Thursday, September 22, 2016

APA Plans Hearings On Boreas Ponds Classification

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled tentative dates for hearings on the controversial classification of Boreas Ponds.

The APA staff is expected to present a classification proposal for Boreas Ponds and other newly acquired state lands at the APA’s next board meeting, on October 13.

After reviewing public input, the agency is expected to vote on the classifications of these lands early next year. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will then write a management plan based on the classifications.

The classification of the 20,578-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which the state acquired in April, has been an issue that has generated much discussion on the Almanack. Click here for a list of some of the stories.

At the moment, four main proposals have been issued by various groups:

BeWildNY. This coalition, which includes some of the Park’s major environmental groups and Forest Preserve advocates, wants most of the Boreas Pond Tract added to the High Peaks Wilderness, where motors and bicycles are not allowed. The land south and west of Gulf Brook Road, a logging road that runs to the ponds, would be Wild Forest, a less-restrictive designation. The public would be able to drive nearly six miles up Gulf Brook Road to LaBier Flow, an impoundment of the Boreas River located a mile from the ponds. A proposed snowmobile trail would run parallel to County Route 84 away from the interior of the tract.

Protect the Adirondacks. Its proposal is similar to BeWildNY’s with one main difference: the snowmobile trail would follow Gulf Brook Road. Protect contends this proposal would require less tree cutting, which BeWildNY disputes.

Adirondack Wilderness Advocates. This recently formed group is pushing to close all of Gulf Brook Road, which would require a hike of nearly seven miles to reach Boreas Ponds. Land on both sides of the road would be classified Wilderness.

Access the Adirondacks. This coalition of five local towns wants Boreas Ponds and the land in the immediate vicinity to be classified Wild Forest. The towns would permit electric boats on the ponds and mountain bikers and snowmobilers to ride on old logging roads that circle the ponds. Under their plan, most people would be allowed to drive only as far as LaBier Flow. However, the disabled, guides and their clients, and anyone who secures a special permit would be allowed to drive all the way to the ponds.

At the September board meeting, the APA staff revealed tentative dates for seven public hearings, including three in the Park. The dates could change if, for example, the board decides the classification proposal is not ready to go to public hearings.

Wednesday, November 9, 7 p.m. Adirondack Park Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

Monday, November 14, 6 p.m. Northville Central School.

Wednesday, November 16, 7 p.m. Newcomb Central School.

Monday, November 28, 7 p.m. Sustainability Hall at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Tuesday, November 29, 6 p.m. St. Lawrence County Human Service Center, Canton.

Tuesday, December 6, 7 p.m. New York City. Place to be determined.

Wednesday, December 7, 2 p.m. DEC headquarters, 625 Broadway, Albany.

The state bought the Boreas Ponds Tract from the Nature Conservancy in April as part of a multi-year deal to add 65,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands to the Forest Preserve. Among the other Finch lands that the APA will be classifying are the MacIntyre East and MacIntyre West tracts near Tahawus.

Forest Preserve advocates want all of MacIntyre West and most of MacIntyre East added to the High Peaks Wilderness. The towns want them classified as Wild Forest to allow snowmobiling and mountain biking.

Photo by Phil Brown: Boreas Ponds, with Gothics in background.

Related Stories

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.

46 Responses

  1. Rob Gdyk says:

    As a disabled veteran, I support the main proposal from Access the Adirondacks for they are the only coalition that addresses the needs of individuals who are other than the most physically fit.

    • Justin Farrell says:

      Selfish comment

      • Don says:

        ??? Did you really mean that??? A disabled vet is asking that we consider access and you call it a “selfish comment”. I hear the hiking is great in Afghanistan. Go there and let the rest of us enjoy the Adirondacs.

        • Justin Farrell says:

          Yes, an “I want to be able to drive there” mentality is indeed selfish. I sincerely thank all veterans for their service to our country, but in my opinion the Boreas Ponds should be protected under New York’s highest Forest Preserve managment plan. There are other proposals that have been put forth that would enable those with physical disabilities to be able to visit the area without having to drive there.

          • Don Kent says:

            Please keep your comments on policy (which it’s sounds like we mostly agree on) rather than personal attacks. We all approach these issues with a selfish bias.

        • Dave says:

          This is exactly WHY some people lead with “I’m a disabled veteran” – so that any disagreement with them is summarily squashed in shock and outrage and any substantive arguments against their positions are ignored.

          I think you can appreciate and admire someone’s service to their country, and empathize with someone who happens to be disabled, while also pointing out that their opposition to protections for a special and rare area like this – protections which would allow future generations to experience it as wilderness – because they themselves are unable to access it now, for whatever reason, is inherently selfish.

          That doesn’t mean he is a bad person, or that you are ignoring his sacrifice as a veteran, or that you hate America… it just means you think he is being shortsighted on this particular issue.

          “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

      • Don Kent says:

        I don’t agree with everything in the Access plan but suggesting that a disabled vets support for it because of the access it would allow him is “selfish” is not the kind of conversation we need if we are to find a workable compromise.

      • Rob Gdyk says:


  2. Alex says:

    Total wilderness classification is a long shot being that the boreas ponds in a man-made pond to begin with. Not to mention the area has had plenty of motor vehicles and heavy equipment within its boundaries for decades now – and has been logged. Not to say part of me wouldn’t be happy if it did get classified that way.

    I think if the dam was let go (which it should be under “wilderness preserve classification) and the ponds drained to their natural level this place would not get any attention what-so-ever.

    The roads surrounding the pond offer slim to none views and would probably rarely get much foot traffic. I do think they would be superb for mountain biking. The roads are far enough off the perimeter of the pond that you wouldn’t even know the bikers were there if you were say paddling on the pond.

    I would not want to see any cars being able to access it past labiere flow. There should be at the very least a 1 mile buffer. Any thing less would lead to over access and degradation of the character of the place. Oh…and no snowmobiles….they are obnoxious.

    Well there you have it……those are my selfish views on what I would like to see. Let the bashing commence 🙂

    • Justin Farrell says:

      Cedar Lakes was also man made.
      This is no different than saying we should be able to drive to within 1 mile of Cedar Lakes.

  3. Jim S. says:

    The Adirondacks belong to the the entire state of New York. What about opinions in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and other parts of NY?

  4. Brian says:

    Go Access the Adirondacks!. Good for those towns. I have a petition going now

  5. terry says:

    Let me start by saying I am not a mountain biker or a snowmobile guy.
    There is a video on youtube (search boreas pond) of a guy hiking from the gated access point with a friend and his dog. The roads are all graded and rolled and for the most part seem flat. I hike and CC ski but I have a hard time seeing how mountain bikes could degrade this road. All the things that lead to erosion on trails are absent. No steep grades and loose dirt and stones. This is a improved road. I have no experience with how a snowmobile ruins a graded road.
    That said I also don’t want to see car access extended to the pond except for handicap access.

    • Justin Farrell says:

      That’s me & my friend Bill. 🙂

    • Scott says:

      Terry, you cannot try to make sense of it. Even though it is an improved road we need to consider it wilderness. No compromise (except Coreys Rd). No spot zoning (except fire towers). Bicycles on existing improved roads in the backcountry is unreasonable. The only exception is bringing back trains to use old railroads in the backcountry is good (and snowmobiles using the same railbed is bad).

      • terry says:

        I am kind if new here. I think you are being sarcastic not trolling or being serious. Site needs a Sarcastic font or end it with a ?

  6. Bruce says:

    I’m sure all of the groups named will do their best to “pack” the public meetings, making it appear their view has the greatest public support, whether it does or not.

    Where I live, a politically volatile public meeting was held, and it was discovered that one side bussed a load of homeless folks there, and paid them a few bucks to demonstrate support for their view.

    Based on “public meetings” I have attended and spoken at over the years, they seldom are used as a definitive method of determining a final result. It seems to me they’re more for information gathering, and have to be seen in that light.

    I find it interesting the environmental groups can’t agree. I just hope the APA can sort through all the smoke, fire, and “resource destruction” and come to a responsible decision where most get a little something. One thing we can be sure of, there will be detractors of whatever decision they make, perhaps even lawsuits calling into question the “legality” of their decision.

  7. kathy says:

    Kinda prefer the way it is now with special permit access for disabilities. Certainly not snowmobiles, electric boats and guides and their clients ,that seems to be strictly financially beneficial. Hiking,biking ,carting a boat,cross country skiing,snowshoeing and even horseback riding but no motorized access except by permit of disability.
    I can understand why each group favors their plan but there should me a middle ground.

    • Rob Gdyk says:

      Kathy- have you ever read what the qualifying disability requirements are for an individual to obtain a Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities (MAPPWD) CP3 permit from NYSDEC? The program obviously means well, but I can’t imagine any individual who has a mobility impairment to the extent where they cannot reliably ambulate without pain, ever attempt to paddle a canoe on the Boreas Ponds. Other mandatory certifying qualifications involve individuals who have lung disease and must use portable oxygen, or have a Class III or Class IV cardiac condition. Again, one must wonder how an individual would ever put their fragile lives at risk for the desire to seek solitude, connect to nature, undisturbed wildlife habitat, and inclusion with fellow sportspeople. In the spirit of trying to find a middle ground in the Gulf Brook Road controversy, the requirement for special permit access for those with disabilities definitely has it’s specific qualifications of “some” individuals who perhaps shouldn’t venture that deep into the wilderness given their serious health conditions. Many may view this simply as easy access for the disabled to park, whereas I look more at the qualification requirements of a permit granted soley to individuals who by their own serious health issues, might want to think twice before taking such a huge risk.

      • kathy says:

        You are right of course and in my mind it was only those people disabled by ambulatory issues rather than pulmonary or cardiac disease severe enough to put them at risk,and they probably feel ill enough not to venture that far into the woods anyways. But then I don’t envision all launching a canoe on the water but perhaps just ing gazing on the same view or experience being that close to it that they would otherwise never be allowed to see. There are chronic and congenital disabilities that affect only physical mobility.

      • scottvanlaer says:

        Rob, I find you perspective very enlightening. When you visited the Boreas you did not use your CP3 permit? Did you bike or hike? Did you take a boat up and paddle? Did you fish? How has your expanded legal access affected your opinion on legal motor access to all for this tract?

  8. Tim-Brunswick says:

    God Bless Rob Gdyk and “Amen” to “Don” for his support ! Whether you’re a disabled Vet or a Senior New Yorker, we all need better access to the Adirondacks. There is entirely too much wilderness classification and areas locked up right now. Perhaps many of the “Wilderness” only advocates will some day understand the frustration of looking at a map with back country lakes, knowing that they cannot ever see them because of the distance required to get to them.

    • John Warren says:

      As Brendan Wiltse responded directly to you when you made these false claims just a few days ago:

      “As of 2014 19.95% of the park was classified as Wilderness, 22.30% as Wild Forest. More importantly, roughly 50% of the park is within 0.5 miles of a public road or snowmobile trail, 80% is within 1 mile, and only 5% is greater than 3 miles from a road. The numbers don’t bear out the statement that the Adirondacks are inaccessible.”

      • Paul says:

        Intensive use, the stuff that is really accessible (and really well used) is 0.39%. My guess is that it won’t even be any pat of any proposal put on the table.

        • John Warren says:

          Absolute nonsense. Intensive use areas are not the only areas that get intensive use and they are not the only areas that you can drive right up to.

        • scottvanlaer says:

          I have wondered that as well. In fairness to the 5 towns plan, which is not much different than the BeWildNY plan, It won’t bring more visitors or provide a significant economic benefit to the town. It will be just another long dead end road to a remote interior trailhead. When users pass private property again, on their drive out, they will just keep on driving. Access and trailheads need to be tied to private property or towns for economic viability.

          If the the 5 towns coalition were trying for maximum revenue and economic impact from the Forest Preserve why are they not suggesting a Campground around the ponds like Fish Creek Ponds. I guarantee you it would be full all season. While I think that is a bad idea for ecological reasons it is within the scope of legal options. Instead they drafted something that seems to be constructed around their personal or perhaps constituents recreational desires. It is not sound economically or ecologically. Perplexing quite frankly.

  9. freethedacks says:

    Be careful what you wish for. Wilderness classification is the kiss of death. Just look at the High Peaks WA. All those wilderness seekers are ruining the tranquility, erosion has torn up the trails, and gigantic parking lots are needed to accommodate all the cars filled with weekend wilderness warriors. Wilderness has become a marketing term. Call it wilderness, and in come the humans. Call it Wild Forest, and nobody cares and the place is ignored. I know this because I have experienced more true wilderness in the wild forests than any so-called wilderness area. Case in point – go to Wilcox Lake WF and find solitude. Go to SIamese Ponds wilderness and expect the lean tos to be taken.

  10. troutstalker says:

    Freethedacks,in my recent experience in a Wild Forest area resulted in seeing garbage in firepits and toilet paper next to trees. At one site 15 trees and some near the water! This is what you get with easy access,lazy slobs! I don’t witNess that in Wilderness classified areas! Even if it was for economic purposes,it protects the area!

    • Paul says:

      I guess you have never been around Lake Colden in the HPWA?

      • Dave says:

        The difference, as you well know, Paul, is one of numbers. The HPWA is the most visited place in the Adirondacks… by an absurd magnitude. It is not even close. So yes, when you have that many people in an area, regardless of its classification, you can begin to see problems like those mentioned above.

        However, the important point, and the point relevant to this conversation, is that weaker classifications tend to have these problems even without those large numbers of visitors.

        Whereas Wilderness areas that are not the HPWA tend to be much more pristine. If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience them, you really should.

      • scottvanlaer says:

        Yes, I have. What point are you trying to make?

  11. Paul says:

    “Forest Preserve advocates want all of MacIntyre West and most of MacIntyre East added to the High Peaks Wilderness.”

    Phil, again a Forest Preserve advocate can advocate for a Wild Forest designation. Any FP designation actually.

  12. Todd Eastman says:

    What do think will happen with the Governor trying to polish his redneck creds in a place far away from the majority of the population and an an increasingly subservient APA helping him generate PR?

  13. Todd Eastman says:

    What do you think will happen with the Governor trying to polish his redneck creds in a place far away from the majority of the population and an an increasingly subservient APA helping him generate PR?

  14. Neil Luckhurst says:

    Leading off a discussion on wilderness protection (or access) by associating it with disabled veterans skews the discussion into a very narrow intellectual space from the get-go. Painting the disabled vet’s remarks as selfish then skews the discussion even further.

    Comparing the Boreas tract to Lake Colden and the HP’s strikes me as a rather biased observation that seeks more to promote a personal POV than get closer to a solution.

    But before anyone jumps down anyone else’s throat, ask yourself, what have they actually DONE other than translate their own thoughts into typed words?

    Having said that, it is my opinion that these tracts of land should be designated as wilderness and be fully protected as such. Why? Because so little of of North America is wilderness that for our collective psyche these little scraps of land should be reserved and left to remain in the wildly chaotic state they are in.

    I am 60, but I work very hard to remain fit and I am lucky to be free from infirmity. I can bushwhack all over the park anywhere I feel like but I know my wilderness exploring days are counted. When I am no longer able to visit the wild and trailless places I will be happy just to know they are still there, mostly untrammeled by man.