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.

2016-2017 Accomplishments

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

  • Led 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;
  • Supported analysis of carrying capacity and resource monitoring in the state’s management plans for Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands, exemplified in the plans for Piseco Lake Campgrounds and the Oswegatchie easement lands.
  • Commissioned and publicized polling, scientific studies, and economic analysis supporting a Wilderness classification by state officials and highlighting the uniqueness of the land, the risk posed by allowing motorized or mechanized recreation, as well as positive economic benefits to communities near Wilderness areas;
  • Produced and distributed a video explaining why Boreas Ponds should be classified as wilderness, with photography by Carl Heilman, narration by Sigourney Weaver, and original music by Michael Bacon;
  • Brought a successful legal action challenging illegal expansion of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riding in the Adirondack Park, led a coalition that persuaded state Legislators to reject a bill that would have allowed a significant increase in the size and number of ATVs on public roads and trails, and urged state officials to enact a general ban of ATVs from the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves;
  • Provided critical analysis and support for the state’s revised policy for analysis of bridge construction in the Forest Preserve;
  • Raised concern about overuse and stewardship needs in the High Peaks and cheered the announcement by the Department of Environmental Conservation that a five-person trail crew would be hired for the region; and,
  • Supported analysis of carrying capacity and resource monitoring in the state’s management plans for Forest Preserve and conservation easement lands, exemplified in the plans for Piseco Lake Campgrounds and the Oswegatchie easement lands.

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

  • Secured an additional $2.5 billion for clean water infrastructure improvement grants for local communities in the state budget on top of the $350 million that had already been approved for 2016/2017;
  • Worked with the Common Ground Alliance to make steady progress toward the shared vision of a sustainable Park with wilderness areas, working farms and forests and vibrant communities;
  • Worked with Adirondack communities, organizations, elected officials and citizens to gain final 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 and added new tracts of Forest Preserve on the Marion River; and,
  • Supported Local Government Day emphasis on proper siting of mountain biking trails and the state’s planning effort for expanded trail networks in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.

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

  • Purchased another 2,000 tons worth of carbon dioxide pollution allowances from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which the Council will retire unused with help from donors who purchase Carbon Reduction Certificates to support our Cool Farms/Healthy Park Program;
  • Secured $75 million for septic system repair and replacement, $25 million of which will be available for competitive grants to upstate homeowners that cover half the cost of upgrades/replacements;
  • Met with the NY Congressional delegation in Washington, DC to urge our representatives to halt the Trump administration’s plan to cut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent. The cuts endanger programs that monitor and control acid rain, smog, fine particle pollution and climate change, including the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation;
  • Supported a petition filed by Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut calling on EPA in early May to order Midwest power plants to turn on pollution control devices designed to control summertime smog, because their emissions were already harming air quality in downwind states;
  • Worked with NY Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman and other state officials to oppose the Trump administration plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which requires significant carbon dioxide reductions from the nation’s power plants – and in the process, provides additional cuts in the pollutants that cause acid rain;
  • Secured $12 million of state funding 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 invasive species 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; and,
  • 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.

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

  • Applauded Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Steve Englebright for introducing legislation that sparked stakeholder dialogue about conservation design methods that could protect the backcountry from fragmentation.
  • Provided $27,000 in Cool Farms/Healthy Park sustainability micro-grants to local farms and small businesses, supporting energy-efficiency and the low-carbon economy;
  • 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; and

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

  • Joined a broad coalition of organizations opposing a Constitutional Convention that would be held in 2019 if voters approve the question on the November 2018 ballot (NY’s Constitution requires that the voters be asked this question every 20 years);
  • Joined with the Friends of New York’s Environment coalition to secure a $300-million Environmental Protection Fund;
  • Provided resources to build capacity of the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council and to begin a search for a full-time coordinator to run the group, including the annual Adirondack Diversity Symposium;
  • 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 new ownership and planning process for the 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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