In 2007, The Nature Conservancy bought 161,000 acres of Adirondack land from the Finch Pruyn timber company. In 2012, New York State announced they would purchase the lands over time from the Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. The Nature Conservancy has now sold the final tract and transferred the deed to New York State.
The 20,758 acre Boreas Ponds tract borders the largest wilderness areas in the Adirondacks and is the last in a string of transactions to acquire former Finch Pruyn lands by the state of New York. Adirondack Nature Conservancy Executive Director Mike Carr calls the Boreas Ponds the crown jewel of the overall state land acquisition. “It's such a massive tract so it was kind of a sequencing issue for the state in terms of the Environmental Protection Fund money. You know so we had to kind of stage them. They couldn’t do it all at once. And there was a lot to do on this tract. There are leases and we needed to understand it biologically. It's just teeming with moose and brook trout and it’s spectacularly beautiful. The view from Second Pond is..you're surrounded by the High Peaks and it's really like standing at one of the world's great cathedrals. It's just that same feeling you get of being completely surrounded by beauty.”
The Boreas Ponds are adjacent to the High Peaks and Dix Mountain Wilderness areas. The newly acquired lands must now go through the Adirondack Park Agency and DEC classification process. Eight groups have banded together, according to Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth, to urge the state to classify most of the lands wilderness. “We have a plan, the BeWildPlan, and we provide that most of the property will be wilderness. And that includes the top two-thirds of the Boreas Tract itself. We do provide for some Wild Forest close to the Blue Ridge Road and for a snowmobile connection that we have basically verified is viable and would be desirable between Newcomb and North Hudson. And other things like bicycling could be done in the Wild Forest part. There's one segment of the Boreas Ponds where a very nice network of mountain biking trails could be created.”
The Boreas Ponds tract borders the Adirondack towns of North Hudson and Newcomb. Town of North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore hopes the existing infrastructure of old logging roads can be utilized for new recreational opportunities. “We're seeking a balance that will provide both Wilderness and Wild Forest. We feel we have a proposal that will both protect the environment, allow the wilderness areas of the High Peaks and the Dix Wilderness Area be joined through this acquisition, where that portion would be wilderness and then you’d have one of the largest wilderness areas east of the Mississippi. But we also feel we can realize the economic benefits and provide the recreational opportunities to the folks that we hope will visit.”
Newcomb Town Supervisor Wester Miga says a classification for the Boreas Ponds tract that enhances recreational access would be most beneficial to the town. “It would be our hope that the more people that come to this area the greater chance that we have that they will come to discover Newcomb. There are amenities which we hope to develop over a period of time. But you also need to have people come here. So it would be our hope that individuals and families that participated in recreational opportunities in a place like Boreas Ponds would discover Newcomb. There's a myriad of activities that are available on our landscape and we need people to come here in order to avail themselves to it.”
The Boreas Ponds tract includes 50 miles of rivers and streams, forests and habitat for moose, loons and the Bicknell’s Thrush.
The DEC is developing an interim recreation plan. Access to the tract will be limited to foot traffic only beyond the closed gate while that plan is being developed.
On Friday the Adirondack Nature Conservancy e-mailed WAMC to clarify and make a correction:
New York did not buy all 161,000 acres from TNC (most of the land is protected by conservation easement which allows for continued sustainable harvest). In 2007, The Nature Conservancy bought 161,000 acres of Adirondack land from the Finch Pruyn timber company. In 2012, New York State announced they would purchase 65,000 acres over time from the Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. The Nature Conservancy has now sold the final tract and transferred the deed to New York State.