Protecting a National Treasure through Climate Action

By Aaron Mair - Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director
Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Forever Adirondacks Campaign’s coalition and partnership effort is in its third year of direct action to pull together local business, government leaders, tourism, environmental organizations and citizens in an effort to protect our national treasure that is the Adirondacks. The Campaign and its coalition partners have built power, leadership and consensus that are centered around three broad goals of wilderness preservation, clean water protection, and jobs that serve as the basis of a wholistic and ecocentric approach that harmonize the interest of community development and investment to meet the threats and risks of climate change.  

wooden sign from 1985 showing that Camp Gabriels inmates had rebuilt a large wooden bridge on a popular hiking trail in Ray BrookWith the passage of the New York's Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA), the state has recognized that climate change hazards pose the greatest threats to communities around the state. With the passage of the Environmental Bond Act in the fall off 2022 our state has an additional fiscal tool to compliment federal Inflation Reduction Act assistance needed to invest in the infrastructure and workforce development that New York needs to build the resiliency, infrastructure, and adaptation needed to act. However, something is missing; or better yet, New York is missing a strategic opportunity to act on its Prison Redevelopment Plan. 

Entrance sign to the former Moriah Shock Correctional Institute

New York State has an opportunity Moriah Shock and Camp Gabriels correctional facilities in the North Country to partner with local governments, communities, private sector and environmental stewardship organizations to innovate and come up with governmental opportunities to repurpose these sites and create workforce development centers to meet the labor and training needs for the incoming Champlain Hudson Power Express project or collaborate with the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Job Corps” to develop and create a Civilian Climate Corps at these sites. 

Local leaders and Adirondack Council staff speak at MoriahLeaders like former town supervisor Tom Scozzafava have long supported reuse initiatives such as those above, in addition to affordable housing reuse. Often, the need for a NYS Constitutional Amendment has been lifted up as a road block to urgent reuse of Moriah and Camp Gabriels; but that really is the matter if New York state seeks to pass off redevelopment and site control exclusively to the private sector. There is another way - state or inter-governmental management reuse models that can tap both NYS Bond Act and/or Federal Inflation Reduction Act monies to create a new 21st Century Civilian Climate Corps portfolio of workforce development and skills trainings at these former prisons that can meet private sector and public sector climate and wilderness protection needs. 

Locked gate at entrance of former Camp Gabriel'sThe benefits go far beyond the reuse of decaying facilities, to include new opportunities for localities and the hope for the State of New York to create a modern climate sector workforce. Learn more about the Forever Adirondacks campaign and sign up to get more information.

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