Who could have predicted that when New York State purchased the Boreas Ponds Tract back in April 2016 for $14.5 million, the debate over the property’s classification would last for nearly two years? Throughout this discussion period, environmental groups, members of the general public, and more voiced their opinion about whether or not the tract should have a more restrictive land classification. After much deliberation, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) recently announced their final decision on the subject.
About the Boreas Ponds Tract
Located in the Towns of Newcomb and North Hudson in Essex County, the massive (20,000+ acres) Boreas Ponds Tract features a variety of low and high elevation habitats. These habitats support a wide range of plants and animals, including several species of northern birds.
The Adirondack parcel is also home to Boreas Ponds, seven unspoiled water bodies, three peaks, wetlands, and other natural resources. The region was purchased by New York State from The Nature Conservancy as part of a greater plan to buy 69,000 acres of Adirondack forest land and place them under state protection.
The Region’s Classification
The reason why the debate over the land’s classification lasted for so long is because of the opposing viewpoints. While some believed the tract should be open for motorized public access and recreational activities, others felt a more restrictive classification would help protect the area for the future.
After hearing from the public and reviewing a long list of proposals, the APA revealed how they would classify the Boreas Ponds Tract at a board meeting in February 2018.
According to a press release, the Boreas Ponds Tract classification includes:
- 11,412 acres of Wilderness
- 9,118 acres of Wild Forest
- 11 acres of Primitive
- 2 acres of State Administrative
To help break down what this all means, essentially, the 11,412 acres of Wilderness will protect the region’s pristine water bodies, intact fishery, high value wetlands, and rare, threatened, and endangered plants. The public will have reasonable access to the area for hiking and paddling, and the new Wilderness Area will border the High Peaks Wilderness Areas, creating a contiguous wilderness zone in the Adirondacks.
The 9,118 acres of Wild Forest includes lands 500 feet north of Gulf Brook Road and Boreas Ponds Road, the roads themselves, and land south of the two roads. This Wild Forest area will extend east to Elk Lake Road and be appropriate for recreational activities (motorized and mechanized).
The two smaller acres will allow the Department of Environmental Conservation to reach and maintain the dam at the southern end of Boreas Ponds.
Now that the APA has announced their classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract, the next step is for NY State Gov. Cuomo to sign off on it. The Office of Gov. Cuomo has already released a statement that applauds the APA’s decision; in the coming weeks, the governor is expected to give his official approval.
What are your thoughts on the classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract?
- APA – APA Approves Historic State Land Classification Package