Last Wednesday, I attended a public meeting at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The meeting was designed to gauge public opinion and discussion regarding the State’s newly-acquired Boreas Ponds tract in the Adirondacks, and the level of available access to the land.
There were several proposals on the schedule, including determining the former Finch Pruyn property as either “Wilderness” or “Wild Forest.” I know that sounds confusing – almost as if you’re asking someone about their favorite ice cream flavor, and they say “Neapolitan.” “Wild Forest” means that there can be motorized vehicles and roadways up to and surrounding the Boreas Ponds; while “Wilderness” means that the land would be restricted to foot travel only.
Currently, to visit the Boreas Ponds, one must travel a rutty, rocky one-lane road about three miles, park your car, and then walk the remaining four miles to the LaBier Flow, then another mile or two to the Boreas Ponds itself. And the return distance is just as long. And when public comment was requested, there were plenty of passionate opinions on both sides of the issue.
Many people showed up with green “I Want Wilderness” T-shirts, and they definitely wanted the land to remain untouched by snowmobile engines and aluminum motorboats. Others argued for the “Wild Forest” designation, arguing that the economic benefit of hikers and hunters and tourists would help those who live in the Park area.
Everybody had their turn to speak. Then my name was called. I had three minutes to give my opinion on the subject.
I took the podium, and explained that I did not live in the Adirondack Park, nor did I have any financial stake in the decision. I explained that I was a tourist who was thankful to visit the Boreas Ponds last October, and that I hoped to do so once again. But rather than argue for Plan #1 (Wild Forest) or Plan #4 (Wilderness), I suggested that the State choose Plan #2.
Plan #2 would allow motorized access up to the LaBier Flow, but then one would have to walk the additional mile or two to the Boreas Ponds itself. In that way, the Ponds tract would remain as pristine as possible, while still encouraging visitors to its beauty.
And with one minute left to speak, I added my own personal observation.
“On my way to the Boreas Ponds,” I said, “I purchased gasoline at the Sunoco station off Exit 29 of the Northway. I also purchsaed souvenirs and snacks at the Adirondack Buffalo Company on the Blue Ridge road. Now i obviously didn’t make a dent in the town budget, but I did spend money while I was here. And if I did so, so will other visitors when they come to see this land and hike its trails and enjoy its beauty.”
Speech done. With seven seconds to spare.
And I’m sure that when this is all sorted out, the State will create some sort of compromise that may not please everybody, but will give many groups at least some of what they’re desiring.
That would be nice. Sometimes we all need some compromise in our life.
Plus, I do want to return to the Boreas Ponds next year. And hopefully the walk will be a shorter distance from my car to the Ponds.
Who knows? This could even inspire me to become an Adirondack 46er before God calls me to Glory.
Well, one step at a time, Chuck.
But it’s a nice goal to achieve, isn’t it?