Press Releases

Adirondack Council Releases State of the Park Preview   

Report Offers Praise, Says Park is ‘Landscape of Hope’ in Challenging Times 

ELIABETHTOWN, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council offered a sneak preview of its 2020-21 State of the Park report today, praising important actions by the Governor, the Legislature, and the Attorney General. 

The annual report’s main theme – that the Park is a Landscape of Hope – reflects the Park’s role as an important refuge during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic collapse, while Park residents strive for progress in the racial justice crises. The report explains the state’s efforts to get control of overuse on wild lands, protect the vast and wild Whitney Estate from development, and curb climate change.

“This sneak preview focused on three issues that are vital to the future of the Park’s ecological integrity, communities, and wilderness, but might otherwise be overshadowed in the report: road salt, diversity, and acid rain,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “Acid rain and road salt pose serious threats to the Adirondack Park’s water quality. Addressing the Park’s lack of diversity and need to be more welcoming and inclusive is critical. We are happy to applaud and give a ‘thumbs up’ for progress on each of these issues.” 

The 28-page illustrated report State of the Park: Landscape of Hope awards a positive or negative rating (thumb up or down) for 105 government actions taken between September of 2019 and now. The report will be published right after Labor Day. 

This 39th edition of State of the Park also profiles nine conservation and community successes accomplished by other organizations, businesses, and individuals, in its Tip of the Hat section. It also contains an overall report card on top 2020 Adirondack conservation priorities and a list of updated priorities for 2021. 

On road salt, a thumb up for the State Legislature, Both Houses: 

Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo and Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, joined with Assemblymen Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, and Daniel Stec, R-Queensbury, to pass the bipartisan “Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act.” This legislation aims to reduce road salt contamination in wells, especially along state highways in the Adirondacks. It would establish the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force and direct the departments of Transportation, Environmental Conservation, and Health to conduct a three-year, road salt reduction pilot program on every state road in the Park. Recent testing by the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College showed that 64% of tested drinking water wells downhill from state roads were found to have sodium levels exceeding the federally recommended health limit of 20 parts per million. The legislation now requires the Governor’s approval. 

On Diversity, a thumb up for the Governor: 

For the second year in a row, the final budget included $250,000 for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI), which seeks to make the Adirondack Park a more welcoming, diverse, equitable, and just place for visitors and residents alike. Nicole Hylton-Patterson of the Bronx was hired in 2019 as the ADI’s first executive director. She works for the Adirondack North Country Association, a not-for-profit community- and economic-development organization, and is also supported by a team of volunteers. When Hylton-Patterson was targeted with hateful racially oriented graffiti in Saranac Lake in July 2020, the Governor backed up his commitment by ordering a criminal investigation. 

On Acid Rain, a thumb up for Attorney General Letitia James: 

Attorney General Letitia James saved many lives when she persuaded the three-judge panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in July to issue a unanimous decision to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect New York and New Jersey from smog emitted by other states. Under the “good neighbor” policy in the Clean Air Act, it has been illegal since 1990 for any state to emit enough smog-causing air pollution to cause a public health risk in another state. The court said the EPA was obligated to order more than 350 power plants in nine upwind states to turn on already-installed pollution controls. The EPA estimates that the summer smog controls prevent thousands of premature deaths each year in the Northeast, most of them in NYC and NJ, and help prevent a return of acid rain. The Trump administration was the first to refuse relief to New York. 

Also in the report: In addition to James’s victory on interstate air pollution, federal courts also upheld an update to the federal Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Several members of Congress, led by Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, successfully urged their colleagues to ignore President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut 30% from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Members also pushed for the EPA to complete new studies on what is needed to halt acid rain entirely. 

Janeway said that the Adirondack Council’s State of the Park Report was the most detailed and comprehensive report on any park in the United States. The Adirondack Park is the largest park in the contiguous United States. It contains most of the motor-free wilderness and Old Growth forest remaining in the Northeast. 

“Our world-class park deserves world-class oversight and management,” said Janeway. “This organization interacts with public officials on every level of government, from the Park’s nine village boards to Congress and the White House. Most importantly, we are non-partisan. We give credit and find fault with the actions of Republicans and Democrats alike. 

“Our freedom to publish a frank and unvarnished critique of the actions of public officials is due to the support we receive from private citizens inside the Park, in New York, across the United States, and around the world,” Janeway said. “We rely upon private support to maintain an independent voice for the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.” 

In addition to an explanation of the Park and its major features, the report critiques the actions of current public officials in sections devoted to: 

  • Governor, head of all the agencies that manage the Park; 
  • Legislature, legislation that became law, or should; 
  • Courts, major decisions affecting the Park; 
  • Attorney General, why and whom she sued to protect New York; 
  • Adirondack Park Agency, one of New York’s smallest agencies; 
  • Dept. of Environmental Conservation, custodians of the Forest Preserve; 
  • Local Governments, sometimes partners in conservation, sometimes not; 
  • Other Agencies, whose actions helped or harmed the Park; 
  • Federal Government, Congress, and the President; 
  • Awards, profiles the winners of Conservationist of the Year and others;  
  • Tip of the Hat, others whose deeds left a positive impression; and 
  • Report Card, a review of the Council’s priorities from the prior year.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities. 

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 2, 2020 

For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340 

 

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