Tuesday, May 29, 2018

High Peaks Plans Should Respect Public Opinion

boreas ponds roadWhile casting her vote for the Boreas Ponds land classification known as Alternative 2 on February 2, 2018, one Adirondack Park Agency board member told the audience gathered at the agency’s headquarters in Ray Brook that we should “take a leap of faith,” even if the public wasn’t getting the wilderness classification it wanted. She said that we should trust the Department of Environmental Conservation to protect the Boreas Ponds in its forthcoming unit management plan (UMP) for the area, where environmental safeguards would be written into the proposals for recreational access.

Unfortunately, that faith has proven to be unwarranted. DEC has released a pair of management plans that will impact the future of not just the beautiful Boreas Ponds, but the entire High Peaks Wilderness. The scope of these two documents far exceeds the available time to read and assess everything they contain, but even with a cursory review it is abundantly clear that our state agencies are failing to meet the public’s expectations.

One obvious issue is the absence of public involvement in the creation of these two plans, which cover the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest and High Peaks Wilderness. We are all aware of the stewardship woes affecting the High Peaks region, from unsafe parking areas to crowded summits and trampled trails. It is necessary and timely for DEC to address these issues, but viable resolutions can’t be vetted in one 45-day comment window.

The original High Peaks Wilderness UMP from 1999 took years to develop, and it was based on the work of a citizen advisory committee that convened in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. The role of that committee, which was comprised of numerous stakeholders, was to work with DEC to investigate and discuss ways to better manage the park’s largest wilderness.

By contrast, the current UMP appears to be a reaction to news headlines. It itemizes all of the issues that have been raised here on the Almanack or in the Adirondack Explorer, as well as those that have been voiced by local officials such as Joe Pete Wilson from Keene.

The documents also list all the things that DEC plans to do to address these problems. That’s great, but where did these proposed resolutions come from? How have they been vetted, and have all the ramifications been thought through? There are many proposals for trail realignments and new parking areas found within the 150-page UMP, and maybe some of these ideas are good ones. Or maybe they will prove to be expensive boondoggles. The point is, without direct public involvement in the development of these ideas, many of them come off as potentially ill-conceived. And the fact that DEC and APA are giving us only 45 days to read, digest, and respond to the plans adds to the perception that public input is, in fact, not wanted.

One of the best examples of how the new High Peaks UMP will almost certainly have unintended consequences can be found on pages 68 and 69, where a proposal to construct three new parking areas with a combined capacity of 65 cars near Chapel Pond is outlined. Obviously, the goal is to improve the safety of the area, which is the trailhead for Dix Mountain, Giant Mountain, and numerous climbing routes. The area attracts dozens of cars every weekend, all of them parked along the side of NY Route 73 — one of the busiest highways in the region.

At first glance, this would resolve a troubling public safety issue by providing a place for hikers and climbers to park off the main highway. However, the UMP cannot guarantee what will happen to the old roadside parking areas. If the new parking lots are built before confirming anyone has the authority or wherewithal to close the old ones, then DEC will merely be building additional capacity to further overload the trails. People will continue to use the old parking areas after the new ones fill up, thus failing to resolve the safety issue while directly contributing to the overuse issue.

In the case of Boreas Ponds, the basic plan is to open all the gates to maximize access to the roads south of the wilderness boundaries, and then photograph the resource impacts as they happen. This is not hyperbole on my part, but a summation of a proposal that first appears on pages 46-47 of the High Peaks plan and is repeated several places elsewhere. The word “impact” appears 108 times in the course of the plan’s 150 pages, but in every instance DEC does a conceptual dance around that word. While the Department acknowledges that its actions will result in impacts to the resource, the UMP attempts to assure us that these are things to worry about in the future, not the present. The assumption is that the Boreas Ponds Tract is so new that we can’t know what the impacts will be, so it’s OK to start building things and then see what happens over time.

Lest anyone concede the apparent wisdom of this line of reasoning, consider that DEC can trace its origins to the administration of Governor John A. Dix in 1911, meaning it was founded the year before the sinking of the Titanic. The Department therefore has 107 years of institutional experience to inform its stewardship decisions in matters like this, and therefore should have every ability to predict the outcome of its actions in the Forest Preserve. As members of a concerned citizenry, it is our role not to let DEC get away with playing dumb. Any forester who can’t see the difference between the Fish Creek Ponds (easily accessed, crowded waterways, densely packed campsites, aquatic invasive species everywhere) and the West Canada Lakes (remote, miles of untouched shorelines, healthy except for a slight acid rain hangover) is not qualified to hold the job.

One might say that Albany’s willful dismissal of the public support for strong wilderness protections at Boreas is a form of government without the consent of the governed. Public participation was built into the state land management process for good reason, and in this case the public made it abundantly clear that wilderness was the preferred outcome. In fact, the proponents for a full wilderness classification for Boreas outnumbered those favoring motorized access at a rate of three to one.

boreas ponds meetingWhile a state land classification proposal should not be decided entirely on public opinion, state agencies discount the public’s support at their own peril. When so many people speak in favor of something, and yet the state acts directly against that public will, people don’t see history in the making, as the APA board seemed to think on February 2nd. What the public sees are political agendas being fulfilled, backroom deals being honored, and the public trust being betrayed.

One respected local government leader recently confided to me his belief that the acquisition of the Finch Pruyn lands was a model for how all Adirondack issues should be handled going forward. To him, the events of the last ten years represented an instance where The Nature Conservancy got buy-in from the counties and towns before proceeding with the acquisition, thus giving local government a seat at a table at which it never felt welcomed previously. It was unfortunate that the tone of the discussion regressed during the 2016 classification hearings, he said, when the various players regrouped behind their old battle lines and started talking past each other again — highlighting the need to get everyone together at the beginning of the process.

I don’t disagree with this county leader’s view about involving all of the relevant stakeholders early in the process. But the general public’s involvement should never be discounted in the way it has been at Boreas. The public’s support for wilderness at Boreas Ponds was and is genuine. Nobody paid anybody to show up at any of the eight public classification hearings and wear one of those green shirts; and although some groups arranged for their own buses and vans for the convenience of their members, nobody was “bused in” by a third party just for the sake of inflating attendance.

People came to the hearings and submitted written comments because they felt compelled as individuals to speak in favor of an idea that was extremely important to them. You might disagree with what these wilderness supporters said or the way they combed their hair, and your feathers might have also been ruffled by the fact that some of them came from out of state, or that a few of them were too young to even buy beer.

But this doesn’t make any of the people who spoke for wilderness extremists, or elitists, or people who hate the disabled and elderly. It is human nature to want to preserve something, to know that the ideals of the current generation will survive to enrich the lives of future generations. This is what motivated people to speak up. It was not born from the idea that all land should be wilderness, but that some places possess unique qualities that need to be protected above all other concerns.

Thus the outcome at Boreas Ponds will not be remembered as an historical achievement. All of the decisions made so far by New York State have placed at hazard the wilderness characteristics we implored our civil servants to protect: the sensitive shorelines, the wetland habitats, the waterways unclogged with invasive species, the sense of remoteness. As a new addition to the Forest Preserve, the Boreas Ponds Tract is about to face public use pressures that it never had to endure in more than a century of private stewardship. This almost makes the state’s acquisition of the property seem regrettable, given the circumstances.

Boreas Ponds has inspired more ordinary citizens to speak in favor of wilderness than any other tract in the history of the Adirondack Park. That’s a great and inspiring outcome. Trashing that public interest for the sake of forcing through a political deal, on the other hand, is just bad government in action.

The most important actions that APA, DEC, and local government could take are to respect public opinion and invite public involvement in the management of the Forest Preserve. If you think a certain tract should not be wilderness for reasons X, Y, and Z, then by all means make your case. Court the public’s blessing in the same way you would to win approval for a constitutional amendment, which is the ultimate form of public input in Forest Preserve matters. Just be prepared to accept the consequences if the zeitgeist never swings your way.

And never underestimate the degree to which people value wilderness.

Photos provided.

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Bill Ingersoll is the chairman of Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, formed in 2016 to speak on behalf of the wilderness character of the Forest Preserve. He has hiked and backpacked in wildernesses across America, but feels most at home in the grand forests of the Adirondacks. He is the publisher of the Discover the Adirondacks guidebook series, and his articles and photos have appeared in Adirondack Explorer, Adirondack Sports & Fitness, and Adirondack Life magazines. You will find him exploring the North Country with his dog Bella in all four seasons, by trail, snowshoe, and canoe.




60 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    Thanks Bill! I am with you on this, regardless of the “final” outcomes. It is yet another bizarre and unfortunate example of today’s broken democratic systems. As I mentioned in another thread, if you don’t get it right the first time by USING public opinion instead of just “allowing” it, the state government and taxpayers will just be revisiting this again a few months or years down the road.

    As you say, we shouldn’t have to “wait & see” what will happen with poor decisions or poor management. It has all been done before over the last century, and if anyone should know, it is the DEC. This isn’t rocket science.

    • Paul says:

      Democratic system? Public comment is not a referendum? What some see as a broken democratic system could also be described as a representative democracy that didn’t go the way one or another was hoping. It happens to me all the time too! Here I would say less access is my personal preference but I certainly can see the arguments against it.

      • Boreas says:

        45 day comment period? That is no way to develop a comprehensive plan this far-reaching. Rather, that would require discussion, not simply ‘comments’. Comments are useless if no one is listening. The issue here isn’t the outcome, but, as Bill mentions, the continued circumvention of required processes that the administration chooses to ignore. It didn’t start with BP or the HPW plans – they are just two more examples of expediting plans that do not need – or deserve – to be rushed.

  2. Smitty says:

    I support wilderness but with reasonable access. Another thing that would be nice would be good campsites that charge a modest fee, allow fires and are reservable. Who would do this? Maybe ADK could do it under contract to DEC and receive a portion of the fee. Nothing worse than the uncertainty of obtaining a campsite especially when you’ve traveled some distance to get there. It forces everyone to get there early to claim a spot. This would also hold people accountable for campsite behavior.

    • Tyler says:

      What your asking for is literally found across the Park already. There are 6,970 miles of public roads cross-crossing the Adirondack Park, and over half of the public land is classified as Wild Forest. 80% of the Park is within 1 mile of a road or snowmobile trail, and if that’s not enough, go outside of the Adirondacks and enjoy access literally everywhere else. Quite specifically, you could also drive all the way into the Essex Chain in Newcomb, but no one else is really doing that.

      What’s at stake are two things, 1) the last remaining remote areas of the Adirondacks, and 2) the legacies of the people currently at the table who have the privilege of deciding the fate of the Boreas Ponds Tract, and therefore, our heritage of wildness.

      • Tyler says:

        Also, there are these 48 heavily-developed and manicured State Campgrounds and Day Use Areas for you to choose from around the Park: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7825.html

        None of them offer the silence, solitude, and remoteness that you currently experience right now at the any spot in the Boreas Ponds Tract north of Blue Ridge Road, but they are all great options to camp at an accessible place!

        • Paul says:

          Perhaps what the person is looking for is more solitude than you would find in a place like a state park but with a bit more access than a long hike or carry? What is proposed here under some scenarios is not heavily developed or manicured. Also, this is not the last remaining remote area in the Adirondacks. Close to the HPW maybe? If you look at what is going on in the HPW it looks less and less “remote”. It will be interesting to see what happens with Follensby. Our heritage of Wilderness will be greater (and the Wilderness in the park will be larger) no matter the scenario is selected. There are no all Wild Forest or Intensive use options even being considered.

          • Boreas says:

            “Also, this is not the last remaining remote area in the Adirondacks. Close to the HPW maybe? If you look at what is going on in the HPW it looks less and less “remote”.”

            Paul,
            These are just some examples of things that should have open and honest discussion in developing these UMPs, don’t you agree? People keep focusing on Vanderwhacker (Boreas Pond access), but ultimately, the HPW decisions will very likely effect more people and businesses in the long run.

            • Paul says:

              What should have been done was to decide on a classification and develop a UMP prior to the acquisition. This land was not under any imminent threat of development nor was the TNC considering selling the property to any other party. If an all wilderness (or closer to it) classification with limited access was the outcome (like many commenters are asking for) then I predict that the towns would not have approved the sale and then the land would have had to stay as private and it could have continued to be protected as it has been for many years. maybe they would have approved the sale. But in the end it would have all been “open and honest” if it were done that way.

              • Boreas says:

                Totally agree. The intent was good, the process flawed. It seems like the state or TNC could have worked out an “intent to buy” deal that would have allowed 2-4 years of public consideration, scientific research, and an apolitical process. Perhaps huge acquisitions like this should be as hard to make as constitutional amendments – spanning more than one administration. But one of this magnitude and importance isn’t likely to happen again.

                Question is, where will all this ‘local development’ money come from? Patrolling and enforcement? Ecological monitoring? Taxpayers as well? Frontier Town is just the beginning of a potential boondoggle. I hope for the best, but have lived long enough to expect the worst.

                • Paul says:

                  “But one of this magnitude and importance isn’t likely to happen again.”

                  TNC is holding Follensby right now and I am sure would like to see the state buy it soon. Only about 6000 acres less than Boreas with (IMHO) a pond that is much more ecologically and historically valuable.

                  https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/newyork/lands-forests/adirondacks-the-fortune-of-follensby-pond.xml

                  TNC with the DEC and the Natural Heritage program have been have been studying these parcels and others for many years. So the scientific research has been (is being) done.

                  • Boreas says:

                    I hope TNC keeps the parcel.

                    • Mick Finn says:

                      They won’t. They make their fortunes selling charitable trusts to rich donors. Wake up.

                  • Hope says:

                    And the Town of Tupper Lake and Harrietstown can weigh in on the ultimate purchase process if they feel the state will renege on final classification and use. It did once before when NYS tried to purchase directly. Local pols are already reaching out to constituents for their opinions and reactions to the Boreas issues. Things will go smoother if the local voices are heard and recognized as an impt. part of the conversation rather than just dismissed as just stupid opinions from ADK redneck locals which seems to permeate a lot of the commentary on land use in the Park.

          • Smitty says:

            Thanks Paul. That’s exactly what I meant. Incidentally, the 5 ponds wilderness is very remote. It’s a nice hike and I go there quite a bit. But it doesn’t see that much use and it’s pretty much impossible (at least for me) to carry a canoe in that far. Essex Chain is a reasonable canoe carry but the camp sites are mediocre and the drive in is very rough. Boreas Ponds has great potential as a spectacular canoe camping destination and that’s why I think a reservation system would be a great way to control overnight use, as well as a benefit to those who have limited time off and a long way to travel.

  3. Tony Oehler says:

    Does the new UMP definitively state that the upper gate at the newly constructed gravel parking lot will remain open? I thought there would be an allowance for disabled access, but the gate would remain closed otherwise. I thought leaving this gate closed was a reasonable compromise after other details are worked out. Keeping it open is a betrayal of the public’s trust…

    • Boreas says:

      I assume you are talking about BP? What I have read is confusing. From what I understand, the midway gate will remain open (seasonally). But the gate at the highway will likely be closed in winter anyway. I don’t know about possible snowmobile access beyond.

      There will be a gate ~1 mile from the ponds – namely the LaBier Flow gate – which will remain padlocked. People with parking reservations (4 cars) and permits (2 cars) will have the only keys beyond it. There will be limited (enforced??) UNreserved parking at LF as well, but unlimited amount of access. So if the lot is full, you can drop off passengers and/or boats, gear, horses, bikes, etc., but will have to park at the midway lot.(?)

      This is how I read it – anyone read it differently? Anyone who attended the 2 meetings have any additional input/clarification?

      • Tony O. says:

        Yes, I was referring to Boreas Ponds. Thank you for the info. When I hiked in last May from the lower gate, I was surprised to see the large gravel parking lot at the upper gate. I assumed that this was constructed as the future parking area and trail head once a UMP was developed. If this wasn’t the intention why was it constructed? I believe the hike in from this spot was about 3.5 miles and easy. This seemed like a reasonable compromise between the two camps (pro access vs. pro wilderness). Far enough from the ponds to protect the resource, but accessible due to the easy 3.5 mile hike on a well maintained road.

  4. Jim S. says:

    It appears to me that the motivation in this classification process has been economic development. The plan seems to revolve around minimizing the damage rather than protecting the asset.

  5. ADK Music says:

    I’m cool with the Boreas decision. Tons of acreage added to the wilderness and people get to use the road that’s already there! Having more accessible places will spread people out and relieve the “overcrowding in the High Peaks.”

    • Jim S. says:

      The high peaks are overcrowded because of peakbaggers. Boreas Ponds will not likely draw peakbaggers becase the peaks easily reached from the ponds aren’t on the list. It is likely to be a day use area because if they don’t allow campfires (if they’re banned by the Essex Chain there is no reason to allow fires at Boreas) there won’t be many campers. Great place for a picnic, beer isn’t heavy in a tenth of a mile.

      • ed palen says:

        My interpretation of the proposed amendments to the High Peaks Wilderness UMP is that the “Outer High Peaks Zone” will allow campfires at designated sites. This would include Boreas Ponds…

      • Boreas says:

        Check out Allen Mtn.. BP will add to the access of the southern 46 peaks. After the connector trails are built, it will likely be quite busy for people looking for a less-crowded hike on better trails, despite being longer. Add the fact that you will be able to camp at/near the ponds and use them for a base camp…well, you get the picture.

        • Kathy says:

          Are you meaning that parking and camping at the ponds may be the “base” camp for the climbers to the mountains and not necessarily for paddling or fishing the immediate area? Will this cause more overcrowding as the paddlers compete for parking and campsites?
          Not sure how to read your comment….hoping I’m mistaken

          • Boreas says:

            Kathy – my understanding:

            6 cars will be able to park at the ponds (day use only). Anyone will be able to park at LaBier Flow (1 mile from ponds) until the lot is full (10-15 spots?). I believe this may be overnight, longer term parking. More parking will be available at the current 3.5 mile lot, which I believe is to be expanded. There will be no limit on the number of people launching at LaBier Flow – just parking. Hikers, campers, paddlers, etc. will be able to drop off gear/boats at LaBier Flow and park at the 3.5 mile lot – then walk/shuttle in.

            So, camping on the ponds themselves will likely be limited to designated sites to be used by anybody. There will also be formal and informal campsites scattered around the roads away from the ponds to be used by anyone.

            So yes, some people will certainly use the area for a base camp, whether it be paddling, hiking, horseback riding, etc.. One could set up a base camp just N of the ponds and hike in to Allen one day, the Dix range the next, and possibly even Santanoni Range the next. Except for Allen, they would be long treks, but interesting hikes once the connector trails are built. The plan also calls for likely opening the roads PAST the ponds during “hunting season” – likely large-game season – fishing isn’t mentioned to my knowledge.

            How busy will it be for hiking? Hard to tell – depends on when/where the trails are built. Many informal trails already exist, but may need to be rerouted and hardened by the DEC. So yes, this will indeed be a 4-season multi-use area with plenty of competition for limited parking near the the ponds. Only the 6 day-use spots at LaBier Flow are planned to be reservable. I believe the others are to be first-come, first-served. I believe an additional lot somewhere between the 3.5 mile lot and LaBier Flow is being considered.

            This is just one example of the many things that should have had public input before the SLMP plans were developed. If anyone attended the meetings and have better information than mine, please let us know.

            • Kathy says:

              Thank you Boreas ,
              Sad yes for the ponds that will surely lose some appeal as the shores and surrounding areas become more occupied and the sound of motors closer and louder than the loons. Another pristine ,but with effort ,destination turns more to a public playground with 1st come 1st served.
              Certainly I won’t be back to see this since I want to retain my memory of how it should be enjoyed with only exceptions for those who cannot physically do a 7 mile round trip.

              • ADK Music says:

                Yeah Kathy, I’m sure hundreds… No, thousands… Wait, millions of people are going to drive to Boreas Pond just to sit in their cars all day and rev their engines.

                It’s 2018… Cars are quieter than ever.

                You solitude elitists crack me up.

                It’s a massive tract of land and with all of the trail options the State will be creating at the 3 parking lots, I hardly think hundreds of people will be huddling in one spot and invading “Your Space.”

                • Pete Nelson says:

                  Here we go again, with this nonsensical, fact-free charge of elitism. If one really wants to claim elitism (which I would rather not at all), said elitism is and has always been on the side of access. I deserve more access. I want more access. I want. This when the places where solitude can be preserved for anyone who would ever seek it, and for future generations, is a dwindling asset that is disappearing all over the globe. But no matter, I want it at Boreas too. Never mind that we have access and roads all over the Park, all over the country.

                  Really, we don’t have enough access? Most of the Park, with all its access, is woefully under-utilized. But neither that fact nor the fact that roadless areas are incredibly rare in America, is unlikely to matter when the easy rhetoric is that more access is “fair” and “balanced.”

                  • ADK Music says:

                    If they were building mall sized parking lots, you’d have a point. A mini lot near the ponds and a small lot a mile from the ponds is hardly all access…

            • Paul says:

              6 spots in one location, 10-15 at another? This is far less use than there was with the camp leases. I bet you could easily have over 100 vehicles at all the clubs that were in there on a weekend during hunting season. I suspect the economic impact on the area will be less going forward despite what the state claims. Look at what they projected for places like St. Regis Falls with the Champion acquisition. Just a few people a year (if you look at the trail registers that are not stolen!) explore the East Branch of the St. Regis per year. I haven’t seen a car parked at one of the put-ins for years!

              • Boreas says:

                Kathy wasn’t there for the circus. She saw the ponds at the best time – closed to vehicles. I don’t blame her for not wanting to return.

  6. Dan says:

    As good as some ideas might be about how to manage the resources, access, etc…, don’t get your hopes up for any programs that require paid staff; other than what can be arranged at a stationary location like Frontier Town Campground.

    As for the 45-day comment period, that has been the standard for the UMP process, and other public comment situations, for years.

    • Boreas says:

      Dan,

      You would have to admit these concurrent UMPs are significantly bigger, more complicated, and important than previous UMPs. New uses such as bicycling, equestrian, and snowmobiling are additional complicators. If the draft plans were released 2-3 months ago allowing time to digest and research the plans PRIOR to the comment period it would be one thing. But 45 days from the release of the plan with only 3 short meetings for any public interaction seems pretty pathetic.

  7. Charlie S says:

    “The Department therefore has 107 years of institutional experience to inform its stewardship decisions in matters like this, and therefore should have every ability to predict the outcome of its actions in the Forest Preserve.”

    Yeah but we’re talking about the neo DEC and this is a different society than it was back in them olden days and we can be rest assured a suit and tie is a more prominent theme in these neo DEC people than merino wool, fleece, high cut boots….. Heck I bet them DEC suits have no clue what layering means.

    Speaking about environmental conservation did you all hear there’s a new name for the Federal branch of the DEP? (Dept. of Environmental Protection) It is now appropriately named the DED. (Dept. of Environmental Destruction)

  8. Curt Austin says:

    I was a little puzzled by this article, until I realized that by “the public”, the author is generally referring to those present at the public hearings, or submitted comments.

    I think we’re all aware that these are not representative; it is not, cannot be, DEC’s duty to treat them as referendums. They are an opportunity for DEC to learn things, but not a place where a vote is taken. They’re an opportunity for citizens to influence decisions, but they should not expect to get their way.

    I did not attend. I favor the awkward compromise between protection and public use that DEC is required to find, within their narrow range of discretion. I could quibble, but it seems that is what the DEC has done.

  9. ADK Music says:

    Yeah Kathy, I’m sure hundreds… No, thousands… Wait, millions of people are going to drive to Boreas Pond just to sit in their cars all day and rev their engines.

    It’s 2018… Cars are quieter than ever.

    You solitude elitists crack me up.

    It’s a massive tract of land and with all of the trail options the State will be creating at the 3 parking lots, I hardly think hundreds of people will be huddling in one spot and invading “Your Space.”

    • Boreas says:

      Some cars may be quieter. Trucks and motorcycles, just the opposite.

      Someone wanting to get away from people and their noise is now an elitist? Get real. Don’t forget the Ponds proper now carry a Wilderness designation, and the protections that designation affords.

      • ADK Music says:

        Calling it a “public playground” and not wanting to see other people is the absolute definition of a solitude elitist. Remember, one of the key character traits of the ADK is for public recreation. Public = everyone. It’s not “Kathy’s park,” it’s everyone’s park.

  10. Charlie S says:

    ” It’s not “Kathy’s park,” it’s everyone’s park.”

    Yes ADK Music but don’t you think there’s enough roads and don’t you think we could use less exhaust from cars and the noise, etc… especially in places so precious and so few such as the Adirondacks and Boreas Ponds? It’s not everyone’s park as you say thankfully because if it was there’d be no such thing as solitude in them there woods which some of us ever seek, and evidently some us don’t really care about.

    • ADK Music says:

      Sorry Charlie… It is everyone’s park. Deal with it. Just because you bring your canoe to the pond doesn’t make you’re entitled to having the pond to yourself.

      Going hiking and want a true wilderness solitude experience? Learn to bushwhack…

      And again, I highly doubt anyone is going to drive up to the little six car lot and sit and rev their engines all day.

      You guys are grasping for excuses.

      • Charlie S says:

        It’s not everyone’s park ADK Music. Most people don’t care about the woods or solitude or birds and bees…. Nope. A television will do or a lit screen with a keyboard in front of it. In a way wilderness benefits because not everyone is into that sorta thing. Just imagine if everyone had a desire to take their bad habits and their erratic behaviors into the woods ADK! I’m so glad it hasn’t come to that and while you support crowds (and I suppose motorized craft also) in such places (which I find odd) I’m all about getting away from them…..crowds that is! And noise!

        • ADK Music says:

          Again 4-6 spots near the pond… 10-15 a ile from the pond… On a massive tract where there will be a plethora of trails… I don’t think overcrowding will be an issue and there will be plenty of spots for solitude. And, yes, I enjoy solitude… But, I don’t get offended if I’m seeking solitude and happen to run into people. Folks I’ve met in the woods are usually the friendliest that I’ve come across.

          And yeah whether it’s someone’s first time or their 1000th time… They all have the rigjt to be there.

          You see someone not respecting the land? Lead by example. Use the moment to try and educate someone who may have no clue of proper etiquette. We can all strive to be better stewards of the land.

          And, as stated before regarding cars… Most of them are quieter than ever (including trucks)… And, no one is going to reserve one of the spots next to the pond and sit there all day and rev their engines…

          • Boreas says:

            “And, as stated before regarding cars… Most of them are quieter than ever (including trucks)”

            I spent several hours this weekend trying to find data to support your claim because I was truly curious. I came up with nothing. Since the mid 70s to mid 80s, when cars were throttled back for gas mileage and emissions reasons, vehicles have been increasing horsepower. With increasing numbers of vehicle models today well in excess of 300 horsepower, they simply have gotten louder. Many manufacturers actually “tune” exhausts in performance cars and trucks to make the exhaust note louder without being obnoxiously harsh as in open pipes. This is because US consumers want a vehicle that SOUNDS powerful. This follows for motorcycles, cars, and trucks. US consumers don’t want a 400+ HP performance vehicle that buzzes like an Aveo. The owner of a turbocharged Cummins diesel pickup wants to hear a roar, not a hum.

            My 60+ years on this earth as a car enthusiast bears this out. I would say the quietest vehicles ever were produced during the late 70s gas crisis. The technology cretainly exists to reduce exhaust noise, but this tends to hurt power output and efficiency, and wouldn’t be a big seller here in the US anyway. But I found actually trying to find any data is difficult, even on the EPA site. I really would like to see some data on this as a function of time just out of curiosity.

            But the issue here is that ANY noise that doesn’t belong in a natural setting tends to lessen the experience. Vehicle noise carries – especially over water. It’s not rocket science – the closer the vehicles are, and the more there are, the more intrusive the noise will be to animals and people alike in a naturally quiet setting. It isn’t clear in these draft plans who decides how much noise is too much and what the carrying capacity of the various locations are.

            • ADK Music says:

              You’re… You’re… You’re joking right??? Cars were quieter in the 70’s!?! That was the era of muscle cars. I’m dying.
              ???

              Today, we have hybrids and fuel economic cars…
              Can’t hear most of them…

              • Boreas says:

                “Since the mid 70s to mid 80s…”

                Read carefully next time. Muscle cars were dead by the mid 70s. Harley-Davidson was still a small company. Pickup trucks were roughly as loud as a passenger car because they shared essentially the same engines and restricted exhausts.

                We are still awaiting any data you have to support YOUR claim. Some vehicles being quieter doesn’t mean vehicles on the whole are quieter. Your claim is still unsubstantiated, regardless of how hard you laugh. I would like to be proven wrong, but my experience and ears tell me otherwise. I would definitely like to see noise emissions lowered and restrictions enforced on all vehicles, but that is bad for business…

                But more important to this article was my last paragraph – if you got that far in your reading.

    • Boreas says:

      Charlie,
      I guess noise lovers and crowd elitists just don’t understand, or try to. I am glad Kathy was able to enjoy BP before the gates are opened. 3.5 miles didn’t stop her or the many others that have enjoyed the quiet of Boreas Ponds over the last 2 years since the midway gate was installed to keep out cars. It certainly didn’t keep out people with a little gumption.

  11. Mick Finn says:

    Just because public comments are allowed doesn’t mean that this is a democracy. Quite the opposite in fact; DEC has very specific intentions and they have made themselves quite clear on these matters.

    I’m happy for you if you like DEC’s intentions, and sad for you if you don’t.

    C’est la vie.

  12. Mick Finn says:

    One other comment about DEC:

    From my experience, having been is state and provincial parks all over the place, I’d have to give New York’s DEC and “F” Grade. Trails and campsites are poorly maintained if at all, and the overall park State management leaves a lot to be desired.

    They have motives and agendas and adequate public facilities aren’t included.

  13. Tony Goodwin says:

    A couple of points:
    1) I feel a 45-day comment period is fine. Those who feel passionate about the High Peaks and Boreas have likely been following this issue all along. Yes, you have to a actually read the proposed amendments, but that shouldn’t take all that long.
    2) Bill’s piece again mentions the “trampled trails”. Well, even with much lower use levels there were many High Peaks trails that were in bad shape due to poor design and maintenance. Slow progress (like one rock at a time) is being made in correcting these problems; but don’t blame current use levels for the eroded trails.
    3) I also preferred parking at the “inner gate”, but is seems parking any farther in will be strictly limited. Acceptable compromise in my book.
    4) Unless some sort of trail/herd path is created up the east side of Allen, this won’t be an easier way than the current approach. The east side has many blowdown areas from the 1950s to Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
    5) I will submit detailed comments on the plan with particular emphasis on how the plan for Cascade Mt. access and Giant Mt. parking just will not work. But I won’t go on any longer in this comment.

    • Boreas says:

      Tony,

      Here is my issue with the current plan for “limited parking” at LaBier Flow. One may think with say, 10-15 spots available, it would limit road usage to that many cars. But once those spots are full (and I believe this will be multiple day parking) you will have dozens of cars driving 3 miles down the road only to find it is full. Now people (and cars) are milling around trying to figure out what to do to rescue their plans – possibly even waiting for a slot to open. Maybe even a quick walk to the dam, take a leak, let the dogs out, perhaps a picnic. Eventually they either drop off people or gear and drive back to Midway to park, or simply leave altogether. This scenario is neither access nor is it limiting traffic.

      Without some sort of official at the LF parking area, it has the potential to be a real mess on busy weekends. This person would have the responsibility of also posting a sign at Midway stating the lot is full. They would also need to have the authority to keep cars from parking on the side of the road or in non-designated areas – including towing. In many places, this narrow road would become a safety hazard if roadside parking is not seriously dealt with in a timely fashion.

      So, who is going to be the Parking Director? It is going to require more than a Ranger taking a drive back there every couple days. And who would be the Keymaster for permittees and enforcing day-use only parking at the dam? DEC or local employees from the towns benefiting from the access? Perhaps this is already worked out as I am still plowing through the draft plans (slow reader). But it will require a plan.

      • Justin Farrell says:

        Boreas, can we designate you as the parking director? After all, your name is Boreas. ?

        • Boreas says:

          I need $150k/year, medical, and vacations during black-fly season. If they hadn’t torn it down, I could have lived in the lodge.

    • Boreas says:

      Tony,
      I also feel the 45 day comment period is fine, but ONLY IF the Draft plans have been made available for 30-45 days or so PRIOR. A month to read and digest the actual documents, THEN 45 days for comment. Especially when two large and complicated UMP plans are involved.

  14. Charlie S says:

    “Speaking about environmental conservation did you all hear there’s a new name for the Federal branch of the DEP? (Dept. of Environmental Protection) It is now appropriately named the DED. (Dept. of Environmental Destruction)”

    EPA. That’s the one! I stand corrected. This department is now called the EDA….Environmental Destruction Agency.

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