Press Releases

Adirondack Council to Reveal New 30-Year Vision for America's Greatest Park Next Week

Monday, November 8, 2021

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council announced today that it would unveil a new 30-year vision for the Adirondack Park during the week of November 15.   

The new publication Adirondack Vision 2050 offers recommendations for how to preserve the park’s ecology, sustain its small villages and hamlets, and improve park management by the middle of this century. 

The Adirondack Vision 2050 publication (98 pages of text and illustrations) will be released principally in digital form via the Adirondack Council’s website. 

“The world’s greatest park is in New York and it is our responsibility as New Yorkers to care for it to the best of our abilities,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “That means we have to do what our ancestors did when they preserved this wild legacy for us more than a century ago.

We need to dream big.  We need to dream beyond our own lifetimes and inspire future generations to do the same.  This priceless national treasure deserves nothing less.” 

Adirondack Vision 2050 isn’t an action plan or legislative agenda, Janeway stressed. It’s an idea, an expression of what the best-possible Adirondack Park might look like in 30 years, based on input from more than 100 local, regional and national stakeholders over the past two years, he said.  

Its recommendations were developed and informed through an intensive process of listening to many different voices and perspectives, through learning, and analysis, he explained. “The Adirondack Council was proud to facilitate this process involving so many important Park stakeholders. We look forward to working with those contributors and others to make this vision a reality.” 
Why Now? 
Janeway noted that state government was the principal manager of the Adirondack Park, by way of state agencies under the direct supervision of the Governor and the indirect supervision of the Legislature. With gubernatorial terms set at four years and legislative terms set at two, there are few obvious political rewards to be gained from long-range planning, he explained. 

“With competing budget priorities, it is challenging to see how state government would find the resources to undertake this kind of planning work now.  Leaving it undone would be unfortunate,” Janeway said. “Our first published vision for the Park – 2020 VISION: Fulfilling the Promise of the Adirondack Park – helped change the face of forest and farm conservation in New York and has had a far lasting impact.   
“That’s because so many people saw their own hopes and dreams reflected in 2020 VISION,” he said. “They either joined us or worked independently to bring those dreams to life.  We want to inspire the same kind of support this time. That isn’t something we can do alone.” 

For example, Janeway said the Council’s expertise in wilderness preservation and park management was well-suited to developing those two sections of Vision 2050. Yet one-third of the plan addresses the economic stability, quality of life, and cultural richness of the park’s communities. To achieve those goals, the Council will support the leadership of other organizations whose focus is sustainable economic development and community revitalization. 

Unlike America’s national parks the Adirondack Park includes permanent communities -- 9 villages and 121 small hamlets -- with a total year-round population of 130,000 people (one-fourth of the year-round population density of equally-sized Vermont). 
New: Greater Focus on Success of Communities 
“Something that Vision 2050 recognizes that we did not emphasize in 2020 VISION is the importance of the park’s communities to the viability and protection of the park’s wilderness,” he said. “Communities provide the food, shelter, services, and equipment needed by visitors and residents alike. The Park’s communities are also culturally rich.  Each has a unique history and much more to offer than a bed and a trailhead.”     

“So, like she did with the management and ecology sections, Adirondack Vision Director Julia Goren – who is now Deputy Director at the Adirondack Mountain Club – reached out to people whose job it is to help communities grow and sustain themselves,’ he said.  “She asked them to be part of the research that went into Vision 2050.” 
From the beginning, listening to and learning from a variety of different voices was essential. To preserve the Adirondack Park forever we need consistent principles and a comprehensive plan, based on sound science. The need and the will exist to launch a period of rapid transformation in management within the Park. When those who care about the Adirondacks see beyond the turmoil of the moment to a shared vision, we can fulfill the promise of a Park, where people and nature can thrive together, meeting the challenges of our time. -- Julia Goren, Adirondack Vision 2050 
A Need for Vision & Collaboration 
The need for Adirondack Vision 2050 is enormous, Janeway said.  New York has not updated its management strategies for the Adirondacks since Nelson Rockefeller approved the park's Private Land Use and Development Plan and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan – about 50 years ago.   

Gov. Mario Cuomo attempted a Park-governance update in the late 1980s. Its 245 non-prioritized regulatory changes contained a raft of controversial measures. Failure to include year-round residents as stakeholders in that planning effort resulted in major opposition by many local communities who felt excluded and unheard. Tensions from this effort continue to resonate today. That plan was abandoned. 

“Vision 2050 was an intentional departure from the approach of the Cuomo Commission of 1990,” said Janeway.  “We began by gathering public opinion and inviting others to share their dreams for the park’s future.  We included goals that we cannot achieve on our own. Collaboration, cooperation, compromise and continued conversation will all be needed. 

“This vision is not meant to regulate, but to inspire,” Janeway said.  “These are ideas, not rules and mandates.  The best of these ideas will take on a life of their own and grow over time.” 

Looking 30 years ahead meant accepting that the Council couldn’t anticipate every change and outside influence that might impact the Park by then, he said.  “But we need to prepare for the changes we can predict.  We want the Adirondack Park to remain a leader in conservation of wildlands and Park management while improving economic stability and cultural vitality of its communities.” 

Adirondack Vision 2050 is a new long-range vision, meant to complement, not replace, the original 2020 VISION as a model of progressive land management and cooperative public leadership.  
Janeway noted that polling and participatory visioning sessions (the Adirondack Futures Project, and others) have shown that there is widespread agreement (90%+) among park residents, visitors, managers, and local elected officials about the park we would all like to leave for our children.  That vision includes – but is not limited to -- well-protected wildlands, surrounded by sustainably managed farms and working forests and vibrant rural communities that are welcoming to all. 

The stakes are high.  The Adirondack Park guards the world’s largest intact, temperate deciduous forest, 87 rare species, and much of New York’s fresh water 
2020 VISION Set a Standard for Conservation 
The four volumes of 2020 VISION outlined the means to preserve biological diversity, complete the wilderness system, optimize compatible recreation, and conserve private timberlands.  The actual preservation work would be carried out by private land trusts and state officials.  The Council’s 2020 VISION showed them what to conserve, why, and how. 

The principal author of the plan, George Davis, won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.  He was invited to share his work with planners across the United States and in the former Soviet nations of Eastern Europe and Asia.  For example, Davis and former Council Conservation Director Dan Plumley later worked with the citizens of the Republic of Buryatia in Siberia, near Lake Baikal, to create a 6-million-acre forest preserve, protected (wild forever) by that nation’s constitution. 

Concurrently, 2020 VISION became the Adirondack portion of New York’s first Natural Heritage Program. It was also adopted into the Adirondack section of the NYS Open Space Conservation Plan (est. 1993).  
By 2020, more than half of 2020 VISION's objectives had been achieved.  Its remaining recommendations remain relevant, as opportunities arise to acquire key tracts of new forest preserve from willing sellers and to compensate local landowners for conserving private forests. 
Looking Ahead 
From the Vision 2050 executive summary: 
VISION 2050 is a vision for the Park. It can be a North Star to help guide the efforts of Adirondack advocates and others, including the Adirondack Council, over the next 30 years. Its values and principles can be a filter that informs priorities, strategies, decision-making, and work plans going forward. 
Arriving at a destination requires action. Doing nothing is a choice as well, but not a static one. If no change is made, the ecological integrity of the Park will continue to erode, the human communities will struggle to retain quality of life, and management will drift further and further from the cutting edge leadership that is needed. 
The path ahead calls for collective action. Fortunately, many are committed to the future of the Park. This project brought together wise and engaged people who treasure the Adirondacks, an experience that demonstrates that there is great reason for optimism. Just as many diverse voices shaped VISION 2050, all who love the Adirondacks must join in taking the bold steps necessary to reach a better future.  
Who is the Adirondack Council? 
Established in 1975, 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. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming communities.  Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

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

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