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.