Saturday, February 18, 2017

Unitarian Universalists: Boreas Ponds Classification Commentary

What follows is a letter sent to the APA.

The Board of Directors, Congregational Delegates, and Members of Camp Unirondack, by vote of our 2016 Annual Meeting, hereby ask you to reject all of the four alternatives that you have set forth for the Boreas Ponds land classification. None of these alternatives truly protect the area around the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness.

Only an action that prohibits motorized vehicles and/or equipment on or within one mile of these ponds, and protects these lands as Wilderness to the south, is acceptable to the long-standing visionary legacy of the writers of Article XIV of the New York State Constitution.

Camp Unirondack is located in the western end of the Adirondack Park on nine acres of a peninsula on Beaver Lake, Town of Watson, Lewis County, NY. The Camp was founded in 1951 by the New York State Convention of Universalists, and has been a religious home for Unitarian Universalists (UUs) and others of all faiths, seeking personal and spiritual growth amidst stunning Adirondack beauty, including the nearby Pepperbox Wilderness tract. As UUs, we covenant to affirm and promote seven purposes and principles including, “Respect for the Interdependent Web of all existence, of which we are a part.” We know of no U.S. land use policy that better adheres to this principle than the “forever…wild” clause of Article XIV.

In recent years, Unirondack’s programs have expanded to include week-long excursions deep into Adirondack wilderness for our youth and their dedicated camp counselors. These adventures expose these souls to a living laboratory of virtually untouched nature, where the only disturbance to the Interdependent Web is footprints. Spaces for these types of sacred occasions are becoming increasingly rare in our expanding, high technology society. The recent acquisition of the Boreas Ponds and surrounding lands by the State of New York provides a one-time opportunity to establish one of the largest expansions of untouched wilderness, including beautiful waterbodies of utmost serenity. We urge you to adopt policies that prevent unnecessary disturbances to the Ponds, and prevent motorized access that disrupts that serenity and fails to respect the Interdependent Web as anything beyond a resource to be exploited.

Any other classification for the Boreas Ponds will ruin the fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats in and around the ponds. By allowing motorized vehicles down to or upon the ponds, they will be opened up to issues that hurt both the environment and the communities around it. This will invite invasive species (such as might be carried by motorboat bilge and engines) and potentially destroy the resource by overcrowding. The Boreas River south to the Blue Ridge Highway must also be provided Wilderness protection.

Residents of the surrounding communities and visitors should be able to enjoy this unique Wilderness experience with reasonable access. However, any parking lot that is built must be at least a mile away from the Boreas Ponds in order for them to be protected. An accessible trail to the ponds for people with disabilities could (and should) be easily provided. Indeed, wilderness experiences for those of limited mobility are nearly unheard of, and this is yet another opportunity to provide experiences that only ambulatory bipeds are generally able to access.

If we do not protect the Boreas Ponds with a Wilderness classification now, we will be giving up an opportunity to protect this unique treasure. We respectfully urge you to please protect our Adirondack Legacy – this small piece of the Interdependent Web – for generations to come, and protect the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness.

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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42 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Interesting. I am not sure how UU would classify everything S of BP as Wilderness, yet allow motor vehicles to within 1 mile of BP. I assume they would be proposing a vehicle corridor through Wilderness, which would be problematic legally. But that doesn’t mean impossible. But I see little difference between that and just classifying the lands to the S as Wild Forest which does at least allow for motorized vehicles depending on what DEC allows.

    FWIW, I came across this link the other day which includes land and water studies presented to the APA at a recent meeting:

    • Boreas says:

      I just watched a large chunk of the presentation, starting at Agenda Item 22. It is quite long, but what I have watched so far is quite good. Very educational background to the natural aspects of Boreas Ponds.

    • drdirt says:

      Thanx for this incredible link .,.,., the photo tour sure gives a great view of the parcel .,., and the roads map is indicative of the great infrastructure.
      The extensive descriptions finally add some science to the conversation. A must read for anyone taking a public stance on any side of the debate.

      • Boreas says:


        I agree. I think the flyover shows a lot as well – or should I say it doesn’t show a lot. It certainly doesn’t look like a decimated logging tract from the air. About the only manmade things I could see were the Boreas Dam and Ponds. The roads are not very prominent from the air – but of course, most of us can’t fly. What struck me is that the BP lands really looks about the same as the tracts to the N – only with a valley and wetlands.

  2. George G says:

    The recent acquisition of the Boreas Ponds and surrounding lands by the State of New York provides a one-time opportunity to establish one of the largest expansions of untouched wilderness, including beautiful waterbodies of utmost serenity.

    Untouched wilderness??? You do know that the Boreas Ponds are man-made, yes? Unless of course, a concrete dam is a “natural” feature.

    • George G says:

      I know that a dam is an allowed structure. What I find fault with is the statement that calls this area an “untouched wilderness”. This is about as “touched” as any area in the Park. I know some want access and some want it to revert to wilderness, but is there any need to use falsehoods to make a point? To truly let it revert to wilderness, do not allow access to any human traffic at all.

    • Bruce says:


      Supporters of an all Wilderness classification are centering their part of the debate on the “restoration” clause in the SLMP, while largely ignoring the “untrammeled” clause.

      This leads me to the question: does Boreas Ponds and surrounding heavily logged lands already have a natural wilderness character, or are supporters really using the restoration clause to create it? A designation of Wilderness does not automatically create a wilderness. Another clause in the SLMP says something about “untrammeled.” Boreas Ponds is hardly untrammeled.

      We have to take the individual SLMP classifications as a whole, we can’t just pick and choose which clauses we want to use as a basis for a land classification.

  3. James Marco says:

    George, There is precedent for allowing dams in wilderness areas. Taylor Pond, Low’s lake…

    I agree pretty much with this article. I do not believe it goes far enough, though. Clearly, the designation of camp sites will follow current guidelines, insuring that campsites will be away from the pond. And, the road just needs to be closed. Invasive’s will eventually travel throughout the ADKs, but we can slow them down to the point of maintaining the current ecology. I often advocate for some sort of lumber/pulp harvesting in NY (no where near what we had in the early 1900s.) But these ponds are too fragile. Wetlands in general are fragile…too much water, too little water, not enough care of surrounding territory. They need special protection.

  4. Don Sage says:

    What a bunch of self-centered crap! Their prejudices against our disabled veterans, wounded warriors, elderly, and all others is highly evident. They deny all from fishing the ponds, visiting the region, Hunting, snowmobiling, mountain biking, etc. What a bunch of prejudice, self-serving scum who want these lands and waters only for their personal use!

    • Boreas says:

      Give it a break Don.

    • John Warren says:

      Don, You are going to grow up and act like an adult or be banned from these forums forever. It’s your choice. This is your final warning.

      John Warren

      • M.P. Heller says:

        John, wouldn’t it be better to just let Don run off at the mouth rather than ban him? Obviously most of us don’t listen to him anyways, but it is his right to have an opinion and express it. I can see if he was always using profanity or threatening people that it would warrant a ban. I don’t think beating his own dead horse is the same though. As Adirondackers and as a community of induviduals who share a common passion for many topics we need to be above taking punitive action against those we don’t agree with.

        I do wish he’d shut up already with the same crap all the the time. I equally think it’s his right to say it though.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Respectfully, it is not at all surprising that by publishing these never ending “Boreas Ponds Classifcation Commentary” series of debates continues to ensure a few inflammatory comments from viewers.
        – Justin

      • James Marco says:

        John, he is not pushing “fake news” as “alternative facts.” He has the right to be heard, whether I agree or not, whether you agree or not, on a public forum.

        I am elderly, he is wrong. I hike with disabled veterans, wounded warriors…he is wrong. It goes on point by point. We are all using public lands, often wilderness, when we can get out and IFF that is our choice. He apparently agrees that that are second class citizens in the US (along with our federal leadership) that SHOULD be denied the freedom of choice. Again, he is wrong. Freedom of choice belongs to every citizen of the US. It is wrong to even mention groups as second class citizens that cannot make the choice for themselves as special groups. The Jews understand about “special” groups wearing stars on the clothing. Some individuals are indeed incapable of making that choice, through no fault of their own. People with severe mental disabilities need protection, but should never be denied access to the public lands as he seems to think. We do not need “special” fences along with “special” walkways to protect “special” people. Only other people can truly protect them, IFF they cannot decide for themselves. Again, he is wrong.

        True wilderness supports true freedom, but by no means defines it. Don has repeatedly called for easy access, “special” walkways, “special” consideration, but nature will have none of it. There are many, like Don, that would attack others for their physical disabilities, even when earned in battle, or caused by old age. By singling them out he is creating a “special” second class of citizen. They are NOT second class citizens as Don appears to think. They do not need nor want “special” places to live, “special” areas that they can access, nor “special” decisions regarding their health. Thank our gods that there is no “special” handling for old folks, nor “special” handling of those that dissent, nor “special” handling of the Muslims, nor “special” handling of Jews, nor “special” handling of ANY group of citizens. These things are outlawed in the USA, regardless of Don saying, in essence, they should be accepted. He is wrong in my opinion. But, yes, he has the right and obligation of every citizen…the right to dissent. Do not ban him for stating his beliefs.

    • Taras says:


      Please don’t stop the entertainment. I respect your right to rant.

      Don’t let anyone discourage you from venting your id and revealing your innermost flaws. If the POTUS can do, so can you.

  5. Roger Dziengeleski says:

    Protect the area around the Boreas Ponds? The contradiction is that the property was purchased by NYS for use by the people of NYS. Then we must be protecting it from the people of NYS? Why buy it in the first place if this is the case? TNC was more than capable of “protecting” the Boreas Ponds by limiting public access and we would have saved the taxpayers millions of dollars that might have been used for education or another public need.

    • Boreas says:


      The way I read it, UU was OK with a parking lot no closer than a mile. They are also behind TNC’s proposal of an accessibility trail from there. That would be about where LaBier flow is, which is the likely parking area with the current APA proposals. A one mile walk to a pond is certainly not unthinkable, and will likely be the result from any APA decision. At that point it will be up to the DEC to decide the usage of the roads.

      • Roger Dziengeleski says:

        It is a common comment that a one mile walk to the Boreas Dam is not an impediment to public access to that exemplary scenic vista but there is no reasoning behind the statement. Why shouldn’t tax payers be able to drive to the dam? They paid for it and should be able to see this wonderful feature. One mile hikes are not strenuous but a fair segment of the population still can’t make it for any number of reasons not just physical handicaps. So what is the reasoning. To hard on the environment? Not likely given past uses. Basically we can likely agree that a one mile hike isn’t horrible and neither is drive in access right to the scenic vista?

        • Boreas says:


          The reasoning is that myself and many others feel that drive-up access to a remote pond by the general public means it is no longer remote, or particularly special – especially with a parking lot full of cars. I also feel it is detrimental if we are trying to protect the pond and wetlands. That is my reasoning anyway, and I believe that is the reasoning behind most of the APA’s proposals.

          I personally feel a mile is too close, but will likely be the final result. I also feel limited access by vehicle to Boreas Dam for the infirm would be acceptable – just not general access.

  6. Tim-Brunswick says:

    I hope to heck Don Sage doesn’t give it a break per Boreas who has something to say about almost everything! We could all use a break from him!

    Wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Unitarian Universalists got their free green T-Shirts, as well after that unsolicited baloney.

    • Boreas says:


      I don’t mind differing arguments. I do mind the nasty tone, language, and blatant lies. Apparently you are OK with that. Many of us have had enough shouting, name-calling, and lies over the last year. “Self-serving scum”? Is that necessary? Is it going to gain anyone credibility in a discussion? “They deny all from fishing the ponds, visiting the region, Hunting, snowmobiling, mountain biking, etc.” Just B.S. – again, what is the point? It is just so much inflammatory rhetoric.

      As far as “unsolicited baloney”, these articles are letters sent to the APA during the public input process. So all of these letters sent by various groups and individuals, whether baloney or not, were indeed solicited.

      • M.P. Heller says:

        You don’t have to like what he says. I don’t. He should be allowed to say it though. Doesn’t matter if you think it’s constructive or not.

        Ironic that you would support stifling his speech when you feel the need to comment on everything all the time.

        • Boreas says:


          I agree. As long as people have a point and can keep it civil, I’m OK with that. We all can fly off the handle in a heated conversation but to just drop a steaming pile without any provocation should be discouraged.

          • M.P. Heller says:

            Why should it be discouraged? Because one persons form of expression is uncomfortable for someone else? I don’t think so bud. If you don’t like it you gloss past it or walk away. You don’t get to curtail someone’s choice to express themselves because you find the manner in which they do so to be different from your own.

            • Paul says:

              He is clearly not being civil – “self-serving scum”?

            • Boreas says:

              I stand by my statement. Are you saying abusive, disrespective language should be encouraged in a context such as this? In any context? Why not keep it civil?? Violent language begets the same. It gets out of hand quite quickly.

              • M.P. Heller says:

                I say abusive and disrespectful is highly subjective and is a ploy to use morality in a weak attempt to curtail freedom of expression. Like I said, you don’t have to respect what it’s said, you just have to respect the right to say it. Getting all butthurt over Don and his rantings makes you his victim. Are you a really a victim or do you just like the attention you get from playing one on the internet?

                • Boreas says:

                  Just trying to keep it civil bud. Obviously I can’t curtail anyone’s speech. But you must also admit, I have a right to complain about abusive language as well. He has the right to rant and I have the right to complain about it. That simple.

                  I never felt I was a victim, as the comments were directed to no one in particular, except possibly the Unitarians.

  7. Steve Miller says:

    Access for all. Compromise is what we do in America. A mix of wild and wilderness does that while protecting the land is the answer not “all my way”! a

    As far as this being “untouched wilderness” …just not true, period.

  8. Paul says:

    ” writers of Article XIV of the New York State Constitution”?

    Funny, they never mentioned wilderness when they wrote it.

  9. Justin Farrell says:

    I was in the area this weekend. The Town of North Hudson wants more visitors, but I see that the Bass Lake/Moose Mtn Pond trailheads are still not open & plowed for vehicles…
    What gives?

    • Justin Farrell says:

      *not open or plowed.
      The trailhead on Ensign Pond Rd is not plowed, and the Bass Lake trailhead on Caza Turn has a huge 50′ tractor-trailer blocking access…?

    • M.P. Heller says:

      They probably can’t afford it Justin. Municipal plowing is expensive and I would imagine that recreational access is at the bottom of the list when it comes to managing these limited plowing funds.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        So what’s with the tractor-trailer blocking the Caza Turn Rd trailhead? It sort of gives the impression that it’s not very welcoming for public access.

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