Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State Message in January, indicated that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) “…will construct infrastructure at Boreas Ponds in the Adirondacks and build trails as part of the ‘hut-to-hut’ system that links state lands to community amenities.
DEC is committed to expanding recreational opportunities for hikers, bikers, skiers, paddlers, horseback riders, hunters, anglers and others. Outdoor enthusiasts of all skills and abilities will be able to enjoy, for the first time, the most significant addition in the history of the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” according to the statement.
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.
The state has reopened Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year.
As a result, the public can drive 3.2 miles up the dirt road. From there, hikers must walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds. Mountain bikers will once again be able to ride as far as the ponds, but no farther. » Continue Reading.
Environmental groups are alarmed by a conceptual proposal floated by the Cuomo administration to establish lodging facilities near Boreas Ponds — in an area they believe should be classified as “untrammeled” Wilderness.
The groups say they would fight any such proposal vigorously, contending that it would violate both the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Article 14, the section of the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest land.”
State officials have not released details of the proposal, but they have discussed it with the Park’s green groups. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency has posted its agenda and materials for its meeting this week (May 11-12th) and there is no action scheduled for the classification of Boreas Ponds or any other Forest Preserve lands. All indications show that there is little likelihood for action on the Boreas Ponds at the APA’s June meeting.
The state’s ambitious schedule announced at the time of the classification hearings at the end of 2016, where they stated a plan to have this process completed in advance of the 2017 summer season, has been abandoned. What has slowed the state to a grind is its commitment to a series of unprecedented Forest Preserve management actions to build some form of lodging and dining facility near Boreas Ponds. The exact form of this plan remains in flux, but the state leaders at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is leading this effort, remain determined to fundamentally change management of the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
An overwhelming majority of New York voters want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to protect the newly purchased Boreas Ponds tract in the Adirondack Park by classifying it as a Wilderness Area where motorized vehicles and bicycles are prohibited, according to a poll by the Siena College Research Institute.
Those who favor a wilderness classification for Boreas Ponds outnumbered opponents of wilderness by 4.5-to-1 (67 percent to 15 percent), the poll found. Support came from all geographic areas and from across the entire political spectrum.
These are extremely positive results for wilderness advocates. They look even better when you consider that the state didn’t hold a single public hearing south of the Catskills on the classification of Boreas Ponds. Everyone in New York City, the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island had to make a special effort to learn about this issue. » Continue Reading.
As the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) prepares for their March meeting, a decision on classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract is not on the agenda. That’s a good thing, indicating that more research and deliberations are ongoing and providing some comfort that the decision is not just pro forma.
Adirondack Wilderness Advocates believes that it is therefore an excellent time to review the status of the deliberation process. In doing so, we can justly say “hats off” to the Adirondack Park Agency staff. Their thorough analysis of the Boreas Ponds Tract, conducted as part of developing a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS), and presented to the State Land Committee at the February Agency Meeting, was a breath of fresh, evidence-based, rational air in a process that to this point has been in dire need of reason and facts. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) postponed action on the classification of the Boreas Ponds this month. The APA had planned to unveil its proposal for these lands in March and make a decision in April. The schedule going forward is uncertain.
The Cuomo Administration is divided on how to best manage the Boreas Ponds and as a result, it has no final plan for classification. Top staffers to the Governor and top brass at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are vacillating between two main options. » Continue Reading.
Some might wonder: What’s the big deal about Boreas Ponds? Yes, it boasts a fantastic view of the High Peaks, but you can paddle the waterway in less than an hour. And then what?
Unlike Lake Lila, Boreas Ponds has no sandy beaches where you can loll in the sun or go for a swim. Nor is there a nearby peak to climb for a lookout (though you could bushwhack to the top of Boreas Mountain).
Nevertheless, Boreas Ponds is a big deal. It’s one of our last chances to add a sizable water body to the Forest Preserve and declare it motor-free.
The Board of Directors, Congregational Delegates, and Members of Camp Unirondack, by vote of our 2016 Annual Meeting, hereby ask you to reject all of the four alternatives that you have set forth for the Boreas Ponds land classification. None of these alternatives truly protect the area around the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness.
Only an action that prohibits motorized vehicles and/or equipment on or within one mile of these ponds, and protects these lands as Wilderness to the south, is acceptable to the long-standing visionary legacy of the writers of Article XIV of the New York State Constitution. » Continue Reading.
In response to the Adirondack Park Agency 2016 – 2017 Amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan involving the Classification and Reclassification of 54,418 acres of State Lands in the Adirondack Park which include the Boreas Ponds Tract, 32 Additional Classification Proposals, 13 Reclassification Proposals, and 56 Classifications involving map corrections, The Nature Conservancy respectfully submits our comments related exclusively to Boreas Ponds. Our perspective is informed by nearly ten years of ownership and stewardship of this parcel, as well as focused stakeholder engagement. For over 50 years The Nature Conservancy has managed lands globally for both conservation and public use purposes, including our 160 preserves in New York State, and we are accordingly very mindful of the challenges and opportunities presented by this classification proceeding. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide input with respect to the classification of the Boreas Ponds parcel we conveyed to New York State in April 2016. » Continue Reading.
The Review Board thanks the Adirondack Park Agency for the public hearing process on the 2016 classification package and makes the following comments regarding the process, and the classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the Benson Road Tract and the MacIntyre East and West Tracts.
The members of the Review Board have carefully considered the physical characteristics of those tracts and their capacity to withstand use, as the fundamental determinants of state land classification specified by the State Land Master Plan, and support the following:
o The compromise of Alternative 1 for the Boreas Ponds Tract.
o Wild Forest classification for the Benson Road Tract.
o Evaluation of additional alternatives for the MacIntyre East and West Tracts.
Three media outlets will host a forum on the future of the Boreas Ponds Tract at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Schroon Lake Central School auditorium.
The Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine, Sun Community News, and Adirondack Daily Enterprise invited a number of stakeholders to take part in the forum, including environmental activists and local-government representatives.
The Adirondack Park Agency has yet to decide how to classify the 20,758-acre parcel under the Park’s State Land Management Plan. The state Department of Environmental will later write a management plan for the property, but the types of recreation allowed and the degree of motorized access will be partially predetermined by the classification. » Continue Reading.
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. » Continue Reading.
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