News about the state’s decision on the classification of the 21,000-acre Boreas Ponds tract, part of a larger 54,000-acre classification package released by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), has been met with a spectrum of cheers and some jeers.
The decision is clearly a compromise, and as with any good compromise there was give and take, with things in it that people both support and oppose. As we evaluate this historic turn of events in the days before the APA takes up deliberations on February 1st and 2nd, it’s worth taking stock of the making of this compromise. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency is considering a compromise that would protect the Boreas Ponds as “forever wild” Adirondack wilderness, along with other source waters of the Hudson River in the heart of the Adirondacks. The plan would also provide economic benefits to gateway communities.
If it is approved in its current form, and the buffer to the south of the Boreas Ponds is managed in a way that protects the ponds, this plan will respect the integrity and legacy of legal protections in the Adirondack Park while benefiting both wilderness and communities. » Continue Reading.
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.
News that the Adirondack Park Agency plans to subvert a minimal wilderness designation at Boreas Ponds with both motorized and mechanized access corridors is not just discouraging, it is frightening. This is not a word that I toss out for emotional effect. It is my genuine reaction to the idea that the agency is becoming an obstacle to the wilderness preservation narrative that defines part of the Adirondack Park’s proud history.
Throughout this current land classification process — initiated in October 2016 and still unresolved today — the state has been setting a poor leadership example by pitting so-called user groups against one another, setting the expectation that one side wins and the other loses in this zero-sum game we politely call Forest Preserve management. » Continue Reading.
It is unlikely that there will be a decision on the classification of the Boreas Ponds at the January 2018 meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The APA will reportedly take up this work at its February meeting.
The APA has received the preferred option for the classification of the Boreas Ponds from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is still awaiting the final check off from Governor Cuomo, but the APA is taking this as a done deal. The DEC’s preferred option enjoys the support of APA Chairman Sherman Craig, long a proponent for mountainbike use in Wilderness areas. » Continue Reading.
There will be no decision on the classification of the Boreas Ponds at the November meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The APA often does not meet in either December or January so it could be that there is no decision until February 2018 or after. The Governor has made it clear that he will make the final decision on Boreas Ponds and will instruct the APA on what to do. For it’s part, the APA has prepared the paperwork for the Boreas classification, but patiently awaits the decision by the Governor.
The Boreas Ponds sit as the centerpiece of a classification package of over 50,000 acres of Forest Preserve lands that the APA took to public hearing one year ago. Once the hearings concluded in mid-December a decision was supposed to be speedy with management set by the summer 2017 field season. Yet, here we are a year later with no decision in sight. » Continue Reading.
What happened to the Adirondack Park Agency’s classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract? Months have passed with no sign of it on the APA’s monthly agenda. Information does seep out here and there, and it’s not encouraging. By now it’s no secret that plans are afoot for the Boreas classification that have nothing to do with the intended, legal process: namely development of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS), public hearings and public written comments and analysis, all leading to a recommended alternative.
Instead, the State is scrambling to find a way to accommodate the wishes of Governor Cuomo, who fancies a “hut-to-hut” system in the Adirondacks that includes facilities at Boreas, a development not contemplated in any of the four currently proposed alternatives. This is not how it is supposed to work and it raises questions of who is accountable for a classification process gone wrong.
The best information to trickle out so far is that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will take up the Boreas Ponds classification deliberations starting at the October 2017 meeting in Ray Brook, but that it could be delayed until November. The APA has, apparently completed much of the paper work on the Environmental Impact Statement and organized its response to public comments. The APA has also organized various options for consideration by the APA Board; mostly they are similar to those taken to public hearing last fall. The missing piece is final layout of the classification of the Boreas Ponds tract that will be used as the APA’s “Preferred Option.” For that, the APA is waiting on Governor Cuomo to make the final call and tell the APA what his, and their, “Preferred Option” will be.
Governor Cuomo’s preferred option faces a number of questions, which will affect the process and timing of the APA’s final decision. For instance, if the Governor decides he wants a new Intensive Use area on any of the lands in question this will necessitate a change to the EIS and a new round of public hearings. If the Governor decides to leave a blank 5-acre cutout that remains unclassified “pending classification,” the decisions on the surrounding classifications will limit what can eventually be authorized in the unclassified tract. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State Message in January, indicated that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) “…will construct infrastructure at Boreas Ponds in the Adirondacks and build trails as part of the ‘hut-to-hut’ system that links state lands to community amenities.
DEC is committed to expanding recreational opportunities for hikers, bikers, skiers, paddlers, horseback riders, hunters, anglers and others. Outdoor enthusiasts of all skills and abilities will be able to enjoy, for the first time, the most significant addition in the history of the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” according to the statement.
At the Boreas Ponds classification hearing held in Albany on December 7, 2016, Ross Whaley reminded the audience that public opinion alone doesn’t determine a land classification. As a former chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency, Mr. Whaley would know.
But at that same hearing — the last in a series of eight hosted by the APA — about eighty people stepped up to the podium to make their voices heard, in a marathon session that stretched a good four hours. A lot of people had something to say about Boreas Ponds that afternoon.
And by the time the written comment period ended on December 30th, the agency had received some 11,200 emails, letters, and postcards from concerned people not just across the state, but from across North America and beyond.
This level of public interest in a classification proceeding was probably unprecedented; I had certainly not seen anything like it. People participated in this process in good faith, offering their input with the assumption that state officials were paying attention.
More important than the quantity of those comments was the content. Many, many people were disappointed with the shortage of options presented by the park agency, and were not shy in saying so. Of the written comments, 84% supported a wilderness classification at Boreas Ponds stronger than anything being considered by the state; 36.5% favored a full wilderness classification, meaning no mechanized access of any kind. » Continue Reading.
The state has reopened Gulf Brook Road on the Boreas Ponds Tract as far as the interim parking area created last year.
As a result, the public can drive 3.2 miles up the dirt road. From there, hikers must walk another 3.6 miles on roads to the southern end of Boreas Ponds. Mountain bikers will once again be able to ride as far as the ponds, but no farther. » Continue Reading.
Environmental groups are alarmed by a conceptual proposal floated by the Cuomo administration to establish lodging facilities near Boreas Ponds — in an area they believe should be classified as “untrammeled” Wilderness.
The groups say they would fight any such proposal vigorously, contending that it would violate both the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Article 14, the section of the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest land.”
State officials have not released details of the proposal, but they have discussed it with the Park’s green groups. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency has posted its agenda and materials for its meeting this week (May 11-12th) and there is no action scheduled for the classification of Boreas Ponds or any other Forest Preserve lands. All indications show that there is little likelihood for action on the Boreas Ponds at the APA’s June meeting.
The state’s ambitious schedule announced at the time of the classification hearings at the end of 2016, where they stated a plan to have this process completed in advance of the 2017 summer season, has been abandoned. What has slowed the state to a grind is its commitment to a series of unprecedented Forest Preserve management actions to build some form of lodging and dining facility near Boreas Ponds. The exact form of this plan remains in flux, but the state leaders at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is leading this effort, remain determined to fundamentally change management of the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.
An overwhelming majority of New York voters want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to protect the newly purchased Boreas Ponds tract in the Adirondack Park by classifying it as a Wilderness Area where motorized vehicles and bicycles are prohibited, according to a poll by the Siena College Research Institute.
Those who favor a wilderness classification for Boreas Ponds outnumbered opponents of wilderness by 4.5-to-1 (67 percent to 15 percent), the poll found. Support came from all geographic areas and from across the entire political spectrum.
These are extremely positive results for wilderness advocates. They look even better when you consider that the state didn’t hold a single public hearing south of the Catskills on the classification of Boreas Ponds. Everyone in New York City, the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island had to make a special effort to learn about this issue. » Continue Reading.
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