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Adirondack Council Supports Governor, Park Agency Decision to go Slow on Boreas Ponds Classification, Wilderness Expansion

For more information:
John F. Sheehan
518-432-1770 (ofc)
518-441-1340 (cell) 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, November 3, 2017

 

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council said today it supports a decision by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Adirondack Park Agency to further delay the release of its final recommendation to classify Boreas Ponds and tens of thousands of acres of other newly acquired public lands adjacent to the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

"We stand with the Governor’s decision to let the APA take the time it needs to get the Boreas classification right,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “We have waited many years for the state to acquire and protect these amazing lands and waters.  We can wait a little longer to decide how they are going to be managed.

“There is no need to rush,” Janeway said.  “Doing it right is better than doing it fast.”

Janeway noted that the Adirondack Council and its partners in the BeWildNY Coalition had urged the Governor to classify as motor-free Wilderness the northern two-thirds of the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds tract in North Hudson, as well as most of the McIntyre East, MacIntyre West, and Open Space Institute tracts in Newcomb and the entire Casey Brook tract in North Hudson.

The result would be an expanded High Peaks Wilderness Area spanning more than 280,000 acres.  The new wilderness would contain the state’s tallest mountains and some of its wildest rivers, including the headwaters to the Hudson River.  It would be equal in size to Rocky Mountain National Park or Mount Rainier National Park, and would be twice the size of Zion National Park.  Lands and waters that have been closed to the public for more than 150 years would be open and accessible.

Details of the Wilderness expansion plan are available at www.BeWildNY.org

Until the Governor accepts a final recommendation from the APA on classification of the new tracts, most of the lands that were recommended for classification as motor-free wilderness – the highest level of protection available – will be managed as wilderness.

“The Park Agency’s decision to take its time may relieve some of the pressure to accommodate intensive recreation at Boreas Ponds or on any of these tracts,” Janeway said. “Over time, advocates for motorized access will see that these lands will attract new visitors who want to explore wilderness.

“The Governor has said he wants to leave the Adirondacks better than he found them, for our children.  We applaud that desire and want to help him achieve it.

“Governor Cuomo's historic investments in Adirondack wilderness and vibrant communities are threatened by proposals for public motorized and mechanized recreation on and around the sensitive Boreas Ponds.  They are also threatened by oil train junkyards and Trump administration roll-backs of protections against acid rain, soot and smog.  We stand with the Governor in opposition to all of these threats.”

The APA told Politico on November 2 that it would not hold a discussion or vote on the Boreas Ponds classification or others at its monthly meeting on November 16 and 17.  The agency had previously said it expected to make a final recommendation in the fall.  Its final meeting before winter is slated for December 14 and 15.

“If the Governor's APA follows the science, the law, public opinion, and the state's progressive environmental traditions, the Adirondack Council stands ready to applaud,” said Janeway.  “Wilderness and communities win if the Governor listens to the 12 daily newspaper editorials from Upstate New York that supported the classification compromise advanced by the Adirondack Council, the BeWildNY Coalition and others.  We thank the tens of thousands of people who have spoken up in support of Adirondack Wilderness."

The BeWildNY Coalition believes the expansion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area will help to relieve some of the hiking and camping pressure on the most popular and overcrowded trails to the state’s tallest mountains.  By creating easier starting points and new areas to explore on the southern flanks of the wilderness, some of the current traffic in Keene Valley and around the Village of Lake Placid would shift. 

This, in turn, would help the economies of North Hudson and Newcomb, whose distance from the most popular wilderness area in the Northeast left them out of the economic opportunities that have lifted the economies of the towns of Keene and North Elba (Lake Placid), Janeway explained.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.  The Council envisions a Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant, local communities. 

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

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