Advocacy for wilderness in Boreas Ponds

To the editor:

Growing up in the Adirondacks, I never realized how lucky I was to spend most of my time around wilderness until I left it. As I spend more time in the Park and outside of it, I realize how special wilderness land is. Our ever-increasingly industrial world encroaches and threatens this type of land and the special experiences people have in wilderness areas.

Classifying the Boreas Ponds as wilderness will help ensure that future generations will have access to an area where they can unplug and get their hands and feet dirty. This is the reason I love the Adirondacks and why I intend on staying in the Park. Wilderness areas are incredibly important for the future of not only the Boreas Ponds area but the rest of the Adirondacks. Wilderness attracts people from around the world because of its characteristics: its lack of motorized sounds, the feeling of being absolutely alone and the ability to interact with our natural world. Already the Adirondacks have seen an increase in visitors; I believe this is a result of people seeking to get away from the buzz of their everyday lives, immerse themselves in the beautiful natural landscape and indulge in the solitude of the mountains. They seek to reconnect with the natural world. Classifying the Boreas Ponds tract as wilderness would increase the area in which residents and visitors alike can find the respite they seek. We do not need another tract of land that can be accessed by motorized vehicles.

Additionally, wilderness is a necessary classification for the area’s biological and physical integrity. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s wilderness land classification typically requires minimal human impact, outstanding opportunities for solitude, and may also contain ecological, geological or other features of scientific, educational, scenic or historical value. The Boreas Ponds tract matches these requirements. It is one of the largest tracts of land in the Adirondacks that is surrounded by Forest Preserve land. Some points within the tract are currently the farthest you can get away from any kind of road, making it the most remote area in the Park — definitely an outstanding opportunity for solitude. Not only that, but the Boreas Ponds are known to be one of the largest high-elevation wetlands in the Park. A study done by Adirondack Research has shown that the Boreas Ponds region is an “excellent candidate” for wilderness classification. The area is a sensitive wetland with erosion-prone soil and habitat for rare species of plants and birds. This tract of land is also important to habitat connectivity and migrating species. Motorized access poses a threat to the biological community of the area and its integrity. In addition to disrupting wildlife and sensitive habitats, motorized vehicles are vectors for invasive species and can introduce them faster to an area than if people travel only on foot. The Adirondacks are threatened by many invasive species both terrestrial and aquatic. They reduce biodiversity and can outcompete natural species. Why should we give invasive species an easy avenue into such an ecologically sensitive region? Looking at the issue solely from a biological standpoint alone, it is clear that the Boreas Ponds should be classified as a wilderness area.

Charlotte Staats