Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lorraine Duvall On Access To Boreas Ponds

stop sign on gulf brook roadMy favorite activity is paddling quiet waters. I cherish the experiences I’ve had on the lakes, rivers, and ponds in Adirondacks, including canoeing on the Boreas Ponds. I think the spectacular view of the high-rising peaks to the north is unmatched.

I also believe that reasonable access to these waters is in the best interest of the public, while minimizing harm to the environment. However, the definition of reasonable access and minimizing harm varies among the stakeholders, primarily centered on the use of the existing Gulf Brook Road – a 6.8 mile gravel road from Boreas or Blue Ridge Road (County Route 84) to the ponds.

A couple of weeks ago I drove up Gulf Brook Road for 3.2 miles as allowed by the state’s interim access plan, which is 2.5 miles from the ponds. I wanted to orient myself to the access issues raised in the many articles in the media, including the Adirondack Almanack. I parked my car at the parking lot, skirted the stop sign, and walked about a half-mile toward the ponds. Looking at the trail register I saw the names of two friends who had been to the ponds recently, and decided to email them, asking how they experienced the 2.5-mile carry on the road and the ponds.

Marcy Neville wrote: “I biked with a friend on a beautiful Sunday and had lunch at the former lodge. It was spectacular, quiet and peaceful. If you could drive to the Flow or to the ponds I think there would need to be some serious patrolling & management to keep this place from being overused. Access would need to be limited. Distance seems to be the most efficient way.”

Marcy made a good point about the need for management of the lands and waters, adding, “I would support better access to Boreas if DEC had the staff to educate people and patrol it.”

boreas pondsJohn Davis wrote: “In contrast to some of my friends, I do favor closing the roads in the Boreas Ponds tract, and I don’t mind having to walk a few miles to get to the ponds. Already, in my few short visits to Boreas, I have seen loons, herons, Wood Ducks, kingfishers, many Moose tracks, a Fisher, and four River Otters!  I think these creatures will appreciate us keeping Boreas Ponds quiet and peaceful.”

I was on my way to a retreat the day I took this detour up the Gulf Brook Road toward the ponds. Twelve us from around the country spent the weekend at the Masten House on Henderson Lake including visitors from Philadelphia, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and New York City. My love for the Adirondacks was confirmed as the visitors marveled at the lush vegetation, the autumn colors, and the rain. Yes, the rain. A man from Santa Fe stood outside reveling in the rain washing over his face, feeling starved for such an experience in the dry desert back home.

The weekend retreat was a Philosopher’s Camp sponsored by the SUNY College of Environmental Forestry’s Newcomb Campus. Saturday’s seminar centered on the ancient Indian epic the Bhagavad Gita. I was intrigued to know that Henry David Thoreau was drawn to the central teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, believing that the discipline of living in nature was a path toward self-knowledge and spiritual realization. He spent over two years in a cabin near Walden Pond, later inspiring the book Walden, or Life in the Woods, based on transcendentalist philosophy.

The quiet waters of the Adirondacks serve as my Walden Pond. I’ve been attracted for years to the part of the Adirondacks near Newcomb, south of the High Peaks and west of the Northway. The serene lakes and ponds offer spectacular views of the mountains – specifically Henderson Lake and the Essex Chain Lakes – and more recently the Boreas Ponds. The private Elk Lake, just east of the Boreas Ponds, is also a jewel, available to those staying at the Elk Lake Lodge.

The Saturday afternoon at the retreat some of us went for a paddle on Henderson Lake. Local guide David Olbert had wheeled canoes for our use the quarter mile on an old logging road to the put-in.

Being glad to see him at the launch site, I asked, “Could you help us get into the Boreas Ponds sometime?” He eagerly responded that he had bought some bought some bike trailers, and planned to offer a service to take paddler’s canoes and kayaks into the ponds.

“But I don’t know if I can walk the five miles round trip,” I said.

“Oh, can you ride a bike? We have mountain bikes for rent.”

“That’s a possibility,” I replied, silently wishing that the road would be open closer to the ponds.

I’m supporting the proposals offered by Protect the Adirondacks (I’m on the Board) and The Nature Conservancy. Both organizations recommend that people be allowed to drive up the road for 5.7 miles to an impoundment of the Boreas River, called the LaBier Flow. Boats could then be paddled up the Flow to the Boreas Ponds (if there was enough water), or portage on the road for a mile. The roads past LaBier Flow would be closed to motor vehicles.

As previous owners and stewards of the lands over the last decade, Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, wrote to Governor Andrew Cuomo, “Boreas Ponds offers to the world compelling wilderness values… We urge the state to preserve the opportunity for a true wilderness experience without diminishing it with motorized access of any kind to the Boreas Ponds. Our classification recommendation achieves this in a way that would ensure that visitors have a genuine wilderness experience without making it such a difficult place to reach that only a small number of people can experience it.”

While I respect those who are calling for reclamation and protection of the Boreas Pond Tract by closing the Gulf Brook Road at Blue Ridge Road, I feel that the level of difficulty of a seven mile walk to access the ponds places an undue burden on the majority of residents and visitors. Confronting the one-mile portage will be enough of a challenge. The grandeur of these wilderness waters is a gift that needs to be shared.

Editor’s Note: The first public hearings to provide the public an opportunity to express their opinions on how the  Boreas Ponds Tract is managed will be held at 7 pm, Wednesday, November 9, at the Adirondack Park Agency in Ray Brook. You can read more about the various proposals for the Boreas Ponds here.

Photos: Stop Sign on Gulf Brook Road, courtesy Lorraine Duvall, and Boreas Ponds on the 1970 report cover for the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondack Park. 

Related Stories

Award winning author Lorraine Duvall's newest book contains stories about where she has lived in the Adirondacks for the last 24 years, titled "Where The Styles Brook Waters Flow: The Place I Call Home." She writes of her paddling adventures in the book "In Praise of Quiet Waters: Finding Solitude and Adventure in the Wild Adirondacks." Some experiences from her memoir, "And I Know Too Much to Pretend," led her to research a woman's commune north of Warrensburg, resulting in the 2019 book, "Finding A Woman's Place: The story of a 1970s feminist collective in the Adirondacks." Duvall lives in Keene and is on the board of Protect the Adirondacks.

66 Responses

  1. Todd Eastman says:

    How will the ponds be to paddle as the dams fall apart over time?

    Marcy’s point about the DEC’s capacity to patrol this area is an important consideration.

  2. I vote with Lorraine’s for access to the Flow.

  3. Taras says:

    “places an undue burden”

    Unburden yourself by using a canoe cart … like these spry silver-haired women did:

  4. Norman howard says:


    Well said and I totally agree.

    Norm Howard

  5. Craig says:

    According to several accounts, the distance from the current DEC parking lot and the Boreas ponds dam is 3.6 miles, not 2.5. It would be about 2.5 miles to LaBier Flow. I reviewed the trail register recently and there doesn’t seem to be any problem with people accessing the ponds, in fact, on one weekday, 21 groups of people walked in (perhaps 45 people in total). On a weekday.

    If the APA goes with a 1 mile limit, there will be people hauling in coolers of beer and big parties on the shore. 1 mile will be a disaster for the ponds.

    Plus, during the winter, the road will be open for snowmobiling, making those who prefer quiet and solitude without any way to reach the ponds. You can bet there will be snowmobiles going right up to the shore, even if it is prohibited.

    Close the road and make the ponds a destination, not a parking lot.

  6. scottvanlaer says:

    I guess if reasonable access is in the best interest of the public is “unreasonable” access in the best interest of the unit? My point is that buzzwords get thrown around on all sides to make a point. In the past “access” became code for motor vehicle use. The new term being employed here is “reasonable access.” That is code for motor vehicle use up to and nearly where I want to be. I don’t think allowing a six mile road through wilderness is reasonable access.

  7. Bruce says:

    Direct quote from Article 19, SLMP.

    A wilderness area, in contrast with
    those areas where man and his own works
    dominate the landscape, is an area where
    the earth and its community of life are
    untrammeled by man
    –where man himself
    is a visitor who does not remain. A
    wilderness area is further defined to mean
    an area of state land or water having a
    primeval character, without significant
    improvement or permanent human
    habitation, which is protected and
    managed so as to preserve, enhance and
    restore, where necessary, its natural
    conditions, and which (1) generally
    appears to have been affected primarily
    by the forces of nature, with the imprint
    of man’s work substantially unnoticeable;”

    A careful reading indicates that a Wilderness area has not been trammeled by man, and man’s work is substantially unnoticeable. It does not say that ending man’s work is the primary criteria for designating Wilderness, but that the area has no substantial sign of man at the time the wilderness is created.

    Signs of recent logging and heavy-duty logging roads do not meet the “untrammeled”, or “pristine” criteria.

    Based on the above SLMP criteria, it would make sense to consider the relatively untrammeled and pristine portion as Wilderness, and the remainder as Wild Forest.

    • scottvanlaer says:

      A careful reading finds the word “restore” in the definition. Once cars stop driving on it we will call it a trail and not a road.

      • Bruce says:


        Are you saying the term “restore” means any old piece of state land can be classified Wilderness, on the idea that if left alone it will eventually recover, which it will if given enough time? I believe the term restore was meant to work hand in hand with the earlier part of the definition, and not used as an individual reason for a Wilderness classification.

        • Boreas says:


          When the NYS land classification system came about, there were technically no real areas of land that were true wilderness. But the state’s “Wilderness” classification afforded certain areas maximum protection to allow them at least the chance to “recover” to true wilderness. I believe that still should be the main ideal behind the classification – to allow maximum protection to encourage wilderness recovery as much as possible. It can be argued there currently is no true wilderness in the East, but we can at least give certain areas in NYS maximum protection under a Wilderness classification.

        • scottvanlaer says:

          No. I am saying when land is up for classification the definition allows for consideration of the restorative nature of the land. We are making a decision that is generally forever. Should the presence of the road prohibit that option when this “imprint of man’, if simply abandoned, would disappear in a very short amount of time? No! The definition included this language precisely for that reason. The High Peaks Wilderness as it exists today included a couple hundred miles of roads similar to what we see at Boreas. Much of the forest was clear cut at the time of entry into the Forest Preserve. It has restored to Wilderness and we should be very proud of that fact. The Boreas tract in comparison to other parcels of the HPWA at time of acquisition is likely more pristine than any other tract.

    • Chuck Parker says:

      A careful (balanced) presentation of the reading would have included the definition of Wild Forest. which immediately followed the definition of Wilderness

      WILD FOREST Definition (excerpt): A wild forest area is an area where the resources permit a somewhat higher degree of human use than in wilderness…. an essentially wild character. Under basic guidelines it mentions 1. The primary wild forest management guideline will be to protect the natural wild forest setting and to provide those types of outdoor recreation that will afford public enjoyment without impairing the wild forest atmosphere.

      Infrastructure Boreas: The quality / infrastructure of the Boreas lands has the positive influences of nature as well as man. Now all concerned with the classification of these land consider these land to be “gems“ of the forest preserve. Now man’s influence on these lands go back over a hundred years. What we have today is some remarkable property greatly and positively influence by the practice of man’s sound management practices.

      What struck me about Duvall’s article was the use of “I” over the use of we. As in, how can we the people value, appreciate, enjoy, and visit and protect the Boreas Ponds Tract ( with a Wild Forest Classification).

      • Boreas says:


        I read the piece as a personal opinion, not as journalism. Lorraine contrasted her point of view with friends of hers who had differing opinions. During the hearing process, all opinions should be considered – not just the four APA options. For instance, one option of WF classification that hasn’t been brought up much is the use of interval openings of the road. Since DEC could still control motorized access by opening and closing gates, it would be possible to keep the gate where it is now, but open it to LaBier flow for one month in each season. Then, after 5-10 years, damage vs. recovery vs. usage could be evaluated and the issue could be revisited.

        • drdirt says:

          Thank You Boreas,
          This should be the Standard in regulating access to ALL Forest Preserve land. We are very surprised that ‘alternating gate access’ isn’t a number one option in evaluating public impact on these pristine areas.
          Your very rational opinions are much appreciated always!

          • Boreas says:


            Thanks. Seems like a logical approach to me, but I’m not in a position to make policy….

  8. Susan K Gaffney says:

    Well-written, Lorraine.

    A comment about postings in general, on this site and others: I appreciate it very much when the poster writes under her or his own name. To me, it means that they are willing to stand by their remarks, and also that they are less inclined to make intemperate comments.

  9. Lily says:

    A well written article. Thank you, Lorraine. However, while I, too, have physical limitations that will likely prevent me from walking in and out 5 or 10 miles, this isn’t about me and my ability to access the Boreas Ponds. I also cannot climb to the top of Mt. Marcy, but I am not calling for a road or tram to get me there. The sensitivity of the resource and the potential impacts of public access and use are what need to drive the classification and management of this tract. Let’s be clear – people destroy the naturall environment in many ways. You may not. I may not, but collectively we all contribute – our footsteps, our campsites, transporting invasive species, dribbling gasoline and oil from our vehicles, etc.,etc. Let’s keep the Boreas Ponds as remote as possible for it’s long term health. I urge NYS to terminate public motor vehicle access at least a couple of miles from the ponds and make this tract Wilderness.

  10. Tom Thacher says:

    I leave this comment acknowledging that I have not read extensively on this controversy nor have I personally hiked/canoed the area. I wonder if a positive solution could come from the State awarding a bid to a private entrepreneur to provide motorized access in a controlled manner, and all others would make the hike. A limited outfitter service could provide employment. Give access for those with ADA accessibility issues. The contract would be re-bid on a set schedule so that the outfitter would have to maintain a good reputation as to supporting DEC/APA regs and desired goals. The outfitter would also be an additional permanent set of eyes reporting to the DEC any actions damaging to the wilderness area. I am very open to hearing why this abstract idea does not hold water in the reality of the situation. Thanks, Tom Thacher

  11. Alan Vieters says:

    Don’t understand how the leader of a green group is more concerned about motor vehicle access than the environment. Why are you part of a green group?

  12. Craig says:

    It would make sense to start with some kind of goals here. For example, do we want to have as many people as possible visiting the ponds? Or do we want limit the number of people there? If we want to limit, what would be the maximum number of people visiting there on a peak weekend?

    With those kinds of numbers as a start, you can build a policy around them.

    • Boreas says:


      Good point. As in the HPW, thousands of people would probably like to visit, but want to be the only person there when they arrive. Many want a wilderness type of experience, but want to drive to it. Unrealistic expectations.

      I think ultimately the answer is not to cater to people, but rather give the area a century to begin to recover from logging before even considering vehicular access into the heart of the parcel. There are hundreds of water bodies in the state currently accessible by car. But not a lot of remote wilderness.

      • Paul says:

        Lots of people being there does not seem to deter hundreds of thousands of people from the HPW each year. So I don’t think that most people care that much that they are not alone when they get there. From my experience in the HPW (at least the eastern side) is that is kind of like you are all there as members of the same “club”. Not that you are very much alone. Cause you’re not.

    • Paul says:

      What I think the goal here should be (to be fair to the towns that approved the sale with some expectation of an economic boost) to have more people using the area each year than were using it when it was in private hands. Then it attracted hundreds of club members and their guests. A flat 6 mile hike or “carry” in is not quite as “bad” as the hike into the HPW from the western approach. That area has way way way fewer users than the easier eastern HPW approach. I think with a 6 mile approach (and no real peaks to climb when you get there) you will probably see very little use. Just what some groups want and the towns probably don’t.

      • scottvanlaer says:

        You are not considering the business opportunities that could be developed along the private land on Blue Ridge road. Those opportunities will be severely diminished if the road is open to motor vehicle traffic.

        • Paul says:

          Scott, can you explain a bit more what you mean? Thanks.

          • scottvanlaer says:

            The Adirondack Park model, as opposed to federal lands and National Parks is that the communities are interspersed within the park, that the bulk of amenities and facilities are the result of market demand and provide business opportunities from the state land use, recreation and general tourism. Local businesses mean local private employment, less government employment. For this to happen the access point needs to be close to town or private land. The best example of course is ADK Loj. The access point is shared with the services. If the access point is entirely surrounded by state land this process is stifled, If close to a town with these amenities most will go there and utilize them. Think Garden and Keene Valley. The worst possible scenario is what I call interior trailheads. Like Seward on Coreys rd or Essex Chain. There is zero opportunity for business to take advantage of the use. The farther from the town the more likely people are to keep driving on their way home. These trailheads also tend to have less use because for many users, the amenities and development at the trailhead is part of the experience. People can easily park at South Meadows rd and head in but they still go to the Loj. If the road is kept open to the Boreas or the flow, the town will see no economic benefit. If the trailhead was adjacent to or part of a facility with amenities a business opportunity exists.

            • Paul says:

              Thanks I get it.

              More users means that you are going to have more economic activity. The thinking here by some is that if the area is too difficult to access (with a 6 mile carry to the ponds for example) then fewer people will go there to use the resource. With fewer people in the area then you have less economic activity. For example in the past the folks with camps in there needed to do things like build them and renovate them and stock them. So they might go to the local hardware store to buy the stuff they need or gas up on the way out. They don’t need the store to be at the trail head. Keene Valley is down the road from the trail head so I don’t follow that example. A shop selling canoes if there are lots of interested paddlers with reasonable access to the ponds doesn’t have to be at the trail head (think Mountaineer). The Loj does make some sense but to shut the road and maybe cut the users way back just in hopes for something like that maybe isn’t a great idea.

              • scottvanlaer says:

                Speaking strictly from a recreational demand stand point, I understand how these 2 points I am espousing seem counterintuitive. One, lets open it up to all recreation types that will bring the most people. While providing multiple recreational opportunities on larger parcels is a good idea the fact remains that there does often have to be segregation. They are not all compatible and if overly commingled will only drive each other out. This author seems to believe that the primary recreational draw to the Boreas tract is paddling. Again speaking strictly on recreational draw, I could not disagree more. Please understand this doesn’t mean I am against someone putting a boat on the ponds. What I am saying is this is not the paln that will bring the most users. This is not the Bog River. It has a very limited user/hour for paddling. The type of management strategy Ms. Duvall is suggesting will create something like the Essex Chain, which actually offers better paddling opportunities. This plan will have around 1,500 people a year visiting the primary draw. If you go with alt 1, a road all the way to the ponds it will be a unit more like Moose Pond (St. Armand) and will have slightly more users maybe 2,000. My second seemingly counter intuitivepoint, having motor vehicle access farther away can increase use. Why? It’s about the recreational demand. When that is wilderness hiking-camping that is indeed the case. The main draw is still the ponds. I believe it would be a major backpacking destination the same way Lake Colden is. It connects well to all the other areas of the High Peaks were this existing recreational demand already exists. This type of use with a distant trailhead would have use around 10,000. This is my opinion based on over 2 decades as a Forest Ranger working in multiple UMP’s, access points and interacting with every user group imaginable. That analysis is only based on recreational demand and ignores all other considerations.

                • Jim S. says:

                  I agree 100%. As an avid hiker and backpacker if the road is open to LaBier Flow or all the way to the ponds I will not go there more than once. If the road is closed i would be much more likely to return often.

                • Paul says:

                  Moose Pond? less than 10 miles from the largest town in the park. Where they have a drive up launch and you can put in a motor boat? that isn’t what you would have here at all?

                  • scottvanlaer says:

                    Yes, I make that analogy with respect to Alternative 1, the ponds being wild forest. I do get your point about Moose Pond being closer to a more significant “local” population center so perhaps 2,000 users is overly optimistic, (although I don’t think significantly so) as a high percentage of those recreating there are local compared to other areas I work. In the Eastern High Peaks complex I am more likely to hear french spoken. Alternative 1 does appeal to a portion of the local population and clearly all of the local political leaders but the market for such a plan is more limited when you look beyond the towns. A large, (nationally so) wilderness appeals to a greater, larger and more distant demographic.

                    • Paul says:

                      There is no plan under Alternative 1 to open the ponds for motor boat use like on the pond you describe – is there?

                      My analogy is like this:

                      Opening the road to Labier Flow to me seems a bit like the Upper St. Regis lake end of the St. Regis chain of ponds.

                      Drive to the upper St. Regis landing cut across the lake to the Bog Pond carry – cross Bog, short carry into Bear.

                      Here the carry to get into Boreas ponds from the flow is even longer than what I describe to get into Bear.

                      I think this would be appealing to a pretty diverse paddling crowd.

                    • Boreas says:


                      It would be appealing – but not just to paddlers.

                    • scottvanlaer says:

                      Motorboats could be permitted under alternative 1. That would be the decision of the DEC as it is could be legal under a Wild Forest classification. The towns have expressly suggested electric motors. In any case, the presence of motorboats on Moose Pond had no factor in my anecdotal analysis.

                      I realize you will debate anyone who has a contradictory opinion and I very much enjoy the discussion. I am just offering my opinion based on my career experience. I believe I am in some position to offer an educated opinion.

                      As far as you comparison, yes it could be similar to that and you are really strengthening my point. Thank You! Bog Pond is another area the receives under 2,000 users a year. Paddling should not be the primary recreational draw for the Boreas if you are planning for recreational demand. That is the crux of my argument that your trying to obfuscate.

  13. Todd Eastman says:

    Compare the likely visits by those hiking to those who will paddle…

    … the squeaky paddle is making a lot of noise in the Wilderness…

  14. Marco says:

    Basically, the road needs to be closed. Marcy Neville “…Access would need to be limited. Distance seems to be the most efficient way.”
    Every other proposal will cost a lot more dollars than simply closing the road. A simple gate, registry box and roving patrol is the least expensive options, since they will be required for ANY access.

    I am an old man. A 12 mile hike seems like a daunting prospect, but in my 40’s I could easily do double that. A six or seven mile hike with my canoe is easily done…IFF, it means a quiet place to sleep at the end of the day. A quiet evening paddle and a chance to observe nature would top a rather strenuous hike for me. My thanks to the man (or woman) who invented the wheel. Next morning, a couple Tylenol or Alieve will let me start moving by 0900 or so, even though I got up at 0500. It takes a while to pack my gear, drink coffee and get up enough go power for the day. A morning paddle and a hike out would complete a pleasant weekend.

    Nope, I do not hike as fast, nor as far, as I used to. But, rather than have another wreak of a camping spot, I would favor simply closing the road. Let the forest recover from the lumbering (this will take about a hundred years or so.) And, let simple distance limit access to all but a dedicated few. Dedicated to what, you might ask? Why, simple peace and quiet. Quiet enough to hear the loons. And wonder why the Owls are calling at midnight.

    I am sure other retired folk are of a similar mind.

  15. Justin Farrell says:

    Keeping the gate where it currenty is makes the most sense, plain & simple.

  16. Jan Hansen says:

    I’m no spring chicken, neither is my husband. We wheeled an 80 pound canoe into the Boreas Ponds with camping equipment when Gulf Brook road was completely closed. I see no good reason for allowing easy access to this gem of a property. No it is not pristine, we found bottle caps on the ground by the dam and I found an old coke bottle in the woods. That does not mean that the property should be an easy day hike. It is a beautiful property that deserves gentle use.
    Motor vehicles allow heavy use, noise, careless people. This gem of an area needs to be protected from discarded Stewarts cups, tissues and all the other waste that uncaring people think it is okay to throw on the ground.
    If you cannot physically manage to visit the property be glad in the knowledge that it is there and is protected.

  17. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Over the last decade the “Stewards of the Land” aka hierarchy of the Nature Conservancy and privileged others were able to “Drive In” and enjoy the Boreas tract to their hearts content, yet……it still remains beautiful, attractive and a place to be visited. Now they advocate for sealing it off to entirely too many residents of this State.

    Access and more access is coming folks…………do try and get used to the concept of sharing, because the Adirondacks belong to all New Yorkers, not just a select few.

    1 to 1.50 miles is ample to allow most folks to visit the Flow and will still discourage partying, litter, etc. etc. The drama portrayed herein over the supposed destruction of any and all “wilderness” areas literally goes over the edge in some cases.

    Thank you

  18. common sense says:

    The “santanoni model” works for all. Access to Boreas Dam by horse and wagon fits easily within the wilderness classification and provides ALL “reasonable access” and puts money in local business coffers. This model works with all 4 APA proposals. Remember just because the existing Gulf Brook Trail may become wild forest doesn’t mean the DEC needs to open it to public motor vehicles. The road into Newcomb lake is 5 miles long and is all in the vanderwacker wild forest. It is closed to public motor vehicles. This is the way to go. …and yes there are horse and wagon business’ waiting to see this happen.

  19. Patrick Rochford says:

    Thank you for protecting the Adirondacks through your thoughts , words and deeds !!

  20. Alan Vieters says:

    Why did you push to have the lodge removed only to then advocate for a 6 mile road and parking lot that will have a greater negative impact than the lodge would have? I think when you are a leader of a green group they call that hypocrisy? Ever wonder why people who want motor vehicle use on state land throw that around? There you have it. If you were advocating this as part of a paddling club I would be fine with that. The fact that you do this by coopting an environmental group is disturbing.

  21. Justin Farrell says:

    Two questions for Lorraine, or for anyone from the ‘Protect the Adirondacks’ affiliation, and I respectfully request that you please be considerate by responding & not ignoring…

    1. Why should anyone support a proposal to create/build a new gate & parking area near LeBeir Flow where it currently doesn’t exist & would require more excavation, construction, & taxpayer dollars?

    2. What is wrong with the current gate & parking area located at about 3.2 miles?

    – Justin Farrell

    • Lorraine Duvall says:

      See articles on Protect’s website.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Thanks Lorraine,
        However I still don’t see anything that answers my second question, and I respectfully but strongly disagree with your organizations position to allow public motorized access to LeBeir Flow.

        • Paul says:

          If a person thinks that the road should go to the flow then the obvious answer to number two is that the current gate is about 3 miles too far from where they think the gate should be.

          • Justin Farrell says:

            It’s more like 2.5 miles to the Flow & 3.5 to the dam at Boreas Ponds, and the ironic thing is that the author made that trek, while carting her canoe not too long ago. It seems obvious that it wasn’t “too far” for her.

            • Boreas says:


              Don’t fret – some people just prefer their backcountry experiences easy and convenient. Protection? Well….

              • Paul says:

                Look at the St. Regis Canoe area. Reasonable access and relatively short carries and beautiful. Very well protected. This argument just doesn’t hold water.

                • Boreas says:

                  It was a statement, not an argument.

                  • Boreas says:


                    BP isn’t being promoted as a Canoe Area like St. Regis. The uses being touted here are sightseeing, horseback riding, biking, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, canoeing, hunting, fishing, etc. More uses = more users = more wear and tear.

              • Justin Farrell says:

                Not fretting, but I am genuinely curious if anyone from Protect was even aware of the existence of the second gate & its adjacent clearings before they even agreed on their group’s formal proposal to create/build a new parking area & gate at LeBier Flow?
                Same question went to Dave Gibson, but he never responded. Kudos to Lorraine for at least making the attempt.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      There ya go Justin. They aren’t ignoring you. They considerately responded with a meaningless link that fails to address anything you asked about.

      Keep asking. Don’t worry about sounding like a broken record. I think it’s quite telling that you repeatedly offer up what I think is a reasonable suggestion, and it keeps falling on deaf ears and/or is met with ridicule. It highlights how many people are in this with an all or nothing, my way or the highway stance and that true compromise seems to only be on your agenda and nobody else’s. Good on you. Be proud.

      Personally I’d like to see the first and original gate be the only gate and for it to always be locked to the public. No exceptions. That is my personal desire, but if the next best alternative was the one you have been trying to get people to listen to, I could live with that, and I’d be happy to support it as a viable plan. Keep fighting the good fight.

    • Alan Vieters says:

      Lobbying for their recreational interests under the banner of environmentalism. Dishonest or delusional, I don’t know. I do know it’s sad and pathetic.

  22. Charlie S says:

    Lorraine says: “I’m supporting the proposals offered by Protect the Adirondacks (I’m on the Board) and The Nature Conservancy. Both organizations recommend that people be allowed to drive up the road for 5.7 miles to an impoundment of the Boreas River, called the LaBier Flow.”

    Thus only a one-mile walk to the ponds. This is the “wrong” move and if it is allowed then the ponds and that area will pay the price due to the short-sightedness of those who supported this proposal.

    Lorraine also says: ” While I respect those who are calling for reclamation and protection of the Boreas Pond Tract by closing the Gulf Brook Road at Blue Ridge Road, I feel that the level of difficulty of a seven mile walk to access the ponds places an undue burden on the majority of residents and visitors. Confronting the one-mile portage will be enough of a challenge. The grandeur of these wilderness waters is a gift that needs to be shared.”

    A one-mile portage a challenge? Maybe if you didn’t have a canoe to tote along it wouldn’t be much of a challenge Lorraine. I was at Boreas Ponds a few months ago. A retired couple wheeled their kayaks in the three miles (or more) and they said it was cake getting back there. Had you tried wheels for your canoe maybe you’d have less of an inclination to turn this area into Grand Central Station. The grandeur of those wilderness waters is a gift that needs to be preserved!

    • Bruce says:

      Charlie S,

      Due to the fact that Blue Ridge Rd. has virtually nothing along it for miles (unlike Adirondack Loj access, parking, and Loj facilities), I don’t see Boreas Ponds as a “Grand Central Station”. As was proven this past summer in the high peaks, several mile hikes don’t stop crowds of people from having “keggers” at the destination. A canoe on a cart makes a very good truck to haul coolers and gear in with.

      Some years ago, a friend and I “hiked” a several mile trail into Minnesota’s Boundary Waters with two canoes and most of our gear stacked in a single canoe on a cart. Mine was a normal sized 16 footer and his was a light 12′ solo canoe. When we hit the water, we paddled my canoe and towed his solo with some gear in it several miles to the campsite.

  23. Charlie S says:

    “I vote with Lorraine’s for access to the Flow…..”

    ….because I lack adventure my body is soft and easy street is the street most traveled and that is the way I choose to go.

  24. Charlie S says:

    Craig says: “If the APA goes with a 1 mile limit, there will be people hauling in coolers of beer and big parties on the shore. 1 mile will be a disaster for the ponds.”

    If the APA goes with this Craig you have to wonder ‘Who are they working for?’

  25. Todd Eastman says:

    Remoteness is is a positive attribute to most outdoor folks…

    … want easy access for boats drive to the dozens of spots throughout the Park that meet that need.

  26. Peter Bauer says:

    Dear All,

    Thank you for the many comments. I saw Lorraine at the APA hearing last night and she informed me about comments directed towards Protect the Adirondacks in her article. For all those who want clarification on the Protect the Adirondacks’ position here goes. (I apologize for not checking the comments on this article earlier, but frankly I took some personal time off to do campaign work these last few days, which I hope folks can understand.)

    As to why we selected the Gulf Brook Road as the boundary we did so because it: 1) Protected the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness, with at least a 1-mile buffer to the south, which would provide a Lake Lila-type of public access; 2) Created the opportunity by classifying everything north of the road, along with the Casey Brook Tract, to create a combined Dix Mountain-High Peaks Wilderness area that would be over 275,000 acres; 3) Other areas are being pushed for Wilderness in this APA hearing beyond Boreas Ponds, such as the two MacIntyre Tracts and we know that the Cuomo Administration and his DEC, which ultimately callsl the shots, have a limited appetite for Wilderness; 4) We’re also pushing for a new West Stony Creek Wilderness area in the southern Adirondacks; 5) It was a pragmatic choice done in recognition of the direct access the local governments enjoy with the Governor’s office and the fact that the Cuomo Administration has committed to building a Newcomb-North Hudson snowmobile trail. Given that the Cuomo Administration is adamant that they are building this trail, I think advocates need to deal with the reality. The Total Wilderness advocates don’t deal with an east-west snowmobile trail from Newcomb-North Hudson going somewhere north or south of the Blue Ridge Highway through these lands. As we see it there are four choices: a) you can ignore the reality of the trail; b) you can route it to the north of the highway, which means crossing the Boreas River somewhere, crossing through vast wetlands, and building a trail through a trailless part of the Forest Preserve; c) you can route it to the south of the Blue Ridge Highway which means putting it through part of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness; d) route it largely using the Gulf Brook Road. 6) PROTECT is in court battling over the fundamental meaning of Article 14, Section 1, the forever wild provision. We believe that 9-12 foot wide class II snowmobile trails that cut down 1000 trees per mile and require extensive grading with heavy equipment (go hike the new trail to Harris Lake, the Seventh Lake Mountain Trail in the Moose River Plains, or the new trail in Minerva to see for yourself) violate forever wild. Unfortunately, the only way to route an east-west trail through this part of North Hudson that minimizes negative impacts on the Forest Preserve is use of the Gulf Brook Road. 7) In this classification hearing among the major lands up for classification we’re advocating for over 80% Wilderness for the Forest Preserve lands in question (Boreas, MacIntyre East/West, West Stony Creek, Casey Brook, other smaller tracts). This is a pragmatic decision that recognizes the political realities/severe limitations of the Cuomo Administration that is calling the shots and has already cut bad deals; 8) Use of the Gulf Brook Road is a clean boundary point that would create a large tract of Wilderness bordered by a large tract of Wild Forest. This would be a clean line and not require Wild Forest corridors or spot zoning or changes to the State Land Master Plan, which was the case with the failed hodge-podge classification of the Essex Chain Lakes area.

    Also, yes, PROTECT is aware of the 2nd gate on the Gulf Brook Road. We are not opposed to ending the road there. Nor are we opposed to making everything Wilderness from the Blue Ridge Highway north. We are, however, opposed to the “Wild Forest Corridors” and “spot zoning” that are used in Options 3 and 4.

    Also, please note that politics is always part of Forest Preserve classifications. Always. There are gives and takes. In the late 1990s I pushed the Pataki Administration to combine classification hearings for the Watson’s East Triangle (45,000 acres that by 1998 had been pending classification for more than 15 years) with classification of Little Tupper Lake, reclassification of Lake Lila, and expansion of the Pepperbox and Five Ponds Wilderness areas. It was clear that players close to the Pataki Administration were pushing for Wild Forest everywhere, but this split (which actually saw a lot more Wilderness created) was a way to get the William C. Whitney Wilderness Area, Lake Lila made to Wilderness, and the Five Ponds Wilderness expanded. Similar gambits were used to win the Round Lake Wilderness Area and later to create the Madawaska Primitive Area and Raquette Boreal Primitive Area, anchors for future Wilderness areas.

    Everyone should advocate for the position they believe in, whether it is the perfect option or simply the good option.

    Protect the Adirondacks surveyed the political state of affairs at the APA, DEC, and Cuomo Administration, which are quite dismal, and we’re attempting to salvage a classification package that protects the natural resources of the Forest Preserve areas in question and minimizes long-term damage. We do not think a Newcomb-Minerva snowmobile trail will be successful and it will pain us to see a new trail cut that takes down 1000 trees a mile over 7-10 miles. The snowfall in that area is 1/3 that of Old Forge and public interest is not high. The same holds true for the Newcomb-Minerva snowmobile trail, which is a genuine trail to nowhere since private landowners have not consented to allow the state to connect the trail from the Forest Preserve to Sportys Bar at the Minerva end, yet the state spending millions to build this trail, money that would be better off being used in the High Peaks.

    That PROTECT has chosen not to advocate for the total Wilderness option, as our primary choice, clearly disappoints some, but it was done after consideration of the data and determining what was best to protect for the Forest Preserve on the lands in question in this hearing and to minimize damage, which the Cuomo Administration is actively inflicting on the Forest Preserve in other areas. We are working for Wilderness at Boreas Ponds, on the MacIntyre tracts, and with the West Stony Creek Wilderness Area. We’re also in court defending forever wild, which is a massive undertaking. We believe our position in this classification hearing advances protections for the Forest Preserve.

    Thank you.

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