Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ethan Winter: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the classification of the Boreas Tract. I’m writing to urge the APA to reject the classification alternatives it has proposed in lieu of a designation for the Boreas Tract that ensures uncompromised Wilderness and a buffer of at least one mile for the Boreas Ponds.

I attended the Schroon Lake hearing in November and appreciated the polite and eloquent positions of various stakeholders expressed there. Many comments, both for and against specific alternatives, reflected the complexity of managing wilderness areas in a way that protects fragile natural characteristics while accommodating appropriate recreational uses and benefitting local communities.

As a former guide in the Greater Yellowstone region, I appreciate how well managed wilderness areas, served by local gateway communities, can be engines for jobs and business development. As New York Program Manager for the Land Trust Alliance the past 12 years, I understand the value of careful conservation planning and the importance of building constituencies for effective, long term stewardship of conservation lands. As an Adirondack Council board member, I honor a history of leadership and vision from leaders who advocated and worked so hard for the wilderness we all enjoy today. Finally, as owner of a second home and popular vacation rental property adjacent to the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, I am deeply invested in the future of the Adirondacks and understand how the North Country’s rural economy depends on it.

The 20,758-acre Boreas Tract represents an exceptionally rare opportunity to protect and restore a crown jewel of American wilderness. The Adirondack Park Agency has a responsibility to recognize what is a once in a lifetime opportunity to afford this special place the strongest possible wilderness protection for future generations. Taking steps to ensure rigorous wilderness protection will be a tremendous legacy for Governor Cuomo, as well as a demonstration of New York’s highest ideals.

Importantly, this classification can serve as a national model for forward-thinking conservation at a time when wildlife habitat, fragile water resources and wilderness lands the world over are being severely degraded.

One of the main arguments against designating most of the Boreas Tract as Wilderness, heard at the Schroon Lake hearing and elsewhere, is that it already contains an extensive gravel road network. The argument goes that the roads have irreparably altered the area, and because these areas can withstand a great amount of use, they should continue to be subjected to a great amount of use. However, anyone familiar with Adirondack history knows that logging roads are no obstacle to subsequent Wilderness designations. Indeed, old roads are quickly reclaimed by nature if given the chance. The State Land Master Plan takes into account the ability of nature to restore itself, defining Wilderness as an area “which is protected and managed so as to preserve, enhance and restore, where necessary, its natural conditions…”

To be sure, not every property acquired by the state can be restored to wilderness or deserves as robust wilderness designation. The Boreas Tract is one of a kind, and it stands apart from Essex Chain and many other recent acquisitions. To reap the full economic dividends from outdoor-based tourism, Boreas needs to provide a truly memorable wilderness experience. A useful analogue is the Laurence Rockefeller Preserve addition to Grand Teton National Park. In that instance, the National Park Service established a well-appointed, destination-style public parking area with an ADA-accessible trailhead one mile away from Phelps Lake, which, like Boreas, is a spectacular wilderness destination.

In 1932, native son of the Adirondacks Bob Marshall wrote an essay, “The Perilous Plight of the Adirondack Wilderness”. It would be a harbinger of current debates regarding the Boreas classification. “There is only a small fraction of the Adirondacks which remains unaltered by the activities of man,” Marshall observed. “The undeveloped state lands [like Boreas Tract] are not vital for any type of outdoor recreation except the enjoyment of the primeval and of the wilderness…[this] cannot be experienced in any other part of the entire state.”

In closing, let’s heed Bob Marshall’s earlier wisdom. In recognition of its unique location, unmatched potential for wilderness restoration, and globally significant conservation values, I hope the APA and DEC will be as forward thinking as possible. The best choice for the Park is a designation for the Boreas Tract that ensures a truly uncompromised Wilderness experience.

Looking beyond classification, a critical investment that the state should make is to attract and support small business development in the zone between Frontier Town and Newcomb. This area, regardless of the ultimate Boreas classification, is desperate for investment in local businesses that support hospitality, outdoor recreation (retail, guiding services, gear rental), eateries, and other amenities.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on the classification of the Boreas Ponds tract. This acquisition is a nationally significant landmark in wilderness conservation that all New Yorkers can be proud of.

The above commentary was submitted to the Adirondack Park Agency, which will soon be deciding how to classify Boreas Ponds and a number of other recently acquired state lands.

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Ethan Winter is New York program manager for the Land Trust Alliance and a member of the Adirondack Council's board of directors.

82 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    Ethan says: ” The best choice for the Park is a designation for the Boreas Tract that ensures a truly uncompromised Wilderness experience.”

    “afford this special place the strongest possible wilderness protection for future generations.”

    >> Here Here! This is forward thinking Ethan but you throw me when you start off with: “a designation for the Boreas Tract that ensures uncompromised Wilderness and a buffer of at least one mile for the Boreas Ponds.”
    As I keep emphasizing “A mile is too darn close!”

    You also say, “let’s heed Bob Marshall’s earlier wisdom.”

    Let’s! In ‘A Wilderness Original The Life Of Bob Marshall’ Marshall said, “Primitive America is vanishing with appalling rapidity. The danger to primitive outdoor conditions has never been so great as at the present moment. (That applies now more than it did in 1935 when Bob said this.)
    He goes on and on with his great wisdom in this book he says, “We are making a great mistake in this generation. We are just repeating the same mistake in a different form that our forefathers have made. Instead of keeping areas… which will add to the wealth, health, comfort and well-being of the people, if we see anything that looks attractive we want to open up speedways through it so the people can enjoy the scenery at 60 miles an hour. You want a road and naturally you use the most plausible and persuasive arguments you can bring to bear.”

    Bob Marshall also said, and this applies more today than it did in the 1930’s, “Most Americans preferred (prefer) “mechanically disturbed” nature.”

  2. Tyler Socash says:

    I’m still not sure if Bob Marshall, founder of the Wilderness Society, would appreciate the adulterated approach to wilderness that is proposed by the author. If you’re going to fight for a marginalized wilderness for an area that possesses innate wilderness characteristics like 5 Value-1 Wetlands, ubiquitous steep slopes around the tract, elevations above 2,500ft., and unparalleled remoteness with Boreas Ponds being 6.7 miles away from a public road, you should quote someone else. Economic developments should be focused in the towns, not ~10 miles away from town centers. Boreas Ponds deserves to be the full wilderness that it is capable of being – if we let it.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      I never met Bob Marshall–obviously–but this was the guy who had nightmares about the truck trails to the Cold River. I think it’s therefore safe to assume he’d be turning sick over the people at BeWildNY who are using his name and reputation to propose retaining a motor vehicle road into one of his favorite stomping grounds, the High Peaks.

      • scottvanlaer says:

        I agree. The BeWildNY coalition has not advocated for Wilderness. They have advocated for convenient paddler access.

  3. Treeman says:

    Roads are infrastructure for access, included in the purchase price. People from other places should give more consideration to the local population. TNC made recommendations.

  4. Justin Farrell says:

    It’s a shame the latter 2016 interim general public access plan isn’t really being viewed or publicly presented as an acceptable compromise between the extremes. As someone who has been in favor of a stronger Wilderness alternative, I fear an inadequate “compromise” is going to end up being only a mile away at LeBier Flow, instead of at the current spot located about halfway along Gulf Brook Road, which has already been enlarged & prepared for large amounts of users visiting the area.

  5. Todd Eastman says:

    The inability of the neighboring tomes to be able to effectively market themselves for decades is not something that should interfere with the strongest classification of the Boreas Ponds a a Wilderness Area under NYS law.

    Nothing other than ignorance and a deep lack of imagination has kept these towns from developing thriving economies!

    • lauren pereau says:

      Open or closed? Which do you prefer?

    • Ruth Olbert says:

      And Todd where do you live and why?

    • Matt Sisti says:


      An extremely well written article. You raise a number of very good points and although our positions on the classification issue may differ I tip my hat to you on a really well prepared set of arguments.

      I wish I could make a similar comment regarding this post by Todd Eastman. It appears Newcomb hasn’t cornered the market on ignorance. Todd, do all of us a big favor in unimaginative and ignorant Newcomb. Feel free to stay out!

  6. lauren pereau says:

    We could build a wall around the Adirondacks, much better than on the Rio Grande!

  7. Bruce says:

    I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here.

    If Boreas Ponds is such a jewel to be preserved for “future generations”, then it should be closed to all public use. We want our wilderness, that seems clear. It also seems clear we are willing to accept some damage (trails, bridges, boardwalks or lean-tos) as opposed to no damage. The only way pristine places stay truly pristine is by keeping humans out. The recent article about long-term damage caused by any permanent human intrusion points this out.

    Somehow, I can’t see a place with a 50-odd mile, well constructed road network within it as a pristine jewel.

    • Boreas says:


      That would certainly offer maximum protection that many people would be happy with, but the only way to do that currently is to keep it out of state/federal hands and post it, as most private landowners do. But if it can’t be drilled, mined, logged to make the investment profitable, landowners usually aren’t going to pay taxes on land just for the good of nature. But one can only hope…

      Roads and logging damage are no match for mother nature. Entire cities in Mexico and points south have been swallowed by forest. All it takes is time. Even Pripyat, the site of the Chernoble disaster, is being reclaimed by nature. The more damage, the more time it needs. But Nature never takes a day off. Humans seem to be the only organism that stands in its way.

      • Paul says:

        Many people put their land under a conservation easements.

        One great example is Brandon Park that a Chinese business man just bought last year for something like 25 million.

        You have Bay Pond (Rockefeller). You have Elk Lake right in this neighborhood.

        This land would be far better protected in private hands under a conservation easement. Protection isn’t really the issue here people are interested in their particular type of recreational use.

        • Boreas says:

          At one time I believe the Rockefellers or someone owned Ampersand Pond near Corey’s as well. Perhaps they still do. I like conservation easements as long as they are reasonably protective.

          • Paul says:

            Yes, Avery Rockefeller bought Ampersand pond from a timber company that owned it and several of the high peaks. It was originally bought by the guys who had the famous “philosophers camp” on Folensby pond. There is another place (Folensby) where there will be another Wild Forest Wilderness debate if the TNC sells it to NYS like they are planning. It is one that I think should remain under TNC ownership and not be open for public use. It is well protected under a conservation easement now and is very carefully logged as it has been for many years. If it is bought by the state it should be classified as Wilderness. But that will create a problem for the 90 mile canoe classic since that stretch of the Raquette would not be able to be used for an organized sporting event. That is prohibited on Wilderness land.

  8. Pete Klein says:

    Every damn thing in the Adirondacks is called a crown jewel that must be protected.

  9. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Pete Klein’s on the money in my book and these classification battles never be any different nor will the “Wilderness Only” crowd ever be satisfied with a compromise classification on any parcel. Alternative #! is something for everyone and providing more New Yorkers reasonable/unfettered access to sections of this acquisition is a far better legacy for Governor Cuomo to leave residents of this State.

    Certainly far better than locking it up for a limited, physically fit/able bodied segment of our society! Snowmobilers, Mountain Bikers, Hunters, Anglers and many others should provide a far greater economic boost to this Region than a few hikers and others relying solely upon their feet to gain access.

    The ADK Towns affected by this classification need every consideration translated into “Tourism $Dollars$”.

    Alternative #1 does exactly that and still offers a “Wilderness” classification to thousands of acres.

    Thank you

    • Boreas says:

      If I remember correctly, even Alt. 1 still gives DEC the option to restrict motor vehicle access. Mountain bikers, hunters, and anglers can still share the parcel with hikers and skiers with no motorized access under Alt. 1., I believe. Even with no motorized access they aren’t being locked out as they were under private ownership.

      • Paul says:

        So it sounds like there is some consensus here that Alt 1 is the way to go.

        I think I prefer alternative 2. There is no reason that the land around the ponds need to be designated as Wild forest.

        A put in at the flow will have the ponds almost as far as this writer wants them from the road. Everybody gets almost what they want.

        • Boreas says:


          Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t like any of the 4 proposals. My point was that I believe classifying the access and Ponds as WF does not guarantee motor vehicle access to LaBier Flow. The way I read them, the DEC holds the final say and that they can restrict access as they see fit. But in all likelihood, there will be few restrictions with any of the plans. That seems to be the preordained plan for the parcel before all this “public comment” stuff muddied the waters.

          • Paul says:

            Boreas, that comment about consensus on Alt 1 was a joke!

            You can’t say that a Wild Forest designation carries “few restrictions”. It carries many restrictions – It just doesn’t carry all the restrictions that you would like to see.

  10. kathy says:

    I’m still a bit confused on the alternatives. Do any of them permit overnite use? Or will it be strictly a day use area only no matter what the cut off for access?

    • Paul says:

      All of them permit overnight use.

      • kathy says:

        I would think that alone would impact the area more than access. If there was no camping permitted then the surrounding towns would benefit to host and feed day visitors.

        • Boreas says:


          Valid point. But one thing to consider is that from what I understand, other than the old lodge site, there isn’t much high ground near the ponds to allow for a lot of camping. There are a lot of nice spots in the area, just not close to the ponds – which tends to be marshy. And there are currently no official, designated campsites that I know of – just DIY.

  11. J. says:

    I am curious as to where Ethan Winter has his permanent residence? He speaks of a second home and rental property…

    • John Warren says:

      I am curious why you think it’s important to know where someone lives in order to discuss the land they own in equal partnership with you?

      There are plenty of people who live here, who are older than you (thus having more experience living here), and whose families have lived here longer than you, who firmly stand for wilderness protections.

      I think you should consider whether we should be questioning your legitimacy to have an opinion. Or are you simply entitled to an opinion like Ethan, weighed in the same way because you both own the same land?

      • J. says:

        Wow, I just asked a simple question. I think you should be a little less defensive since I stated no position at all. You simply made assumptions as to where I was going with the question.

        • Taras says:

          Ending a statement with an ellipsis (…) is Internet shorthand for an unfinished thought suggesting “and all that that implies” (as in “but use your imagination where what I said leads to”).

          And so John did use his imagination as to what your ellipsis implied.

          I’m not suggesting you didn’t know that.
          I’m not suggesting you didn’t know that …

          See the difference?

          Oh and I have no idea where Ethan calls home. What’s the significance of where he lives?

          • J. says:

            OK. I was just wondering. Nothing more, nothing less. It seems however that people are incredibly sensitive to making implications where there really weren’t any. Boy, did I hit some nerves!

            • Boreas says:


              Everybody is cranky lately….

              • John Warren says:

                Boreas, I’m not cranky. You know as well as I do what J. was trying to do with his question.

                • J. says:


                  Give it a rest or you will prove a point you didn’t intend.

                  • John Warren says:

                    Which point would that be? The one behind your “just wondering”? We all understood exactly what you think you’re coyly doing. It’s a tired trope, and one that does not hold up, as I pointed out. I should also point out that it’s in the direct interest of this publication, which I founded and edit, to encourage all viewpoints, not just those of us who live nearby and get the most use and benefit from state lands.

                    • J. says:

                      I find your insistence that there is more to this question than what has been stated bordering on badgering and unprofessional. As an editor and journalist I would hope you would place yourself above such tactics. I have no agenda and as of reading this article had not yet formed an opinion one way or the other. You are as guilty as you claim I am since basically you are calling me a liar but not directly. That sir, speaks poorly of you, not me.

                • Boreas says:


                  I was commenting on posts in general lately. In my case, think it has more to do with Washington DC than the ADK Park.

            • John Warren says:

              Well please then, do tell – what was the point of your question?

  12. James Marco says:

    I agree with most of what you say. However, I hardly think it is a crown jewel. It is a pond, wetland and forest. Between the highly utilized high peaks and the larger population centers from the south, the land at Boreas is at risk from simple overpopulation. Following the DEC model, I say that closing the road and wilderness classification will be the best alternative as of 2018, when any lease-holders are out of the area. Distance will be the best guarantee of preserving the ponds:
    1) the least expensive, only requiring the DEC to patrol/maintain trails
    2) encourage people to use local hostelry/eating and other businesses instead of simply driving right up to the flow
    3) protect/preserve/restore the natural state of the area
    Note: Dams, may or not be maintained, there are precedents for this.
    4) a 6 mile hike is not a problem for most, the few that require it can get a variance from the DEC for assisted travel (guides, mechanical conveyances, etc.)
    Yes, the DEC has little interest in providing those, but perhaps the state might accede to the demands of the elderly and disabled with several options: special sites, special wheel chair rentals, horse powered carts, special guide services, etc.

    Yes, I am ignoring, indeed intentionally limiting, recreational use. Population pressure for open space and business pressure are being intentionally excluded. Businesses cannot survive without a large number of people. The ponds are too small to support large numbers of people visiting and still be protected.

    Like the goose that laid the golden egg, “killing the goose” is a sure way to destroy the source of wealth the land is offering. Wilderness will supply a few dollars forever, well, as long as it exists. Overpopulation will supply a large amount of money right away…then turn into a “ghost town” of failed businesses, old run-down buildings, and a genuinely poorer population as the land is destroyed, the fishery reduced to nothing, the birds and other wildlife moves off from being disturbed constantly. Somehow, I would not want to kill the goose.

    I would rather see a small boat manufacturing company, around there. Maybe a grocery and couple guide/sports shops. Stress the water, preserve the water life. The ducks, herons, geese and other birds. Stress the fishing and limit takes to 1 fish per trip. Stress the bird watching and have the guides with knowledge lead small parties into the wetlands. Stress the beautiful view of the High Peaks, without the large number of peak walkers at your elbow. Stress the hunting and skills it takes. Stress the unique things that make the Boreas ponds a place to VISIT. Not the trash, chopped trees, and “left” junk that makes many Wild Forests places I would not return to. Or, ask the DEC to create a state park there, where employees are paid to pick up after tourists and keep things confined to a single small area. Hell, the roads are already there. It can all be done with a simple Wilderness Classification. Close the road. Allow only DEC or handicapped people to use them.

    Kathy, I believe that camping will still be allowed under all the options.

  13. Taras says:

    Tim Brunswick said:
    “Snowmobilers, Mountain Bikers, Hunters, Anglers and many others should provide a far greater economic boost to this Region than a few hikers and others relying solely upon their feet to gain access.”

    First, hunters and anglers *are* permitted in Wilderness areas. That leaves snowmobilers and mountain bikers to provide “a far greater economic boost” if zoned “Wild Forest”.

    Is there any evidence for this claim? Snowmobiling has been permitted for many years on lands leased by clubs, like along Santanoni Road in the MacIntyre West tract. I recall seeing snowmobile trailers parked along Tahawus Road as well as the Bradley Pond Trail-head.

    Q1: Has their presence provided a significant boost to Newcomb’s economy?

    As for mountain bikers, I’ll hazard a guess that they *have* contributed to Wilmington’s economy given the popularity of the extensive trail system at the foot of Whiteface. However, let’s not confuse that attraction, a sophisticated network of (challenging) trails, with Gulf Brook Road and the (flat) roads around Boreas Ponds.

    From what I’ve read here (from self-professed avid mountain bikers), wide flat(-ish) roads aren’t a big draw for mountain bikers. Now that’s not to say it won’t attract garden-variety cyclists. Essex Chain has comparable terrain and so the question becomes:

    Q2: Have the cyclists who come to Essex Chain provided a noticeable boost to the local economy?

    BTW, these are genuine, not “loaded”, questions. I’d really like to hear informed responses.

    My thoughts: Unless you run a gas station or convenience store, I have my doubts the local economy will significantly benefit from either a “Wild Forest” *or* “Wilderness” classification.

    • Paul says:

      “First, hunters and anglers *are* permitted in Wilderness areas. That leaves snowmobilers and mountain bikers to provide “a far greater economic boost” if zoned “Wild Forest””

      This is not my experience in the Adirondacks. Yes, hunters and anglers are permitted in Wilderness Areas. But in most cases (barring some good fishing in some Wilderness areas) more hunting and fishing is done in Wild Forest areas.

      Especially for hunters easier access is very important. I know that some here will just say well just hump it in to these areas if you want to hunt, or drag a 400 pound bear off a high peak. But speaking practically you are going to see greater economic impact from hunters and anglers if it is a little easier to access. In fact you will even see temporary hunting camps like have been written about here at the Almanack set up under permit for hunters in Wild Forest areas.

    • Bruce says:


      I wish folks would see cyclists not just as “mountain bikers”, because we’re not. Many of us ride hard roads, gravel roads, and good dirt roads, preferring not to go off roading on the dirt, single track trails preferred by mountain bikers. Mountain bikers have a far greater negative impact on the landscape than the rest of us, who leave no more sign of our passing on a road than a canoe cart.

      Perhaps if bicycles on the roads in Boreas Ponds are banned, canoe carts should be too. Wheeled vehicles are wheeled vehicles. We talk about horses and horse-drawn vehicles. As a former horse owner, trainer and trail rider, I know first hand the damage which can be done there. Any wet areas too wide for a horse and vehicle to go around without going off the road quickly become quagmires.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Canoe carts have gears to make it easier to go uphill & brakes for going downhill? Nice, I want one!

      • Bob Rainville says:

        “Mountain bikers have a far greater negative impact on the landscape than the rest of us, who leave no more sign of our passing on a road than a canoe cart.”
        Far greater…nice. Sounds great. Akin to ATV’s? Log skidders? It’s interesting that somehow I can ride my fatbike on a snowshoe-packed trail where any attempt to bootpack results in post-holing. How can this be?
        You should attempt to drop the rigid negative label “mountain bikers” from your mind. With a little more research, you’d find that this label is actually broad and encompasses many different sub-types of “off-pavement” riding. Appears you, like many others here are simply locked in to this negative narrative.

        • Boreas says:


          The “negative narrative” attributed to “mountain bikers” is a result of people riding mountain bikes on soft trails – whether legal or not. We realize they aren’t the only cyclists out there, but they are the ridership we are most concerned about WRT trail erosion & the BP acquisition. Hikers are referred to as “hikers” regardless of what type of shoes they use, whether they use poles or not, and how fast they hike. What term would you prefer we use? Give us a simple term for this narrow subset of cyclists and most of us will be glad to use it.

          • Bob Rainville says:

            Who is “we”?

            You missed the spirit of my point completely! We’ve been here before; you’re intent is not to understand, but to discredit.

            So, to use a phrase recently used here before, “If something is repeated enough, then it must be true.” Focus on the ideas and not the person.

            • Boreas says:

              Who is “you”? “We” are people trying to understand your point. Help us understand.

              Who or what was I trying to discredit?? Don’t jump on me – I didn’t bring the subject up. I was just trying to help explain Bruce’s statement. Aren’t you interested in others points of view?

              And you didn’t answer my question – what term do you want us to use that you would be happy with? Many of us equate mountain bikers as simply those who ride mountain bikes – regardless of where they ride them. If there are different classifications or types of these enthusiasts, help us with the vocabulary so that we don’t make sweeping statements about mountain bikers.

              • Bob Rainville says:

                You don’t understand my point? You must have skipped over my first few sentences it seems.
                Thank you, but I don’t need you to “explain” Bruce’s point. Why do you feel you need to “help” me understand his point? I took issue with his first paragraph. No data, no quantification, no discussion. you take no issue with this it seems. Just a blanket subjective observation. His second paragraph is spot on; horses and other hooved animals can displace soil very quickly. This is physics. A heavy ungulate bearing it’s weight on relatively small, hardened hooves leaves quite a mark. I simply observe this and do not turn it into a like/dislike thing. Horses are fine in the right places. And this does not apply to wild horses or wild ungulates in the forests or fields. Their hooves actually help vegetation/soil in that scenario. Anyway, I digress.
                As far as cycling goes, I’d suggest you look these things up for yourself if you truly wish to understand. Don’t just rely on my take on this matter.
                The problem with your question is there is no single answer (like the majority of things in life). There are XC racers, downhillers, enduro, dirt jumpers, freeriders, bicycle trials (Google Danny McKaskill or bicycle trials in general), gravel grinders, cyclocrossers, bikepackers, fat bikers, etc., etc, etc. And here’s the catch…some do many of these disciplines and therefore have multiple skillsets. Hell, we can’t even agree on what is a great trail; singletrack is not confined to a single definition. Is it hyper manicured with an overabundance of “flow” or is it more “organic”? And it isn’t only singletrack that is desirable; gravel-grinders/bikepackers will enjoy a multitude of off-road “trails”…singletrack, doubletrack/fire roads, snowmobile trails, jeep trails that all lead to a long multi-day “backcountry epic”.
                To me, there is no we/you…that is polar. “I” do pretty much all the things that one can legally pursue within the blue line, including employment, home ownership and caring for it’s residents and tourists. “I” do many things in the backcountry and “I” objectively observe.

                • Boreas says:


                  OK – good. That’s about what I thought – a multitude of cycling types with no real consensus in the community on their terminology, So perhaps you see the problem with people trying to discuss the issue of cycling on state lands. We don’t have good standardized terminology. And if we use it wrong – well…

                  As I mentioned above, hikers are just called hikers regardless of how or where we hike or what technology we use. So many of us use the term “mountain biker” in various forms – usually one who rides an off-road bike on anything but paved roads, and “road biker” to those who use pavement primarily.

                  Many of us do carry a negative view of some people who ride cycles off-road onto foot trails or no trails. I don’t know what to call this type of cyclist. Backcountry mountain bikers? But this is the cyclist subset most of us are referring to when we speak of trail damage – certainly not all mountain bikers. And this is the type of damage many of us are trying to head-off with the BP acquisition. We will often use the wrong terminology because it really hasn’t been standardized.

                  We are just trying to talk here. Forgive us our ignorance on cycling. But in the same vein, give us some leeway as well or guide us onto the right path.

                  As for the use of “we”, “you” or “I” – there are limitations to the English language and some words have or infer more than one meaning. “We” can’t help that. I guess context is the key.

                  • Bob Rainville says:

                    This is a very broad topic and I could go on and on, with many points of discussion.
                    I’ll point out a few things regarding your 3rd paragraph.
                    You state that you/others take a negative view of riders who go onto foot trails or no trails. When you say foot trails, do you speak of riders illegally using designated hiking-only trails or are you of the belief that riders should be relegated to “jeep trails, skidded trails, dirt roads”, etc? If the latter, then you need to get up to speed about mountain bike trail design and physical requirements (VERY similar to hiking trail design with a few differences). If the former, then we are in obvious agreement. The belief that backcountry riders seek to bomb down the fall-line sans trails is completely unfounded for many reasons (even the RedBull lunatics set up trails for those events, but they do paint mountain bikers as skidding, earth-shredding addicts). This is an often repeated narrative gobbled up by those that just simply dislike the idea of bikes anywhere in the woods. And yet you (and others) focus on this concern while many publications exist as “bushwhacking guides” for hikers! Likewise, how many “shortcuts” are made by hikers (usually on switchback trails)? How many trails “widen” around a puddle used by hikers? So it is of great concern that riders will poach illegal trails AND frequently avoid trails entirely? What is the frequency of this practice? By your level of concern, I’d have to assume that you believe riders are exponentially more prone to these types of unethical behaviors than their hiking counterparts? And because it suits your beliefs, you do not seek to quantify this or apply these same concerns to your wilderness modalities. And, no, I’m not saying that these things are not done by riders…please!

                    This sub-set of cyclist/rider is called a moron. Same as a hiker or any other user that engages in such behavior.

              • Paul says:

                I think the term you are looking for is “single track mt bikers” the ones on trails and not the ones like you would have here – a person riding a mt. bike on an improved dirt road.

                • Boreas says:


                  Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe there are quite a few trails (paths that have never been roads) throughout the parcel that have not been officially inventoried. These are in areas that are tentatively slated for both Wilderness and WF classifications. I am sure single-track mountain bikers (STMBs?) will find these, as will equestrians, skiers, and hikers. So these trails need to be evaluated to determine what type of use they would best be suited for. I assume they will be, but it must be on a back burner, as I have heard nothing about it.

                  On a similar track, I wonder what the plans are for the private camps that are scheduled be removed in 2018. They might make nice camping or day use areas for equestrians and cyclists as there would be some sort of road access to the sites. But I don’t know where they are located. I assume most are in the southern part of the parcel.

                  • Bob Rainville says:

                    So it does appear (based on your above reply) that you are of the belief that bikes require roads built and hardened to motor vehicle standards?
                    If so, simply put, you are wrong. And there is plenty of research and analysis to back this up!
                    Go to Wilmington or Burke, VT and walk or ride those trails. Then come back to resume this conversation.

          • Bob Rainville says:

            Is there a similar negative narrative for hikers, backpackers, backcountry users that do the same (utilization of “soft” trails)? Would you condone this? Or would you then correct the offender of this blanket narrative? Of course you would!
            Go back and re-read my response. All I ask is that we back up statements such as “Mountain bikers have a far greater negative impact on the landscape than the rest of us, who leave no more sign of our passing on a road than a canoe cart”, with something more quantifiable.
            You read my post with the intent to respond and not listen. And you respond a LOT here!

            • Bruce says:


              Perhaps my first paragraph was rather sweeping. Until this discussion, the term mountain biker was being used by some folks to include everyone who does not restrict themselves to the hard roads, and that was my complaint.

              My point about mountain bikers was about the damage they cause to dirt trails by questionable practices such as “skidding.” This was brought to light in an article from Vermont about the poor condition of some of their trails where biking is allowed.

              I will re-iterate…based on my own experience riding gravel roads in the National Forest, I’m saying any cyclist riding good gravel leaves little sign of their passing.

              • Bob Rainville says:

                Thanks for the reasonable response.
                The only thing I would add is in reference to your second paragraph. Mountain bike trails can become degraded just as hiking trails can. It is always multifactorial. Best mountain bike practices dictate that along with appropriate trail design, skidding is generally to be avoided. I have seen many many trails, roads, etc. that are badly eroded due to many different uses. Hiking trails are not exempt from this. On our recent summer vacation in New Brunswick I witnessed one of the most badly eroded trails that was exempt from bicycle use. Within the same park the bicycle only trails were pristine.
                My wish is that science would prevail in these discussions, but the majority of times it falls simply to opinion and rhetoric.

            • Boreas says:


              Is this directed to me or Bruce? The quote you refer to is Bruce’s, not mine. I did re-read you response numerous times, but didn’t really see anything about quantifying statements in your initial comment, although perhaps you were inferring that. Rather, what you actually said was:

              “You should attempt to drop the rigid negative label “mountain bikers” from your mind. With a little more research, you’d find that this label is actually broad and encompasses many different sub-types of “off-pavement” riding. Appears you, like many others here are simply locked in to this negative narrative.”

              This was the point I was responding to – trying to explain the negative narrative.

              But I agree, we ALL should avoid sweeping statements, and I do my best to do so, but am not perfect.

  14. Jim S. says:

    You can attract fatter hunters to wild forest.

  15. James Marco says:

    Taras, I don’t believe that snowmobilers will maintain or contribute to the economy, except for slightly, over the next 20 years or so. Last year (2016) the average temp increase was rather high, the previous two years, also. I expect that this trend will show that current climatologist predictions are conservative at best… Now that the polar regions have started melting significantly, average temps will only climb faster the next 20-30 years. The snowmobile season has declined from Remsen through Boonville and Old Forge because of lack of snow. Snowmobiles seem to be a dying business instead of the major cornerstone of the winter season at Old Forge and Lowville. This is on the WEST side of the mountains where snowfalls are usually augmented by lake effect events resulting in largish snow pack. Late winters, mid-winter rains, early springs and summer droughts are becoming the new “average” weather over the past 10 years, for example.

    Of course, the town of Newcomb would love to see the past glory days of pulp and paper return. But, snowmobiling will not replace it. Many ski resorts are not doing well, and several have closed down further south…an inkling of what Newcomb is in for. It could be done with managed forests, good waste control & recovery, a highly automated mill producing wood, wood products, pulp products and limited profit margins. A very expensive initial outlay for small return, even with an inexpensive labor force. I expect it will be more feasible in 50 years than now. Until then, they don’t have much to offer…

    Tourism is really the only good option until they can provide a source of cheap energy (a lot cheaper than is what on the grid.) High-head hydro, is really their only option and nobody would want to dam up the Hudson to make it work. But, again, I am not sure of the water availability in the future. We could end up with a Boreas Ponds with little water, and a nearly dry Hudson in that area. The good thing is their location. Close enough to many ADK areas. Maybe they could fill a niche like Lake Placid or Old Forge, both of which are doing OK.

    • Paul says:

      Lake Placid is doing well because less restrictive classifications (along with constitutional amendments) have led to economic opportunities. An intensive use classification to places like Whiteface Mountain have led to 200,000 skier visits per year. And this has gone up despite the milder winters as new snowmaking equipment has kept the mountain as white and icy as ever!

      • Jim S. says:

        How many of the skier visits are tourists?

      • Todd Eastman says:

        I suppose if Newcomb or North Hudson were to host the Winter Olympics they might be able to generate more tourism…

        … but that seems pretty unlikely!

        • Boreas says:

          Perhaps they could host the Frontier Town Games. Combine X-country skiing with shooting bandits. The Stagecoach Lift. Quick-draw matches. The Saloon Slalom.

  16. Charlie S says:

    James Marco says: ” I am not sure of the water availability in the future.”

    I read a report recently that said New York and New England are expected to see an increase in the average amount of rain that falls on any given rainy day as the years move on and the planet cooks. I believe I read that especially New England & New York will see an increase in precipitation whereas other parts of the country will face drought conditions. Rain is better than fire though both can be devastating.

  17. James Marco says:

    Like I say, I hadn’t really heard on the water part of things. There was talk of the great lakes shrinking, reducing the amount of water available in lake effected areas. Temps (a couple degrees of increase) will allow more water to be held in the atmosphere and pull it higher. I still have a lot more to learn, obviously.

    • Boreas says:


      We all have a lot to learn if this generalized warming continues. Charlie is essentially citing computer models loaded with KNOWN information. Unfortunately, it is difficult to enter UNKNOWN information. Earth is terribly complex and we will never be totally able to get our heads around the complexity. Even if we could figure out everything, an asteroid here and a super-volcano there are never going to be predicted accurately.

      I believe most precipitation figures generated by computer models break down when considering ocean current/salinity/temperature gradients. We really don’t have a lot of good hard data on how ice melt will effect these things, but we know it will. Without knowing how ocean currents will change (and they will) it is impossible to accurately predict precipitation changes. Some people even postulate that a “short term” global warming could even trigger another Ice Age because of changes in deep ocean currents. About the only thing we can say for sure is that global change is inevitable and will never stop.

  18. Charlie S says:

    “I still have a lot more to learn, obviously.”

    We all do James! By far!!

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