At its meeting this Thursday, the Adirondack Park Agency board may discuss, in addition to the Boreas Ponds Tract, the classification of two other large parcels abutting the High Peaks Wilderness, known as MacIntyre West and MacIntyre East.
Like the Boreas tract, both MacIntyre tracts were acquired by the state from the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy. They formerly had been owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
All told, the APA board will consider classifications for 90 parcels of state land scattered throughout the Park. At 20,758 acres, the Boreas tract is by far the largest. The other 89 parcels together add up to 32,053 acres. They include 32 parcels of newly acquired land (totaling 30,284 acres) and 56 corrections to the APA map (totaling 1,949 acres).
The APA staff is recommending a Wilderness or Wild Forest classification for most of the land—14,376 acres of Wilderness versus 17,411 acres of Wild Forest. The major difference between the two classifications is that motorized use and mountain biking are prohibited in Wilderness, but allowed in Wild Forest.
Most of the classifications appear to be routine. Often, the parcels are small and located on the edge of an existing tract of Forest Preserve. In such cases, the classification seems obvious.
There is disagreement, however, over the classification of the two MacIntyre tracts. After Boreas Ponds, these two tracts are the largest parcels on the APA agenda. They are located in Tahawus on opposite sides of County Route 25.
MacIntyre West totals 7,368 acres. Its primary attraction is Lake Andrew, which sits at the foot of Mount Andrew. Click here to read an account of a hike to the lake soon after the state purchased the property in 2015.
The APA staff recommends that virtually all of MacIntyre West be classified as Wilderness and added to the High Peaks Wilderness. A 3.1-acre area on the southern edge of the tract would be classified as Primitive to accommodate a right of way. In most respects, a Primitive tract is managed as Wilderness.
BeWildNY, a coalition of environmental organizations, and other Forest Preserve advocates support a Wilderness classification for MacIntyre West. Local towns are urging a Wild Forest classification, arguing that old logging roads would be suitable for snowmobiling and mountain biking.
MacIntyre East totals 6,060 acres. It includes stretches of the Hudson and Opalescent rivers. Click here to read an account of a canoe trip through MacIntyre East. Click here to read an account of a hike.
The APA staff recommends that most of MacIntyre East, 4,447 acres, be classified Wilderness. This portion of the tract is bordered on three sides by the High Peaks Wilderness. Some 1,605 acres would be Wild Forest. This part of the tract borders County 25 and private lands. What’s more, a railway line runs through it. Hence, the staff concluded that a Wilderness classification would be inappropriate. About eight acres of MacIntyre East would be classified Primitive.
Here, too, the staff’s recommendations for MacIntyre East are in line with those of BeWildNY. The towns are urging a Wild Forest designation for the whole tract to allow biking and snowmobiling.
As part of a multi-year land deal with the Nature Conservancy, the state also acquired a 1,451-acre parcel wedged between the Boreas Ponds Tract and the Dix Mountain Wilderness. The APA staff is recommending that it be added to the Wilderness Area. BeWildNY, however, is urging the state combine the Dix Mountain and High Peaks Wilderness.
Only five other parcels on the APA agenda top 1,000 acres. Following are the staff’s recommendations for each:
Tomantown Tract, 3,890 acres. Add to the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. The tract is located largely in Fulton County in the southern Adirondacks.
Cat Mountain, 2,465 acres. Add to Lake George Wild Forest. Cat Mountain overlooks Lake George.
Long Pond Mountain, 2,142 acres. Add to Debar Mountain Wild Forest. The tract is located in Franklin County near the Deer River.
Berry Pond Tract, 1,498 acres. Add to Lake George Wild Forest. The tract is located southeast of Prospect Mountain in Warren County.
Thousand Acre Swamp, 1,279 acres. Add to Wilcox Lake Wild Forest. The tract is located in Saratoga County south of Great Sacandaga Lake.
The APA board also will reclassifying more than 1,500 acres of existing Forest Preserve.
Photo of Lake Andrew by Carl Heilman II. Maps provided by Adirondack Park Agency: MacIntyre West (top) and MacIntyre East (bottom).