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APA to hear 3 options for Boreas Ponds

RAY BROOK – The state Adirondack Park Agency’s State Land Committee will hear about 92 different classification issues this week, but the one people will pay most attention to is the more than 20,000-acre Boreas Ponds tract.

The APA has scheduled eight public meetings in November and December around the state to listen to public concerns and explain classification implications. There will also be a written comment period.

A draft environmental impact statement says there is no preferred alternative for the Boreas tract. Each of three proposed classification schemes have some things in common.

All three proposals are sure to draw criticism, since each one would allow motorized access to the ponds. However, the state could install a gate or use one that is already on site to prevent the public from driving closer than a certain spot. There have been a number of proposals from green groups, local towns and even The Nature Conservancy, which sold the land to the state and had never before made a classification recommendation before.

Several groups immediately came out against the plan, including Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and Willie Janeway of the Adirondack Council. The Council had put forth the Be Wild NY plan, along with the Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack Wild.

Alternative 1 would result in about an even split, with 10,178 acres going to wilderness and 10,364 labeled as wild forest. Alternative 2 would have 11,323 acres of wilderness and 9,220 acres of wild forest. Alternative 3 would result in 14,669 acres of wilderness and 5,873 acres of wild forest. Alternative 3 would also include more than 1,000 acres that would be reclassified to wilderness.

To see maps of the proposed classifications, visit the APA website at www.apa.ny.gov.

Gravel pits

The state has granted easements to the towns of North Hudson and Newcomb to have 1-acre gravel pits, to be used solely for the maintenance of trails, roads and infrastructure within the Boreas tract.

“Special management area(s) can be considered for any Wild Forest lands which may require special management to reflect unusual resource or public use factors, such as those areas surrounding or adjacent to Boreas Pond or LaBier Flow,” the agency’s statement says.

The gravel pits would be labeled as state administrative areas, like the state office campus in Ray Brook, and would close when the gravel is exhausted.

Alternative 1

Alternative 1 calls for a mix of wild forest and wilderness classifications. The wild forest part would be added to the adjacent Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest.

The wild forest segment would include Gulf Brook and Boreas Ponds roads, as well as the Four Corners, the road to Boreas dam and a woods road that circles the pond. It would also include “the land between the woods roads and ponds and the ponds themselves would be classified as wild forest.”

The statement also says that the classification would include lands within 500 feet of the roads so that users wouldn’t be bothered by different rules and regulations depending on the side of the road they’re on.

All other areas north of the Four Corners outside the wild forest would be classified as wilderness.

Alternative 2

“The wild forest area proposed in Alternative 2 would enable access to the Boreas Pond dam and an area surrounding the dam necessary for maintaining the dam.

“The wild forest area would run north of the Four Corners to the Boreas dam. The western boundary of this area would be 500 feet west of the Boreas Pond Road.”

Alternative 3

Alternative 3 is the most restrictive classification proposal. From a point about 2.25 miles north of County Route 2 on the Gulf Brook Road, the area would be wilderness. The boundary would extend generally east toward Wolf Pond Mountain, and then roughly west and south toward Trout Pond.

However, this proposal also calls for access for maintenance to the area around the dam, and would classify Gulf Brook Road as wild forest all the way to the Four Corners.

“The wild forest area proposed in Alternative 3 would enable access to the two gravel pits as well as the dam,” the proposal says.

By labeling the roads and certain areas as wild forest, the state would be allowed to use motor vehicles for maintenance projects and secure access for the towns to use the gravel pits.

Candidates: No vehicles

The classification came up briefly at a recent political debate when a Time Warner Cable News moderator asked the three candidates for the North Country’s U.S. congressional district whether vehicles should be allowed to access Boreas Pond. It was a “lightning round” with only one-word answers allowed, and Mike Derrick, Matt Funiciello and incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik all said no.