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APA offers 4th, wilder option for Boreas

October 14, 2016
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer (jlevine@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

RAY BROOK - In a surprise move, the state Adirondack Park Agency announced a fourth alternative as it began the process of classifying the Boreas Ponds tract Thursday, Oct. 13.

The APA had previously released three alternatives, without specifying a preferred alternative.

Alternative 4 is the most restrictive of the four, with a primitive classification included from LaBier Flow to the Boreas Pond dam. The primitive classification would remove the ability for the public to use motor vehicles all the way to the pond. The three other alternatives had a wild forest designation at least to the dam, possibly allowing motor vehicles including snowmobiles and bikes. The primitive designation would prevent any non-state vehicles.

Article Photos

Boreas Ponds
(News photo — Mike Lynch)

The APA added Alternative 4 "to address some of the concerns that have been brought to our attention," APA Deputy Director of Planning Kathy Reagan said.

However, the uses allowed are not decided by the APA but by the state Department of Environmental Conservation when it draws up a unit management plan for the lands. Reagan added that the DEC could allow mountain bike use in the primitive area of Boreas if the road is designated as an administrative use road.

New APA board member Chad Dawson questioned the wisdom of having so few options for how to classify the land. He would like the APA to take a longer view of how the classifications can impact the lands.

"We seem to be too focused on the dam and the road, and not the overall wilderness," Dawson said.

Reactions to the original three plans were widely panned by multiple environmental groups, who would like to see more wilderness designated. But local elected officials like town of North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore were pleased with the early alternatives.

Moore was less pleased with Alternative 4 and said he greatly preferred Alternative 1, which closely mirrored a plan called Access the Adirondacks put out as part by a coalition called the Five Towns: North Hudson, Newcomb, Indian Lake, Long Lake and Minerva. The Access plan would allow more motorized access into the tract than any of the plans put forth by environmental groups.

"As I've said all along, the Five Towns proposal says, 'We're seeking reasonable access for all,'" Moore said after the meeting. "Two-point-one or 2.2 miles in, you're talking about a 5 or 6 mile hike. Somebody in a motorized wheelchair isn't going to get there.

"We want to be able to have the elderly, the young, the old, the fit, the not-so-physically fit to be able to access and enjoy that property.

"And to be able to bicycle. There's a vast infrastructure, probably over 50 miles of roads out there that are suitable for bicycles. And I don't think that affects the environment too much."

But leaders of environmental groups universally rejected the proposals, including the newly introduced Alternative 4.

"None of these meet the challenges for management of such a special and dynamic natural resource area as the Boreas Ponds," Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said after the committee meeting.

"The Park Agency should have taken eight to 10 alternatives out to public hearing," Bauer said. "Everything from the wild forest option advocated by local government to the total wilderness option advocated by other groups to different iterations in between.

"What we have in these four options is a mess. The APA is trying to shoehorn in a bunch of incompatible uses, and in doing so, they're bending the State Land Master Plan to the breaking point. They're embracing a lot of the mistakes from the Essex Chain classification including spot zoning and wild forest corridors."

Bauer said he was heartened by Dawson's questioning of the classification process, but was still disappointed with the options on the table.

"Unfortunately, we know that these options that were developed for the Park Agency to talk about were developed by the DEC and the governor's staff," Bauer said. "So it appears that the Sherman Craig APA is just as good about taking orders from the governor as the Lani Ulrich APA was. So meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

New board member John Ernst, who like Dawson was appointed for the APA board over the summer, recused himself from the Boreas Ponds discussion. Ernst, who owns the nearby Elk Lake Lodge in North Hudson, said he felt there was too much overlap between his personal holdings and what may happen with Boreas.

APA Chairman Sherman Craig also noted in opening remarks that unlike in previous years, this year's classification package will be split up so Boreas can be discussed separately from the more than 90 other classification decisions the board will take up.

The APA State Land Committee voted unanimously to move forward with public hearings and a comment period. The APA has a new email address for the public to send written comments to, classificationcomments@apa.ny.gov. The comment period is open until Dec. 30 this year. There are also eight hearings scheduled around the state in November and December.

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Scheduled public hearings

Nov. 9, 7 p.m. Ray Brook, APA headquarters

Nov. 14, 6 p.m. Northville, Northville Central School

Nov. 16, 7 p.m. Newcomb, Newcomb Central School

Nov. 21, 7 p.m. Schroon Lake, Schroon Lake Central School

Nov. 28, 7 p.m. Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology

Nov. 29, 6 p.m. Canton, St. Lawrence County Human Service Center

Dec. 6, 7 p.m. Tomkins Cove, Bear Mountain Inn

Dec. 7, 2 p.m. Albany, DEC headquarters

(Subject to change due to weather)

 
 

 

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