The state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to close Gulf Brook Road, the dirt thoroughfare leading to Boreas Ponds, on weekdays so it can repair the road, which was damaged by deep frost and melting snow this past winter.
The closure means people will have to hike or bike about seven miles to reach the ponds, which the state bought in 2016.
Gulf Brook Road is an old logging road built by Finch, Pruyn and Company, the former owner of Boreas Ponds. When the road is open, people are allowed to drive 3.2 miles to the Fly Pond Parking Area, an interim lot created in 2016. This is the stretch of road that DEC will working on.
The road to the interim lot will be open on weekends from 5 p.m. Friday to sundown on Sunday. The roadwork is expected to last until the end of July.
Last weekend, Carol MacKinnon Fox and I drove to the Fly Pond lot in my low-clearance car, a Subaru Impreza. We slowed to a crawl at times while driving over or around rocks (see video). Even so, we bottomed out a few times. It took us about thirty minutes to travel 3.2 miles. We then rode mountain bikes to the ponds.
Obviously, pickup trucks and other high-clearance vehicles would have less trouble on Gulf Brook Road. In fact, DEC recommends using high-clearance vehicles on seasonal access roads.
DEC has proposed building parking areas much closer to Boreas Ponds—at LaBier Flow, located a mile from the ponds, and at a spot just a tenth of a mile from the ponds. The latter would have space for just six cars, and two of the spaces would be reserved for the disabled. Getting to either lot would require a much longer drive on Gulf Brook Road.
In a draft amendment for the Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest, DEC says “extensive work will need to be performed to bring the roads to a usable and sustainable standard.” This includes cleaning ditches, clearing culverts, replacing culverts, and grading the road.
Once the initial work is done, DEC estimates that maintaining the road will cost $14,000 a year.
Two environmental groups—Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and Adirondack Wild—contend that the entire road should be closed to motor vehicles. Earlier this year, however, the Adirondack Park Agency approved a Wild Forest classification for the roads, which allows motorized use. Boreas Ponds themselves are classified as Wilderness, a classification that prohibits motorized use.
DEC is holding a hearing in Lake Placid this evening on its proposals for Boreas Ponds and other areas in the High Peaks Wilderness. The public has until June 27 to comment. Click here to find info on the hearing and how to comment.
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