Monday, January 30, 2017

Tom Jorling: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary

What follows is a letter sent to the APA.

The Adirondack Park Agency has pending before it the classification of lands and waters comprising the Boreas pond tract. This action represents the final step in an historic process beginning with the acquisition of these lands by the Nature Conservancy followed by the acquisition from the Nature Conservancy by the state of New York and now the pending classification decision.

The decision by the Adirondack Park Agency regarding this parcel is anything but routine. It is a decision that must be made in the context of New York’s historic role in establishing the Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Park. The decision must be made from the perspective of history and the decision must be made as a part of that history; that is, as a decision that will be judged not now, but 100 years from now.

This is not a decision simply weighing the views of those interests advocating now. It is a decision that will affect and be viewed by New Yorkers generations hence. The Agency, as an arm of the state of New York must represent that view in making this decision. Simply put, the Agency must follow in the tradition of the great New York conservationists on whose shoulders the Agency now stands.

The portions of the Boreas pond tract lying north of the Boreas ponds and Gulf Brooke roads, lands that abut the High Peaks and Dix Mountain wilderness, must be classified as wilderness. The spur Road from the Boreas and Gulf Brook roads leading to the dam should be closed. Maintenance of this dam can be accomplished by pedestrian access along the spur road, converted to a disabled access trail with any heavy materials needed in such maintenance operations supplied by air. There is no reason to jeopardize the integrity of the wilderness area by a road sufficient to carry vehicular traffic.

This decision is an opportunity for the members of this Adirondack Park Agency to contribute to the legacy of New York State. Please do not squander it by attempting to adjudicate contemporary interests. This is too important a decision to be a business as usual political decision. This decision represents an action that will be judged by history.

Given the pressures of continued population growth, the environmental impact of landscape development , climate change and forces we cannot now predict, it is abundantly clear that wilderness and life supporting ecosystems will be threatened. A decision by the Agency on the Boreas Ponds will assure that the generations that follow in New York will have access to natural systems that are likely to be increasingly scarce. Please act now to preserve that character and designate the portions of the tract North of the Gulf Brook and Boreas Ponds roads as wilderness.

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.


Tom Jorling is former DEC Commissioner under Gov. Mario Cuomo, and former Williams College Professor and retired VP for Environmental Affairs at International Paper.




35 Responses

  1. Geogymn says:

    “made from the perspective of history”
    I like that perspective, good commentary.

  2. Blaikie Worth says:

    Excellent commentary by Tom Jorling. APA members, please listen!

  3. George says:

    Ignoring the history that exists? We should take our chystal balls out and decide what people will think in a 100 years? The decision is supposed to be based on what is on the ground today.

  4. James Marco says:

    “The decision must be made from the perspective of history and the decision must be made as a part of that history; that is, as a decision that will be judged not now, but 100 years from now.”

    Well said. I agree with all your points.

  5. Diane says:

    “The decision must be made from the perspective of history and the decision must be made as a part of that history; that is, as a decision that will be judged not now, but 100 years from now.” Thanks Tom for sharing your letter. The science and the law should drive the Governor’s decision. We stand on the shoulders of brave decision makers/conservation minded leaders. Let’s honor their legacy (and our own.) I hope the APA and the Governor will be brave and make a fact-based decision that protects the Boreas Ponds within an expanded High Peaks Wilderness. Then let’s get to work to be sure nearby communities receive public and private investment in amenities and small businesses to attract residents and visitors.

  6. Dave Gibson says:

    Thanks to Tom Jorling for factoring in population growth and “forces we cannot now predict” – and for caring and weighing in as former DEC Commissioner.

    • drdirt says:

      NY population growth? In the past 6 years, 850,000 residents moved out of NY(25% to Florida)… 200,000 moved out last year .,., overall population dropped by about 2,000 last year, first drop in a decade .,.,., http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/new-york-state-population-drops-time-decade-article-1.2917757.
      We did add about 120,000 immigrants, but very few of them moved to Adirondack counties.
      Other “forces we cannot now predict”, such as global warming, should certainly be researched and considered by the APA on this matter. However, the exodus from NY won’t stop based on expanding the HPW!
      Properly protected Forest Preserve, with limited access determined by DEC, will keep the Boreas area pristine for 200 years. Get out year-round in Forest Preserve lands everywhere in the Park and this will be evident to all. And thanks to Mr. Jorling for his advocacy.

      • James Marco says:

        World wide population growth is on a an exponential curve upwards from WWII (around 1940 or so) from not less than 2 billion to today’s 7 billion. I believe this is what Tom is writing of.

        Population growth in the USofA is actually close to stagnant. Only immigration is giving us new blood, if you look at it that way. Population movement is to urban areas and suburbs in the US where some 81% live there.

  7. Paul says:

    Would maintenance of the dam by helicoptering in stuff like he suggests be allowed if the classification is Wilderness? Also, you would eventually need mechanized things to work on it.

    The classification the area gets now is not the last time the area could be classified. Land is often reclassified, usually to a more restrictive classification.

    Go with a balanced plan then if there is a problem with impact tighten it up.

    • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

      Helicopters can be used to transport materials into the Wilderness, though there restrictions as to when.

      • Paul says:

        Thanks. I have seen them bringing in stuff to John’s Brook Lodge (I guess that is actually private but pretty close!). It was pretty wild it was a really quiet fall day and then all of a sudden this chopper shows up with these big blue barrels dangling from it.

        I guess this could work for dam materials but you would have to do any work w/o the aid of machinery. Pretty inefficient.

  8. Charlie S says:

    Diane says: ” I hope the APA and the Governor will be brave and make a fact-based decision that protects the Boreas Ponds within an expanded High Peaks Wilderness.”

    Hope is all we have Diane! I’m iffy about our governor as he seems to be all about tourism on Adirondack matters. They sure have been spending lots of money on advertising to bring people to that haven! Also i’m sure he’s being hounded to appease the local leaders who are surely pressing him to do what’s right for their short-term monetary view of that special,wonderful,magical,natural world that surrounds them.

  9. Charlie S says:

    “Given the pressures of continued population growth, the environmental impact of landscape development , climate change and forces we cannot now predict, it is abundantly clear that wilderness and life supporting ecosystems will be threatened.”

    …wilderness and life supporting ecosystems are being threatened. Unabated,round the clock,eight days a week!

  10. Chuck Parker Chuck Parker says:

    I am sure that most that looked at this article, “Tom Jorling: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary” and the associated comment read it fairly carefully. After I read the word “must” for the third time, in four paragraphs I said to myself grab on to your hat, that for some, something here may just not be as the author would like you to believe it is.

    Mr Jorling’s statement; “This is not a decision simply weighing the views of those interests advocating now. It is a decision that will affect and be viewed by New Yorkers generations hence”, is very true. This decision on land use needs to be made using the Guidelines of the Adirondack State Land Master Plan.

    Most have read the following. There are two main classifications that are being considered. Wilderness where the lands can be considered as untrammeled by man and man is seen as a visitor. Wild Forest is an area “where the resources permit a somewhat higher degree of human use than in wilderness while retaining an essentially wild character. A Wild Forest area is further defined as an area that frequently lacks the sense of remoteness of wilderness, primitive or canoe areas and that permits a wide variety of outdoor recreation.” (Information above from 2016 Adirondack State Land Master Plan pages 19 and 31)

    Now I must say this. The Boreas Ponds and Macintyre Tracts are considered to be jewels of the Adirondacks. If you consider them to be jewels you should realize it is from these lands being treated as a working forest and managed by man’s ability to do it wisely, has played a role. While a working forest management practice is out of the question per the guidelines of the SLMP, the management and wise access for all is available through the maximum use of a Wild Forest Classification. The infrastructure is there for access without harm to the Environment. Also through the Wild Forest Classification is the UMP that can address any possible natural changes to these lands as time marches by to insure these lands retain an essentially wild character.

    We are smart enough to do it right. It should be done with a Wild Forest classification

    • Boreas says:

      Wild Forest for BP is fine with me, as long as DEC closes the road to public traffic – which is their option.

      • drdirt says:

        Thank You, Boreas. Your comments have been a rational welcome on this site for a long time.
        DEC can limit access to Forest Preserve lands as they see fit, which will determine the impact on any parcel so designated. DEC can also, by law, NOT allow bicycles on any or all trails within a Forest Preserve parcel.
        As a senior citizen, I would appreciate being able to ride my bike 7 miles to the ponds. From there, we could backpack into the wilderness beyond for a few days of wild adventure. (sure hope we’re allowed to start a fire).
        Forest Preserve designation also solves the tricky problem of dams staying in place, as well as disabled persons access.
        the vast majority of us DO carry in/carry out .,.,,. just saying

      • Charlie S says:

        “We are smart enough to do it right.”
        I beg to differ on this.

        “Wild Forest for BP is fine with me, as long as DEC closes the road to public traffic ..”
        Wild forest and closed road are not one and the same so far as the classification rules go Boreas. You know that.

        • Boreas says:

          Charlie,

          The way I read the plans set forth by the APA, the roads will be open for public vehicular traffic at their discretion.

    • Justin Farrell says:

      Hey Chuck,
      Respectfully, I’m just curious what the benefit would be for protecting an Adirondack “Jewel” with easy public motorized access, as opposed to more restrictive regluations that would require a bit more human powered effort to visit…?
      Please forgive me for saying so, but you’re profile photo suggests someone who is perhaps a bit unhealthy just pushing for easier motorized access to this “Jewel”.

  11. Roger Dziengeleski says:

    Absolutely disagree with the area north of the ponds being wilderness. Bulldozed roads go completely around the ponds and would be ideal for Bicycles and horses. These uses should be allowed on those roads.

    • Boreas says:

      There are old roads in other Wilderness areas, so existing roads do not preclude any or all of the parcel from being classified as Wilderness. As to whether it is currently wilderness or not is open to debate, but irrelevant.

  12. lauren pereau says:

    All these years of driving log trucks on those roads doesn’t seem to have hurt anything. Wilderness prohibits bicycles on those roads. Think about disabled people and seniors. If it were not for the road in there, there would not be any ponds.

    • Boreas says:

      Logging operations did not focus on the ponds themselves. They were cutting timber, dragging it to the roads, then removing it via the roads. This is why the roads are there – not for public recreation. Logging has stopped. Leased camps are to be closed/removed in 2018. If NYS is dramatically changing the usage and protection of the parcel, why not let it recover naturally by closing the logging roads to vehicular traffic as well? Why leave it open to potential overuse/abuse by allowing cars, trucks, horse trailers, snowmobiles into the center of the parcel?

      If Gulf Brook Road (GBR) remains open, it will almost certainly need to be widened to 2 lanes at least in numerous places. Imagine two trucks with horse trailers meeting on a one lane road. There currently aren’t a lot of pull-outs to allow cars to pass. I wouldn’t want to back a horse trailer up 1/4 mile! Would widening GBR be considered part of “protecting” the parcel?

      A weaker classification still does not guarantee the road will remain open, as DEC can determine its usage as it sees fit. If it wants, it can gate GBR at the Blue Ridge Road, only allowing limited access.

      • Paul says:

        Never seen this road but it seems like if it can handle an 18 wheel logging truck it is probably wide enough. It probably had numerous pull off spots.

        Again if it is overused or abused we can revisit the classification.

        • Boreas says:

          Paul,
          Last fall I drove it to the current gate. Beyond that it seems to get narrower, as any trunk road would farther into the forest. From the BRR to the gate it is indeed quite narrow – and quite rough. I am not saying 2 trucks could not pass, but they would be going off of the gravel bed in most places – which has its own problems and damage consequences. 18-wheelers are big, but they still only take up one lane of highway.

  13. Roger Dziengeleski says:

    The roads were used for log trucks and two way traffic for decades without incident. Additional construction is not required for use by automobiles, snowmobiles, bicycles or horses.

    • Boreas says:

      Roger,
      Based on what I saw last fall, I respectfully disagree. Professional drivers are different than your average Joe. I’ll even go a step further and say I don’t even recommend it for low-clearance vehicles. But we’ll see what happens if they open it. I’ll place my bets on it getting wider & smoother, one way or another.

  14. Charlie S says:

    lauren pereau says: ” If it were not for the road in there, there would not be any ponds.”

    Do we know this for sure? I haven’t done any research on this matter as I am busy doing research on other matters but I did find an old newspaper story relative to Boreas ‘Pond.’ I included this news item in my response to another thread on January 8 which I will include revised below:
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    Bob Meyer says:Interesting that if you look at the 1895 map [i have the real thing from the USGS] there already is a dam at the foot of First Pond.
    Wonder what the actual original ponds looked like???

    Phil Brown says: “Bob, I think you’re right. It appears from the map that there was a dam prior to the one built in 1915. I wonder if it was around in Wallace’s day. He refers to the pond as “Boreas Pond” but says it was really two ponds.

    > Charlie Stehlin responds: “In the Brooklyn Eagle August 7,1875 a party was ascending Marcy and gave this description: “Just below is visible a portion of the upper Ausable quietly reposing in its basin, glossy and black as jet…..To the north shines Lake Placid, toward Whiteface whose feldspar slide shows like a marble column. Beyond and to the northwest shimmer faintly the Saranacs like a cluster of nebulae. Almost due south is the Boreas Pond….”

    According to this description Boreas was one unit. Was there a road leading to this one pond in 1875?

  15. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “Never seen this road but it seems like if it can handle an 18 wheel logging truck it is probably wide enough.”

    How the heck an 18 wheel truck got up that road is beyond me unless they came in another way!

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