Accomplishments

Accomplishments

With strong partner organizations, collaboration with elected/appointed government officials and citizen participation, the Council successfully advocates for policies and funding that benefit the environment and communities of the Adirondack Park.

2015-2016 Accomplishments.

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Wilderness: Ensuring the wild character and ecological integrity of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve.

  • Defeated a plan to store aging, leaky oil tank cars on rail road tracks on the Forest Preserve near the headwaters of the Hudson River;
  • Launched the Be Wild New York campaign with a coalition of regional and national conservation organizations to promote the expansion of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness to create more than 280,000 acres of contiguous wilderness including most of the Boreas Ponds tract;
  • Commissioned and publicized ecological studies of the new Boreas Ponds tract by Adirondack Research and the Wildlife Conservation Society, showing that the parcel had above average Wilderness qualities in terms of intact forests, rare wetland types, and sensitive wildlife habitat. These qualities support efforts for a Wilderness classification by state officials and highlight the uniqueness of the land and the risk posed by allowing motorized or mechanized recreation;
  • Commissioned and released a study by Clarkson University School of Business showing that Adirondack wilderness provides local communities with a 25% or greater economic premium over non-wilderness, where motorized or mechanized recreation is allowed. The analysis found that properties in the Park sell for more than those outside the Park;
  • Brought a successful legal action challenging illegal expansion of all-terrain vehicle riding in the Adirondack Park. Two additional actions related to motorized use of the Forest Preserve are pending;
  • Provided critical analysis and input on the state’s wildlife action plan.

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Vibrant Communities: Fostering a more resilient, sustainable Adirondack Park with vibrant communities.

  • Gained an additional $250 million for clean water infrastructure grants and loans to local communities in the state budget, on top of the $100 million that had already been approved for 2016 and 2017;
  • Supported the Common Ground Alliance’s Adirondack Futures Project making steady progress toward the shared vision of creating and sustaining an Adirondack Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests and enhanced by vibrant, rural communities;
  • Helped secure a 200 percent increase in the state’s Smart Growth grants to communities, resulting in a $2-million program that sent $400,000 to six high-priority projects in Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and Warren counties;
  • Worked with Adirondack communities, organizations, elected officials and citizens to gain first legislative approval of a Constitutional Amendment to create a health and safety land account for town and county roads allowing local municipalities to straighten curves and install drainage on roads that cross the “forever wild” Forest Preserve. It would also allow the installation of telecommunications lines and other utilities, infrastructure, and bike paths within or near the road right of way;
  • Helped Raquette Lake landowners secure legislation to complete the agreement authorized by the 2013 Constitutional Amendment that cleared the titles to disputed shoreline properties in exchange for new tracts of Forest Preserve on the Marion River and elsewhere;
  • Supported the state’s plan for the Remsen-Lake Placid rail corridor after the state articulated a plan that would uphold Park policies regarding management of the corridor and protection of the adjacent natural resources.

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Water & Air: Fighting for clean water and clean air; combating invasive species and climate change.

  • Celebrated New York’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions more than 80 percent by 2050 by eliminating the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity;
  • Secured $12 million of state funding (up from $5.8 million) to combat invasive species, including funds dedicated to an Adirondack Park wide boat wash program, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, $450,000 to fight invasives in Lake George, plus grants to other communities and lake associations;
  • Helped secure over $2 million in state grants to improve local clean water infrastructure, for the Village of Saranac Lake and Town of Willsboro;
  • Joined with Champlain Valley citizens and organizations from New York and Vermont to advocate that oil train traffic be diverted away from pure waters, wildlife habitat and lakeside communities;
  • Worked with NYS Energy Research and Development Authority and state agencies to promote a “critical loads” standard for curbing air pollution based on ecological thresholds, resulting in a new policy guidebook for NYS public officials.

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Farms and Forests: Preserving open space and supporting working forests and farms.

  • Awarded climate-smart Klipper grants to 12 Adirondack farms in an effort to help farmers build a local, low-carbon economy and sustain an important working landscape;
  • Worked with partners to arrange an Adirondack visit for the NYS Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets for a discussion about state support for small-scale agriculture;
  • The Council Board adopted a set of principles to guide advocacy efforts related to sustainable forestry within the Adirondack Park, including clearcutting, biomass, forest health, invasive species, sustainable forestry certifications, aesthetic impacts, and economic development.

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Leadership and Government: Leading, expanding and diversifying the Park’s constituency.

  • Joined with the Friends of New York’s Environment coalition to secure a $300-million Environmental Protection Fund, including 50 percent more money for park land protection than last year. It boosts local farming with increased funding, and helps communities with Smart Growth grants and projects that help farms and communities to cope with climate change;
  • Provided resources to build capacity of the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council and to plan, promote and implement the second annual Adirondack Diversity Symposium;
  • Worked with the Open Space Institute, The Trust for Public Land and The Nature Conservancy to conduct and release the results of a bipartisan, statewide voters’ opinion survey showing that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support increasing public investment in the state’s environmental quality, including clean water, resilient infrastructure, and conserving the Adirondacks;
  • Helped inspire and train the next generation of conservation leaders through an expanded Clarence Petty Internship program, while benefiting from intern talent in mapping, climate change communications, social media and public policy;
  • Celebrated and promoted to a broad and diverse audience the state’s purchase from The Nature Conservancy of the last remaining and most important tract of former Finch, Pruyn & Co. timberlands, the 20,500-acre Boreas Ponds parcel adjacent to the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

Thank you to all Adirondack Council members, donors, volunteers, partners and friends for being a part of the team that is defending the East’s greatest wilderness and showing the world how people and nature can thrive together.

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