THANK YOU – Boreas Ponds Wilderness Campaign Update – THANK YOU

THANK YOU for helping urge Governor Cuomo’s Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to seize this historic opportunity to expand the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness by classifying the Boreas Ponds, a buffer, and other key lands and waters as Wilderness. Many thousands of people submitted written comments, shared social media posts, signed the petition, spoke at and/or attended public hearings, wrote to newspapers, and helped spread the word. Your actions had an impact.

Governor Cuomo’s Adirondack Park Agency wrapped up the public comment period on Dec. 30. If the Governor and his team listen to the huge outpouring of support for an expanded Wilderness that protects the legacy of the Adirondacks, and prioritize facts, science, and the law – not politics – to drive the classification decisions, then by summer we should be celebrating an historic once-in-a-lifetime expansion of Wilderness.

How did the public comment period go for Wilderness?

Hundreds of Wilderness advocates turned out for the statewide public hearings, including supporters and staff from the BeWildNY coalition groups, regional, state and national conservation organizations, and committed citizens. In record numbers, people voiced support for protecting the Boreas Ponds within an expanded Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Area.

Across eight public hearings, people voicing support for Wilderness was almost double the number calling for Alternative 1 – the motorized plan. In addition to people dedicating time and resources to travel and speak at public hearings held throughout the state, thousands of people submitted written comments in support of motor-free wilderness protection for Boreas Ponds.  Equally important to the quantity of comments was the quality and informed passion of the commenters. THANK YOU!

Wilderness advocates were well prepared and presented legal and scientific information that supported protecting the Boreas Ponds and surrounding wetlands complex as Wilderness.  We called for the protection of the Casey Brook, MacIntyre West and most of the MacIntyre East tracts as Wilderness, and supported a range of Wilderness and non-Wilderness classifications for other lands. We called upon the APA to answer critical legal, scientific and technical questions related to the classifications.  Many urged the APA to start over with a wider range of alternatives and comparative analysis of the environmental impacts and recreation opportunities of the various alternatives.

Agreement:  people care deeply about the Adirondacks.  In addition to Wilderness advocates, sportsmen’s groups, local politicians, and snowmobile clubs also attended the public hearings.  Whether people voiced support for Wilderness or the motorized plan, it is clear that people share an appreciation for the forests, wildlife, waters, people, and communities of the Adirondack Park. People at the hearings were (for the most part) respectful of each other, as they heard an array of personal testimonies grounded in different values, histories and experiences.  There was agreement that after the classification decision is made, regardless of the outcome, the Park needs people to pull together to help better steward and manage our public lands and build sustainable communities.

Motorized plan catalyzes support for Wilderness. During the past decade, there has been general support for providing various recreational opportunities across the Park’s wide variety of public land, but the plan to motorize the Boreas Ponds goes too far. The plan helped motivate long-time supporters of conservation organizations to take action for Wilderness. It also provided fodder for college students and young professional Adirondack residents who attended the hearings in support of Wilderness, many pushing back with calls to completely close the existing seven-mile road to the shore of the ponds.  ( BeWildNY and 12 newspaper editorial boards agree that the existing road could allow for greater access to the ponds as long as a one-mile buffer prevents motorized and mechanized use on the waters, shores and surrounding wetlands, protecting fragile habitat and the spectacular remote natural setting.)

What’s next? 

The Adirondack Park Agency has tentatively identified its March meeting for their presentation of a preferred alternative. As part of their presentation, they must address the comments and concerns received from the public through hearing testimony and public comments.  It is likely there will be opportunities to take additional action before the Governor’s APA picks an alternative or develops a new alternative based on the comments. Please keep informed and in touch.  We may need your engagement once again to secure the historic expansion of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness.  Please don’t hesitate to email, write or call us if you have any questions or concerns.