Thursday, March 31, 2016

DEC Still Working On Boreas Ponds Purchase

Boreas Ponds aerialThe state hoped to buy the 20,760-acre Boreas Ponds Tract this fiscal year, which ended today (March 31). Although it didn’t happen, the acquisition is still in the works, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“DEC remains committed to the purchase of the Boreas Ponds and is in the final stages of the acquisition,” said Lori Severino, a spokeswoman for the agency.

The purchase will be the last phase in a multi-year deal to acquire 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Nature Conservancy.

One of natural gems of the former Finch property, Boreas Ponds is expected to become a destination of paddlers, hikers, and backpackers. The ponds (which are really one large body of water with three lobes) offer breathtaking views of the High Peaks, including Mount Marcy, the state’s tallest summit, and much of the Great Range.

Environmental groups want most of the tract to be added to the High Peaks Wilderness, a move that would prohibit mountain biking and the use of motors. Town officials want the tract designated Wild Forest to facilitate public access and allow a wider range of recreation.

Also at issue is the future of a former corporate lodge that overlooks Boreas Ponds. Environmentalists want it removed, but North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore wants it to remain for possible use as ranger outpost or as lodging in a hut-to-hut trail network.

Severino said “DEC is working with the towns and stakeholders to resolve the lodge issue.”

Aerial photo of Boreas Ponds by Carl Heilman II.



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Phil Brown is the former Editor of 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.

12 Responses

  1. Bruce says:

    All stakeholder positions do need careful consideration. This is an excellent opportunity for environmental groups, the towns and the DEC to show they can all work together to arrive at a workable solution. It is not a time for hard and fast “it must be done our way” positions. Whatever the solution, someone won’t be entirely happy.

  2. Justin Farrell says:

    Spectacular photo, Carl!

  3. Boreas says:

    Just curious – what kind of condition(s) does the ANC place on the sale? Aren’t these conditions worked out between ANC and NYS BEFORE ANC purchases the land? Or is ANC just an interim owner with no say in the ultimate classification?

    • Paul says:

      TNC can place deed restrictions on the property for things like no development etc. It is their property and they can do whatever they want with it (as long as it’s legal). They have no say in the ultimate classification once the state is the new owner. But the state will have to abide by any deed restrictions. If they don’t like them they can walk away and not buy it. I wish the TNC would just put it under a conservation easement and protect it that way. They can give the public access if they want to or just keep it off limits and really protected.

      • Boreas says:

        I agree – especially the most sensitive areas.

      • Marc Wanner says:

        TNC can’t afford to put restrictions on the property that the state would balk at. Their whole mission is to acquire properties to then sell to the state– they can work faster than the state could, but to keep acquiring properties, they have to sell earlier acquisitions. The last thing they want is for the state to walk away! And consider– land classified as Wild Forest is still preferable to land sold to a developer.

        • Paul says:

          I was just saying that they could do it if they wanted. They are not worried about development if they sell to NYS. FP land is protected by law. If they wanted to sell to another entity like they have done with some of their other lands there they would have deed restrictions or use the state like they have and sell them conservation easements. Doesn’t even have to allow public access. They have done that. Bottom line we are running out of land to discuss. Not sure what these groups will do once most of this is all done. Only a few remaining large private parcels in the park.

  4. Marc Wanner says:

    “Also at issue is the future of a former corporate lodge that overlooks Boreas Ponds. Environmentalists want it removed…”

    Not THIS environmentalist! I want to see it classed as an Historic District. Love the hut-to-hut idea!

  5. Charlie S says:

    “Town officials want the tract designated Wild Forest to facilitate public access and allow a wider range of recreation.”

    But of course! Capitalist bureaucrats always know what’s best for the landscape.

  6. Tom Haskins says:

    What a gorgeous tract to be added to the public domain.

    Although I am an advocate of our wilderness, an environmentalist, and a fit and skilled person who can travel on foot to any place I desire, I see a danger in overly restricting access to newly acquired lands. In these times of worldwide environmental peril, we need to widen the visitation to, increase the awareness of, and broaden the support for, these special places.

    I believe that by investing our tax dollars in environmentally sensitive improvements, including proper staffing for maintenance, education, and patrol, we are investing very wisely in our future. An example, and perhaps a model, for such improvements, is the multi-year project currently underway at Mariposa Grove, Yosemite Park.

    Key to such a direction would be to develop a clear understanding of a phrase used in the article – “to facilitate public access and allow a wider range of recreation”. A good place to start might be to make clear the distinction between the terms “recreation” and “exploitation”. For example, access by mechanized vehicles could be restricted to those paths and roads that are developed expressly for that purpose and hardened for those uses; camping regulations that localize and minimize environmental impacts; protection of fragile ecosystems, for example fisheries, that have limited natural means of replenishment and can become exhausted by overuse. Measures that include permitting to control level of utilization, can be considered.

    I can envision such a modernized concept of wilderness protection that leads us forward toward solving the larger problems we face.

    • Bruce says:

      Great comment Tom.

      A voice of reason in the wilderness. Based on what I’ve read, the roads in Boreas Ponds are much like the the roads in the Essex Chain.

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