The Adirondack Council, in its campaign “Be Wild NY,” recently argued to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: "You have an extraordinary opportunity to create a true national legacy, an Adirondack wilderness area here in New York whose scale and positive impacts will rival some of the most famous conservation landmarks in the world.” What they are referring to as the Governor’s unique opportunity is his ability to label the recently bought Boreas Ponds tract of land as Wilderness. The Boreas Ponds tract is beautiful, it’s currently remote and pristine, and its addition to the High Peaks Wilderness would act almost as the cherry on top. The group is right that Cuomo has an extraordinary opportunity at his fingertips, but do their ambitious claims about the land rivaling the “most famous conservation landmarks in the world,” hold up? And do they hold up in the light of local economic pressure that wants a designation less strict than “wilderness”?
To examine the claim that this new tract of land will cause the Adirondacks to rival the most famous conservation landmarks in the world, we have to look at those famous landmarks. Quantitatively, the Boreas Ponds purchase is 89 square kilometers. To put that in perspective, Yellowstone another park within America, is just under 9,000 square kilometers. If the quantitative argument is relative to what the Boreas Ponds tract makes the High Peaks Wilderness as a whole, it still remains under 1,000 square kilometers. So the quantitative argument cannot be made, but that doesn’t rule out a qualitative one. To argue about the intrinsic beauty of the Boreas Ponds is valid, but highly subjective, which brings in the title of this blog post. Recently however, some groups have argued from a scientific perspective that the ecosystems protected in the Boreas Ponds will be severely damaged if opened up to snowmobile access.
Whether or not the Boreas Ponds tract really will cause it to “rival” some of the most recognized protected areas in the world, its protection will go down with controversy. My own opinion is that the Boreas Ponds tract should be labeled as wilderness. I believe that Governor Cuomo’s attitude toward the park often ignores the potentially extremely valid points of groups like the Adirondack Council. At the end of the day, someone needs to be able to look past the Park’s monetary value and speak on behalf of its beauty.