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NY Urged to Designate New Wilderness Area

Designating the Boreas Ponds tract as wilderness would supplement the existing High Peaks Wilderness Area. (Sammetsfan/Wikimedia Commons)
Designating the Boreas Ponds tract as wilderness would supplement the existing High Peaks Wilderness Area. (Sammetsfan/Wikimedia Commons)
November 15, 2016

NEW YORK – A coalition of conservation organizations on Monday called on New York State's Adirondack Park Agency to designate the Boreas Ponds area of the park as motor-free wilderness. Sitting well within the boundaries of the park, the tract of land was acquired by the Park Agency this year.

According to John Sheehan, communications director for the nonprofit Adirondack Council, the Boreas Ponds area is one of the most fragile and pristine parcels of land to enter state ownership in a generation. And designating two-thirds of it a wilderness area would keep it that way.

"A road leading to the edge of these ponds would be the beginning of the end for their viability," he said. "Essentially, the ecological integrity of the place would be compromised by that."

Opponents of the designation claim the presence of a few dirt roads and a small dam on the land mean it is not wilderness.

The conservationists point out that much of Adirondack Park had once been stripped of trees by logging and wildfires. Sheehan noted that it would join surrounding areas that already are designated as wilderness.

"This fits like a puzzle piece into the existing High Peaks Wilderness Area in the Adirondack Park, which is the largest and most popular wilderness in the Northeast," he explained.

The ponds also are among the few places in the state that have not been contaminated by invasive species.

Adirondack Park is the largest park in the 48 contiguous states, larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Grand Canyon national parks combined. Sheehan said its importance goes far beyond national borders.

"It is globally significant," added Sheehan. "The Adirondack Park essentially protects the largest intact temperate deciduous forest left on Earth."

The Adirondack Park Agency will be accepting public comment on the state's land classification for Boreas Ponds through December 30.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY