The state’s newest piece of Adirondack Forest Preserve shelters rare plants, pure waters and sensitive wildlife species, while exhibiting high ecological integrity and wild character, according to two recently released scientific studies. The studies are being cited by advocates for expanding the High Peaks Wilderness to include the Boreas Ponds area between North Hudson and Newcomb, north of Blue Ridge-Boreas River Road.
The #BeWildNY alliance argues that the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds Tract should be shielded from automobiles, invasive species, and motorized or mechanized recreation and called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Adirondack Park Agency to classify most of the new tract Wilderness, and add it to the High Peaks Wilderness. The studies were completed by Adirondack Research LLC and by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
“This is a rare, fragile and globally unique treasure,” Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway said about the Boreas Ponds Tract in a statement issued to the press. “It deserves the State’s highest level of protection. Only if it is protected as wilderness can we ensure that future generations will inherit this magnificent landscape in a condition as good as it is today. Only if it is protected as wilderness can we ensure that surrounding communities will reap the maximum benefit from new tourism.”
“These waters and forests have been off-limits to public use for more than a century,” Neil Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club said. “They are unspoiled and should remain unspoiled, protected from autos, motorized or mechanized recreation and invasive species, while offering a variety of public recreational opportunities. How we classify and manage these lands and waters is critical to their future.”
Boreas Ponds Plan To Expand High Peaks Wilderness
The Adirondack Forest Preserve is protected by the “forever wild” clause of the NYS Constitution (Article 14, Section 1), which limits logging, development, and the sale or lease of public forests inside the Adirondack Park. About half of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park is Forest Preserve; less than 20 percent of the Park is classified as wilderness.
In part because the Boreas Ponds tract borders the existing 204,000-acre High Peaks Wilderness Area, eight groups including the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the New York League of Conservation Voters have urged state officials to annex Boreas Ponds into the High Peaks Wilderness Area (HPWA). They have also called on the state to classify several nearby parcels as wilderness and to add them to the HPWA in order to connect the HPWA with the Dix Mountain Wilderness, creating more than 280,000 acres of contiguous wilderness.
The expanded High Peaks Wilderness Area would be comparable in size to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and would be twice the size of Zion National Park in Utah.
Scientists Find Area Worthy of Protection
The Adirondack Research study was carried out by Dr. Ezra Schwartzberg. The 27-page illustrated report is entitled Boreas Ponds: Scientific assessment of physical, biological and intangible characteristics. It examines the various features of the land that the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan requires state officials to examine when determining the classification and management plan for the property.
“My evaluation showed that the tract exhibits high levels of ecological integrity and wild character, while its wetlands, steep slopes and erodible soils make it a poor choice for siting roads,” said Schwartzberg in his report.
The Wildlife Conservation Society 60-page study entitled Ecological Composition and Condition of the Boreas Tract, examines the ecological characteristics of the property and shows that adding the tract to the High Peaks Wilderness Area would make the wilderness more biologically rich, diverse, resilient and sustainable. It would enhance connections to other wild land areas so wildlife and plants can expand their ranges, migrate and adjust to a changing climate.
“The Boreas tract contains a number of significant habitats,” the report states. “The tract very likely provides habitat for a number of representative and rare species. The Boreas tract is distinctive from existing state land areas — supporting a richer flora and fauna than the natural communities typical of the acid, nutrient-poor shallow soil environments.”
In addition, “Boreas has larger patches of Northern Hardwood and Conifer, Northern Peatland, and Northern Swamp, patches of which are larger, on average, on the Boreas tract than those on existing state land units,” the study notes. “If added to the High Peaks (Wilderness) management unit, the Boreas tract would enhance overall resilience, integrity, and local and regional connectedness of that unit … all of which are above average on the Boreas tract.”
The Adirondack Park Agency is expected to take the lead developing classification scenarios for the Boreas Ponds Tract, accept statewide comments on those proposals, and make a final recommendation to the Governor. The State Land Master Plan, which sets state policy for this decision, prioritizes natural resource protection.
Photo of the Boreas Ponds Tract provided by the#BeWildNY Alliance.
It sounds counter intuitive to have this area’s major road network and find it has high ecological integrity. I thought other studies showed major roads ruined ecological integrity. I would like to see roads in wilderness areas ripped up and then disc and plant.
It is an exaggeration to refer it as a “major road network” I would love to see the road removed but it is probably more reasonable to just allow it to revert, which it will, measured only in decades or centuries, which is a small time scale geologically. If there is no motor vehicle disturbance the ecological integrity remains high. If your point is that if a road once existed over a landscape it is precluded from being wilderness than we will have no lands classified as such. Given the way the Adirondacks will reclaim them on their own, I think that is a narrow, short sighted and unfortunate limiting parameter.
I just meant that they are major roads. My second sentence was my main point.
“the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds Tract should be shielded from automobiles, invasive species, and motorized or mechanized recreation.”
Common sense! Fururistic. Smart!
Science eh? If this is as fragile and unique as the “report” says, then this area should be off-limits to man. Period. No management, no hiking, no photography, nothing. Leave it unmolested by man. But I fear that this science has an obvious agenda or at least chooses to ignore the findings of other research studies (that hikers, canoeists, etc. impact the ecosystem no differently than certain…ahem..”mechanized” users). Science with an agenda is shameful.
I have followed various articles and posts regarding this tract of wilderness. One poster thought that horse-drawn wagons/carts would be a great way to carry canoes to the interior. No rhetoric, no outcry came from this statement. One wheeled conveyance is “great” and another is “horrible”. Hooved animals are pretty good at trail erosion (deer, horses, moose, etc)…no outcry at the suggestion of horses in the backcountry. Invasives? Horses and canoes go high up the list of invasive carriers.
I really find it irksome when “science” is used or cited in conjunction with an agenda.
Your claim ignores the noise impacts of motors. Noise is what would drive wildlife away. Also, there’s air pollution.
That’s not my claim. Re-read my post. I spoke nothing of motors. You saw what you wanted to see.
But the place has had these roads for years traveled by big noisy logging trucks that didn’t drive the wildlife away?
I suggest you read the WCS report in its entirety before you start making rash suggestions that it isn’t scientific. Your claim about canoes being high on the list of invasive species vectors is not proven anywhere. Motorized boats are actually the major concern, they are the target of most aquatic invasive species prevention programs.
There is also a difference between muscle bound use and motorized use. If you are sitting on research that shows hiking and paddling have an equal impact on wildlife and the environment as motorized use then I suggest you publish it.
You are irked by science with an agenda yet reference nothing in your argument and provide no credible facts for debate.
Hmmm….not sure where I said motorized. Please point that out for me. Mechanized is an euphemism for bicycles as these discussions are concerned. Evil, earth destroying bicycles. I think I’m capable of understanding the difference between motorized and human powered…pretty sure. And hence why used the word mechanized. And I have quite a few studies comparing various users’ impact on ecosystems. They don’t reinforce the mantra that biking is any more detrimental than the “acceptable activities”. Tried to post links to them, but it didn’t work out well. Admin deleted my correction.
As far as non-motorized watercraft being off the hook (no bilge waste), I’ll just drop your name next time a watershed steward runs through the typical questions. “So and so said there is no evidence…yada yada…you are wasting my time…yadda yada ya.” Bailout buckets, cockpit pumps, PFD’s still wet…no worries. No invasives.
As you were full of suggestions for me, I’ll make a suggestion for you: perhaps you should have read my post entirely before making any rash conclusions and subsequent suggestions.
If this area is so very fragile and ecologically sensitive, then it needs to be off limits to all users. Period.
Sounds like “off limits to all users” may be the safest bet…
Yes. If the science supports this, then it is the only logical conclusion. No cherrypicking of particular users.
I mentioned horse & wagon in a couple different discussions now, and I will continue to support that over motorized access any day!
Can you people read? Mechanized. Mechanized. Mechanized.
Where did I say motorized?
No need to be rude.
Wild Forest would mean motors & mechanized recreation.
I believe you missed my point.
I don’t think so. It seems you’re in favor of motorized & mechanized use of the road, and I’m not. Whether or not a horse will do more damage to a gravel road than a bicycle has no bearing on the outcome of the classification. Anyway, thanks for the reply, and best regards. -Justin
No, you missed it completely. And I’m quite fine with that.
Same here. What ever your point was, it’s a red herring anyway, so no worries.
You obviously made this post without actually reading the WCS report. Please cite where it says in the report the Boreas tract should be wilderness? You will find that task a difficult one because it doesn’t. Perhaps, you could even look at the WCS press statement where it says they are not making a classification recommendation? It is quite simply an ecological assessment, the kind of analysis that should be done for any land purchase, Science eh? Yes. It is it so difficult to read and think before making a post? You find it irksome that science is being used to help shape such a decision? Incredible.
No, I did not read the report originally. After reading it though, it appears those that conducted it had no political agenda. So good for you, I’m now a moron as you’d like to believe, and therefore can dismiss anything I have to say here.
So I’ll rephrase the point of my post: I find it irksome when groups such as #BeWildNY then cite reports such as these to push a hypocritical agenda. First off, every area has rich ecological importance that should be considered. Every single one. And second, any of the currently acceptable activities in “Wilderness” areas will impact said area. Science (not just this report) gets cited to keep one group out and conveniently ignored as it applies to them. Hiking/backpacking is a magical endeavor with zero impact. Spaceman walketh (floats actually) into the wilderness with all modern technology strapped on, yet criticizes others for being mechanized or “non-conforming to a wilderness ethic”. I find it telling that you don’t see too many hard-core “hiking only” folks clamoring for off-limits areas. How about next wilderness purchase be off-limits completely? Don’t like that idea, do you? Invasives are only vectored by…things we want to exclude!
So, seeing as you are so very good at reading before you post, i’ll guide you to the last sentence in my original post.
That is big of you to admit you didn’t read the document before attacking it. Honesty is appreciated. Actually, I would love to see a large area of land “off-limits” completely.
Sadly, I was expecting a sarcastic reply from you and was not let down.
And likewise, it would appear you have no intent of reading nor considering any of the points I’m trying to make, just hell-bent on discrediting any viewpoint that diverges from yours. Sad, because we may actually have more in common that you would like to believe.
Always start with discrediting and dehumanizing the “others”…
Bob, there was absolutely no sarcasm intended in my response! Honestly. I am impressed that you admit to attacking the document without actually reading it. Most people deny and get defensive. I am unclear how my 2 sentences show that I am “hell-bent” on anything…You asked if I would like to see a tract of land off limits to humans, I merely answered in the affirmative.
Sincerest apologies then. I find that my points are taken poorly from both “sides” and thus may be a bit defensive. I am drawn to the contradictions of man. I’m of the general opinion that there are no saints or sinners when it comes to these discussions.
I’m glad to read that you two have “cleared the air”
How much you want to bet the BeWild NY Coalition bought and paid for the research study on Boreas Ponds. Adirondack Research LLC has no credible history or experience on such issues and is likely seeking out anyone who would purchase services for their Company. Also seems strange that these lands are so fragile when just a short distance away the Essex Ponds forests were deemed “resilient”. The Serial embellishment by the Be Wild leaders to push their agendas on Boreas makes me think of Trump’s Lyin Ted tag. Playing on the fears and emotions of the uninformed has worked for the enviro bullies for a long time, but my sense is that strategy is wearing a little thin! Time for our elected officials to take control of the decision making and enact legislation that empowers Towns and Counties to determine the fate of lands in their jurisdictions. The green zealots no longer have Shelly Silver at their back, time to curtail the green non-sense and provide access to lands owned by the people of N.Y.!!
Isn’t this coalition asking that the seven mile road to the ponds remain open to motors .. In the middle of the wilderness?
You’re right Lorraine. Perhaps it should be #BeWildNYinYourAutomobile. Or, the Adirondack Mountain Club could make it #BeWildNYinSubaruOutback. The Adirondack Council could make it #BeWildNYinBMW. Environmental Advocates could be #BeWildNYinPrius.
There is no wilderness here. Logging, skidders, log trucks, and other types of vehicles have used these lands for 100 years. The “BeWildNY” just continues to lie to the public about these lands. Their goal is their prejudices against allowing all the people to recreate and enjoy these lands. They want to lock the majority of the people out and keep it for their elitists selves. A pure case of the prejudices and contempt they have shown throughout the Adirondacks. They do not give a damn about the land, habitat, wildlife, or the environment. Only their selfish greed and prejudices.
Hey Don’s obligatory troll post.
Yes! The more I am characterized as an elitist, the more proud I become.
Sorry…a few mishaps with the links I was trying to share.
If only everyone would walk that road before forming voicing such strong opinions! It’s long, with a lot of ups and downs. If vehicles are totally banned there is no practical way that anyone will ever canoe those ponds again. Is that really the most desirable management plan; to expect people to walk in, look at the ponds, and then turn around and walk out again? The ponds are pretty and the view is splendid. I would like to go back, but I will not hike that road again. Now that everyone has been enticed by the beautiful photographs and glowing descriptions and the prospect of finally being allowed in, it’s a bit much to claim that the only way to protect the resource is to put it so far out of reach that it should take an arduous, day-long hike just to look at the ponds from the shoreline.
The access arguments assume that a true wilderness has little value, that land and resources are only worth protecting if we can easily access them. What about the spirit of wildness one feels when they reach a place like the Boreas Ponds after putting in several hours of work? That experience is fundamentally different than when you pull your car up to the shore of the pond. Nevermind the fact that there are negative impacts to the surrounding land and natural communities by keeping the road.
In terms of the no practical way to canoe the ponds argument. I pulled a canoe in on a cart recently and it wasn’t that difficult. It took me about 2.5 hrs to reach the ponds. This isn’t that much different in terms of physical effort as it is to reach many of the high peaks. If we explore this argument further, are wilderness areas of no value if parts of them cannot be “easily” accessed in a day?
If you are going to have a trail that would accommodate a cart for pulling a canoe or a wagon as some others have suggested. The dirt road you would have like the one they have there now would basically have about the same impact??
Yes in terms of the infrastructure associated with the road, such as the culverts. But the impact would be less than if motor vehicles were traveling the road. You also have to think of the impacts and cost of the long-term maintenance of the road.
If we want to have a wilderness the road should be allowed to revert to a trail or slowly disappear, like many have in other parts of the park, and the culverts should be removed. A shorter and more direct trail could be cut from Blue Ridge Road.
As it stands now, it isn’t that difficult to get a canoe back there.
I tend to agree with you… My idea of wilderness means that it takes me a lot of effort to get to. If I can access it easily – it’s not wild to me. I plan to go hike the Blue Mountains in Jamaica later this year (about 7500 ft). To reach the peak at the optimal time (right around sunrise due to issues such as fog) – you have to be dropped off then hike into the night – camp out for a few hours – and then leave again before the sun comes up. Though there are two areas that have cabins midway – they are specifically designed to be minimally intrusive to the environment. Same with the subsistence farmers who live in the mountains. That’s more of a wilderness to me because you don’t have roads and cars and machines.
A friend & I hiked the road (and then some) this weekend. Took us 2 hours to reach LeBeir Flow, and 2.5 hours to the dam at Boreas Ponds. I didn’t find anything too difficult about the hike at, and I’ve certainly have been on much more daunting hikes than that. It was a very enjoyable weekend!
“Is that really the most desirable management plan; to expect people to walk in, look at the ponds, and then turn around and walk out again?”
It happens all over the Adirondacks. People walk 7.5 miles to the top of Mt Marcy, look at the view, and then turn around and walk out again.
Or any number of the other high peaks, which are also “long, with a lot of ups and downs”.
Not to mention the West Canada Lakes, Cold River, Silver Lake, the Five Ponds, Tongue Mt Range, and other places that require some time and effort to get to. It saddens me to think that if those places were acquired now, there would be road access to all of them.
Folks really should take the time to look at the linked document that is behind the “scientific” assessment for this classification. There are some interesting conclusions drawn based on the data they looked at. Here are a few important examples:
2. Do constraints exist for certain recreation activities (for example does the water or landscape pose constraints on speciﬁc types of recreational activities)?
There are no perceived constraints, though more research needs to be conducted on the ef-fects of motorized recreation on non-motorized use and wilderness character.
Yet the conclusion is that there should not be any type of motorized use (as in a road)??
(the typo and grammatical mistake was in the report)
1. Does this area possess qualities of wilderness character that may be threatened by motorized use?
Views are very attractive. Vantage points include areas along the shores of Boreas and White Lilly Ponds. These ponds comprise a substantial amount of un-disturbed shoreline and represents a unique wilderness landscape.
Here is A:
There are major views. Viewing areas would be shared and potentially disturbed by motorized use.
The proposal is to have any road end well before the ponds with a carry so the road would not be even visible from the areas they describe?
The academic pursuit of discussing the best possible use of this acquisition are meritorious.
The reality of the deals that were cut with local municipalities to facilitate this purchase are prerequisite to any meaningful discussion.
I’m afraid that those deals will ultimately dictate the final classification.
My understanding is that the road and lodge will remain along with motorized access. While I don’t think that this is appropriate, I am resigned to the fact that it was arranged prior to the purchase and as a condition of it.
If there was ever a tract that should be designated Wilderness within the Finch purchases, this is it. I only hope that after the political considerations are accomodated, that the most strict preservation standards are applied to the remainder of the acreage.
Dammit, M.P., stop being reasonable. I’m sick and tired of you acting like a business owner and Park resident who considers all angles, thinks things through and then expresses an informed opinion. God man, that’s not how it works any more in this country. Open your eyes!
Oh sure, I may not agree with you on a number of topics, but that’s not good enough. I can’t rip on you if you won’t be a horse’s patootie once in a while. You’re setting a bad example for some of the other frequent “commenters.” There’s no place in the on-line world for people like you, so cut it out. Sheesh.
I think the lodge is in fact not a done deal. My guess is that it will go. We’ll see.
Abolish the Forest Preserve! Snowmobile trail to Marcy! Build the Boreas Hotel! Speedboat races on Lake Colden! We’re gonna make the Adirondacks great again!
Is that better? 😉
I believe that the TNC has plans to remove the lodge .
I agree. It is no wonder these purchases are more controversial after the fact – it seems most of the deals and agreements have been made long before they are submitted to APA/DEC for management plans. I guess that’s OK – I would rather have a State-owned pseudo-wilderness than private posted forestland that I can’t even enter. The process ain’t pretty, but at least the general direction of State acquisitions seems to be going in a good direction, despite the warts…
Deals like this (by law) require approval of the towns where the sales are taking place. So there are expectations of how the land will be used long in advance of any classification. Personally I think that is a mistake and much of this could be avoided if the classification decision is made and then presented to the town for approval. Just an up or down. We will or will not approve the deal with this classification arrangement.
I agree. This seems a little cart before the horse, especially when there is potential to classify land as wilderness.
“My evaluation showed that the tract exhibits high levels of ecological integrity and wild character, while its wetlands, steep slopes and erodible soils make it a poor choice for siting roads,” said Schwartzberg in his report.
By “siting roads”, I have to assume he means building new roads. The roads in question are already there, why not use them for non-damaging uses such as bicycling and hiking. I would hope he’s also referring to siting new hiking trails, boardwalks, and bridges which would have their own damaging effects on the wilderness character. Motorized use can be strictly limited to state maintenance purposes only.
It’s evident that certain vociferous groups have no problem with new hiking trails and their appurtenances in Wilderness classified areas. I believe this part of the SLMP should change towards preserving wilderness without new constructions of any kind.
“without new constructions of any kind”, especially where good gravel roads intended for heavy equipment already exist.
“ADKerDon” You’re still my hero !!
I’m 68 years of age and I want to see this place in person, not just read about it in some hiking book. For crying out loud you people that think wildlife is going to be driven away by the sounds and activities of motorized vehicle are ridiculous.
Go to Maine, where logging trucks and “mechanized/motorized” logging equipment rule vast forestlands that have more wildlife than the ADKS will ever have because of our propensity for over-restricting everything!
Maine isn’t far away – perhaps you can visit and view the wildlife while dodging those trucks! I prefer not having to worry about being run over – I guess I am just ridiculous.
Tim – so your argument that habitat destruction is actually better for the wildlife?? That’s why there is more wildlife in Maine that the ADK’s??? I guess you probably believe it’s the wolves in Canada eating all the caribou all of a sudden in the last 40 years (though they lived together in balance for thousands) and not the logging and oil industries that take their habitat…? LOL That’s a good one. If you are specifically talking about moose – then that is absolutely NOT the reason there are more moose up there than in NY. The reasons the moose came back to NY in the 1st place is more of an indication. Same with lynx… Lynx prefer colder climates – and they don’t like being around bobcats – because they get muscled out.
This weekend I had the opportunity to visit Boreas Ponds. A friend and I got there entirely on foot: parking at the beginning of Gulf Brook Road and hiking its entire length. Despite claims to the contrary, it was a fairly easy hike. You can get the gist of it here:
Having seen the ponds, I am convinced even more than ever that this road needs to remain closed to motor vehicles. Boreas Ponds is not Lake Lila. This is not a body of water than can support dozens of people at a time. The shores are low-lying and marshy, and opportunities for camping are very, very slim. Boreas Ponds is essentially a vast wetland complex with pond-like attributes. It is dotted with boggy islands and rimmed by cedar swamps. A large loon population lives here, and these iconic birds almost certainly make their fragile nests on the marshy shoreline. I limited my explorations for fear that we would inadvertently stumble across a loon nest and scare away the mother.
A motor vehicle road would enable more people to access the ponds, sure–but this would be more people than the resource could handle, despoiling the wilderness that people want to preserve. People who want the easy paddling access to a scenic body of water should be directed to the places where that level of use is appropriate. Boreas Ponds is not such a place. The best thing that could happen here is the permanent closure of the road. Some places **should** be remote and off the beaten path!
I watch a nesting pair of Loons every summer on the lake that I have a camp on. We water ski right next to them all summer (careful never to hit them). Every year they are there with a new brood of a few chicks. Loons do not need calm water to nest on I always hear that but it does not seem to be true.
This area maybe needs to be protected for other reasons but I wouldn’t play the Loon card here.
It has more to do with the nests, not out in the lake where you would be skiing. If their low-lying nests get washed over, they can lose eggs and/or fail. Same with any species that nest at waterline.
Bill Ingersoll says: “A motor vehicle road would enable more people to access the ponds, sure–but this would be more people than the resource could handle,”
The people who have sway over the decisions that allow access to areas with sensitive ecosystems too often shouldn’t have sway but unfortunately do. If what you say is true Bill then why in the world would they allow motor access?
“I watch a nesting pair of Loons every summer on the lake that I have a camp on. We water ski right next to them all summer (careful never to hit them).”
Right next to them Paul. Actions like yours are the reason why more laws are needed to protect what’s left of the precious creatures! What Boreas says is the least reason why what you do should be outlawed.
Tim-Brunswick says: “For crying out loud you people that think wildlife is going to be driven away by the sounds and activities of motorized vehicle are ridiculous.”
People like you give me the jitters Tim! You are so mainstream in your thinking.
This might be one of the most scenic ponds in the ADK. I hope someone with some common sense allows at least some of the already-existing and already-used-for-decades roads to be accessible to the public so paddlers can access the ponds without towing a boat for 14 miles (roundtrip).
(tow by hand, that is)
I hope someone with some common sense doesn’t create an interior trailhead just so people can be closer to a pond and avoid tow by hand of their canoe.