On February 2nd, as the Adirondack Park Agency’s board was listening to its staff’s proposal for a final agency recommendation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the classification of Boreas Ponds and the 20,500-acre parcel surrounding the ponds, board member Chad Dawson asked some tough questions of his fellow board members.
Dawson is a professor at the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and an internationally recognized expert on recreation, natural resources and wilderness management. » Continue Reading.
If I had to pick a side, I suppose I would cast my lot with the older and wiser set who are cheering the APA’s decision to classify the sublime Boreas Ponds tract as a road-accessible wilderness, balanced by an adjoining swath of Wild Forest offering sucor to wielders of mountain bikes, snowmobiles, Falcon Heavy rocketships and any other toy that might strike their fancy. » Continue Reading.
The decision by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is in: by a vote of 8 to 1 the APA Board voted to recommend a classification for the Boreas Ponds Tract that will split the tract between Wilderness and Wild Forest, leaving Gulf Brook open into the heart to the parcel. In their comments many of the Commissioners lauded the “balance” and “compromise” they felt this recommendation represented.
The Adirondack Park Agency today approved the Boreas Ponds as the State’s newest Wilderness lands in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The APA approved the classification of 11,400 acres around Boreas Ponds, and nearly 15,000 acres of other lands bordering the High Peaks as Wilderness. The Governor issued a statement following the decision saying he would sign the classification package.
Public motor vehicle use could be as close as .1 mile to the shoreline of Boreas Ponds. Under this classification, the Gulf Brook Road may be retained as a Forest Preserve road open to bicycles and motor vehicles and used as a snowmobile trail. The Wilderness area around the Boreas Ponds limits public uses to canoes, kayaks or rowboats, hiking, cross-country skiing and camping. » Continue Reading.
The buzz this week, of course, is the announcement of the state’s planned classification of the Boreas Ponds. This news came roughly ten years after we learned that the state intended to purchase this tract for the Forest Preserve, and fifteen months after the Adirondack Park Agency kicked off its formal procedure to classify the land according to the guidelines of the State Land Master Plan.
My neck is still sore from the whiplash I experienced late last week when I first heard the news. It wasn’t the classification decision itself that did it, because my first reaction to the map was one of déjà vu, as I’ll explain in a moment. What caught me off guard was the sight of the various “watchdog” groups tripping over themselves to congratulate the state for its decision, and the press that praised Albany’s direct intervention in what should have been the APA’s independent deliberations. » Continue Reading.
One could almost hear the exhalation of relief by environmentalists when they learned this week that the Governor’s DEC and APA had decided on “Alternative 2 B” for the Boreas Ponds State Land classification.
Large, obvious violations of law were to be avoided, so they learned. Fears held over the past year were apparently allayed. There would be no unclassified area reserved for a future glamorous camping (“glamping”) in the interior, and no bicycle route on vanishing old roads cloaked by balsam fir leading north towards White Lily Pond and the High Peaks Wilderness. Under “2B” the Boreas Ponds themselves at 1200 feet elevation would be incorporated in that Wilderness, as would the boreal forest stretching north to 3,700 feet and the existing High Peaks Wilderness border. Motorized and mechanized access would end at the Boreas Ponds Dam, eight miles in from county highway, or Blue Ridge Road.
I confess I exhaled as well. After all, one year ago the Governor had declared in his State of the State that there would be infrastructure developed and a Hut to Hut program installed in the Boreas Ponds tract. Rumors of a long “Wild Forest corridor” to allow biking far to the north of the Ponds abounded. Wilderness advocates had dodged a bullet, it seemed. A Solomon-like compromise of Wilderness and Wild Forest access to the Ponds had been reached, or so it seemed. » Continue Reading.
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.
The Boreas Tract is just one part of the proposed classification or reclassification of 54,418 acres of State Lands in the Adirondack Park. The Governor’s Adirondack Park Agency drafted a set of amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) that included some 100 other proposed classifications, reclassifications, and/or map corrections as part of a large Appendix A of the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
While most of the attention to date has been focused on the high profile 20,543 acre Boreas Ponds Tract, APA watchers expect the Agency to soon release the proposed final set of amendments to the Master Plan for all 100 plus proposed actions. » Continue Reading.
News of a helicopter sightseeing tour operating out of Lake Placid spawned much discussion this past summer. Unlike a traditional scenic airplane flight high above the landscape, this business promised ridge-running flights at low altitudes above protected Wilderness Areas, as well as aerial safaris in which backcountry wildlife would be buzzed in their natural habitats — all for the thrill of a few paying customers.
This was scary enough for those of us who routinely visit the Forest Preserve for our weekly dose of wildness. But then in the September/October 2017 issue of the Adirondack Explorer, John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council suggested that in the Wild Forest areas, “it may be appropriate to fly in some places at lower heights” — with the stipulation that “some sensitive areas” should be avoided “as much as they can.” » Continue Reading.
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.
Last Saturday night was the coldest night of the winter so far in Keene. Cold even by old-timers’ standards. These kinds of temperatures descend with considerably less frequency than they used to, and I hate wasting rare opportunities, so I concluded to rise early and take in the most frigid air of the year with a hike. » Continue Reading.
In 1988, large commercial forest owners began to sell their enormous holdings in the Adirondack Park. DEC entered a new era of acquiring conservation easements and public recreational rights. The first large easement acquisition occurred in the part of Park in question. There was a disagreement over who would maintain the miles of industrial haul roads — nearly twenty miles. As a result, the public has been blocked from this easement ever since. Only leaseholders and private owners have access. The new road, paired with negotiations to gain more public rights, would finally open year-round motorized access for the public. » Continue Reading.
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