Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Adirondack Wild: Limit Motors at Boreas Ponds

Photo by Phil Brown 2016. View of Gothics from Boreas Ponds.What follows is a press release issued by Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve:

In a letter submitted today to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the nonprofit advocate Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve recommends that the Boreas Ponds tract be managed in ways that avoid damage to natural resources and enhance opportunities to experience solitude.

The highly controversial decision by the NYS Adirondack Park Agency in February, approved by Governor Cuomo, not to consider an all-Wilderness alternative, but to split the 20,000-acre Boreas Pond tract between Wilderness and Wild Forest classifications was opposed by Adirondack Wild, which offered many reasons why the entire tract should be managed as an addition to the High Peaks Wilderness area.

Adirondack Wild notes that the State Land Master Plan, which has the force of law, instructs the Department of Environmental Conservation to consider more protective management of Wild Forest where necessary to protect natural resources of great value.

Therefore, in its letter Adirondack Wild recommends that in order to protect those resources public motor traffic on the narrow Gulf Brook Road that leads from the Blue Ridge Highway should be permanently stopped at the current parking lot two miles in. While this and other roads are classified Wild Forest all the way to Boreas Ponds, the organization believes that actual public user management must be more restrictive than the classification. DEC ought to restrict public parking to where it is today in order to mitigate the serious environmental, ecological, cost and public health impacts of allowing daily, two-way, public motor access all seven miles to LaBier Flow and Boreas Ponds.

“The general public has proven over two years of interim management that they will walk and wheel their boats down Gulf Brook Road to LaBier Flow and the Boreas Ponds in order to protect its wild character and in order to experience wild solitude and remoteness, far from motor traffic,” said Adirondack Wild’s Dan Plumley.

“The general public will not appreciate eating road dust, avoiding being struck and hearing engines roaring up and down Gulf Brook Road. They are here to experience quietude, solitude and naturalness. In a final management plan, DEC should continue to restrict general public parking to the existing lot.”

General motorized access past the current parking lot, says the group, also severely fragments the tract ecologically. It should only be permitted for administrative personnel and for certified persons with disabilities who cannot otherwise with assistance reach LaBier Flow and the Four Corners area. There, a small parking lot should be designated and restricted only to certified persons with disabilities.

Adirondack Wild’s letter also recommends that the Boreas Road should be gated at the Four Corners area. No motorized uses of any kind should be allowed on the one mile extension to Boreas Ponds. That one mile should be improved for wheelchair, equestrian and muscle-powered access only and managed as an accessible trail in order to protect the feeling of remoteness, the quiet and wild character and the many fragile natural resources near the environs of Boreas Ponds, all of which are now classified as Wilderness.

“The Adirondack Park Agency staff summarized two years of study of the Boreas Ponds by stating this past February that the ecological values of the tract cannot be overstated,” said Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson. “We agree that is the case. Over 11,000 acres of the tract are now part of the High Peaks Wilderness. Therefore, we think the Department has a management obligation to manage the tract so that these unparalleled natural, ecological and intangible values of solitude, peace and tranquility are truly protected. “

Adirondack Wild’s letter adds that DEC should prohibit snowmobiling on the Gulf Brook Road until finalization of all necessary private landowner agreements needed to create a community connector snowmobile trail between North Hudson and Newcomb. The group believes those agreements are not presently in place. In addition, before allowing future snowmobile use DEC should evaluate the noise and pollution impacts of snowmobiling so close to the High Peaks Wilderness.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not-for-profit, membership organization which acts on behalf of wilderness and wild land values and stewardship throughout the region. For more information, click here.

Photo of Gothics from Boreas Ponds by Phil Brown.

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30 Responses

  1. Justin Farrell says:

    I agree, keeping the general public access at the current gates seems to be working out just fine, and still makes the most sense. No need to fix what isn’t broken. But guys, come on…can’t we use a different photo for a change? There are many other great views from the Boreas Ponds other than from the dam. It kind of makes it seem like that’s the only one good view that can be had at Boreas Ponds. Just thinking out loud here but perhaps sharing a few more photos from around the ponds will entice other people to support efforts to keep it wild, as the views & wildness only get better as you get further away from the dam.

  2. Tony Goodwin says:

    I totally agree that there should not be any motors on Boreas Ponds, and that the current gate is the appropriate summer stopping point for users. As I’ve said before, however, the Essex Chain should be managed in sharp contrast to Boreas with closer access to the water and electric motors allowed on the ponds. And along the way end the ban on campfires so that people can come, carry a boat a few yards (no direct boat launch needed), and than establish a comfortable camp for relaxing, fishing, and whatever. With all of the new acquisitions, it seems we can offer “all things to all people” – just not all in the same tract.

  3. Smitty says:

    I’m all for keeping it motor free but there’s a big gap between motor free and a three mile carry. The “general public” thinks a 3 mile carry is ok? Come on, you must be kidding. This “general public” thinks a mile is ok but anything more will keep out most of the “general public”, at least all but the most hard core backcountry paddlers.

    • Tyler Socash says:

      You’re in luck, because there are 6,970 miles of public road across the Park, leading you to innumerable options to easily launch a boat. What the Adirondacks lack is access to large, remote backcountry lakes. Out of the top 100 largest lakes, only 3 are motor-free and more than a mile from a road or accessible portage. Boreas Ponds would only be the 4th large remote lake in the entire 6.1-million acre Park. There is plenty of access everywhere for easy-to-get-to lakes. All members of the biotic community need access to remote lakes.

    • Dan says:

      I was in there on a beautiful Sunday in August last year and there was very little of the “general public” present. They were all at the High Peaks trailheads. This made me question if only a few people would use it with the current set-up, which I know is what some people want.

      There is a Wild Forest classification for a reason. The ability to easily launch at LaBier Flow would benefit paddlers and anglers, and also allow hunters (including those who have hunted there for years) to disperse at various points along the road.

      This still leaves a mile, or more, to get to the actual ponds and may actually encourage more peak baggers to use the area as an alternate route, especially with the Casey Brook Tract acquisition and additional camping opportunities.

      • Tyler Socash says:

        Roadside pull offs aren’t very imaginative, and they are all across the Adirondacks. What adds significance to Boreas Ponds is that it is currently remote, and it is currently hard to get to. If you make it easy, it loses it’s mystique. If you’re looking for easy, you can find it anywhere, because road are everywhere. The remaining remote backcountry (less than 5% of the Adirondack Park) could be fragmented more and more, but should it be?

        How much more backcountry are you willing to sacrifice? There’s not much left east of Denver, and at Boreas Ponds is an opportunity to think about future generations who may appreciate the foresight of leaving one corner of the Adirondack Park wilder than it was found.

        • Dan says:

          It’s not about ease or imaginative, and yes, hunters use roadside pull-offs. We’ll have one of the biggest Wilderness Areas in the East once they combine Dix & HPW, which is commendable. The opportunity is there to allow multi-use thanks to the WF classification, which was granted for more than just allowing DEC to get to the dam, or for a snowmobile trail. We all have opinions and desires and mine are to allow paddlers/anglers access to the Flow and hunters to disperse along the road.

  4. Kathy says:

    As part of the “general public” I used a canoe cart for the 3 mile portage in and 3 mile out at 68. I am not hard core and altho it was somewhat difficult for me I would not trade that day for a 1 mile carry. It’s just not the destination but the journey that culminates in the remote beauty and relative solitude using 90 % of my physical capacity to accomplish.

  5. Tim-Brunswick says:

    Unbelievable!!…..as I predicted to my friends long ago during the APA Public Hearing process the only thing that would ever make the “Wilderness Only” crowd was s total “Wilderness” declaration/classification.

    Not satisfied with what is touted as the largest contiguous so called “Wilderness” in the Northeast, they still whine, complain and gripe like spoiled children over the fact they couldn’t get the entire pie.

    For once the State of New York aka NYSDEC/Governor Andrew Cuomo are on the right track with a plan that provides a livable/equitable approach to give “everyone” access to this area. As for 68-year-old Kathy with her 3-mile portage…my money’s on her having a very lightweight canoe that the real “general public” couldn’t afford.

    At 70-years of age w/only one lung from birth I can’t haul a canoe that far and by golly this senior resident of New York State is damn happy that the tentative plans will get me close enough to dip a paddle into the Boreas. Having a heart attack hauling a boat/canoe three or even two miles is not what I call fun.

    The Boreas Ponds Area has to be “shared” by all of us and not be the personal playground of the self-centered wilderness crowd…..get used to it!!

    • Boreas says:

      Tim-Brunswick,

      Who is being self-centered here? Perhaps you would qualify for a CP-3 permit.

      Boreas Ponds could present a unique opportunity to allow a near-wilderness experience for people with disabilities by allowing CP-3 access past the midway gate. Taking away that gate will take away the opportunity for that experience.

      BTW, a $60 canoe cart will easily haul a 70 pound aluminum battleship and a bunch of gear to boot! Most of the “general public” that can afford a canoe can afford a cart.

    • Nathan says:

      Tim-Brunswick,
      “For once the State of New York aka NYSDEC/Governor Andrew Cuomo are on the right track with a plan that provides a livable/equitable approach to give “everyone” access to this area.” How is this a “for once” sort of deal? As mentioned in previous comments, there are thousands of miles of roadway in the Adirondacks, and a multitude of large lakes with access just off of a major road.
      Within the article, Adirondack Wild states that they support permitting “certified persons with disabilities who cannot otherwise with assistance reach LaBier Flow and the Four Corners area” to drive into the area, and “there, a small parking lot should be designated and restricted only to certified persons with disabilities.” I do believe this would be very accommodating to folks such as yourself. Beyond this they recommend that the one mile extension to Boreas Ponds “be improved for wheelchair, equestrian and muscle-powered access only and managed as an accessible trail in order to protect the feeling of remoteness, the quiet and wild character and the many fragile natural resources near the environs of Boreas Ponds, all of which are now classified as Wilderness.” I’m a bit confused as to how you don’t view this as an equitable approach.
      We are all wilderness advocates here, that’s why we love the Adirondacks. I don’t believe it is so much to ask for extra necessary protection of an ecologically important wetland and pond complex unlike any other in New York.

    • Kathy says:

      Given Smitty’s classifications of general public and hard core back country paddlers only …I had to align myself with general public and I saved for a long time to buy a Hornbeck because I could no longer lift my other canoe on top of my 2000 Jeep lest you think I’m independently wealthy. That may have been my one and only trip to Boreas Ponds but I’m happy that it was all I wanted it to be…remote and uncrowded and no motors or groups of paddlers.

  6. Dan Ling says:

    Chalk me up as a disabled “whiner” who thinks that very rare, quiet and clean lakes and ponds need all the protection they can get. History shows the only way to keep the park wild is through constant vigilance, and calling that “whining” may be a nice sound bite but does not change the facts. Undistirbed remote lakes are rare gems. Making them less wild to allow motorized access destroys an important value of their wild quality. I have never been up the High Peaks and never will because of my disability, but I do not wish to build a road to them. To advocate such is destructive, selfish, shortsighted and, dare I say, just a bit whiney and entitled? Please do not reduce the wild character of the glorious Boreas in my name or anyone else’s who is disabled. We do not ask for nor require special access which would diminish it.

    • Boreas says:

      Thanks Dan Ling,

      I agree. While not technically disabled, I no longer have the ability to hike like I used to, and without the road open to LaBier Flow, I will likely never see BP. I also will never see Lake Tear of the Clouds and many, many other remote destinations I used to enjoy. But I know those places exist and hope they remain as protected from motors as possible until the next Ice Age. So I guess if this makes me whiny, selfish, and part of the “Wilderness only crowd” by people who feel entitled to drive unfettered to any lands they can, so be it. I will still be hoping for a future where wild lands still exist and can’t be enjoyed simply by rolling down a window.

      • Dan Ling says:

        Boreas,

        Same here. Because of my disability I will likely never see any the Boreas Ponds, but that has exactly zero impact on my desire to preserve them in as wild a state as possible. If that wild country were to be made less wild in my name I would feel deeply selfish and ashamed, and rightly so.

  7. Rob Gdyk says:

    As a disabled veteran and MAPPWD permit holder, the only concern I have with this proposal is the mechanism which will allow my motorized 4X4 vehicle thru the gate on Gulf Brook Road. Will it be key or code accessible as permitted same for administrative personnel?

    • Todd Eastman says:

      Actually there will be a gatekeeper in a robe and a beard asking questions you must answer correctly or die… and a rather vicious rabbit!

    • Boreas says:

      Rob,

      I believe the CP-3 access can be set up in different ways. But I wouldn’t worry much about it. I believe the BP deal was set up for open access to LaBier Flow so the communities would get on board. This was long before the formal classification process began. It is also what the current administration wants as well as many other people. Odds are that is exactly what will happen. But ultimately the DEC is tasked with figuring out how to allow motorized access while minimizing damage to the resource. That’s a tough needle to thread.

  8. Charlie S says:

    Smitty says: “The “general public” thinks a 3 mile carry is ok? Come on, you must be kidding.”

    When I and a friend walked the 3 or so miles to Boreas two years ago (from the gate where it is now and should remain so!) we met an elder retired couple who wheeled their canoe in the same distance we walked. They said it was easy. It don’t take too much imagination and a little willpower to do what’s right Smitty so that future generations will at least have something to thank us for!

  9. Charlie S says:

    Tyler Socash says: “How much more backcountry are you willing to sacrifice? There’s not much left east of Denver, and at Boreas Ponds is an opportunity to think about future generations who may appreciate the foresight of leaving one corner of the Adirondack Park wilder than it was found.”

    That’s what i’m saying!!!!!!!!!

  10. Charlie S says:

    Tyler, Kathy, Dan Ling, Boreas…. There are so few who think along the lines you all do and I thank yous for giving me a sense of hope.

  11. Charlie S says:

    Tim Brunswick says: “The Boreas Ponds Area has to be “shared” by all of us and not be the personal playground of the self-centered wilderness crowd…..get used to it!!”

    You remind me of some Tories I know Tim. One who comes to mind is Dick. Though we are polar opposites when it comes to politics I still think Dick is a nice guy and all it’s just that he don’t know any better and I have learnt to just not say much to him regards things relative to reality. He seems somewhat smart but like most Tories I know he has a fart stuck in his brain. We were talking about the Tar Sands in Canada one evening over a beer at Smiths. Have you heard about that monster of a place Tim? Tar sands? It is a toxic nightmare and when you have even an inkling of how horrible us humans really are when it comes to making a buck and how horrible of a place Tar Sands is, you get to thinking! Well, if you have a conscience you get to thinking!

    One of just many nightmares about that toxic mess known as Tar Sands are the tailings ponds which are dam systems that catch oil waste, aka permanent waste dumps. These ponds are spread throughout that site which is over 21,000 square miles in size. They are a toxic brew over a landscape that was once a pristine wilderness like our beloved Adirondacks generally still are. Some few years ago 1500 or so wild ducks flew into one of those ponds and who knows all of the other hidden damage they don’t tell us about but will eventually come out way after all the damage is done as is always the case. Poor ducks! They didn’t know any better. Only ducks who cares right Tim? I tried to explain to Dick how bad of an impact on the environment Tar Sands is but he’s stuck on jobs, jobs, jobs and when I said, “Well what about all of those trees?” he replied,”They’ll grow back.”

    You remind me of Dick Tim!

  12. Justin Farrell says:

    It’d be interesting to be able to view the DEC trail register data over the past couple years for the Boreas Ponds tract, and I’m still surprised that this information still has not been officially researched, analyzed, & published during this whole Boreas Ponds debate over the past couple years.

    • Boreas says:

      Why let facts interfere with the political process? Perhaps DEC will use the data to help determine the management plan.

    • Charlie S says:

      The register would probably prove just how popular the place is Justin and as Boreas says “Why let facts interfere with the political process?” Good one Boreas and right on the money.

      • Dan says:

        I can’t recall the exact total, but from 8am to 1pm on a very nice Sunday last August I think it was about a little more than a dozen. I only saw four other hikers (plus two of us), one guy with a light-weight canoe who turned back, and about a half-dozen mountain bikers.

        There’s likely some back-dated sign-in logs there still.

  13. Paul says:

    ““The general public will not appreciate eating road dust, avoiding being struck and hearing engines roaring up and down Gulf Brook Road. They are here to experience quietude, solitude and naturalness. In a final management plan, DEC should continue to restrict general public parking to the existing lot.””

    Perhaps, but they eat it up in places like Floodwood Pond and the St. Regis Canoe area where there is pretty extensive motorized access getting you close to the ponds? My guess is that places like the St. Regis Canoe outfitters out there would not do nearly the business without that sort of access. The number of users you see in there pretty much tells the story. How many folks have been using the area under the interim access plan (numbers not just generalities)?

    • Boreas says:

      It wouldn’t be hard for someone to swing by and look at the log book. It is likely still the original book. When I looked at it the first autumn the book was in place I think there were about 5 pages of names. I doubt it has been filled yet. But I don’t know if the road is open past the highway yet. May still be plenty of mud and snow.

  14. Blaikie Worth says:

    Thanks to all who want this extraordinary place protected so our descendants can experience the vital freshness which is so rare.
    I still remember a visit to Lake O’Hara in British Columbia almost sixty years ago;
    we went in on horseback, only way allowed then (and I hope now)

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