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Protecting Hudson River headwaters in the High Peaks

Upper Hudson

Upper Hudson River at Route 25 downstream of the MacIntyre Tract. (Photo by Dan Shapley / Riverkeeper)
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Riverkeeper has filed comments with the Adirondack Park Agency, arguing that additional alternatives should be considered as the APA classifies vast tracts of new state lands in the High Peaks.

The tracts include rivers, brooks and wetlands associated with the headwaters of the Hudson River and several of its Adirondack Mountain tributaries, including the Boreas River and Opalescent River.

The Adirondack Park was created in 1892 by the State of New York in large part to preserve the quality and quantity of water naturally provided and filtered by the mountains’ forests, streams and wetlands. This natural infrastructure has value exceeding our ability to calculate it, and each generation faces the task of renewing and advancing protection in the region, in order to provide for enjoyment of the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, and for the benefits its preservation provide downstream.

Riverkeeper urge the APA to consider additional alternatives, including expanding areas considered for Wilderness classification; delineating Wild Forest from Wilderness areas at watershed boundaries, rather than at brooks, ponds or wetlands, in order to better preserve water quality; and designating the Boreas River as a Wild River. Riverkeeper also urged consideration of a proposal advanced by the Be Wild NY coalition to include several large tracts in an expanded High Peaks Wilderness that, at 280,000 acres, would rival the scale of Rocky Mountain National Park, and mark an exceptional conservation achievement for the Adirondack Mountains and the Hudson River.

Be Wild NY’s proposal for an expanded Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness.

One of the points where Riverkeeper sampled the Upper Hudson this year is just downstream from the MacIntyre East tract, which the APA proposes splitting part into Wilderness, the classification affording the greatest protections, and part into Wild Forest, which is less protective. Despite the presence of “significant wetlands” associated with the Upper Hudson and Opalescent River, the APA’s preferred alternative for 1,605 acres of the tract just upstream of our sampling point is a Wild Forest classification, rather than Wilderness, because “this area does not provide a sense of remoteness or degree of wildness associated with these classification categories due to the proximity of County Route 25.” This video was taken of the Upper Hudson River from Route 25 at the point where we sampled:

The water quality was excellent.

The public has until December 30 to send comments, which can be emailed to [email protected] and addressed to Kathleen D. Regan, Deputy Director, Planning, at the Adirondack Park Agency.

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