Monday, August 1, 2016

Forest Preserve Advocates Modify Boreas Ponds Proposal

Proposed_Expanded_High_Peaks_Wild_July2016-2-1024x659A coalition of environmental groups that includes the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, and Adirondack Wild has significantly altered its proposal for the recently acquired Boreas Ponds Tract, calling for less of the region to be classified Wilderness.

Under the original proposal, about 15,000 of the tract’s 20,758 acres would have been added to the High Peaks Wilderness. This included land north and south of Gulf Brook Road, a durable logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds. The road itself would have been designated a Primitive Corridor, allowing visitors to drive as far as LaBier Flow, some six miles from County Route 2.

Under the new plan, Gulf Brook Road and the land south of it would be Wild Forest, a less-restrictive classification that allows motorized use. Thus, it would not be necessary to designate Gulf Brook Road a Primitive Corridor to allow people to drive to LaBier Flow. Some 13,000 acres north of the road would be Wilderness.

Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, said Gulf Brook Road could not be designated a Primitive Corridor because the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy, which sold the land to the state in April, never opened it to the public. Finch, Pruyn & Company, which owned the land before the conservancy, also prohibited the general public from using the seven-mile road.

“If the Nature Conservancy had opened the corridor as far as LaBier Flow, that would have been a pre-existing use and that would have opened the door to a Primitive Corridor,” Janeway told Adirondack Almanack.

Asked if the BeWildNY coalition requested the Nature Conservancy to temporarily open the road, Janeway said he would not comment on any talks with the conservancy.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has maintained that even pre-existing motorized use by private leaseholders can be used to justify continuing such use after land is acquired for the Forest Preserve. Janeway, however, said the Adirondack Council disagrees with this interpretation of the law.

“A prior private use of a road does not grandfather future use when the property transfers to the Forest Preserve,” he said.

With one important difference, the modified plan is similar to that set forth by Protect the Adirondacks. The state intends to build a snowmobile trail between North Hudson and Newcomb that may run through the Boreas tract. Protect proposes to use Gulf Brook Road for the so-called community-connector trail, whereas BeWildNY recommends creating a trail on the north side of Route 2, close to and paralleling the highway.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect, argues that creating a trail from scratch rather than using the road would necessitate cutting thousands of trees, possibly violating Article 14, the clause in the state constitution that protects the Forest Preserve as forever wild. He added that less than a half-mile of new trail would need to be cut under Protect’s proposal, but it would go through “recently cut, former Finch lands rife with tote roads and haul roads.”

Janeway counters that BeWildNY’s route also would utilize old woods roads. Moreover, he said, it would keep snowmobiles far from Boreas Ponds and out of the interior of the Forest Preserve. “That’s a huge benefit,” he said. “And it looks like there is similar or less tree cutting than under any other option.”

Janeway also contended that Protect’s plan would violate the state’s guidelines for Adirondack snowmobile trails, which call for keeping snowmobiles near the periphery of the Forest Preserve.

BeWildNY is urging the state to add roughly 33,000 acres, including Boreas Ponds, to the High Peaks Wilderness. The acreage includes other lands bought from the Nature Conservancy as well as state lands now classified as Wild Forest. In addition, the coalition wants to combine the High Peaks Wilderness with the adjacent Dix Mountain Wilderness. If the state were to adopt these recommendations, the High Peaks Wilderness, already the largest in the Adirondack Park, would grow to more than 280,000 acres from 204,000 acres.

Some wilderness advocates, including John Davis of the Wildlands Network and Bill Ingersoll, publisher of Adirondack guidebooks, argue that Gulf Brook Road should be closed in its entirety and allowed to revert to a footpath. However, this would require paddlers to undertake an arduous journey, carrying or wheeling their boats more than six miles to reach Boreas Ponds. Although the road is closed now, many observers think it likely that the Cuomo administration eventually will open at least part of the road.

Other organizations in the BeWildNY coalition are the New York League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Advocates of New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, Wilderness Society, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Map: BeWildNY’s proposal for classifying the Boreas Ponds Tract and expanding the High Peaks Wilderness.


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.




106 Responses

  1. Justin Farrell says:

    Curious why there is still no consideration or discussion about a plan to allow public motorized acces up to the existing second gate along Gulf Brook Rd located at about 3.2 miles from Blue Ridge Rd. There is currently ample parking space that already exists in the adjacent clearings & gravel pits.
    From this second gate it is about a 2.5 mile walk to LeBeir Flow, and 3.5 to the dam at Boreas Ponds. Seems like a fair compromise, no?
    Why would an environmental group support new development & public motorized access any closer to these lightly traveled waterbodies?

    • Harold says:

      As a kayaker who generally likes to camp along with my kayak I was heartened to read that with parking at LaBier Flow the carry or wheeling of my loaded kayak would only amount to about a 3 mile round trip. I’m still a bit dismayed by the notion that people are suggesting that a 3.5 (7 mile round trip) would be preferable? I’ve kayaked all over the ADK’s and apart from some long carries such as the one from Lows to Oswegatchie I know of know carries amounting to a 3.5 one way trip. What makes this Boreas Ponds so special? I have not been there yet, primarily out of principle, but pristine waters and views of the high peaks do not constitute the trip of the greatest significance when the are so many other wonderful kayaking opportunities within the blue line. What is the rationale for this insistence on an exclusively long buffer between parking and these particular ponds?

      This reminds me of the big debate and buildup to the opening of the Essex Chain. When we finally went there we had a pleasant kayaking experience exploring the entire set of lakes but the campsites were practically non existent and a generator was running during a good part of the time from the private land adjacent to the ponds. The carry was very short and convenient but I was left a bit underwhelmed after all of the emotional debates going on among the various groups.

      I wonder if I’ll come away from my visit to Boreas Ponds with the same quizzical thoughts in my mind!

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Harold,
        I’ve been to Boreas Ponds. It is not like Lowes or the Oswegatchie. It’s an extensive wetland with a dense, marshy, and wild shoreline. I don’t think allowing public motorized access within close proximity is the best thing to do for preserving its wild character & habitat. Making it too easy for people to reach will no doubt have a negative impact. I think Bill Ingersoll puts it best in his comment below.
        Best regards.
        – Justin

  2. Phil Brown says:

    One of the linked articles raises the option of opening the road partway to LaBier Flow.

    • Justin Farrell says:

      Thanks Phil,
      I’ve been following this debate and haven’t read or heard any other discussion about the second gate, other than my own posts.

  3. Bill Ingersoll Bill Ingersoll says:

    I’ll point out that when you insist on framing Boreas Ponds over and over again as a “paddling destination” then yes, a carry of 6+ miles will seem insurmountable to many people. But why on earth must this be a paddling destination first and foremost? Aren’t Elk Lake, Sanford Lake, and Henderson Lake available nearby for the paddling public?

    Isn’t backpacking still regarded as a viable form of public access, or have backpackers become regarded as pariahs? Why has the average capability of a 60-year-old body become the standard for measuring “reasonable access” in the Adirondacks? Is it a crime to be young and physically fit? Why the sudden aversion to having to walk six miles to enjoy a small body of water in a remote setting?

    Wouldn’t West Canada Lake, the Siamese Ponds, the late great Duck Hole, and numerous other remote bodies of water also be “paddling destinations” if only the generations that came before us had done away with all this wilderness nonsense and let us drive the perfectly good roads that led to those destinations? (Said with extreme sarcasm, in case that wasn’t obvious.)

    What is the rationale for insisting that a 1.5-mile-long wetland with few connecting waterways be viewed as a “paddling destination”? The road is well over 4 times as long as the destination. You drive, you put your boat on the water, you get the scenic payoff in about 5 minutes. You can’t land anywhere because the shoreline is very marshy, and there are few opportunities for canoe camping. There are no other ponds within easy reach. This is hardly the park’s latest “Canoe Area.”

    Why the insistence that human recreation must come before all other concerns? What about the concentrated moose population that might be affected by the potentially high number of people allowed in by easy motorized access? What is the number of nesting loon pairs that find the marshy shoreline attractive? What about the intrinsic values of remoteness and solitude?

    What about the possibility that a LaBier trailhead could become another Garden, once the peak baggers realize there is a connecting route to Panther Gorge and Mount Marcy? Do we really want to see this become yet another crowded High Peaks trailhead–the overflow for Elk Lake, once people figure out that Mount Marcy is roughly equidistant from either starting point?

    And why the assumption that road access is inevitable? In the case of the Essex Chain, the state was hatching trail and access plans before the property was even open to the public. Not so with Boreas Ponds. In fact, DEC recently filed a work plan to establish new parking areas for the Boreas Ponds Tract (and enlarge the one at Gulf Brook Road). The one telling detail about these parking areas is that all are located beside paved public highways. None are located in the interior, or anywhere near LaBier. It would seem that DEC is being careful not to foreclose a future wilderness designation, rather than building up to the “inevitable” opening of the gate.

    Also, I’d be willing to wager that it’s more than just John Davis and me who would like to see a larger wilderness designation here. It wouldn’t be “balance” if the Me Generation got the Essex Chain AND Boreas Ponds.

    I say all this from the experience of having backpacked to Boreas Ponds twice. It reminds me more of Duck Hole than Lake Lila. There are no sand beaches or plethora of scenic campsites at Boreas to justify the same level of access that Lila enjoys, just a few scattered opportunities for primitive camping at best. Furthermore, the road to Lila lies almost entirely on private land, and comes to an end (as far as public motorized access is concerned) shortly after reaching the state land boundary, so any direct comparisons between the status of Gulf Brook Road and the Lake Lila access road are false. Gulf Brook Road lies entirely on state land and will serve no other entity after 2018, making its future need after that point completely optional.

    A motorized Boreas Ponds would be a letdown for most people, because there is not much else to do with a canoe once you get to Boreas. LaBier Flow is pretty, but when I go in there with a canoe I’ll probably just cart my canoe around it because it is too small and not worth the trouble. White Lily Pond is pretty, I’ve been there on foot, but it is far removed from Boreas and there is no easy access to the water. Certainly, it is not a canoe destination.

    Without public motorized access, Boreas Ponds has a tremendous sense of remoteness. There are no highway sounds, no lights from nearby communities–just the loons and bullfrogs and stars. Backpacking on its rugged shoreline is like camping at West Canada Lake or Pharaoh Lake: you feel like you have the place to yourself, you don’t want to leave, you can’t wait to go back someday and experience it again. The road is a drag, yes, but roads can become overgrown with vegetation in remarkably short time if given the chance. (For any skeptics out there, I challenge you to walk the former Moose River Plains road to Little Indian Lake, closed in 2011. Look at the growth on that gravel road! Nature is a wondrous thing, by no means static.)

    When we bought the Boreas Ponds Tract, we added it to the Forest Preserve, not the Road Preserve. Let’s get over the fact that some of us are physically capable of doing more than driving for 6 miles and paddling for a few minutes. Think more critically about the legacy that we want to leave behind for a future, more technology-driven world that will need wilderness escapes more than ever. Think about the people who can and will seek out the Boreas Ponds as a setting for a deep immersion into nature. Think about those places in the Adirondacks that you have been to, the ones that are so remote that getting there entails bragging rights and a sense of accomplishment. Think about forms of access in addition to car-enabled paddling.

    Let this place be motor free, damn it!

    • Boreasfisher says:

      The man makes a powerful argument. I would add, let’s keep the damn snowmobiles out too…not on the periphery, not through the center, not anywhere.

    • Geogymn says:

      Well written! Motor free, damn it!

    • Peter D says:

      Why do we manage/plan on the assumption that everyone is elderly, overweight, and out of shape?

    • Phil Brown says:

      Bill, you raise excellent questions. As I said in my article for the Adirondack Explorer (linked to above), Boreas Ponds could become a paddling destination or a backpacking destination. It will depend on how much, if any, of the road is open to motor vehicles. It’s not me who has framed Boreas Ponds as a possible paddling destination. The environmental groups and the local towns are on board with opening the road as far as LaBier Flow. And the governor took reporters canoeing there and said he wants to make the Finch land accessible to the public. It’s hard to believe he will endorse a plan to make Boreas Ponds less accessible than the environmental groups are calling for. You make a good case for closing the road. You say others may agree with you and John Davis, but I haven’t heard their voices. DEC could close the road, but without public or political support, will it?

    • Curt Austin says:

      This argument is overly complicated. Mr Ingersoll has even contradicted himself, citing both of the fragility of the area (loon pairs) and of the robustness of nature (the Moose River road). Clearly, the road has been doing no harm. And loons are tough birds, a shark of the bird world. Ask “Kevin”, the loon who resides on the Mill Pond alongside Route 8 and the Horicon town beach.

      It isn’t so complicated. Mr. Ingersoll wants to be alone in the woods as much as possible. Me, too. But the road is indeed a drag; imposing its full length as a high price of admission is unnecessary and selfish. Nothing bad will happen if the trip is shortened. Zero miles is too short, yes, but six miles is far too long. The more traditional “road as admission fee” is about a half-mile.

      I’m suggesting moderation. No matter what we do, the loons are unlikely to notice. Mr. Ingersoll might notice, but is his wilderness experience the proper object of the effort? I don’t mean to pick on him; he has a legitimate point of view that I feel myself. But it’s not the only legitimate point of view.

      • AG says:

        “shark of the bird world”??? Ummm – shark populations have been decimated in the oceans… You sure you want to use that analogy?

    • Harold says:

      Bill, I completely understand your points and agree with the vast majority of them however as I watched the debates unfold on this forum and in the Explorer I read repeatedly how paddling these ponds, with their high peak vistas was a sight in the ADKs not to be missed. I also read, with some dismay, the notion that only guides could take people down to the ponds to kayak. So, if this is a kayak destination to be discussed and promoted in the master plan then I felt I had some reason to chime in its respect to the logistics. I am a 58 year old man but if I felt it absolutely necessary to carry or wheel my kayak the 14 miles to go visit Boreas I would do it. However, from what I had been reading I couldn’t understand the logic of my having to do so! Your forceful argument has helped clarify that reasoning. My primary reason for wanting to kayak Boreas is that I have made a concerted effort to kayak all of the navigable waters in the ADKs and this trip was recently added to the dwindling list.

      I have tremendous respect for individuals like yourself who have spent a good chunk of your life exploring, protecting and promoting the ADKs, I certain don’t want to find myself on the ill-informed and arrogant side of a debate with you. In all sincerity I just couldn’t grasp the reasoning for the 7 mile hike with a kayak to such a seemingly ideal kayaking destination, however your comments about “bragging rights” and “sense of accomplishment” did strike home.

      Respectfully,

    • Boreas says:

      Bill,

      I agree completely.

    • W. Davis says:

      I express my support to this eloquent statement. For those who must paddle this, how about pulling your boat on a cart. Six miles on a road for those fit to paddle is a reasonable price. I again state that once established, all developed inroads to this remote wilderness will be irreversible; if left alone the prior incursions will revert though the walked path will maintain. There is only this one chance.

    • Ryan Finnigan says:

      Bill, I am in 100% agreement with you on this. Well stated!

    • AG says:

      Slightly off topic – but of similar vein. There was a media article out today about record visitors in National Parks. The gist of the article is that people are complaining that there is little tranquility in the parks now because they overflow with people. To paraphrase the way one person put it – you are not getting away from it all when you are sitting in traffic to get there.
      I feel the same way about motorized access to these areas…

      • Charlie S says:

        National Parks are more geared towards a source of revenue than they are towards people having the wilderness experience AG.They rake in a lot of money each year with concessions,ticket sales,etc… They advertise quite much to get people to them places. It seems to me the State people of New York have the Federal mindset when it comes to the Adirondacks of late….. it’s all about a source of revenue. Seemingly so anyway.

        • AG says:

          Yes – that was kind of my point..
          But to your other comment – actually my “religious” beliefs is why I believe in conserving and protecting the earth. A righteous man should leave an inheritance to his children’s children according to my faith. If we abuse and pollute and deplete everything – there is nothing of value left…. Just as we have to scramble now and spend money and energy to try to restore what the 2-3 generations ago destroyed.

  4. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Legacy?? and then it gets better….”Let’s get over the fact that some of us are physically capable of doing more than driving for 6 miles and paddling for a few minutes”.

    Why the heck should we get over it??……If my parents left me something that I could never see and/or use, what good is that?

    I’ve lost my admiration for Bill Ingersoll with this one for sure. I AM 68-years-old and not part of the “Me generation”, but I can still hike, paddle, etc. within reason and I DON’T want to be shut out or prevented from paddling on the Boreas Flow for the sake of one more “Wilderness” classification that limits access to the elderly and/or physically fit.

    Being able to drive to within 1.50 miles of the flow is not only a great compromise, but will still not result in over-use by the “arm chair” crowd. I could wheel my canoe that distance and it would not jeopardize the area one wit!

    The “Wilderness Only” crowd has had entirely too much added to their plate in the ADKS and have become spoiled children who need to be taught to “share well with others” !

    Thank You

    • Boreas says:

      T-B/All,

      So we should deprive your/our children of a true wilderness experience requiring considerable work to achieve and enjoy – only to allow everyone with a vehicle the opportunity to share a tiny pond with 50 other paddlers and hikers all trying to get selfies without another paddler in the photo? Not me. I would prefer to NEVER see BP than to turn it into a virtual kiddie pool with a scenic view.

      I view the road as a leak into the larger HPW block. If the state is trying to set aside a good chunk of wilderness with no motor intrusion, perforating this block with a 6-mile road doesn’t make a lot of sense. May as well open the truck road into Marcy Dam(?) and open the roads into the Seward Range and existing roads into other remote locations if/when they become available.

      If the we want to keep Wilderness areas to a minimum and open up new acquisitions to motors, then fine. But we can’t have it both ways – motors and wilderness are mutually exclusive.

    • Beth Rowland says:

      Agree with you 110%, Tim-Brunswick. Began with an open mind, have followed all the arguments and now must say I’m coming down on the position you reflect, in large part based on the “Wilderness Only” crowd’s exclusivity arguments. Just seem plain old selfish to me.

      • John Warren John Warren says:

        Beth,

        Less than 25% of the Adirondacks is designated wilderness. That’s not “Wilderness Only,” that’s less than a quarter wilderness.

        I’m interested to know, didn’t you just move here? Why? Why not move to somewhere that is not interested in protecting its open space to such an extent? New Jersey or Pennsylvania for instance.

        There is an entire northeast in which to live, in which your ideas of too much wilderness are already well established. I’m honestly interested to know why you chose to come here and advocate for what you could have in any of those places? What drew you here?

        • Paul says:

          Slightly more than 30% of the state owned land in the Adirondacks is classified as Wilderness. That doesn’t include Canoe Areas and Primitive that are managed the same way.

          http://apa.ny.gov/gis/stats/colc201405.htm

          • John Warren John Warren says:

            19.95% of the whole Park is classified Wilderness, adding canoe and primitive adds .97% for a total of, as I said, 20.92%.

            • M.P. Heller says:

              John, it only matters what percent of state owned land is wilderness because privately held land is not eligible for this classification. To include privately held lands in the discussion is dishonest.

              • Ryan Finnigan says:

                John’s numbers are not “dishonest” as he specifically states that 19.95% OF THE WHOLE PARK is classified as wilderness. You are being dishonest to imply that he did not say just that.

              • Paul says:

                I am pretty certain that both percentages are accurate and honest. Lots of land in the Adirondacks is classified as Wild Forest (rounding up 1.3 million acres). Wilderness land is a close second (rounding up 1.2 million acres). Any other classifications are minuscule in comparison These two classifications (leaving out water) make up 96% of the state owned land in the park. 46% of all of the park including private land.

        • AG says:

          You make a good point. I don’t live in the ADK’s… But I always say the only reason for me to visit is because of the Wilderness… If not for that – it’s “just another park” only bigger… I could just save money closer to home if not for the Wilderness.

  5. Bruce says:

    I don’t know about “motorized” use, but allowing bicycles on Gulf Brook Rd., at least to La Biere Flow would be great and give those of us who can ride but not walk several miles an opportunity to get there with little or no environmental damage.

  6. common sense says:

    The answer, the compromise between the Bill and Willy plans is the santanoni model. If I want to bring my boat the five miles in to Newcomb Lake when I am old it goes in by horse and wagon. Keep the cars out at blue ridge road, pay the guy in town to to take you in on horse and wagon. Willy doesn’t have to do the “ardous carry” and Bill gets his remote wilderness. Even the town of north hudson should prefer the santanoni model as it creates local business. DEC could maintain dam but it would be the first one in wilderness that they did. The tougher compromise is the snowmobile trail, which should be close to blue ridge road to avoid trespass out on to ponds in winter

    • Buck Jordan says:

      Where and who is going to have the horse and wagon ?

      I’m not in favor of keeping cars out of the 1st 5 miles BUT if a compromise was needed, rather than a horse how about 1 dedicated vehicle to make 2 shuttles a day?

      There are PRESERVATIONISTS and CONSERVATIONISTS
      (Conservation being the wise USE of natural resources)

  7. Tim says:

    Here’s another idea. Keep the road closed and put canoes or row boats at the ponds for public use. I found boats at both Stephens Pond and Round Pond in Hammond Pond Wild Forest.
    In my opinion, keeping the road open for bicycles would not be to disruptive, but that’s another issue.

  8. Paul says:

    Proposals made by these groups are just that proposals. Suggestions to the state. These kinds of stories give them far more weight than they actually have. The towns didn’t approve these sales so that a few people could have a very remote camping trip. Too bad it couldn’t have remained private and really protected.

  9. Bruce says:

    Paul,

    Outside of collecting local taxes and setting local zoning regulations, how much say do the towns actually have concerning properties not owned by them? It seems to me the towns can only make suggestions as does everyone else not at the state or landowner level.

    • Boreas says:

      Bruce,

      Politics – pure & simple. Isolated communities want a piece of the recreation pie and catch the governor’s ear. Gov makes a “promise” to buy land and thus provide said communities with theoretical infusions of visitor cash. NYS buys land with “promise” of adding it to the wilderness block to make taxpayers happy. Now villages are promised access and NYS taxpayers are promised wilderness. What we end up with is a damn mess with everyone pissed off.

    • Paul says:

      Actually towns within the Adirondack park must approve these type of transactions. In this case they did. What really needs to happen is for these classifications to happen and then let the town make the decision. Basically say if we go through with this here is what it will look like. Save a ton of time and trouble.

      • Boreas says:

        Agreed. In the future, if TNC can hold onto acquired land longer – or before they even purchase it – it would be nice if NYS could say ‘we want to buy your parcel and this is exactly how it will be classified when we acquire it (because it was hammered out beforehand – not just optimistic promises). Then TNC can decide if it seems reasonable based on their vision of how the parcel fits in to the Park.

        • Paul says:

          Seems plausible. TNC has all kinds of money. They are in no rush to sell these parcels. They are logging the ones they still own to cover some of the holding costs anyway. Question is will the DEC and the APA make the decisions ahead of time.

          • Cranberry Bill says:

            Is the logging being done in an environmentally sound way? Or just for the proceeds?

              • Charlie S says:

                Interesting! Them’s a lot of trees came down according to the photos,and not selectively.How are they getting away with this?

                • How can the so called “Nature Conservancy” get away with clearcutting these prime forests, right next to a pond?

                  http://www.maforests.org/Clearcutting%20Adirondack%20Park.pdf

                  That is a very good question! Particularly since they promised not to do so when the spotlight was on them.

                  They promised “selective cutting of trees on less than 10 percent of the land, considered sustainable, meaning they would minimize harm to water quality and the wildlife habitat, among other requirements”

                  I contacted the Adirondack Council thinking they would be concerned and they brushed me off.

                  Then I contacted the NY Times and they did not respond.

                  I think they get away with it because most people, especially those with influence, do not know it is going on.

                  Please bring this to the attention of anyone you think might be able to help!

                  • Boreas says:

                    FWIW, DEC has actually been doing this in some Wildlife Management Areas. I was aghast when they did it at Wickham Marsh WMA a few years back. They clear cut several areas – I want to say about 5 acres each. This is done to open up forest areas to provide habitat for game species that need areas like this (and thus to attract sportsmen). They seem to be growing in nicely.

                    You will notice these clearcuts are broken up into smaller segments – not one big clearcut. Obviously this isn’t a WMA, but it could be the logging was done this way for this reason.

                    • AG says:

                      If we allowed natural fires to burn – it would have the same effect… But we have no patience for that…

                    • Chris Matera says:

                      Sorry, but clearcutting the forest to “help” nature is just the latest industry sponsored, think tank generated, focus group tested propaganda to get the public to accept aggressive logging which is more lucrative in the short term.

                      It is very sad to see many people who should know better drink this Orwellian “Timberspeak” Koolaid.

                      Besides the fact that clearcutting these lands is contrary to the promises of the “Nature Conservancy”, it is very ecologically destructive, incredibly carbon intense, and destroys unfragmented habitat which is much more important for many more species than allegedly “benefit”.

                      State wildlife agencies in the northeastern United States are funded primarily through hunting license revenues. As such, most efforts by state agencies are game oriented often come at the expense of other species.

                      Wildlife dynamics are very complex, and clearcutting to allegedly “help” wildlife by creating “early successional habit” is used simplistically and opportunistically to excuse aggressive logging.

                      The true decline of many wildlife species is a multi-factored function. The more common reason for decline is damage to wintering habitat, migration route hazards such as cell towers and cities and conversion of agricultural lands to sub-divisions and development. Clearcuts degrade important and relatively rare undisturbed dense forest habitat that is critical for a large number of species. Undisturbed interior and dense forestland is also important for providing much needed food and shelter for species migrating further north. Forest interior breeding birds, including neo-tropical migratory species, need large contiguous tracts of forest to support viable breeding populations, and are adversely affected by edge conditions. Additionally, older growth woodlands which are rare in the Northeast, have a greater diversity of species.

                      “Contrary to traditional wildlife management, which often seeks to create edge habitat, protected woodlands should be spared intrusion by roads, power lines and clearcuts.” Raymond J. O’Connor, Professor of Wildlife at the University of Maine in Orono

                      If interested, see more on timber industry propaganda here:
                      http://www.maforests.org/Timberspeak-Timber_Industry_Propaganda.pdf

                  • Boreas says:

                    Chris,

                    I am noticing most of the clearcutting activities in your linked articles were committed 5-15 years ago – not that that is any excuse. But do you have evidence this is still being done by TNC within the ADK Park today? If so, please share so that we have more recent activities and evidence with which to arm ourselves before a campaign against TNC is fronted.

                    • Chris Matera says:

                      I don’t have all the details, but this is what I do know.

                      The Nature Conservancy bought the lands in June 2007.
                      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/19/nyregion/19adirondacks.html?_r=0

                      More than a year later, there was still no cutting around the pond per the Google Earth image from October 2008.

                      In May 2009, the cutting was in progress, so about 2 years after the purchase by TNC.

                      By October 2010 cutting was pretty much finished in this area.

                      Since the logging started roughly 2 years after the purchase by TNC it seems that it is their responsibility. Also, all the way back to 1995 there was virtually no clearcutting like this anywhere in the area, so it appears that the change of ownership is what caused the change in “management” though I cannot say for sure.

                      Take a look at Google Earth, and go back in time it is very easy to see what is going on there.

                      Remarkably, this is common practice for the Nature Conservancy. Check this out. TNC logging (as crazy as that sounds) was so bad a judge stopped it:

                      http://forestpolicypub.com/2016/02/25/tnc-terminated-logging-agreement-with-plum-creek-following-illegal-logging/

            • Chris Matera says:

              I just came across some more awful clearcutting in the park, not far from Blue Mountain Lake, right off Rt 30.

              If you go to 43°53’32.59″N 74°26’40.91″W you can easily see it.

              How can such aggressive logging be happening in the Park?

              Not happy,

              Chris Matera

          • Phil Brown says:

            At this point, I believe TNC has sold all the Finch lands, or virtually all of them.

  10. Craig says:

    Phil, nice summary. It would be great if you could include a more direct link to the map in the article, as it is not readable. Here is where I found it: http://bewildnewyork.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Proposed_Expanded_High_Peaks_Wild_July2016-2.jpg

  11. brooktrout says:

    The question I have is how does closing the road provide reasonable access to the high peaks? If townships want to see the numbers of visitors like Lake Placid does then shouldn’t we be pushing to eliminate the 7 mile road walk? I feel like closing the road would be a deterrent for hikers looking for another great access to the high peaks wilderness as they can access it much easier from Heart Lake or the Garden. In terms of landscape level decision making it seems like we should be doing more to reduce the load of hikers to these other trails and closing the road would be counter productive. Any thoughts?

    • Boreas says:

      brooktrout,

      I don’t know if the parcel was ever considered for ‘reasonable (meaning motorized?)’ access to the HPW. At least for hiking, until/unless new trails are cut, Upper Works and Elk Lake would be a better access points to the HPW than Boreas Pond. One is pretty far from linking into the current HPW trail system at BP. But as others and myself have suggested, there are many potential side trails that could be cut along the road to nice spots and links to the Elk Lake easements.

      • Bob Rainville says:

        Hmmm…new trails cut? For hiking? Isn’t that in the face of the “wilderness ethic”? Special accommodations for hiking (remember the “special accommodations” leveled at the biking community)?

        • Boreas says:

          Bob,

          I suppose one could look at it through victim’s glasses – but ultimately it depends on how the area is eventually classified. If it is classified to allow bikes, then any new trails could be cut for multiple uses or designated uses. From what I understand, there is also a loose network of existing trails, herd paths, and skid roads as well. In HPW, ‘trailless’ peaks ended up being marked by DEC to avoid 100 different herd paths up a mountain and a trampled summit. Perhaps some existing paths in the BP parcel(s) could be designated for bikes, hiking, and canoe carries – while others with little potential use would just be ‘hidden’ and abandoned.

          As you should know, damage, regardless of user type, can be minimized by clearly marking a single herd path. Trails do not necessarily need to be cut and maintained. The amount of use eventually either makes a trail or it will revert to a herd path if rarely used. I wouldn’t expect connector paths into the HPW/ELW to be very popular, but I don’t really know.

          On a side note, another reason for marking a herd path is to minimize rescue calls, costs, and risks associated with each rescue in the interior.

  12. Dave Gibson says:

    BeWild is a loose organization of organizations who believe much, or most of Boreas Ponds tract should be classified Wilderness judging by the classification guidelines in the State Land Master Plan, and the wise memorandum of APA State Land Chair Dick Booth published earlier in the Almanack. Yes, there is a map that has received loose consensus among us, but does not bind Adirondack Wild with any precision regarding where Wilderness boundaries should be drawn based on conditions and characteristics of the tract itself and interpretation of the Master Plan. We have consistently maintained that mechanized access to the ponds should not be made easy given their condition and characteristics. Given the existence of the Gulf Brook Road, we agree that any part of it open to public mechanized use should be classified Wild Forest. Where Wilderness boundaries are drawn, precisely, awaits the quality of the assessment and recommendations of the the APA State Land staff and the public’s comments during the classification hearings. Adirondack Wild believes that we can learn from each other during those hearings, and that we ought to take the time to consider where the Master Plan and the Booth memo guide the APA and all stakeholders come the hearings this fall.

    • Justin Farrell says:

      In my opinion, a loose organization can be counter productive, especially in this case. Why would someone actually stand behind an proposal that they don’t believe in?

  13. Boreas says:

    I wouldn’t be against a one year test of opening the road to an existing parking area and have DEC / BeWild monitor things closely to see what happens. If the access turns BP into a zoo or damages the shoreline, then simply close it. I would think most damage that would occur during the test would heal in a few years. If damage is minimal and able to be mitigated, then open it for 5 years and re-assess.

    • Paul says:

      Re-classification, usually to a stricter classification, is not only doable it is pretty common. In this proposal would some Wild Forest land be re-classified to Wilderness?

      • Boreas says:

        Paul,

        I was just thinking out loud about the BP acquisition. But I suppose it could be used in other instances. But there would likely be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth…

  14. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    I omitted the Citizens Campaign for the Environment from the list of coalition members. This is now fixed.

  15. Todd Eastman says:

    It is a fools’ mission to expect paddling these ponds should direct the management plan for the surrounding area. Avalanche Lake is a beautiful place to paddle; it is rarely done though it is permissible. Get fit and a light boat if you want to get in deep.

    Consider paddling as a permissible use but develop the largest possible area as Wilderness to protect the natural functions and resources. Get rid of the dam.

  16. Justin Farrell says:

    I can’t help but think of the many other ponds & lakes that are only about a mile walk to get to, and the amount of negative human impact & abuse that they receive. Anyone who has been to places like Nine Corner Lake, Jockeybush Lake, Fawn Lake, Bennet Lake, Goose Pond, Gull Pond, Palmer Pond, Rock Lake, Cascade Lake, Copperas Pond, etc may understand. I’d hate think that’s what is going to happen to the Boreas Ponds. Or worse yet, become another day-use only type paddling destination like the Essex Chain. I have read countless complaints regarding that outcome, and in my opinion we really screwed that up. Now we have a chance to not make the same mistake, yet these environment groups want another easy walk. That doesn’t make any sense to me! This area should be wilderness, keep the motors out, or at least up to second gate where there already is ample parking space. A 3.5 mile walk from there along the gentle roadway is really not too much to ask, and seems like a much more fair compromise.

    • Curt Austin says:

      I go to Palmer Pond frequently. I spent two nights there two weeks ago. I saw loons, herons, a kingfisher, a mink, a snapping turtle, swamp rose, pickerel weed, pitcher plant, leather leaf, etc – and a large group one night from the DEC camp at Pack Forest. Some might have found their presence unfortunate (it was unusual), but as I figure it, they were enjoying the experience as it was meant to be enjoyed.

      It’s a gem that many people enjoy – not hordes – not far from “civilization”. These visitors would find it astonishing that you think it has been ruined by human impact and abuse.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Fair enough, Curt. Thanks for the reply.
        When I was there several years ago I cleaned up lots of trash and saw lots of cut trees.

      • John Warren John Warren says:

        I also go to Palmer Pond frequently (as well as other easily driven to ponds nearby) and I’m with Justin, Palmer Pond for example is way overused and abused. Sure there is wildlife, if you go at the right times when there aren’t kids in there partying, but it’s barely wild, run through with illegal ATVs and snowmobile traffic, often trash. There are so many trails and roads carved through there for recreation from there to Friends Lake that you might as well be in New Jersey.

        And that’s fine. Places like Lily, Gull, Palmer or Cheney Ponds are needed too, and we have lots of them. But Palmer Pond is no Boreas Ponds, and the idea that you think Palmer Pond is a good model for management of the Boreas Tract really demonstrates where your thinking is at.

        • Curt Austin says:

          There’s no evidence I can see of ATV use at all, legal or otherwise. (It’s legal with a permit for disabilities, and the unfortunate thing about that is the ranger is required to knock down beaver dams occasionally, suddenly lowering the pond level by a foot or more. By leaps and bounds, that’s the worst thing humans are doing to this pond. It’s true that many trees have been cut down – by beavers.)

          I’ve never seen kids in there partying, or signs of it. I’ve been in there 8-10 times so far this year, six times in the past month.

          The roads and trails make it like New Jersey? Egregious hyperbole.

          “…the idea that you think Palmer Pond is a good model for management of the Boreas Tract really demonstrates where your thinking is at.” You’re presenting a distorted view of Palmer Pond and also my thinking.

          This is not a small matter to me: the more extreme voices often claim horrific impact from humans. As a moderate voice, I call BS on these depictions.

          I’d be happy to meet you at Palmer Pond, John. We can figure out why we see the same thing differently. [Readers: we live a few miles apart, a few miles from Palmer Pond.] Phil – you should join us.

  17. Jan Hansen says:

    There was a lot of worry and debate when the Essex Chain was opened to the public. So far I’ve been in there twice. The parking lot was not even close to being filled either time. The most recent visit was July 4th of this year. 3 vehicles that day, 4 with ours.
    I would bet that once the initial curiosity is filled, there will not be too many folks visiting the Boreas site.
    I’ve seen the proposals for horse driven carts to haul people and gear into the property. Can I ask where these animals would come from? Horses are not an inexpensive hobby.

    • Justin Farrell says:

      “Can I ask where these animals would come from?”

      Perhaps the same local business that offers that same service to nearby Newcomb Lake, or another local business or two, or more?
      Believe it or not, people actually own horses in the Adirondacks.

    • Boreas says:

      They wouldn’t have to be horse drawn wagons. A human drawn canoe cart or carrier is certainly an option. But it is not for the lazy nor would it be an option for people with limited mobility.

      • Boreas says:

        Given a horse’s “invasive feces” I think it would be a good idea to keep them a good distance from BP if you want to keep the vegetation in a fairly natural state.

    • Bruce says:

      I drove the length of Blue Ridge Rd. a little over a month ago, on my way to North Hudson. I saw nothing which might support any sort of viable commercial horse operation, which means providers would have to transport the horses, all food, water, wagons, etc. in to the trailhead, and then find parking for their trucks and trailers where they can be out of the way of visitors.

      Having been a horse owner and trainer, I don’t see horses as an option, unless an individual brings in their own horse, which still leaves parking for the trailer and I don’t see horses being allowed to water in the ponds or stream because that creates it’s own issues. I guess a rider could carry a collapsible bucket to dip water in.

  18. Mike Tomaszewski says:

    I’m with Bill, keep Gulf Brook Road closed to motor vehicles,,,all motor vehicles.
    Let the dam deteriorate, just like Marcy Dam, Cedar Lakes, Duck Hole. The world didn’t stop turning when those dams faded away.
    The distance should not be a deterrent to the truly motivated paddler.
    I’ve paddled and carried to Duck Hole, Cedar Lakes, Newcomb Lake via the Newcomb River. Was it easy? No. Was it worth the effort? Absolutely.
    As Justin highlights, easy access often results in destructive visitation, let’s not let that happen here.

  19. Dan says:

    As a sportsman my vote is to open Gulf Brook Road at least to the flow. Anglers, paddlers and photographers alike should be able to enjoy the ponds from here. Like all backcountry dwellers, hunters and trappers willing to do the leg work have access to the entire Adirondack Forest Preserve. Still, there are few places where there is immature timber such as what appears to exist in this tract, at least from studying ariel photos. That means it should not only be good deer and bear country for a considerable time going forward, but likewise for small game such as grouse, woodcock and furbearers. This has always been good snowshoe hare country.

    I’d rather see hunters and trappers disperse evenly on both sides of a six-mile road than clustered at a parking lot on a main road. ‘Not to mention the hunters who currently inhabit this area and will eventually lose their camps and leases. At least with viable vehicile access they’ll be able to get to the places they’ve always gone.

    • Boreas says:

      Good points, Dan. Your thoughts bring up another option that hasn’t had much debate – seasonal closings of the road. Maintain the road to LaBier Flow parking and perhaps just close the gate for winter & summer seasons.

  20. Justin Farrell says:

    A few years back I started taking photos of various things that cause me to stop and shake my head in disgust. Not too long ago I posted over on the Adkforum a few samples of some of the things that I’ve come across during my travels in a few Wild Forest Areas in one the discussions on the Boreas tract. Some of you may have viewed it already, but I might as well share it here also:
    http://www.adkforum.com/showpost.php?p=246754&postcount=102

    I do have other similar photos, and I’ve also started to include some video recordings as well. Anyone else do this sort of thing….document the ugly?

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      I’ve often thought about doing this as a regular feature on the Almanack Facebook page. If you start sending me these, I’ll start doing it and try and add my own. (I have a tough time whipping my phone out and taking pictures of the mess when I’m trying to get away from my phone for a while!)

    • Bill Ingersoll Bill Ingersoll says:

      Good to see the two of you getting along. 😉

      • Justin Farrell says:

        John,
        Thanks for the reply. When I get the chance, I will send you what I have. There’s a lot.

        Bill,
        Looking forward to camping with you & Lexie again soon & catching up on all this fun internet stuff. 😉

    • Bruce says:

      Yes, these things are disgusting, but it’s not motorized access which is the problem, it’s the uncaring attitude of the people doing it. There was an article (I believe last year) about all the trash people leave in and around lean-tos, some of which did not have motorized access.

      We’re blaming the fact a vehicle was used to get to the campsite, rather than the stupid behavior of the people involved. I’m not saying that there should be motorized access everywhere, I’m not. Backpackers and hikers do stupid stuff too.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Thanks Bruce.
        Please don’t get me going on lean-tos!
        I know they are a legendary Adirondack staple, and I occasionally enjoy them myself, but they are also just another attractant & an easy place for inconsiderate people to take advantage of, but I guess that’s another discussion for another time. -Justin

      • Charlie S says:

        “it’s not motorized access which is the problem, it’s the uncaring attitude of the people doing it.”

        Yes but if it wasn’t for the motorized access many uncaring people wouldn’t have the opportunity to be the idiots they are Bruce.

    • Charlie S says:

      There is a pictorial book titled ‘The Hudson’ by Carr Clifton 1989. In his Preface he says: ” Despite the Hudson’s scenic views and the bucolic quality of its landscapes, i found it difficult, in some places impossible, and often disheartening to find, isolate and frame the pristine, uncompromised images of the natural environment that I look for to photograph….. Sometimes I had to ‘photo-prep’ by removing garbage that lay withing the frame of the image I wanted to expose.”

      Wherever people go pollution follows Justin. This is a given. Moose River Plains is a good example of this. Because there is motorized access people who wouldn’t normally go in so far do…and leave a mess behind. I have found all kinds of trash back there,even at remote Squaw Lake. This calling for less of the region to be classified Wilderness is beyond me it makes no sense,especially from environmental groups.

      My camera is always with me I take a ton of photos. I oftentimes find myself excluding or removing trash from scenes when I take photos but sometimes I do record scenes that ‘shake my head in disgust’ as you say. I think it’s a good idea to document what you’re documenting so that we can be reminded of what we’re doing to the only home we know. A photo says more than a 1000 words.

    • Chris Matera says:

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for doing that. It is not fun documenting the ugly, but if no one does so, the problems will never get fixed.

      I just came across some awful clearcutting in the park, not far from Blue Mountain Lake, right off Rt 30.

      If you go to 43°53’32.59″N 74°26’40.91″W in Google Earth you can easily see it.

      You can also go back in time on Google Earth a few years and see how the unfragmented forest was, and what they have since done to it.

      How can such aggressive logging be happening in the park??!!

      Not happy,

      Chris Matera

  21. Charlie S says:

    Bill Ingersoll wrote: “Think more critically about the legacy that we want to leave behind for a future, more technology-driven world that will need wilderness escapes more than ever. Think about the people who can and will seek out the Boreas Ponds as a setting for a deep immersion into nature….”

    Yes sirree Bill!

  22. Alex Bruce says:

    Shut down the road! Look at Crane pond as a perfect example as why you shouldn’t allow motor vehicle access into a wilderness pond. I can’t even enjoy paddling there anymore because the constant influx of people.

    I love to paddle and while being able to drive into Boreas would be more convenient, it would also defeat the purpose of why you would be going there in the first place.

    For all those who disagree there is a perfect solution…..go paddle Henderson Lake.

    • AG says:

      Yup – I’ve said it several times on here… The whole point of someone like me driving all the way to the ADK’s and bringing my money with me is for the ability to be more remote than other places nearby. If everywhere is easily accessible by motorized transport – then it is just like any other park… So there would be no reason to visit.

      • Bruce says:

        AG,

        Is New York’s “wilderness” really remote? As has been stated many times, roads are rarely no more than 5 miles from anywhere in the Adirondacks. No matter where it is, there will be some sort of road access and maybe trailhead parking for you to use. How many times have you had to leave your car in a town or city parking lot and hike out from there because there were no roads?

        • Boreas says:

          Bruce,

          Keep in mind, ‘5 miles’ is relative. 5 miles on a trail or path or water doesn’t seem very remote. But bushwhacking 5 miles takes some doing. No, 5 miles isn’t on the scale of Alaska or even some national forests and BLM areas, but the key is how it is managed, or rather, NOT managed. In the NE, land managed with the intent of wildness and remoteness is relatively rare.

        • AG says:

          Notice I said “more remote than other places nearby”… But the scenario you described is exactly why the ADK’s is only a regional draw rather than national or international. Why would someone from out of the region choose to come here when they can go to places like Glacier or Denali or Yellowstone and places like that where they might see a grizzly or a wolf or elk or bison or such. If the northeast wasn’t so densely populated the ADK’s would see much less visitors. That’s why whatever opportunity there is for real wilderness should be protected and expanded. That’s besides the real ecological benefits from doing so.

          • Boreas says:

            Can’t agree more. I would also like to see one of those wildlife corridors implemented in the NE.

            • AG says:

              With the exception of the grizzly – all of those were in NY not too long ago. I hope the Algonquin to ADK proposal comes to fruition. All of those could move back in and maybe the moose population could grow too.

  23. Keefe1 says:

    I was in the Essex Chain 2 weeks ago and the DEC ranger on the water said it was the busiest day this summer with 19 on the water. This was a Sunday in late July on a highly publicized ‘new’ area. It is a relatively short carry in or an easy roll with wheels. I don’t see Boreas getting overwhelmed if 1.5 miles does that to Essex. Let’s be reasonable. 6 miles eliminates most but the guides and the 20 y.o

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