At the Boreas Ponds classification hearing held in Albany on December 7, 2016, Ross Whaley reminded the audience that public opinion alone doesn’t determine a land classification. As a former chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency, Mr. Whaley would know.
But at that same hearing — the last in a series of eight hosted by the APA — about eighty people stepped up to the podium to make their voices heard, in a marathon session that stretched a good four hours. A lot of people had something to say about Boreas Ponds that afternoon.
And by the time the written comment period ended on December 30th, the agency had received some 11,200 emails, letters, and postcards from concerned people not just across the state, but from across North America and beyond.
This level of public interest in a classification proceeding was probably unprecedented; I had certainly not seen anything like it. People participated in this process in good faith, offering their input with the assumption that state officials were paying attention.
More important than the quantity of those comments was the content. Many, many people were disappointed with the shortage of options presented by the park agency, and were not shy in saying so. Of the written comments, 84% supported a wilderness classification at Boreas Ponds stronger than anything being considered by the state; 36.5% favored a full wilderness classification, meaning no mechanized access of any kind. » Continue Reading.