When it comes time to classify the more than 20,000 acres surrounding the picturesque Boreas Ponds tract, we hope the Adirondack Park Agency breaks from tradition and listens to the locals and a little good old common sense over the wishes of environmental groups with a long history of narrow-mindedness.
It is true that the area around Boreas Ponds has been shackled in private ownership. It is also true that it is one of the most beautiful places in the park, and it is wonderful news that, within five years, it will be open for all to enjoy.
But just how accessible will it be to all the user groups? The last time we checked, taxes from all New Yorkers — not just the environmental groups — helped purchase the land, so why limit it to just a select few?
We found it ironic that when “Team Cuomo” landed on the shores of Boreas Ponds a few weeks ago to tout the addition of the tract to the Forest Preserve, the group traversed the several miles up Gulf Brook Road to the main lodge in the comfort of motor vehicles. They zipped around the land on all-terrain vehicles and the governor fished the lake with a battery powered trolling motor.
If the APA decides to classify this land with the most restrictive “wilderness” classification — as we are certain the environmental groups will lobby in favor of — it would limit access, and a disabled veteran who fought for this country will not be afforded the same luxury as was given to the governor. In fact, he wouldn’t even be able to take a wheelchair up the road.
Under wilderness, the gate to this well-maintained, two-lane gravel road will be forever locked, and the 3,500-square-foot main lodge overlooking the ponds — a place that would make a wonderful respite for that very same disabled veteran — would be razed in accordance with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan as it would be a non-conforming structure. It would be torn down, even though North Hudson Supervisor Ronald Moore and State Sen. Betty Little have both said publicly they want it to remain open as a facility for the physically challenged.
That logic seems to make sense to us.
We are not advocating that the lands be open to motor vehicles or ATVs; we know what kind of a battle that would be and understand the destruction that could be caused to the environment, and the damaging precedent that could be set here.
But a compromise could and should be reached — perhaps under a less restrictive Wild Forest classification or a combination of classifications — that would allow as many user groups as possible to access the land. From mountain bikes to horse-drawn wagons to wheel carts under canoes — perhaps, dare we say it, even snowmobiles on the road in the wintertime. Besides snowmobiling, it would be similar to the 10-mile round-trip trek to Great Camp Santanoni in the town of Newcomb.
The fact is, not everyone can hike 7 miles into a pond. For those that can’t, alternatives should be allowed. Anyone who cannot understand that is looking at it from a pretty narrow-minded point of view.
It is almost comical to hear the governor say that land purchases mean more tourism money for Adirondack communities. Tell that to residents of Hamilton County — an area that has the most state land and the lowest median household incomes in the state. The reality is state land purchases don’t automatically translate into tourism dollars.
It’s a great place to visit but a really difficult place to make a living.
North Hudson is in the same boat. As Moore recently said, the community has no gas station and no stores.
Let’s be realistic — what exactly is this land purchase going to do to stimulate the economy in his community? A few folks might gas up at the Sunoco in Schroon Lake on their way south after hiking into Boreas Ponds, but just how much money is going to be spent in North Hudson? Not much, if any.
Link a snowmobile trail into Boreas Ponds with Newcomb, Long Lake, North Hudson and Schroon Lake, though, and see how that turns around. Make that same trail a mountain bike trail in the summer and now you’re on to something.
The APA should take all user groups into consideration when classifying state lands. This particular case — with its miles of well-maintained existing roadways and beautiful main lodge — is custom made for opening up to a more intense level of use.
Let’s use some common sense and maintain what is already there.
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