The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has finally released its proposal for classification of the 20,543 acre Boreas Ponds Tract. The APA will consider a proposal known as Alternative 2B at its meeting on February 1 and 2. Alternative 2B is a compromise which is very close to the proposal endorsed by ADK, The Adirondack Council, The Nature Conservancy, and Protect the Adirondacks. All of these proposals and Alternative 2B classify some 11,400 acres north of the Gulf Brook and Boreas Roads as Wilderness, including the 345 acre Boreas Ponds, ensuring that the lands and waters would be motor free, including motor vehicles, snowmobiles, and mountain bikes. ADK particularly opposed the Governor’s proposal for hut to hut or luxury glamping facilities on the Boreas Tract and this idea was dropped in Alternative 2B. Local government had also pressed for snowmobile and mountain bike use around the Boreas Ponds and the Wilderness designation precludes these activities.
The APA classification proposal provides for 9,000 acres of Wild Forest which will permit a community connector snowmobile trail to utilize Gulf Brook and Boreas Roads as a part of the snowmobile trail connection between Newcomb and North Hudson. It will also allow motor vehicle use of these existing roads to enable the public to reach parking areas. The 2B proposal provides for a wild forest corridor, 75 feet wide, which will provide people with disabilities and mobility impairments to access a 4-6 car parking lot about 560 feet from the southern shore of Boreas Pond.
Beyond the lot, there will be an 11 acre Primitive Area around the south shore of the lake around the Boreas dam so DEC can reach the dam for maintenance purposes. Since the road to the dam inside the Primitive Area is likely to be designated in the unit management plan as a state administrative road, bicyclists will be able to bike from the Gulf Brook Road all the way to the Boreas dam. Not far north of the Four Corners, if approved in the unit management plan (UMP), there will be a small parking area for 8 to 12 vehicles for those wishing to canoe and kayak. This parking lot will be a little over 8/10ths of a mile from Boreas Ponds and paddlers would have to carry or roll their boats to the lake. ADK believes that use of this parking lot should be by permit only.
The main parking lot for hikers, campers, backpackers, and cyclists would be located at the site of the current interim lot about 3.6 miles from the dam at the Boreas Ponds. So most of the people exploring the Boreas Ponds will park at this lot. We expect DEC to construct a hiking trail from this parking lot to a viewpoint near the Boreas Dam to avoid a long tedious road walk. All of these parking locations and the trail have been identified, but will have to be approved through the preparation and approval of a UMP.
Proposal 2B, if approved by the APA board this week, will result in a very large increase in the 200,000 acre High Peaks Wilderness Area. In addition to the 11,400 acres of the Boreas Ponds Tract to be classified as Wilderness, the MacIntyre East (7,400 acres) and West (6,000 acres) tracts on either side of the Tahawus Road are to be classified as Wilderness and added to the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Additionally, the 1,450 acre Casey Brook Tract lying between the Boreas Pond Tract and Upper Ausable Lake is also to be included in the High Peaks Wilderness. The inclusion of the Casey Brook Tract will make the total Wilderness acres to be added to the HPWA some 25,000 acres. Moreover, the Casey Brook Tract would connect the 215,000 acre Dix Mountain Wilderness to the SPWA, making its total acreage rise to some 275,500 acres, the third largest designated wilderness east of the Mississippi River.
The proposed Primitive area south of first Boreas Pond would prevent public motorized access directly to the ponds, including the use of snowmobiles. Under Alternative 2B, bicycling would be allowed on Gulf Brook Road and the Boreas Ponds Road. If the section of the Boreas Road which traverses the Primitive Areas is designated Administrative Road in the approved UMP, bicycle use might be permitted to the dam. The Primitive Area would enable DEC to access the dam with motor vehicles for reconstruction or repairs to the dam. All the lands of the Boreas Ponds Tract are protected as Forest Preserve lands, pursuant to Article XIV of the New York State Constitution and all of the wetlands on the tract are protected by the Freshwater Wetlands Act. The Primitive classification on the south shore of first Boreas Pond allows for Wilderness protection for the Boreas Ponds themselves, protecting wetlands and bog communities around the ponds.