The Adirondack Park Agency held public hearings on Boreas Ponds at eight different locations around the state in November and December. Hundreds of people spoke, offering a potpourri of opinions. But one constant was a sea of green T-shirts bearing the slogan “I Want Wilderness.”
BeWildNY, a coalition of eight environmental groups, created the T-shirts to push the idea that Boreas Ponds should be classified as motor-free Wilderness. » Continue Reading.
As I review notes from several public hearings on the State Land Classifications, including Boreas Ponds, the apparent gulf between voices to “keep it or make it wild” and “this isn’t wilderness anyway and we need motorized access” seem unbridgeable.
Well, perhaps not. More than one or two speaking out for “more access” to the Boreas Ponds (usually meaning motorized) also addressed how experiencing quiet, serenity and wildlife undisturbed moved them personally as much as any wilderness advocate. For their part, several wilderness advocates stressed that economic benefits of access (usually non-motorized) should interest local businesses and governments. The personal values expressed by all the speakers clearly demonstrated the common ground for all of us – a deep appreciation, even love for being in the out of doors Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
A coalition of regional and national conservation organizations and supporters presented more than 22,000 petition signatures and thousands of personal letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Adirondack Park Agency calling on the agency to protect the Boreas Ponds tract as motor-free wilderness.
Public hearings on the state’s land-classification plans for the area have already begun. They will continue through early December. Public comments will be accepted by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) through Dec. 30. » Continue Reading.
At the Northville Central School public hearing this past week, about 60 citizens lined up to speak their minds regarding the Adirondack Park Agency’s 2016 – 2017 Amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. These amendments involve the Classification and Reclassification of 54,418 acres of State Lands (Forest Preserve) in the Adirondack Park which include the Boreas Ponds Tract, 32 Additional Classification Proposals, 13 Reclassification Proposals, and 56 Classifications involving map corrections.
As I waited my turn at the microphone, I was very impressed with the respectful sincerity and preparedness of the speakers who came before me. These included folks much younger than me who spoke about wilderness values, the potential of wild restoration, and how such restoration comports with their own personal values. » Continue Reading.
Recently there was an article by Phil Brown on the Boreas Ponds in the Adirondack Alamanck outlining the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) support for a wilderness classification. After reading the article, I thought it best to visit the Boreas Ponds Tract, and research the letter written to Governor Andrew Cuomo by Mike Carr, who was then TNC’s Executive Director.
The visit to the Boreas Ponds was my first since TNC sold the property to the State of New York in April. In fact it was my first visit since Finch, Pruyn owned the property. I believe Finch was an excellent steward of the Boreas Ponds Tract, which they owned for over 100 years. It was a working forest and their show place for those doing business with Finch, Pruyn. To that end, the company built a lodge that also served as a kind of conference center with a beautiful stone fireplace and spacious accommodations. This was torn down according to the agreement between the owner (TNC) and the buyer (New York State). » Continue Reading.
My favorite activity is paddling quiet waters. I cherish the experiences I’ve had on the lakes, rivers, and ponds in Adirondacks, including canoeing on the Boreas Ponds. I think the spectacular view of the high-rising peaks to the north is unmatched.
I also believe that reasonable access to these waters is in the best interest of the public, while minimizing harm to the environment. However, the definition of reasonable access and minimizing harm varies among the stakeholders, primarily centered on the use of the existing Gulf Brook Road – a 6.8 mile gravel road from Boreas or Blue Ridge Road (County Route 84) to the ponds.
A couple of weeks ago I drove up Gulf Brook Road for 3.2 miles as allowed by the state’s interim access plan, which is 2.5 miles from the ponds. I wanted to orient myself to the access issues raised in the many articles in the media, including the Adirondack Almanack. I parked my car at the parking lot, skirted the stop sign, and walked about a half-mile toward the ponds. Looking at the trail register I saw the names of two friends who had been to the ponds recently, and decided to email them, asking how they experienced the 2.5-mile carry on the road and the ponds. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Wild has left the BeWildNY coalition, saying it disagrees with the coalition’s proposal to allow the public to drive to within a mile or so of Boreas Ponds.
Adirondack Wild announced its decision as the Adirondack Park Agency prepares for public hearings on the classification of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which the state bought from the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy in April.
The classification decision could influence how much motorized access is allowed on the tract.
Much of the debate over Boreas Ponds has focused on the future of Gulf Brook Road, a dirt road built for logging trucks when Finch, Pruyn & Company owned the land. » Continue Reading.
There are many ways to constrain the boundaries around public participation in decision-making. One way is to sidestep the law without amending it, thereby limiting public awareness and legislative debate of the issues. An example of this is occurring on the former Finch, Pruyn lands where the State wants to issue itself a permit or a variance to allow snowmobile connectors in river corridors when the law says that that motorized recreational activity is not permitted.
Under the Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Area Unit Management Plan, the State recently argued in Albany County Supreme Court that DEC regulations allow the agency to issue itself a permit or variance to do things that others could not do, like build a motorized bridge over a scenic Cedar River, or operate motor vehicles over a scenic river like the Hudson River. Other parts of these River regulations expressly disallow the State from issuing itself a permit or variance to undertake a project which the statute disallows. » Continue Reading.
In response to public criticism, the Adirondack Park Agency staff came up with a fourth option for classifying the Boreas Ponds Tract, but it hasn’t ended the controversy.
The APA board is expected to vote Friday to hold public hearings on the four options, despite complaints that the staff failed to present a full range of alternatives for the tract and failed to properly analyze the alternatives it did present.
On Thursday, the State Land Committee voted to approve the hearing schedule and the four options, setting the stage for a vote by the full board, which is expected to follow suit.
Adirondack Forest Preserve advocacy groups are calling on the Adirondack Park Agency’s board to reject at this week’s meeting all three staff proposals for classifying the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract.
The major objection is that under all three proposals, a 6.8-mile logging road that leads to Boreas Ponds would be designated Wild Forest, which could allow people to drive all the way to the ponds.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), said it’s even possible that motorboats could be allowed on the water. Under the APA’s first alternative, the ponds would be classified Wild Forest, which could allow motorboats. The other two alternatives are silent on the ponds’ classification.
Woodworth said the APA board should direct the staff to come up with new proposals, a step that would delay public hearings on the Boreas classification. “It’s more important to get this classification right than do it fast,” he said.
The staff of the Adirondack Park Agency has set forth three alternatives for classifying the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, none of which mirrors proposals backed by the Nature Conservancy, which sold the land to the state, and other environmental groups.
The APA board is expected to discuss the alternatives at its meeting next week and hold public hearings around the state in November and December.
All the proposals of the APA and the various stakeholder groups would divide the tract into Wilderness, where no motorized use is allowed, and Wild Forest, where some motorized use can be permitted.
The Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy has taken the unusual step of entering into the debate over the classification of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract, which it sold to the state this year.
In a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the conservancy recommends that 11,500 acres be classified Wilderness, the most restrictive designation, and 9,030 acres be classified Wild Forest, which allows some motorized use. The adjacent 1,587-acre Casey Brook Tract also would be classified Wilderness.
Among other things, the tract’s classification will determine how close visitors will be allowed to drive to Boreas Ponds and whether they will be allowed to ride mountain bikes on old logging roads around the ponds.
Maybe this was another over-ambitious canoe trip, like the one that I had undertaken with the same naturalist friend in late June. At mid-seventies and late sixties perhaps we two women should have been following a strong young person pulling our boats, or more sensibly, home walking the dog. But modern, light-weight canoes and carriers tempted us to test our limits. We have never been serious sports enthusiasts, I myself never using anything more than boots and sticks of one kind or another for exercise, so our limits were set fairly low.
The plan was to meet at Bonnie’s house at 8:30, but neither of us could sleep in the early morning, from excitement – or fear? So we left her house an hour early in her husband’s truck, luckily, as much of the 3.2 mile road to the parking area for the Boreas Ponds was rough. » Continue Reading.
When I began to explore the Adirondack Forest Preserve as a young adult in the 1990s, the Wilderness and Wild Forest areas had already been established two decades before my arrival. Furthermore, the discussion of which activities and which facilities should be permitted in each state land category had occurred several years before I was born. I never had any say in how the State Land Master Plan was developed; for the first twenty-one years of my life I had no clue it even existed.
But when I finally did discover the remotest recesses of the Adirondack Park, it felt like an epiphany: a light switch had been flipped on, and a part of myself I had not previously known (but always suspected) was now illuminated. Wilderness travel was immediately agreeable to me. It was an immersive experience that engaged my mind and challenged my body; the slow pace and rough edges existed in direct contrast to everyday life, a tonic to suburban normalcy. “Wilderness” was not an abstract concept after all, but a tangible reality into which I could disappear for two days every week.
The Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled tentative dates for hearings on the controversial classification of Boreas Ponds.
The APA staff is expected to present a classification proposal for Boreas Ponds and other newly acquired state lands at the APA’s next board meeting, on October 13.
After reviewing public input, the agency is expected to vote on the classifications of these lands early next year. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will then write a management plan based on the classifications.
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