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Adirondack Council Calls on Public to Reject Flawed State Proposals to Motorize Boreas Ponds

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, October 20, 2016

Adirondack Council Calls on Public to Reject Flawed State Proposals to Motorize Boreas Ponds
Tells State to Protect Gem as Wilderness, Free from Motorized Recreation, Invasive Species

RAY BROOK, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today called on the public to loudly reject flawed classification plans proposed by the state on Friday for the newly acquired 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds tract, located at the southern edge of the Adirondack Park’s High Peaks Wilderness Area.

“The State should protect the ponds and surrounding area as wilderness by halting motorized recreation at least a mile from the ponds,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “That is the minimum distance needed to ensure that the Boreas Ponds are protected as wilderness. They shouldn’t become the next pristine Adirondack water bodies to be infested with Asian clams, zebra mussels or spiny waterfleas.”

“A road to the ponds would act like a dagger piercing the heart of a fragile landscape," said Adirondack Council Conservation Director Raul “Rocci” Aguirre. “Motorized public recreation at the edge of one of the Adirondack Park’s most remote and valuable wetlands puts this amazing place forever at risk.”

“It makes no sense -- environmentally or economically -- to squander these unspoiled Adirondack waters by putting a road and vehicle traffic too close,” Janeway explained. “There is no recovering from a mistake like that. Once invasive species get in, we can’t get them out again.

“At public hearings in November and December, we urge the public to draw a red line at least one mile from the ponds and tell the state to stick to it,” he said. “Urge them to protect our Adirondack legacy and justify the investments that the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and we taxpayers made by buying this $14.5-million-dollar property on behalf of future generations.”
Information on the dates and locations of hearings is available at http://bit.ly/2e867n1

State officials unhappily announced this summer that they had lost the battle to keep spiny water flea from infesting nearby Indian Lake. Until the state confirmed its discovery of the Asian crustacean in the water, Indian Lake was the largest water body in New York without an infestation of aggressive, non-native organisms. Spiny waterfleas crowd out native zooplankton that fish need for food.

According to studies conducted by Adirondack Research LLC, Boreas Ponds contain heritage strain fish and are excellent-but-fragile trout waters.

“The Governor should not allow Boreas Ponds to be the next victim,” Janeway said. “The best defense against invasive species is to keep motorized vehicles away. Cars and trucks, boat motors, boat trailers, motorboat bilges, bait buckets and firewood carried in from far away are among the greatest threats. If you don’t keep the end of the road at least a mile away, you invite all of these problems into the ponds.”

Reasons for Road Unfounded
Janeway said State officials cited two main reasons for proposing roads to the ponds in all three initial alternatives -- maintenance of the outflow dam on the ponds, and to allow disabled access to the ponds.

“Both of those are red herrings,” Janeway said. “No one wants to exclude people with disabilities. Dams are allowed in wilderness areas. The state can maintain dams in wilderness areas, right now, without roads. Motorized wheelchairs and other devices made specifically for persons with disabilities are already allowed in Adirondack wilderness areas.”

No more than a smooth trail is needed for access by people with disabilities to the ponds via electric wheelchair or other mobility device. A one-mile trail would pose little or no impediment to access, he explained.

Just hours before the plan was approved for public comment -- perhaps recognizing the flaws in the three original proposals -- a forth alternative was introduced that would prohibit public motorized recreation to the shore, on or around the ponds. But even the fourth proposal calls for the retention of a permanent road to the ponds. While this road is labeled for “administrative” purposes, it is a Trojan horse for ill-defined “special uses” that still leave the ponds vulnerable to invasive species and overuse, Janeway said.

Janeway reminded the state that nine regional and national conservation organizations and 11 Upstate New York newspaper editorials have expressed support for including the Boreas Ponds, and a buffer around them, in an expanded High Peaks Wilderness, while also supporting wilderness protection for the Boreas River (which flows into the Hudson River) down to the Blue Ridge or Boreas Road.

Janeway explained that the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds tract is the largest, most biologically rich and most pristine tract of forest to be added to the Adirondack Forest Preserve in a generation. However, readers of the APA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement would never get that impression.

Lack of Detail in DEIS
“These state proposals don’t recognize – don’t even hint – that this landscape is the most important and fragile ecosystem entrusted to the public in decades,” Janeway said. “Further, there is no recognition of the enormous size of the tract – roughly equal to Manhattan – or its potential as a key location for expansion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area.”

There is little or no detail about the potential impacts of motorized access and recreation on the rare forests and wetlands, endangered and threatened wildlife or the pristine water quality.

Janeway noted that there is wide support for a wilderness buffer around the Boreas Ponds.

In addition to the nine organizations and 11 editorials, there are two recent scientific studies of the Boreas Ponds tract that support protecting the Boreas Ponds as Wilderness. One was completed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the other by Adirondack Research.

Another study conducted by the Clarkson School of Business showed that a Wilderness classification would bring greater investments in homes and businesses to the surrounding communities than lands where people can drive motorized vehicles. All three studies are available at www.adirondackcouncil.org and www.BeWildNY.org.

Newspapers editorializing in favor of wilderness protection at Boreas Ponds include the Post-Star of Glens Falls, Lake George Mirror, Press-Republican of Plattsburgh, Watertown Daily Times, Adirondack Explorer, Ogdensburg Journal, Malone Telegram, Lake Placid News, Albany Times Union, Schenectady Gazette and Observer-Dispatch of Utica.

The State’s proposal for the Boreas Ponds tract is just one of more than 46 classification, reclassification and map amendment proposals identified for more than 50,000 acres of recently acquired Adirondack Forest Preserve across the Adirondack Park. Public comments on the proposals will be accepted through December 30, 2016 by writing to: classificationcomments@apa.ny.gov

The Adirondack Council is the largest conservation advocacy organization dedicated to the Adirondack Park. The Council is an independent, privately funded, not-for-profit organization that accepts neither public grants nor taxpayer funded donations of any kind.

The Council’s mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of large, core Wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms and vibrant local communities.

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Council members live in all 50 United States.

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