New York state has purchased the Boreas Ponds tract bordering the Adirondack High Peaks near North Hudson for $14.5 million, completing a 69,000-acre land acquisition begun in 2012, The Nature Conservancy announced Thursday.
Mary Esch, from the Associated Press reports the 20,758-acre tract, with its trio of connected ponds reflecting the state’s highest mountains, is now protected as Forever Wild under the state constitution. It features 50 miles of rivers and streams, a variety of forests and a network of logging roads.
The council is part of the coalition seeking to have the tract classified as wilderness, which excludes mechanical access including bicycles.
North Hudson Town Supervisor Ronald Moore is a member of a coalition of local leaders seeking easier access into the tract to accommodate a wider range of users than just the most physically fit.
“There’s a wide infrastructure of logging roads that could sustain multiple uses including horseback riding and bicycling,” Moore said.
The DEC will propose a classification plan that will be subject to public hearings and comment before being sent to the governor for approval.
It’s part of the conservancy’s 2007 purchase of 161,000 acres of former Finch timber company land to protect it from development. Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged to buy 65,000 acres of the most ecologically significant tracts of that land along with 4,000 acres of other conservancy land in 2012. The rest is protected by conservation easements that allow sustainable forestry and continuation of leases with hunting clubs.
“This project is a model of how to keep large landscapes conserved and connected, to sustain both wildlife and people for future generations,” said Frances Beinecke, former president of the Natural Resources Defense Council and trustee of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack chapter.
A state Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman confirmed the purchase, adding, “Additional details will be announced in the coming weeks.” The agency didn’t say when the land will be open to the public.
The deed was filed on April 5 with the Essex County clerk.
Environmental groups have been campaigning for the tract to be added to the 203,000-acre High Peaks Wilderness to create a motor-free preserve larger than Rocky Mountain National Park. Local officials advocate a less restrictive “wild forest” classification for part of the parcel, allowing people to drive on the 7½-mile logging road that leads to the ponds.
“Organizations from around the country have been waiting to applaud this Adirondack purchase since 1988 when we first called for it to become Forest Preserve,” said William Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council.