Wednesday, January 25, 2017

12 Counties: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary

We are writing as the Chief Elected Officials of the 12 Counties comprising the entire Adirondack Park. We are the Elected Representatives of the 130,000 residents of the Park, as well as the million people who comprise the broader Adirondack region. It is our privilege to comment on the current Classification package which the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has presented for input.

We would like to thank you and the entire APA for this huge undertaking, and the admirable effort you have made to inform people about the Classification package and travel the State to listen to the public’s views.

First and foremost, it is critical that the Park Agency give special consideration to the plans and desires of the Elected Representatives of the impacted communities (Towns) on all of the Classification package recommendations. These Elected Representatives play a legislatively defined role in land acquisition decisions within the Environmental Protection Fund, and their views demand greater weight than advocacy groups or those prone to extreme positions. These Elected Officials, like all of us and the Governor, are elected to represent all the diverse views within their communities. Many of us have stood with the Governor for balance, in efforts to promote tourism, in efforts to build our economies, and in standing up for what is right. We have a chance with these classifications to do what is right, and fulfill the vision of the Governor and our communities, and we encourage you to play your role in ensuring those plans come to fruition.

At this time, we would like to share some specific insights with respect to the Classifications of MacIntyre East, MacIntyre West, Casey Brook Tract, and the Boreas Pond Tract. These parcels comprise roughly 35,422 acres, and represent an unprecedented opportunity for New York State, and our Counties. We offer these thoughts, recognizing that we represent the same broad constituency that the APA and State have a responsibility to serve.

• While arguments have been made that MacIntyre East and West, as well as Boreas, could each be Classified as all Wild Forest or all Wilderness, neither of those outcomes would serve well New York State, our Counties, or the people of the State. The need to find balance in land classifications is clearly required by the State Land Master Plan, which gives primacy to resource protection, yet encourages recreation and economic sustainability.

• The combination of Option #1 for the Boreas Tract, with the proposed Classifications for MacIntyre East and West, and the Casey Brook Tract, would result in only about 34% Wild Forest across these properties compared to a huge addition to the Wilderness. While these numbers are clearly out of balance based on acreage alone, we believe this combination does offer primacy to resource protection, while accommodating many of our citizens/recreational users.

• While it is clear that additional lands within Boreas, and the two MacIntyre Tracts, have the “characteristics and capacity to withstand use” that justify a Wild Forest Classification, we believe there is value in a partial Wilderness Classification for the properties that further buffers the existing High Peaks Wilderness, and connects the High Peaks and Dix Wilderness areas.

• Well-managed recreation can absolutely be achieved on those areas of these parcels that have the capacity to sustain use (specifically the road network) through well-developed Unit Management Plans. We have an opportunity to create well-reasoned, graduated access that meets all of the core aspirations for these lands. We should not pass this opportunity up.

• While we support Option #1 for Boreas, we DO NOT support motorized boats or float planes on the pond, nor ATV use anywhere on this spectacular treasure. We understand people will argue that such uses are “possible” under Wild Forest, but they are neither required nor appropriate, and can be excluded during the UMP process. We must not allow the arguments of fear to distract us from our primary responsibility for balancing resource protection with recreational opportunities.

• Lastly we want to strongly reiterate our support for DEC’s and APA’s desire to ensure more protective management of what will become the new enlarged High Peaks Wilderness area. We have much information which should compel us all to put as much emphasis on better protection of the existing High Peaks Wilderness area, as we are in figuring out how to create Graduated Access to the south.

As the duly elected representatives of the 12 Counties and the entire Adirondack Park, we know very well how critical this amazing resource is, and why we all have to fight to protect it. We also have an obligation to balance the need for economically sustainable communities where our citizens can live, work and go to school. At the County level, we are the people responsible for economic development and tourism. We see and understand what works and what doesn’t. We understand, as our communities do, that our success will be based in large part on the Governor’s vision for the future for the Adirondack — a vision of diverse recreational opportunities that spur economic activity, coupled with sound environmental management that protects our incredible natural assets.

The Classification process, predicated on a responsibility to evaluate the character and capacity of

these lands, provides an unprecedented opportunity to create the requisite balance between recreation and environmental protection. What’s more, because of the legacy of good stewardship that Finch, Pruyn & Co. and The Nature Conservancy have passed on to us, these lands are in spectacular environmental health AND have a unique built-in capacity to continue to accommodate a diversity of recreational activities. We encourage the Park Agency to take these factors into account when making its Classification recommendation to the Governor.

Thank you again for your hard work and for providing us with the opportunity to comment.

Sincerely,

Harry J. McManus, Chairman, Clinton County Legislature,
Michael A. Tabolt, Chairman, Lewis County Legislature,
Randy Preston, Chairman, Essex County Board of Supervisors,
Anthony J. Picente Jr., County Executive, Oneida County,
D. Billy Jones, Chairman, Franklin County Legislature,
Arthur “Mo” Wright, Chairman, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors,
Charles Potter, Chairman, Fulton County Board of Supervisors,
John Burke, Chairman, St. Lawrence County Legislature,
William G. Farber, Chairman, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors,
Kevin Geraghty, Chairman, Warren County Board of Supervisors,
Bernard Peplinski Sr., Chairman, Herkimer County Legislature,
Robert A. Henke, Chairman, Washington County Board of Supervisors

The above commentary was submitted to the Adirondack Park Agency, which will soon be deciding how to classify Boreas Ponds and a number of other recently acquired state lands.


Guest Contributor

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with a biding interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.


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36 Responses

  1. Boreasfisher says:

    ‘these lands are in spectacular environmental health AND have a unique built-in capacity to continue to accommodate a diversity of recreational activities’

    These good gentlemen are our elected officials in charge of tourism and development in their counties. It would be helpful to know what scientific information informs their conclusions stated above, especially since they claim their conclusions should have more weight.

    • Boreas says:

      Boreasfisher,

      Indeed. And since access to the area has historically been very restricted, it makes the claim that much more questionable. I suspect it was based on studies that were carried out by TNC, as I don’t believe the state has carried out any detailed impact studies.

      • Boreasfisher says:

        Maybe…if they are based on some environmental evaluation of carrying capacity, the term “accommodate” raises suspicions, at least for me.

        • Boreasfisher says:

          I have not found a TNC study, but it is clear from Mike Carr’s letter to the Governor that TNC’s plea was to prevent any motorized access beyond Labier Flow, which makes it unlikely that they produced a study claiming “a unique built in capacity to continue to accommodate a diversity of recreational activities,” so I continue to question the scientific basis of this rather optimistic interpretation.

      • Paul says:

        It has been restricted from the public use but it has had higher impact (higher than what is proposed in the least restrictive classification) recreational and commercial activity going on for decades. It is like a 100 year experiment and the lands are beautiful (there is certainly consensus there). Nobody can make a factual claim that this area has any serious environmental degradation from the use that it has already gotten. It is not going to be degraded more by John Q Public’s car than it was by the hunting club members that have been driving in there. Certainly the log trucks, the skidders etc. are done in there. If there is ever a problem the land can always be re-classified to a more restrictive classification. Happens quite often. Classifications are by no means permanent. These strings make it sound like this is it – we can never revisit this?

  2. Bob Meyer says:

    Once again, in my opinion, none of the 4 options are good choices for the Boreas Ponds classification.
    A truly balanced approach that takes into consideration the needs of everyone would allow for a motorized approach to somewhere “reasonably close” but NOT right up to the ponds [LaBier Flow or somewhere a bit before] with total wilderness protection and classification of all the waters and upstream drainage of the ponds and the surrounding lands… basically a wild forest corridor for the usable part of the road surrounded by wilderness classification except for lands near the Blue Ridge Rd for snowmobile usage.
    I know this will not satisfy many of my friends for total road closure/wilderness [hi Pete!] nor the folks in favor of proposition 1. Compromise never fully satisfies any side, but it’s the only way that will gain the support of all the parties involved.

  3. Scott says:

    Whether or not you agree with the collective county executives APA letter, it is impressive to see our representatives work together this way.

    • Boreas says:

      Anyone familiar with the term “graduated access”? I would like to see what that involves.

      • Taras says:

        Perhaps they’re using “graduated access” like “levels of access”. The context was “more protective management” of the High Peaks Wilderness Area. It may be referring to a means of controlling access to the HPWA.

        Whatever it is, it was presented as “graduated access” but as “Graduated Access” so (speculation) it may be the name of an official proposal. If so, I’d like to know more about it.

        • Taras says:

          Can’t correct my post’s typo so the line should read:
          … it was NOT presented as “graduated access” but as “Graduated Access” …

  4. Geogymn says:

    There is an opportunity to increase in value the treasure bestowed upon us from the forward thinking people who created the “forever wild” endowment.
    This rare expanse of wilderness will increasingly become more coveted due to its size and level of protection. A unique experience that will draw people seeking the salve from the ever increasing complexities of today’s world.
    How that relates to economic benefit for the local peoples I am ignorant to even speculate.

  5. Taras says:

    Synopsis:

    We were elected so our opinion carries more weight.

    People who disagree with our opinions are “prone to extreme positions”.

    We want Wild Forest classification because it’s better for tourism and local economies (but no explanation how it’ll happen).

    We want “Wild Forest *Lite*”; no ATVs, float planes, or motorized boats (snowmobiles?).

    We like to remind people we are the Elected Representatives (at least five times) because, you know, we’re Elected Representatives.

    This is an “opportunity to create the requisite balance between recreation and environmental protection”. In other words, more people will visit if it’s zoned Wild Forest than Wilderness. We know this for a fact because …. we are Elected Representatives.

    —————————–

    Basically, they’re an ‘advocacy group’ for (limited) mechanized/motorized access and the (alleged) economic benefits it affords.

    I wish they had provided concrete examples of how they’ll achieve the predicted benefits rather than just say they’re position is “balanced” and “right”. In other words, if Wild Forest is better for local economies then explain the *business case* for it. All I hear is empty talk about “We’re Elected Representatives and we know what’s best.”

    • Boreas says:

      Taras,

      Welcome to US small-town politics.

      I would like to see the data they collected showing how all of their constituents feel about the matter – not just the ones that show up and shout at meetings or in a diner. If they can back their claims that they are indeed speaking for their constituents, then they are doing their job.

      • Geogymn says:

        I concur that the town leaders aim is to help their constituents for the short term. Much like some third world leaders turn a blind eye when their constituents practice slash and burn. These people are just trying to make a living, they can’t concern themselves with the long term effects.

  6. Todd Eastman says:

    Can these CEs demonstrate which parts of their counties are booming due to Wild Forest classification?

  7. Charlie S says:

    “These Elected Representatives play a legislatively defined role in land acquisition decisions within the Environmental Protection Fund, and their views demand greater weight than advocacy groups or those prone to extreme positions.”

    Hogwash! How many of these elected representatives are there? And why should their limited (economics only) views outweigh the views of the thousands of thoughtful people who put their time and energy into voicing their minds on this matter? And what about those who really care and want wilderness but who are not of the mind ‘to write?’ I’ve heard some of their voices! Surely there’s a great number of them! And besides that the views of these elected representatives are short-term views and are not just! As Tyler said in another thread, “Doing the right thing for the land is!”

    Ron Moore’s signature is written all over this I feel it in my bones. Him and his ilk will fight tooth and nail to the very end even if it is proven to them that automobiles and motorboats and float-planes and jet skis are not ideal when it comes to preserving what remains of our wilderness areas! Their limited view of the world produces in them a blind faith whose spell will never be broken come hell or high water! Right off the bat there’s a major conflict of interest here they being elected representatives of the impacted communities!

    • ScottyB says:

      Conflict of interest because they were elected to lead all these counties? Charlie, that sort of disrespect is over the top even from you. And they do indeed have to approve of nys land buys. Surely you know that.

      • Charlie S says:

        I was fired up when I responded Scotty, especially when I read “their views demand greater weight than advocacy groups or those prone to extreme positions.” This sounds like monarchism and I disagree!

  8. Charlie S says:

    Bob Meyer says: “A truly balanced approach that takes into consideration the needs of everyone would allow for a motorized approach to somewhere “reasonably close” but NOT right up to the ponds [LaBier Flow or somewhere a bit before].

    Where the parking is now,3 miles away,is acceptable and reasonable Bob…no closer!

    • Bob Meyer says:

      Charlie S.,
      maybe
      i hiked it this fall. 7 miles r.t.
      a bit of a schlep for older folks.
      maybe somewhere in between the present gate and the Flow..

      • Charlie S says:

        I hiked it from the gate…6-7 miles round trip. Perfect. It’s a steep hill going up from the road and I know it wouldn’t be easy on a lot of folks…is why i’m open to parking at the present gate 3 or so miles away,not cars able to park a mile from the shores. Too close!

  9. Charlie S says:

    Scott says: “Whether or not you agree with the collective county executives APA letter, it is impressive to see our representatives work together this way.”

    Impressive? In what way? This is what they live for even if they’re wrong!

  10. Pete Klein says:

    Just for fun, maybe the State of New York should sell all the land it owns in the Adirondacks so it can help pay for all the illegals from Latin America and the Muslim world it wants to protect from President Trump.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      Pate Klein,
      i’ve appreciated many of your posts in the past but your last comment above crosses the line into inappropriate territory and has no business in this discussion.
      respectfully,
      Bob meyer

  11. Adirondack Native says:

    • Bullet One: No, the SLMP would never allow these tracts to be all Wild Forest as these elected officials state. They are intentionally misinterpreting the SLMP.

    • Bullet Two: A majority of the Forest Preserve is actually Wild Forest. We need more Wilderness in the Adirondack Park, and we don’t need the most remote tracts remaining to become open to motorized vehicles.

    • Bullet 3: Once you motorize these remote tracts, classifying their edges as “Wilderness” defeats the purpose of preserving the intangibles of silence, solitude, and remoteness.

    • Bullet Four: NO, the UMP process can be easily manipulated. Strong Wilderness classification is the only way to protect the vast networks of Value-1 wetlands in the Boreas Ponds Tract and the remoteness of the MacIntyre + Casey Brook Tracts. These elected officials desire increased dependency on motors, and not a more pristine Park.

    • Bullet 5: Then why aren’t you supporting Alternative 2, which classifies the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness, yet gives you access to the base of the Ponds?

    • Bullet 6: A Wilderness classification achieve this point.

    Thank you for providing us a list of incompetent protectors of the Adirondack Park, may their legacy live on as people who want to destroy the last vestiges of wildness in the Northeast. Here’s who not to vote for:

    Harry J. McManus, Chairman, Clinton County Legislature,
    Michael A. Tabolt, Chairman, Lewis County Legislature,
    Randy Preston, Chairman, Essex County Board of Supervisors,
    Anthony J. Picente Jr., County Executive, Oneida County,
    D. Billy Jones, Chairman, Franklin County Legislature,
    Arthur “Mo” Wright, Chairman, Saratoga County Board of Supervisors,
    Charles Potter, Chairman, Fulton County Board of Supervisors,
    John Burke, Chairman, St. Lawrence County Legislature,
    William G. Farber, Chairman, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors,
    Kevin Geraghty, Chairman, Warren County Board of Supervisors,
    Bernard Peplinski Sr., Chairman, Herkimer County Legislature,
    Robert A. Henke, Chairman, Washington County Board of Supervisors

  12. Charlie S says:

    “These elected officials desire increased dependency on motors, and not a more pristine Park.”

    This is because,like the majority of our erected officials,their policies are always thought out with the short term only in mind. They cannot get past two or four or eight years.

  13. Dave says:

    “These Elected Representatives play a legislatively defined role in land acquisition decisions within the Environmental Protection Fund, and their views demand greater weight than advocacy groups or those prone to extreme positions. ”

    Why? This land belongs to the state. Shouldn’t the the opinions of taxpayers across NYS be equally weighted? This land was not purchased as a stimulus for the local economy.

    • Boreas says:

      Dave,

      Those of us that have been following this for a while have come to the conclusion that indeed, the “administration” was trying to kill several birds with one stone in purchasing the property. One of the biggest birds was local economy issues. Details are sketchy, but many of the rough details were hammered out before TNC even purchased the land – and TNC had a say in final disposition as well. The other “birds” were adding to Wilderness, adding to Forest Preserve, adding access to the Ponds, adding snowmobile connectors, etc., etc.. I believe it was all well-intentioned, but seems to have been a pre-determined outcome before the state even signed on the line.

      What we are seeing now is the result of NYS putting the cart before the horse – which may have been necessary to keep the area from being sold to a private firm. The good news is that it is a great acquisition. The problem is, everyone wants it.

      • Boreasfisher says:

        Nice summary. For all of my misgivings about the process and the unseemly prospect of it being degraded through overuse, all is preferable to the alternative you mention….sale to a private developer and the creation of more MacCastles and Castlettes.

  14. Paul says:

    This string shows exactly why the only honest way to approach this is to determine what the classification will be first and then ask the towns if the approve of the state making the purchase. Everybody knows what is going on – problem solved. The Almanack readers will just have to debate the issue first!

    • Boreas says:

      Paul,
      Indeed! NYS could just eliminate the APA and let us decide.

      • Paul says:

        That wouldn’t be much better than the current process! Like or dislike their decisions I have to admit that this is one of the most transparent (in my opinion maybe to a fault) government agencies I have ever seen. They are one of the few that seems to really have comported with open meetings rules.

  15. JohnL says:

    Golly, this subject is becoming tedious. I could be wrong but I don’t believe ANYONE’S mind has been changed in the 412 times this subject has been discussed over these past few months. Am I wrong? If so, please tell me whose mind has been changed and how.

  16. ScottyB says:

    It is like the rail trail debate. Lots of mad chatter. Lots of people who are unaware of the basic rules or any background. They know what they believe is right, everything else is somehow bogus. Hmmm, sounds a lot like politics generally these days. Discouraging.

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