Aerial view of Boreas Ponds.
Aerial view of Boreas Ponds. © Carl Heilman II

Stories in New York

Even More to Boreas Ponds than Meets the Eye

How we're protecting vital lands and transforming communities in New York’s Adirondack Park.

The Nature Conservancy’s transfer of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds property to New York State is the final land transaction in a historic conservation deal that is protecting globally significant forests and changing the course of history in the Adirondack Park. 

What Makes It So Special

Boreas Ponds borders the High Peaks Wilderness, which is part of a unique state forest system inside the six million-acre Adirondack Park. The park was established in 1892 in order to protect water quality and forest health, both of which were in rapid decline from unsustainable logging and widespread forest fires. Unlike most parks, this one consists of a mixture of public and private lands, and it is home to many communities—102 towns and villages with main streets, fire departments, schools and businesses.

Entry to the park is free and it never closes. Each year, the Adirondack Park welcomes more than one million visitors.

Thanks to more than a century of conservation action, Adirondack forests stand out among their type of forest as some of the largest, most intact contiguous areas on Earth. The remote pockets that escaped axe or flame harbor more old growth forests than anywhere else east of the Mississippi River. Scientists rank the Adirondacks as one of the most climate change-resilient landscapes in the Eastern United States because of its large protected forests and variety of habitats at many elevations.

A Historic Deal

In 2007, TNC seized an opportunity to build on the park’s inspiring history by purchasing the largest unprotected timber tract remaining: 161,000 acres, including Boreas Ponds. While these lands boast an impressive collection of natural resources—300 lakes and ponds, 415 miles of rivers and streams, 90 mountains—the protected lands they border magnify their conservation value. In other words, these are not isolated acres, and their conservation value is significantly enhanced by their position inside the Adirondack Park.

State-owned forest preserve lands inside the park are protected as Forever Wild, which means they can never be sold, harvested for timber, mined for minerals or leased. They are part of a patchwork of large forestlands, many of which are also protected from development but still available for sustainable timber harvest. Both categories of lands and the resources they offer enable forests in the Adirondacks to support a diverse portfolio of jobs ranging from forestry to visitor services.

Additionally, through this monumental project, TNC and its state partner, the Department of Environmental Conservation, are demonstrating how community prosperity and conservation can go hand-in-hand. With new areas like Boreas Ponds, OK Slip Falls, Essex Chain Lakes and other special places becoming available for public recreation for the first time in more than 100 years, the Conservancy is supporting recreation-based economic development.

It is through projects like this that TNC is doing more than protecting land. We are changing the way nature is valued by people. 

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