Schroon Lakers Get Their Say on Boreas Ponds Tract

Schroon Lakers get to have their say on what should happen to the vast Boreas Ponds tract in Essex County, the recently acquired new addition to the Adirondack Park.

A large crowd is expected at the Schroon Lake Central School Monday night, where written and oral submissions will be taken by representatives of the Adirondack Park Agency.

Boreas Pond is literally in Schroon’s backyard, although technically five towns can lay claim to it: North Hudson, Minerva, Newcomb, Indian Lake and Long Lake. The acquisition of the land, up until recently used by Finch Paper Holdings, was years in the making and was a joint effort by the Cuomo administration and the Nature Conservancy, among others.

Councilman Roger Freidman describes the area as “absolutely pristine”. He recently took a tour by car, hiking and biking into the most picturesque spot, one which gave him an unobstructed view of the High Peaks.

“I sat there for an hour, entranced by all of its beauty. It is something very special,” Friedman told Schroon Laker.

The bodies of water in this area cover 320 acres, one of the largest in the Adirondack Park. Right now it’s about a seven-mile hike into the area, making access almost impossible for disabled folks, younger and older hikers, those with other health issues, not to mention those not up for a 14 mile round trip walk in the woods!

Nature Conservancy Adirondack Chapter Executive Director, Michael Carr makes no bones about its importance and addition to the Adirondack Park.

“Larger in size than Manhattan, the addition of the Boreas Ponds tract to the Forest Preserve is one for the history books. This property is of National Park quality. We are proud to partner with New York to protect such a priceless resource.”

This is a big deal folks, and your input is important no matter where you stand on the issues. What issues? Glad you asked. What it boils down to is how many folks will actually get to experience this pristine part of the ‘Dacks. And will it remain pristine?

Without over simplifying, and I will accept all criticism, it’s an issue that harkens back to a decades old debate in the park over motorized use versus hike-and-paddle access.

There are some environmentalists who wish to keep this tract forever wild, making it a Wilderness area, where roads are not allowed.

That means limited access to those willing to undertake a major hike to get to the way points to those outstanding views to the High Peaks, as well as places to launch their canoes or kayaks (which they have wheeled in) on the vast manmade series of lakes and ponds. For it to be forever wild, the many miles of established roads, which were used for decades by logging trucks, would be closed to the public. That would keep cars, bikes, and snowmobiles out. (We are not too sure about horses).

Then there are those who want varying degrees of access to the tract. That means keeping the roads open and potentially developing parking areas. This would cut down on the 14 mile trek and allow many more visitors.

And there are some folks in the middle, who wish for the state to classify the tract as Wilderness but leave the road open as a Primitive Corridor. Another option would be to classify part of the tract Wild Forest, a designation that allows roads.

The APA itself has 4 alternatives, which I have put into a pdf here. The full document is here.

So what this means for towns like Schroon, and many others within an easy drive, is all about dollars and cents. If the Boreas Ponds area is opened up to a large part of the populous, through easy access, the wisdom is more people will visit the region.

Councilman Friedman says the potential for an easily accesable Boreas Pond to bring new visitors to Schroon is enormous. “If it opens up, more people will come. We are a day use community and it will be another attraction, just 15 minutes away in North Hudson. Hiking, biking or horse riding and snow mobiling in the winter are all activities that will entice visitors.”

And with that will be the hope that they’ll pop into Schroon, discover our gem of a town, open their wallets, shop in our stores and eat and drink in our restaurants and bars. Hopefully they’ll rest their weary bodies in one of our handful of Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, Motels or other tourist accommodations.

So tell us in our comments section what you think? Your voice could make a difference!

Nov. 21: Schroon Lake Central School, 1125 NYS Route 9, Schroon Lake, 7 p.m., 

Nov. 28: Rochester Institute of Technology Golisano Institute for Sustainability Sustainability Hall, Parking in Lot T, Rochester, 7 p.m., 

Nov. 29: St. Lawrence County Human Service Center, 80 State Highway 310, Canton 6 p.m., 

Dec. 6: Bear Mountain Inn, 3020 Seven Lakes Drive, Tomkins Cove, 7 p.m. 

Dec. 7: NYS DEC 625 Broadway, Albany, 2 p.m.

Written comments can be sent via mail or email to:

Kathleen D. Regan, Deputy Director, Planning

Adirondack Park Agency

Post Office Box 99

1133 State Route 86

Ray Brook, NY 12977