Overuse in portions of the High Peaks is a real and growing problem, exacerbated by trends in social media and the expanding desire to count-off summits. It has been documented extensively here in the Almanack. But in the last few weeks these discussions have reached a rolling boil with a bit too much hyperbole for me. A range of ideas has been raised, a number of them falling under the general concept of limiting access to the High Peaks, including permit systems, licensing schemes, daily caps and so on. Some of these limiting suggestions have been accompanied by exclusionary rhetoric with which I strongly disagree, along the lines of “Why are we trying to get more people here?” or “I like my (town, street, access) the way it is, without all the visitors.” I agree that increasing use in parts of the High Peaks is a real issue, and I have written about various aspects of the problem for several years. But the exclusionary sentiments I’m starting to hear are where I draw the line. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’
Over the past few months Governor Andrew Cuomo has shown his economic love for the Adirondacks by putting his money where his mouth is, pledging $32 million towards an Adirondack Gateway facility at Frontier Town in North Hudson and another $20 million for improvements to the Gore, Whiteface and Mt Van Hoevenberg ski centers.
Seeing as generosity is in the air, I have a proposal: let’s take a small portion of the monetary love intended for these projects and turn Cascade Mountain from a dangerous and degraded poster child for Adirondack overuse to a model of Wilderness education that becomes an asset in the struggle to protect the High Peaks. » 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.
As the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) prepares for their March meeting, a decision on classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract is not on the agenda. That’s a good thing, indicating that more research and deliberations are ongoing and providing some comfort that the decision is not just pro forma.
Adirondack Wilderness Advocates believes that it is therefore an excellent time to review the status of the deliberation process. In doing so, we can justly say “hats off” to the Adirondack Park Agency staff. Their thorough analysis of the Boreas Ponds Tract, conducted as part of developing a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS), and presented to the State Land Committee at the February Agency Meeting, was a breath of fresh, evidence-based, rational air in a process that to this point has been in dire need of reason and facts. » Continue Reading.
In honor of the tenth anniversary of Women’s History Month, I want to recognize the work of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a national grassroots organization dedicated to protecting wilderness and wild lands. This organization was conceived by older women who love wilderness, giving voice to the millions of older Americans who want to protect their public lands as wilderness for this and future generations. The group prides itself on the thousands of hours (37,857 last year) people volunteer to care for the environment. Based in Durango, Colorado, their on-the-ground work happens throughout the country, with 36 active chapters in 16 states. » Continue Reading.
Unlike Lake Lila, Boreas Ponds has no sandy beaches where you can loll in the sun or go for a swim. Nor is there a nearby peak to climb for a lookout (though you could bushwhack to the top of Boreas Mountain).
Nevertheless, Boreas Ponds is a big deal. It’s one of our last chances to add a sizable water body to the Forest Preserve and declare it motor-free.
What follows is a letter sent to the APA.
The Board of Directors, Congregational Delegates, and Members of Camp Unirondack, by vote of our 2016 Annual Meeting, hereby ask you to reject all of the four alternatives that you have set forth for the Boreas Ponds land classification. None of these alternatives truly protect the area around the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness.
Only an action that prohibits motorized vehicles and/or equipment on or within one mile of these ponds, and protects these lands as Wilderness to the south, is acceptable to the long-standing visionary legacy of the writers of Article XIV of the New York State Constitution. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a letter sent to the APA.
In response to the Adirondack Park Agency 2016 – 2017 Amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan involving the Classification and Reclassification of 54,418 acres of State Lands in the Adirondack Park which include the Boreas Ponds Tract, 32 Additional Classification Proposals, 13 Reclassification Proposals, and 56 Classifications involving map corrections, The Nature Conservancy respectfully submits our comments related exclusively to Boreas Ponds. Our perspective is informed by nearly ten years of ownership and stewardship of this parcel, as well as focused stakeholder engagement. For over 50 years The Nature Conservancy has managed lands globally for both conservation and public use purposes, including our 160 preserves in New York State, and we are accordingly very mindful of the challenges and opportunities presented by this classification proceeding. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide input with respect to the classification of the Boreas Ponds parcel we conveyed to New York State in April 2016. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine, Sun Community News, and Adirondack Daily Enterprise invited a number of stakeholders to take part in the forum, including environmental activists and local-government representatives.
The Adirondack Park Agency has yet to decide how to classify the 20,758-acre parcel under the Park’s State Land Management Plan. The state Department of Environmental will later write a management plan for the property, but the types of recreation allowed and the degree of motorized access will be partially predetermined by the classification. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a letter sent to the APA.
The Adirondack Park Agency has pending before it the classification of lands and waters comprising the Boreas pond tract. This action represents the final step in an historic process beginning with the acquisition of these lands by the Nature Conservancy followed by the acquisition from the Nature Conservancy by the state of New York and now the pending classification decision.
The decision by the Adirondack Park Agency regarding this parcel is anything but routine. It is a decision that must be made in the context of New York’s historic role in establishing the Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Park. The decision must be made from the perspective of history and the decision must be made as a part of that history; that is, as a decision that will be judged not now, but 100 years from now. » Continue Reading.
In November, I made the trip from my home in Ithaca to speak at the public hearing that the APA organized in Rochester concerning classification of newly purchased state lands. My purpose was to advocate for maximum wilderness protection of those tracts, particularly the Boreas Ponds tract.
In the 1800s, reports of a place of fire and brimstone in what is now northwestern Wyoming were thought to be exaggerations. A formal expedition was organized in 1870 to explore the area. The explorers discovered the area that is now known as Yellowstone with its hot springs and geysers. Recognizing the natural beauty of the place, leaders of that expedition were quickly successful in convincing Congress to pass a law declaring Yellowstone as the nation’s first national park with laws protecting the land from exploitation. » Continue Reading.
Several years ago the Adirondack Park Agency mapped all the “Remote Areas” in the Park—those lying at least three miles from a road and at least two miles from any lake where motorboats are allowed. Less than 3 percent of the Park meets those criteria.
A caption states that the map “indicates the truly remote areas of the Adirondack Park are relatively small and therefore a precious resource.” They are the dark areas shown on the accompanying map.
Given the region’s network of roads, there aren’t many opportunities left to create new Remote Areas in the Park.
Boreas Ponds is one of them.
Recently, I dug up a copy of the map and traced a circle with the Boreas Ponds dam at its center and a radius of three miles based on the map’s scale. The results, though not surprising, are worth noting, given the controversy over the pending land-use classification of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract:
Adirondack Wilderness Advocates has reviewed the comments (more than 16,000 pages worth) and found that more than 37 percent support classifying the entire tract as motor-free Wilderness.
Altogether, 84 percent of the comments support either AWA’s or BeWildNY’s plan, according to AWA, whereas only 15 percent support a Wild Forest classification that could allow motorized access all the way to Boreas Ponds.
BeWildNY, a coalition of eight environmental organizations, and Protect the Adirondacks all support opening Gulf Brook Road to within a mile of Boreas Ponds. Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and Adirondack Wild propose classifying nearly all of the Boreas Pond Tract as Wilderness. » Continue Reading.