Saturday, October 9, 2021

The future of Follensby Pond

follensby pond

In case you missed it, the state and The Nature Conservancy are in discussion over the future of Follensby Pond. The tract in Tupper Lake has a storied past from its days hosting great philosophers like Ralph Waldo Emerson. Its heritage lake trout are also legendary. We haven’t heard much about this property. The Nature Conservancy purchased it about 13 years ago.

Some believe state and conservancy negotiations will lead to Follensby Pond closed to the public, while others have high hopes it will be part of the forest preserve. What would you like to see?

Last Monday I took a trip to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve to talk to some folks out hiking. We’ll be posting more on that on our website soon. You can also read about it in our upcoming November/December issue of the magazine. That should be hitting mailboxes at the end of the month.

I’ve received quite a few calls and emails about getting to the AMR. Most people want to visit Indian Head. Last Monday was quite rainy (like this one–what else is new?), but a few people were braving it to the fjord-like view. Most of the spots for the next two weeks appear booked, but some people may cancel for the rain. Keep checking if you’re looking for a spot to go. And although it was rainy while I was there, it was actually quite beautiful to see the clouds and mist rolling through the valley. I took a timelapse, which you can see by clicking here.

Photo: Follensby Pond by Carl Heilman II

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

9 Responses

  1. nathan says:

    i would hope it’s open to the public to canoe, maybe a few lean-to, that is part of why adirondacks was created, preserve nature for people to enjoy!

  2. Wally Elton says:

    I’d like tightly controlled and limited overnight access to give wildlife, solitude and silence priority.

  3. Matt says:

    Yes, I agree that human recreation is part of the reason that the blue line was created. I disagree that preservation coincides with human land use.

    Preservation aims to eliminate human use of the environment and preserve all living things. The correct term you are implying is conservation. This is why the department designated to trails, fishing, and hunting is called the DEC.

    I would like to see it continue as a private nature preserve, so that the lake trout research studies of this area continue with minimal human impacts.

    If you allow canoeing people will fish there regardless of if there is a fishing ban. I see this in many areas such as trout ponds that say no baifish allowed and people plop shiners over their boat. Im an avid fisherman myself but feel nature preserves be left as artifacts of what once existed for scientific research.

  4. Boreas says:

    If the property is to remain adequately protected, it needs to remain in the hands of a private party with preservation as its primary goal. Allowing broad access is the best way to damage it. Sure – I would like to see it, but not at the cost of losing it.

  5. JB says:

    Maybe 25, or 50, years ago, we’d be talking unwaveringly about adding one of the last remaining private headwater tracts to the public Forest Preserve, and building a ring of campsites and multi-use trails around all water bodies. Now, 50,000+ acres of newly public-owned lands later, hundreds of new campsites and trails, and a consistent inundation by millions of hikers,hunters and anglers–a classic case of increased use by “induced demand”–I think that we all need to admit that opening up the last remaining significant (in heritage, hydrologically, ecologically) private tracts is at best misguided, more likely an abhorrent betrayal of the spirit of preservation.

    NYS and groups like the TNC and OSI need to develop a framework for protecting selected lands (ideally those primely positioned to act as ecological and overuse “buffers”) not only from development and timber management, but also from public encroachment (conservation easements are inadequate). Many other countries have such systems in place to varying degrees, with the Russian Federation having some particularly spectacular examples of “class A” reserves. Even some of our neighbors, like Ontario and Quebec, at least have some pretty tight permitting requirements that are demanded of hikers, paddlers, hunters and anglers on millions of acres of public lands.

    The old “seeing is protecting” argument has been proven a myth and a fallacy hundreds of times over in our neck of the woods alone (case in point: Follensby Pond vs. the High Peaks next door). Perhaps the lack of common sense management in our state and, to a lesser extent, our nation, is a result of some combination of tradition, balkanization and privatization, but I think more likely it is a result of a mass psychology of individualistic entitlement coincident with sycophantic political institutions that have forgotten about government’s role as a mediator, as opposed to an enabler or dispossessor–a philosophy that has managed to go unnoticed in its irksome eking in wide margins during times of plenty, but this is a time of much scarcity of ecological, economic, and civil capital, yet one of overabundance of people, who are more active, more mobile, more technologically equipped and more individualistic. Government in its purest form exists to manage such perfect storms of coextant incongruity–not to remove any and all barriers, but to erect a compartmentalized latticework that minimizes impediments to free individual movement while maximizing protection of the betrodden spaces that lie between us and our own invented torments.

  6. Wayno says:

    Seems like there ought to be a way to allow public access and maintain the wilderness. A permit system and a long carry in should discourage most casual users. They’re using drones to monitor Little Clear Pond, maybe something like that could be used on Follensby. It is a shame what happened to the trout in Little Tupper and we need to prevent that type of thing in the future. To stop adding land to the Forest Preserve seems like a drastic step that should be avoided.

    • Boreas says:


      The problem is, buying sensitive land like this with public funds then severely restricting it in the manner necessary to properly protect it would likely never pass muster – at least in today’s political polarity. I doubt taxpayers and the legislature would allow it. A Wilderness classification is the strongest we have right now, and it isn’t even terribly protective. Unfortunately, the days of people working together for the common good are in the past. People no longer agree on what is the common good.

  7. Deb says:

    Think it’s time to have the spa create a new land designation a preserve reserve for Follensby Pond and the Whitney property. They are important because they are large tracts of wilderness and wildlife that need protection from the public. With limited controlled access by its own a site steward.

  8. Chris says:

    Which Follensby Pond ?
    Follensby Clear Pond or Follensby Junior Pond ?

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