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For Immediate Release: February 02, 2018

Keith P. McKeever | keith.mckeever@apa.ny.gov 
Public Information Officer | Adirondack Park Agency | Press Office | (518) 891-4050

APA Approves Historic State Land Classification Package


Review Culminates Strongest Protection for Most Sensitive Natural Resources and Creates New Recreational Access

New Contiguous Wilderness Lands Now Rival Size of Several National Parks

RAY BROOK, NY - At the conclusion of a rigorous Adirondack Park Agency Board meeting, the Agency voted to classify:

- Thirty-three State Land classifications (50,827 acres),

- Eleven State Land reclassifications (132 acres), and

- Fifty-six map corrections (1,949 acres)

The State Land Classification recommendations involve lands in all twelve Adirondack Park counties including the final tract of the historic Finch Pruyn & Company land deal  the 20,543 acre Boreas Ponds parcel. These actions mark the last classification recommendation by the Agency for the State's unprecedented, multi-year land transaction with The Nature Conservancy. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, 65,000 acres of globally significant forests were acquired for inclusion into the Adirondack Forest Preserve. This marked the largest Forest Preserve addition in the history of the Adirondack Park.

Chairman Craig said, "The Boreas Ponds classification is a generational opportunity to find harmony for wilderness solitude, backcountry recreation and appropriate public access to a stunningly wild place. Our action prioritized natural resource protection and ensures people of all abilities and interests may experience the sense of wonder and discovery which are the defining characteristics of the Adirondack Park. We respectfully extend our utmost appreciation to Governor Cuomo for his efforts to secure this historic acquisition. The Finch transaction, in its entirety, reflects a careful and thoughtful balance of many different points of view. These interests were well-represented throughout the public discourse on this momentous classification which protects the environment and supports the economy of the Park. We now welcome this opportunity to forward our recommendations to Governor Cuomo for his concurrence."

"The classification of the Boreas Ponds demonstrates Governor Cuomos continuing commitment to protect New Yorks peerless natural resources while making these resources available to the public and linking public lands to enhance the economies of local communities, said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. DEC is poised to take the next step in managing the Boreas Ponds in a manner that protects and preserves the solitude and sensitive natural resources while ensuring Adirondack Park communities and visitors can enjoy the premier recreation opportunities offered by these lands. I applaud the APA and DEC teams who worked tirelessly to get this done and sincerely appreciate the efforts of communities in the Five Town region and our environmental partners who came together to help achieve the balance demonstrated in this classification."

The Boreas Ponds parcel, located in the Towns of Newcomb and North Hudson, Essex County, include a vast diversity of low and high elevation habitats. These habitats support an exceptional array of plants and animals and include boreal habitats which are critical to several species of northern birds at the southern extent of their range, found nowhere else in the State.

The centerpiece of the tract is the Boreas Ponds. Other outstanding ecological features include seven unspoiled waterbodies, 27 miles of pristine streams, 1,800 acres of high value wetlands including the States largest high elevation peatland  the 1,200 acre Marcy Swamp. There are three named peaks over 2,000 feet: Boreas Mountain (3,776 feet), Moose Mountain (2,700 feet), and Ragged Mountain (2,677 feet). Based on its natural resources the Boreas Ponds Tract has the potential for strong resiliency to climate change impacts and is a key parcel on the local and regional scale for ecological connectivity.

The Boreas Ponds classification includes:

- 11,412 acres of Wilderness

- 9,118 acres of Wild Forest

- 11 acres of Primitive

- 2 acres of State Administrative

The 11,412-acre Wilderness Area will protect the pristine water bodies, intact fishery, high value wetlands, and the rare, threatened and endangered plants. Three rare, threatened or endangered species are present. Species of Special Concern including the Bicknells Thrush, Common Loon, Moose and Northern Bog Aster depend on the critical habitat of this special area.

The Boreas Wilderness Area will also establish a new remote paddling experience that is within reasonable access to the general public. In addition, it abuts to the north the High Peaks Wilderness Areas. These newly classified wilderness lands will create a contiguous wilderness zone in the heart of the Adirondack Park which will rival in size national parks such as Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Rainier National Park and Zion National Park. In addition, this new southern access will help disperse visitation within the High Peaks Wilderness Area. It will also enhance the Park's appeal across the United States, as well as internationally.

The 11-acre Primitive Area will allow the Department of Environmental Conservation to reach and maintain the dam on the southern end of the Boreas Ponds.

The 9,118-acre Wild Forest area includes lands 500 feet north of Gulf Brook and Boreas Ponds Roads, the roads themselves, and the land south of the roads. These lands will be added to the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest. This area will extend east to Elk Lake Road, encompassing Gulf Brook, Ragged Mountain and The Branch River, a designated study river under the Wild Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act. Given the land's ability to withstand a higher degree of recreational use, these areas are appropriate for a wider array of recreational activities including motorized and mechanized use.

The Wild Forest Corridor includes Boreas Ponds Road north of the Four Corners and an abandoned landing 0.1 of a mile from the Boreas Ponds dam. The classification will allow for dam maintenance by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Agency reached these recommendations based on consultation with the Department and after a thorough analysis by Agency staff of the physical, biological and intangible characteristics of the land and its ability to withstand use.

In addition, the Agency benefitted tremendously from an astonishing level of public engagement. Extensive and well prepared comments were provided at eight public hearings which were held inside and outside the Adirondack Park during November and December 2016. Written public comment was accepted until December 30, 2016.

Approximately 1,215 people attended the hearings and 462 people spoke passionately on the record. During the public comment period, the Agency received more than 11,000 written public comments and three petitions with 27,852 signatures.

Executive Director Martino said, "I extend a sincere thank you to everyone who participated in this monumental State land classification process. The public engagement was inspirational and informative to Agency staff who worked diligently on this transformational classification package. We eagerly look forward to working with our colleagues at the Department in their development of unit management plans that will ultimately implement Governor Cuomos vision of natural resource protection, community connectivity and recreational access." The Overall 2016-2017 State Land Classification action will create:

- 25,824 acres of Wilderness

- 26,545 acres of Wild Forest

- 74 acres of Primitive

- 108 acres of State Administrative

- 75 acres of Intensive Use

- 2.5 acres of Historic

The Agency Board voted 8-1 to accept the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and to recommend the Boreas Ponds Tract Preferred Alternative 2B to Governor Cuomo for his final consideration. The Board voted 10-0 in a separate resolution to recommend classification of 99 other parcels of State Land.

The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law.