a recently acquired tract of Forest Preserve.

The Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which sold the ponds to the state this year, hired a contractor to dismantle the lodge. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) agreed that the lodge should be removed — even though local officials wanted it to stay.

Rob Davies, director of DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests, told Adirondack Almanack that it was not feasible to keep the lodge, partly because of the cost of maintenance, partly because it was a “non-conforming structure” in the Preserve. He said the project, including removal of debris and rehabilitation of the site, should be complete this month.

North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore said he thought the lodge could have been used as a ranger outpost, information center, or overnight lodge as part of a hut-to-hut network. Yet, he understands that it would have been expensive to maintain.

“We knew it was coming,” he said of the demolition. “It’s a disappointment, but I realize the financial aspects of it.”

Finch, Pruyn, which sold its lands to the conservancy in 2007, built the wooden lodge as a corporate retreat on the south side of Boreas Ponds in 1996. From its porch, visitors enjoyed a spectacular view of the ponds and the High Peaks beyond. Moore said he’d like to see the cleared site used for lean-tos or tent campsites.

lodge siteIt was no secret that the 3,300-square-foot lodge would come down. Michael Carr, the head of the conservancy’s Adirondack chapter, had said so at a gathering this spring at which Governor Andrew Cuomo discussed the purchase of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract.

At the time, Carr also announced that the conservancy would provide $750,000 to spur recreation-oriented economic development related to the former Finch, Pruyn lands. The conservancy had earlier provided $500,000 for similar projects.

Steven Engelhart, executive director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage, said the building is not historic, so his organization did not advocate for its preservation. He added that he is pleased that DEC may preserve an older cabin on the property.

Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, thanked the conservancy and DEC for removing the lodge. “Its retention would be inconsistent with a Wilderness classification,” he said. “More importantly, its impact on the remote character of the site was a concern.”

In the coming months, DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency will decide how to manage the Boreas Ponds Tract. One question is how much of the tract should be motor-free Wilderness and how much should be Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification that allows some motorized use as well as mountain biking.

Also at issue is whether Gulf Brook Road, a seven-mile logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds, should be open to motor vehicles. Environmental groups and local towns say the general public should be able to drive six miles up the road, as far as LaBier Flow. From there, canoeists could paddle and portage about a mile to the ponds themselves. Hikers could reach the ponds by continuing up the road on foot.

P1040528The towns would go further toward facilitating public access, proposing that the disabled, guides with their clients, and people who obtain a special permit be allowed to drive closer to the ponds. The towns also want logging roads around the the ponds open to mountain biking–an activity that would not be allowed under plans backed by the environmental groups.

“To benefit the towns, it’s all about access and recreational opportunities,” Moore said.

Wilderness purists argue that the Gulf Brook Road should be closed in its entirety (to both motor vehicles and bikes) and allowed to revert to a footpath. Still others argue that the road should end somewhere short of LaBier Flow.

The road has been gated at its start since the state acquired the Boreas Ponds Tract in the spring. Moore said he hopes DEC will open the road as far as LaBier Flow under an interim-access plan that is in the works.

Top photo of partially demolished lodge taken by Nancie Battaglia on July 24. The Adirondack Council provided the second photo, taken August 4, showing the vacant site.  Photo of intact lodge taken by Phil Brown.

 


Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.




12 Responses

  1. Larry Roth says:

    “In the coming months, DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency will decide how to manage the Boreas Ponds Tract. One question is how much of the tract should be motor-free Wilderness and how much should be Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification that allows some motorized use as well as mountain biking.”

    There are no simple answers to this question, but plenty of people who are sure THEY have one. But one thing is almost a certainty. Whatever is decided, making sure it gets adequate funding is going to be the real battle.

  2. Tim says:

    I hope we can soon go where the lodge was to enjoy the view.

  3. Boreas says:

    Too bad it wasn’t dismantled and reassembled elsewhere. Seems a waste to demolish a new building.

  4. Justin Farrell says:

    Kind of makes me wish that I was able to see the lodge before it was removed on my last two visits to the Boreas Ponds, but both of those times there were signs saying “Restricted Area, No Trespassing.” Must have been different circumstances for Phil Brown.

  5. Paul says:

    “The Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which sold the ponds to the state this year, hired a contractor to dismantle the lodge.”.

    Phil, any exploitation for why the seller has to deal with this? Was this something agreed to ahead of time as part of the transaction. Kind of weird that the buyer (us) isn’t responsible.

    • Boreas says:

      Phil,
      And was it dismantled or demolished?

    • Phil Brown says:

      It’s just something TNC agreed to do. Likewise, hunting cabins will be removed by owners or TNC.

      Boreas, my understanding is the lodge was demolished. It won’t be rebuilt somewhere else, if that’s what you mean.

      • Boreas says:

        Thanks. The picture looks like a demolition, but I am no expert.

      • Paul says:

        Good deal for us. We will probably have to pay to remove many of the camps. There isn’t much incentive for a lease holder to remove a camp. That probably wasn’t even in the lease they signed since most owners want to own any “improvements” made by the lessee.

  6. Paul says:

    This place looks like it would make a great Canoe Area. Why isn’t that even being considered? Too small (as far as water goes)?

  7. Timothy Dannenhoffer says:

    Well that is a shame, almost bordering on dumb. The place was beautiful. I can understand if they want to make it wilderness, especially with that road closed. But the building was exceptional, not a shack, and they could have sold it to the ADK to become something like the John’s Brook Lodge, or they could have kept it as an interior outpost for rangers like at Lake Colden. I don’t know why they needed to hastily destroy it, except to remove the debate about it altogether. In my opinion the road staying open is much MUCH more of a threat. We should be hearing them drop real hints to get ready for the road to be closed, instead I think we are hearing the opposite. I hope they don’t thoroughly and completely drop the ball with this one.

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