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Governor Finalizes Adirondack Land Purchase

WAMC
May 11, 2016

By Pat Bradley

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an agreement Tuesday finalizing the purchase of 69,000 acres of land that will be added to the Adirondack forest preserve.

With Elk Lake, Dix and Nippletop Mountains and the Colvin range as a backdrop, New York’s governor formalized the $14.5 million purchase and transfer of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds tract from the Nature Conservancy to New York state. Governor Cuomo called the acquisition historic. “We're completing the largest acquisition to the Park in over one hundred years. We're completing a 69,000 acre purchase, with the Boreas Pond track at 20,000. As soon as we sign that document it will be complete. And the Boreas Ponds are one of the really magnificent parts of the Adirondacks. It is truly spectacular. Functionally it also adds to the usability of the park. The 20,000 acres solidifies the integrity of the High Peaks region overall.”

Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Ferebee says beyond the natural views and pristine forests, the Park is also the economic driver for the region. “In the past six years tourism related employment has jumped nearly eight percent. Tourism spending is up ten percent.

Visitation to the park alone: an increase of fifteen percent. And today we are building on our progress to continue to attract more people, well paying jobs, bigger businesses to our communities for generations to come.”

Over the past five years, the state has been acquiring the 69,000 acres in a series of purchases totaling $47.3 million under a 2012 agreement with the Nature Conservancy, which had obtained the land from the Finch Pruyn paper company. Nature Conservancy Adirondack Chapter Executive Director Mike Carr said the newest addition to the Forest Preserve will benefit both the environment and people. “Boreas Ponds is the crown jewel of the 25 Adirondack parcels totaling 69,000 acres that New York State has purchased from the Nature Conservancy in the past four years. In any landscape around the world the opportunity to protect 300 lakes and ponds, 90 mountains and 415 miles of rivers and streams would be compelling. This is among the top three most intact contiguous areas of temperate mix forests left on earth.”

Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth says the High Peaks are already the most popular part of the Adirondacks and adding the Boreas Ponds will connect the entire southern wilderness region of the High Peaks. “When you get on Boreas Ponds and you're looking to the north you get a spectacular view of the highest mountains of New York State, twelve in a line of spectacular peaks. And before you could only do that from the Ausable Club lands, which of course were privately owned and off limits to the public. So we're getting this great gift and I just can't wait to enjoy it.”

While the signing of the agreement formally transfers the lands to the state, Carr notes that the Nature Conservancy will continue to be involved with the property. “We have management obligations through 2020 on the property. There are a number of hunting and fishing leases on the Boreas Ponds tract. Those people will continue to lease from us and we have responsibility for taking structures down at the end of those lease terms which will end in the fall of 2018. We have a couple of years after that to handle the remediation the site. So that will be our role, really an administrative roll, through 2020.”

The signed agreement initiates the classification process for the lands according to Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. “This is a letter that merely begins the process of classification. There's no pronouncement whatsoever as to the classification of property.” Governor Cuomo jumped in: “I do have a preliminary classification that I'm making as governor. It is magnificent.”

Governor Cuomo also sent a letter to the Adirondack Park Agency requesting it immediately begin the classification process for the Boreas Ponds Tract. The letter says the property “is one of the most important additions ever made to the Adirondack Forest Preserve."

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