Why We Need More Wilderness

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
By: William C. Janeway - Adirondack Council Executive Director

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/images/Marcy and Boreas heilman_WM.jpgMount Marcy with Boreas Ponds on Upper Right
Photo © Carl Heilman II/Wild Visions, Inc.

Flying south over Mount Marcy this summer, I caught a bird’s eye view of New York’s tallest peak along with the spectacular 20,494-acre Boreas Ponds tract scheduled to be purchased by the state, according to Governor Cuomo, by April 2016. The purchase will be the final part of the 161,000-acre Adirondack Nature Conservancy/Finch-Pruyn project.

Exploring on the ground also provided me with an opportunity to see first-hand some of the new lands the state has purchased. One day, before going into the office in Elizabethtown, I hiked up and had breakfast on Marcy, and checked out the view of the Boreas Ponds and surrounding mountains. The summit was empty and cold at that hour, but the view, priceless. For future generations to benefit from the resource that is the Adirondack Forest Preserve, we must protect that view. The Adirondacks don’t have enough wilderness to protect forests, wildlife and water, and to attract visitors in a growing global tourism market that will help sustain our communities.

The legacy of Governor Cuomo will be determined by whether or not he decides to protect the Boreas Ponds and other recently acquired or adjoining Adirondack lands as Wilderness. The Governor has invested in previous purchases. He and his team supported the establishment of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness (it was previously mostly a Primitive Area) and a new Primitive designation for the Essex Chain of Lakes, eliminating the expansion of motorized use in and around those lakes. However, his administration has also expanded opportunities for motorized access and recreation in other areas.

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/images/Boreas Ponds heilman_WM.jpg

An expanded Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness will protect forests that filter water flowing into streams and ponds that are the headwaters of New York’s Hudson River. The forests and waters also serve as home to diverse wildlife, including loons, otters and the elusive brook trout. There are 245,000 acres in the state-owned High Peaks and Dix Wilderness areas. These lands have the strongest legal safeguard in the world: constitutionally protected Forever Wild forest lands designated and preserved as Wilderness, enhanced and as necessary restored, with opportunities for solitude.

The Boreas Ponds should be forever protected within an expanded High Peaks Wilderness.


Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/staff-headshots/Willie.jpgWilliam C. (Willie) Janeway returned to the Adirondacks to become the Executive Director and leader of the Adirondack Council in May 2013 after close to six years as the Regional Director for the State Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson Valley/Catskill Region. He brings to the Adirondack Council team a life-long passion and interest in the Adirondacks and nearly 30 years of experience as a professional conservationist, fundraiser, administrator, coalition builder and advocate for the environment.

After graduating from St. Lawrence University where he majored in economics and environmental studies, Willie lived in the Adirondacks for nine years while working for the Adirondack Mountain Club as the first Trails Coordinator, and North Country Director.  Willie also served as the first Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Greenway, and State Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy.

When not working Willie can be found outdoors. He is an Adirondack 46er, a year-round hiker and skier, a runner and a fisherman.  He and his family share a camp in the Park.  Willie and his wife Mary live in Keene.

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