Thursday, January 25, 2018

APA Offers Boreas Ponds Tract Proposals

Photo by Phil Brown 2016. View of Gothics from Boreas Ponds.The Adirondack Park Agency has released its official proposal for the classification of the 20,543-acre Boreas Ponds Tract. The Agency will take up this decision at its meeting on February 1-2 in Ray Brook.

The Agency held public hearings at the end of 2016 and deliberated internally over a variety of management options for more than a year.

The Agency staff is recommending Alternative 2B as its preferred option, which uses an area 1/8 of a mile north of the Gulf Brook Road as the Wilderness and Wild Forest Boundary. All lands north will be classified as Wilderness, all lands south will be Wild Forest. There will be 11,412 acres proposed for Wilderness and 9,118 proposed for Wild Forest. One exception is a Wild Forest corridor beginning at the Four Corners that will end .1 mile from the ponds.

Public uses on these lands will be determined through Unit Management Plans. The Wilderness lands will be added to the High Peaks Wilderness and the Wild Forest lands will be added to the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest area. Public uses will be determined through the UMP.

Though Wild Forest lands end ¼ mile from the Boreas Ponds, the Agency is proposing a Primitive Corridor for administrative purposes to maintain the Boreas Ponds dam. The Agency is not proposing any special recreational uses on that corridor. There are no other Primitive Corridors in the areas designated for Wilderness classification.

Boreas Ponds is the largest of 25 parcels The Nature Conservancy conveyed to New York State between 2012 and 2016 as additions to the Adirondack Forest Preserve as part of a much larger project. The full 161,000-acre conservation project, undertaken in consultation with local communities and stakeholders, protects more than 415 miles of rivers and streams, 300 lakes and ponds, 90 mountains, and 15,000 acres of wetlands, as follows:

  • 95,000 acres of working forests protected through conservation easements that allow sustainable timber harvest, private hunt club leasing and limited public recreation, including dozens of miles of snowmobile trails;
  • 65,000 acres added to the Adirondack Forest Preserve (protected as Forever Wild under the state constitution), including gems like OK Slip Falls, Blue Ledges, Essex Chain of Lakes, and, the crown jewel, Boreas Ponds;
  • 1,000 acres dedicated for community enhancement projects in local communities.

The APA website includes descriptions of all the proposed Boreas Ponds Tract alternatives, a response document to the public comments, a draft Environmental Impact Statement, biological surveys, and a draft resolution.

Click here for the APA staff memo about the Boreas Ponds and click here for the APA page for additional materials.

Read more Adirondack Almanack news and commentary about the Boreas Ponds Tract by clicking here.

UPDATED: This story was updated on 1/26 to change the distance from 1/4 mile to the ponds to .1 mile, the number provided in the FEIS.

Photo: View of Gothics from Boreas Ponds, by Phil Brown 2016.

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49 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    “Staff believe that Alternative 2B provides the strongest possible resource protection for the most sensitive and remote portions of the Boreas Ponds Tract, including the Boreas Ponds and other waterbodies, high value wetlands, and areas with highly erodible soils.”

    By allowing public road access to these areas?

    • Adirondack Gal says:

      Ok, so if I’m not a 20 or 30 something and can’t mountain bike or hike a few miles in with canoe and gear I shouldn’t be able to get within a quarter mile? The Adirondacks have been a big part of my life for many years. It has been my solace and my joy and I have always treated it with great respect and honor for the privilege. ( without being told to do so I might add) Every village has it’s idiots. You can’t protect all things from those bent on causing harm regardless of how honorable you think you are. Please give all the rest of us the benefit of the doubt we are taxpayers too and we should ALL benefit from the gift we’ve been given.

      • John Warren says:

        Two ‘Old Ladies’ Visit Boreas Ponds Tract.html

        Almost everywhere in the Adirondacks is within three miles of road. You can literally drive into most large lakes. There is also extensive special opportunities for back-country access to people of all abilities.

      • Kathy says:

        I once thought as you did but also pulled my canoe to the Boreas ponds and back, paddled and home same day. At 68 11/12 with a decrepit spine it was a challenge but I can agree with the plan. Once there it all made sense why it should remain as is. It would seem that a disabled permit to drive within 1/10 of a mile to the final dam may be a future option.
        Traveling and loving the adks you must have seen how abused some of the most accessible areas can be.

      • Boreas says:

        Adirondack Gal,

        “Strongest possible protection”(?) is NO access – road or otherwise. I simply disagreed with their likely hasty statement.

        You and I and the rest of the WORLD will have the same legal access to the tract, whatever is decided. The same is true for all state lands. But I do not believe all state lands are the same, and I do not believe all state lands should have motorized access – and I doubt you do either. Both NYS and the federal government both realized long ago it is not practical, possible, nor desirable to have every inch of public lands accessible by car. Some new lands will have auto access, some will not.

        At my age, most state lands are inaccessible to me – but not because of NYS policy. I do not feel gates on state lands are a personal affront to me as a taxpayer. Typically, they are there for a good reason. Yes, every village has its idiots, and they typically don’t like to walk far. But as we know from heavily used areas with current Wilderness classifications, it isn’t only idiots that cause damage and degradation of the resource. Would you suggest opening the Marcy Dam truck road to general motor vehicle use? Santanoni Preserve? The truck trail into the Seward Range? All have old roads that have been blocked to motor vehicles to protect the areas – and I feel these were wise decisions.

        But there are two types of people that love public wildlands – those who look only at the present day and their access and those who look to future generations and their right to wild areas. As one of the latter, I currently see very few contiguous public lands in NYS that, as John states, are far from a road and its associated problems – noise, lights, overuse, etc., etc.. I feel we owe it to future generations to preserve or RESTORE as much of the wild character of the ADKs as possible. If I have to give up easy access to do so, I’m fine with that – it isn’t honorable, just unselfish. I consider myself lucky to have been able to hike and ski and paddle the wilder areas that existed in my youth and still do. Those days are over. There comes a time in most of our lives when such things are no longer physically possible. I say embrace the memories we do have and pay it forward. Future generations will thank us for our restraint.

      • John says:

        I can’t cover that quarter-mile. Does that mean that the state should find a way to get me there? Hardly. We of a certain age or condition might be proud that the citizens of New York are hosts to one of the last wild places on the continent, where something — whatever it may be; I’ll never see it — can exist undisturbed by willful people.

  2. laurie says:

    I’m not on the “everything must be wilderness” bandwagon, but allowing people to drive with 1/4 of a mile of the ponds seems like a recipe for disaster.

    • Boreas says:


      My only hope is that NYS or a designate (Paul Smiths, ESF, etc.) uses this unique opportunity to actually monitor the most sensitive areas and study what actually happens. If they can hold off a while before opening the gates they should be able to get baseline data with photos, biological surveys, and water samples. Then open the gates monitor the same areas for the next 10 years. The data analysis should prove invaluable to any future acquisitions and subsequent classifications.

    • blackbear says:

      What type of disaster? I am curious what walking around a pond (man made and man maintained pond) will create for in terms of a disaster. Considering the previous management of the property I am not sure what type of impact foot traffic could have on the property.

      • Agreed. Not everything needs a wilderness designation. People should be allowed to have access to some of these types of places. I’m all for Forever Wild. I think what has been done in terms of preserving our natural resources in the ADK’s has immensely superseded the expectations of people that lived 100+ years ago.

        • John Warren says:

          Almost everywhere in the Adirondacks is within three miles of road.

          • Kevin says:

            Have you been to the Blue Ridge Wilderness or the West Canada Lake Wilderness? I can think of many different areas (to include the adjacent High Peaks) in the ADK’s that are more than 3 miles away from a road.

            • John Warren says:

              You’ll need to do some research beyond your personal anecdotes to have a serious discussion.

      • John Sheehan John Sheehan says:

        Actually, the ponds were there long before the dams. There are maps and photos showing them in the mid-1800s. The dams were built around 1915.

  3. Naj Wikoff says:

    Are there any maps available showing what’s proposed by the APA?

  4. Justin Farrell says:

    Didn’t Alternative 2B receive the least amount of public support during the public comment period?

    • Balian the Cat says:

      Ssssh, Justin, don’t let this get around but public opinions, majority thinking, and common sense don’t really have a place in today’s world of autocratic rule.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      Alternatives 2 and 3 got no support, maybe a handful of letters out of more than 10,000.


  5. Jim S. says:

    I could easily carry a keg a quarter mile. Party on! (lol)

  6. Lakechamplain says:

    The concerns expressed here seem valid but are we mis-interpreting the ‘primitive corridor’? I suggest you read the summary by Phil Brown in Adirondack Explorer that states that most Adk. environmental groups generally back these proposals. (The link is under Adirondack News on this page)
    I took it to mean that the ‘corridor’ would be limited, with some sort of gate perhaps, to make it inaccessible to vehicles(does allow mt. bikes on it but no other mt. bike trails) not connected to maintenance of the dam. If general motorized access is not allowed on this ‘corridor’ doesn’t this mitigate somewhat the problems people noted above?
    I must say the part that leapt out at me was the mention of miles of snowmobile trails included in the plan; that said, I would appreciate a map of the location of these trails just to gauge the effects of them. In winter sound travels farther and noise pollution is rarely mentioned but is a factor. Maybe that’s elitist, but if you come from urban areas to enjoy the solitude of a winter’s day, that can be a bummer.
    Overall, I enjoy all the perspectives that commenters on here bring; keep em coming.
    Again, I admi

    • Boreas says:

      Good point about a possible gate on the “primitive corridor”. I think that is key here. It could be they gate it and leave it accessible by road only for people with disabilities. At one time a wheelchair accessible trail was proposed to the ponds. But I can’t really tell what they have in mind. As is stated above, public usage will be determined by the UMP. I suppose that conceivably could even include leaving the current gate in place.

      I think of the alternatives proposed, this does offer pretty good protection IF vehicle usage is minimized. A lot will depend on whether Gulf Brook Road is left as-is, or is widened and ‘civilized’. I would prefer it remained rough and gated. But this map doesn’t give much detail on the other roads around the ponds and their potential usage. I guess we’ll soon find out.

  7. James marco says:

    This is BS. They asked the people what the people wanted. The people overwhelming said wilderness (>70%.) How can they say Proposal 2??? This is a tyrannical control of ADK property!!! I know, Trump is visiting. (Fake news.) And, why should they even consider APA proposals as dictates that *must* be obeyed? That is their *job*. To come up with proposals that make the people pleased. Not to dictate what must be done with each proposal. JUNK THEM ALL and START OVER listening to the people!

  8. Tim-Brunswick says:

    “Almost everywhere in the Adirondacks is within three miles of road” ??… clearly John Warren’s interpretation of “almost” doesn’t agree with mine, particularly when you look at the accessibility of lakes, ponds streams in wilderness areas like the West Canada Lakes and several other large wilderness tracts. “Three miles” of up hill rugged terrain is too much of a physical challenge for the majority of folks over 50 and certainly those with mobility impairments.

    At 70 years of age and still fairly fit I’m very pleased with the APA Staff’s recommendation and although I spoke in favor of Alternative 1 at the final APA hearing in Albany the APA’s choice “should” work for everyone.

    Thank you

    • John Warren says:

      Only 3 percent of the Adirondack Park is at least three miles from a road and at least two miles from any lake where motorboats are allowed. You simply want to drive to the smallest portion of the Adirondacks that remains wilderness.

      • Chuck Parker Chuck Parker says:

        May I request that you be accurate and put in context your definition of Wilderness. The Boreas Pond Tract up until recently was managed forest land with an infrastructure of roads to support the management of that land (which included timber harvest). No way does that fit the definition of Wilderness under the Adirondack State Land Master Plan. The title of this article mentions the Boreas Ponds tract proposal. If you simply expanded your comments to all of the park you should make that be known

    • Adirondack Gal says:

      Thank you sir…exactly the point I was trying to make in a response I made to a previous post. I’m not at all ready to religate my life to MEMORIES (as was suggested in a previous post.) I intend to make a whole lot of new ones! I too appreciate the dialog.

      • Jim S. says:

        So you are saying that there doesn’t need to be preservation of wild places because you are old. That seems a bit selfish.

      • Boreas says:

        Wherever DEC puts a gate they can usually allow access beyond limited to people with mobility issues. I believe they are planning this at BP. This is nothing new – just requires more planning.

      • James Marco says:

        Actually, I am retured and have been for over 8 years. I have a bad cervical sprain that means I cannot put heavy loads on my shoulders. I had back surgery just over a year ago to correct a bad disk in my lower spine. I spent well over 45 nights out in the ADKs last year. Counting car camping, closer to 60. I volunteered for several lLean2Rescue projects. I canoe and hike anywhere I need to go. I just do NOT do it as fast as I once did at my age. I have seen handicapped people on the trail a couple times. They are stubborn, and absolutely full of themselves. They do NOT think of themselves as handicapped, rather they have to go a bit slower around and through trail obstacles. And they have planning down to a ‘T”. It’s just what they do. It is what I do when I’m out for a couple weeks. I have NEVER needed to avoid a trail just because I have to walk a few miles. Maybe it will kill me, maybe sooner than later, but, even at my age, I do not bitch about the “impassible” trails I cannot take my boat over…well, I do, but I understand that I cannot have my cake and eat it, too. Wilderness is for anyone bloody minded enough to make it theirs, even if it is only for a couple weeks. Car camping is for state parks and quick hunting trips. Wilderness is for hikers, canoeists and people serious enough to give a crap. Hauling a boat and a tent along with twenty pounds of rifle/ammunition and cleaning gear 10 miles into the woods is work. It is not whiners that want to drive up to a lake and enjoy the garbage that is invariably left there.

  9. Charlie. S. says:

    Adirondack Gal says: “Every village has it’s idiots. You can’t protect all things from those bent on causing harm regardless of how honorable you think you are.”

    No you cannot Adirondack Gal but if you give them easier access the chances of them doing more damage increases. I’ve been witness to this too often. Parking a quarter mile away from the pond is too close and anybody who doesn’t think so is evidently in the wimp stage of their lives.

  10. Charlie. S. says:

    Kathy says: “Traveling and loving the adks you must have seen how abused some of the most accessible areas can be.”

    Those of us who can ‘See’ yes Kathy!

  11. Charlie S says:

    Boreas says: “Both NYS and the federal government both realized long ago it is not practical, possible, nor desirable to have every inch of public lands accessible by car.”

    If the feds were in control of the Adirondacks things would be much worse Boreas. They’d be tearing it up looking for minerals and also they’d be scheming ways to bottle the water and sell it.

  12. Charlie S. says:

    Boreas says: “Yes, every village has its idiots, and they typically don’t like to walk far.”

    This is so true Boreas. Is why the odds on a high number of idiots is now probable at Boreas Ponds.

  13. Charlie S. says:

    Boreas says: “I feel we owe it to future generations to preserve or RESTORE as much of the wild character of the ADKs as possible. If I have to give up easy access to do so, I’m fine with that – it isn’t honorable, just unselfish.”

    O Boreas….. we are definitely kin. Your great great grandfather didn’t happen to get off on Ellis Island back in the 1870’s did he?

  14. Charlie S. says:

    laurie says: “I’m not on the “everything must be wilderness” bandwagon, but allowing people to drive with 1/4 of a mile of the ponds seems like a recipe for disaster.”

    Amen sister!

  15. Charlie S. says:

    blackbear says: “What type of disaster? I am curious what walking around a pond (man made and man maintained pond) will create for in terms of a disaster. Considering the previous management of the property I am not sure what type of impact foot traffic could have on the property.”

    It’s about the easy access blackbear. A quarter mile is a five minute walk. Why would the state make it so easy to get to such a pristine wilderness area? It should be about effort so that the more effort the more appreciation. Parking a quarter mile away from such a pristine wilderness is sure to turn Boreas Ponds into a fools paradise.

  16. Charlie S. says:

    Schultzy Schultz says: “Agreed. Not everything needs a wilderness designation.”

    No but why allow parking just a five minute walk away from this haven Schultzy? I know why! Because we’re getting soft, we need convenience. The DEC is full of slack office people with zero vision.

  17. Dennis says:

    So this proposal will make access much easier…a 5-minute walk. Unless I’m mistaken, the Governor’s recently released budget proposal is that operating budgets remain flat. Thus, for at least the 10th consecutive year, the number of DEC Forest Rangers is held flat. More visitors, more $ flowing into the region, further dilution of oversight and enforcement. Same old same old. Great plan!

  18. Tony Oehler says:

    This wasn’t what I expected or was hoping for. However, rarely does life provide you exactly what you’re looking for. I understand that some sort of compromise was necessary on this issue and for the most part I can get behind this proposal. With that said, the road access is the portion of this “compromise” that has me troubled. At a minimum, I was hoping that parking would be at least to the current HUGE parking area that DEC just established a year or so ago. I think that leaves about 3.6 miles of hiking…on a gravel road.

    For people like myself who do enjoy solitude and the lack of “modern” noise, the character of this beautiful place can be greatly diminished from the noise that will occur by parking 1/10th mile from the ponds. I hope DEC reconsiders the parking, and at a minimum keeps at the new lot if not farther. People with access issues/disabilities could be allowed to park closer as is the case in other areas.

  19. Kathy says:

    Somewhere I read the 3.5 mile gate may stay and the .1 mile access could be for vehicles with handicap permits as the compromise,but nothing written in stone yet..
    And just curious…carrying in rifles,ammo and cleaning gear for hunting….what gets carried out if you get a deer ?or do the remains stay ?

    • JohnL says:

      Usually just a gut pile is left, and that will be gone in a natural manner by ravens, foxes, etc within a couple days.

    • James Marco says:

      I was known to pack out my gear and a 110lb cleaned out carcass after burying the offall. But, like I say, this was a few years ago…It would take me a couple days to get it all out now. Being older means I have to spend more time at things, not that I cannot do them. Being semi-disabled was never a handicap at work, nor, for visiting my favorite spots in the ADK’s. I would get upset when people left crap at the shelters/lean-to’s. Lake Tear-of-the-Cloud was a great spot, till they closed it. But, I carried out more than my share of garbage, too. Too short of a trip means too many people. Too many people means GARBAGE.

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