Press-Republican

October 1, 2012

State land and Adirondack economics

DEC wants Boreas building torn down; local leaders disagree

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — NORTH HUDSON — The other shoe falls with every step, signifying motion.

In North Hudson, the other shoe is stepping toward renewed growth, with 22,081 acres at Boreas Pond there slated to become state forestland in five years.

The land is bordered by the towns of Keene and Newcomb.

“There’s going to be a lot of discussion whether or not there will be access to the main Finch Pruyn Camp,” Supervisor Ronald J. Moore (North Hudson) said.

The camp building, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with his cabinet and reporters on Sunday, was built in 1995. 

It has a kitchen, a great room with open fireplace, a restroom and some sleeping quarters.

It is slated to be torn down when the state buys Boreas Pond.

‘DON’T TEAR IT DOWN’

Commissioner Joe Martens affirmed that DEC wants to remove the former Finch executive camp, a change that could switch land use to the more “primeval character” of Wilderness.

“No, it shouldn’t be torn down,” Moore said when asked about that idea.

“I liken its location to the ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) Loj at Heart Lake. But Heart Lake property is private, while the state is going to own this. The state is likely not going to get into the business of running a ‘post’ like that,” Moore said. 

“Is there a way that we could make that as our outpost here? Could we create some leasing opportunity through, say ADK? It is similar to John’s Brook (lodge in Keene), as well. But, in order to do that, the state land classification is going to have to be Wild Forest.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked during his visit Sunday if the state would remove the Finch Camp. 

“That’s one of the points they have to take a look at,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is.

“I know it’s an issue, though. The state will make these tracts of land accessible, open … and work on tourism opportunities that the land will provide.”

OLDEST HOUSE

The Finch Camp is a one-story, modern log cabin with electricity. Its wide front porch overlooks Boreas Pond. 

Asked if she thought the building should be removed, Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said, “No. Why would you? I can see this as a perfect wilderness access point for the physically challenged with fishing sites along this shore.”

“We want to make sure the communities around these places benefit, too,” Martens said when Cuomo and his cabinet members chatted on the lawn.

“There is no reason for bringing that beautiful building down,” Moore said. 

There are several other human-made structures near Boreas Pond, including a much older log cabin.

Moore and Finch forest manager David Osterberg said it was the first house built in North Hudson.

It’s rectangular and squat and sits in what Osterberg referred to as “The Clearing,” an area about 6 miles down the winding logging road.

And there are at least two human-made dams. The Boreas Dam creates an impoundment that is Boreas Pond. The Labierre Dam holds back waters of the flow. Both waterways were used to flood the streams that took timber to the Hudson River.

NO BUSINESS PLAN

Moore and other local leaders have been discussing land use with DEC.

They plan to add snowmobile connector trails from North Hudson to Newcomb and hiking routes to Elk Lake, along with mountain-bike trails.

The Boreas tract in North Hudson is just one of 10 land-use discussions that will impact local Adirondack economies in the 69,000-acre deal.

The state is poised to spend $50 million but has not produced any business plan connected to the land purchases.

Jerry Delaney, president of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, opposed the state land acquisition.

That entity’s research suggests the land addition would delete 300 forestry-related jobs before creating new ones.

“It would make more sense to define how the tracts are classified by assessing how land use would impact towns around them,” Delaney said.

“If we’re going to open up the Adirondack’s most beautiful places, let’s open them up. I think the Finch Camp should be open to the public — maintained and run for access to the people who can’t walk 7 miles, whether it be a family with children or people with disabilities, war veterans included.”

NEXT BIG HURDLE

The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages took a similar stance when Cuomo announced the land acquisition.

“Removing 60,000 acres of productive forest from the wood basket that supplies fiber for making the world’s finest paper ... that will fuel the emerging bio-mass market and the countless jobs that go with these opportunities ... is not an economic hand-up, rather a boot across our necks,” the association said in a statement denouncing the deal.

The barrier, it suggests, is Article XIV, the Forever Wild clause.

“That’s going to be the next big hurdle in the discussion,” Moore said. 

“Where are you going to make that defining line between Wilderness and Forest Preserve? We have supported this land purchase because of the economic possibilities. 

“We have no gas station in North Hudson anymore. We have no stores. We’re hoping this will be a boost to getting those facilities back.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam: kdedam@pressrepublican.com