Taken together, there are three pieces in the September/October 2016 issue—“Beyond peak capacity,” “More money, more partners for DEC,” and “Balanced plan for Boreas”—that highlight, albeit indirectly, an emerging problem in the Adirondacks.
The Boreas piece focused on the debate regarding the classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract. For the most part, it will be a tug of war between those that endorse the most restrictive Wilderness classification and those that support greater access for motorized vehicles. Clearly, the ultimate decisions will greatly influence the volume of visitors. The other articles I cited highlighted the adverse effects of the increase in hikers in the High Peaks region and inadequate staffing levels at DEC.
It would be folly to determine the level of public access to the Boreas Ponds Tract in the absence of a determination of the state resources needed for adequate oversight and enforcement. The powers-that-be must recognize that these issues cannot be addressed independently of one another. On my hikes I see garbage, unprepared campers, and some pretty boorish behavior. While the vast majority of visitors are responsible, it takes only a small minority to inflict disproportionate damage. Will Boreas Ponds be different?
The time has come to expand the discussion, to see the bigger picture, and do what is necessary to protect a beautiful resource from being compromised. Spending millions to promote tourism and improve accessibility without a commitment to adequate resources for oversight and enforcement is a recipe for failure.
Dennis Sullivan, Ballston Lake