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Adirondack Park is "Poised for Change" Concludes Adirondack Council's Annual State of the Park Report

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Adirondack Park is "Poised for Change" Concludes Adirondack Council's Annual State of the Park Report
Hope for New Lands, Collaboration & Progress

For more information:
John F. Sheehan
518-432-1770 (ofc)
518-441-1340 (cell)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Monday, September 14, 2015

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. – The globally unique Adirondack Park is poised for change, according to the Adirondack Council’s State of the Park report for 2015.

Those changes could be very good or very bad. Much will depend on political leadership from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Council said.

“The future of the Adirondack Park depends on change that is good for clean water, wildlife, wilderness and communities,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.

“The Park’s most difficult problems affect both the environment and the economy. They include the recent proposal to store derelict oil tanker cars on local railroads, the continuing battle against invasive species infestations and the long-standing need to update the rules for siting new homes on the park’s backcountry lands.”

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/images/SOP 2015 Cover-1.jpgThe Adirondack Park is poised for change because of the Governor’s willingness to seek creative solutions, while a new spirit of cooperation has brought formerly conflicting Adirondack stakeholders closer together than ever before. Thanks to an improved economy and strong leadership from the Governor, the state is poised -- and able -- to make a legacy investment and legislative and policy updates to secure the future of the Adirondack Park, he said.

“Heading into 2016, the Governor has an opportunity to help state, local and environmental leaders reach new agreements that are good for the Park’s environment, its residents and its visitors,” Janeway said. “The Park is poised to capitalize on the new spirit of cooperation and collaboration in the year ahead.”

Janeway pointed to progress in the report, including acquisition of new Wilderness lands, better wildlife management planning and restoration of 36 environmental staff positions. A three-year, $200-million grant program for clean water infrastructure highlighted a generally pro-Adirondack budget. But an increase in the Environmental Protection Fund was offset by a raid in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Many other important Adirondack initiatives stalled in 2015, including efforts to modernize the Adirondack Park Agency’s regulation for clear-cutting to better reflect current standards and best management practices for sustainable intensive timber management.

The Governor and Legislature accomplished very little after adopting a pro-Adirondack budget, Janeway explained. Progress was slowed by political pressure to expand motorized recreation in inappropriate locations and to undo some of the State Constitution’s protections for the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve.

Overall, Janeway said: “While it’s important to recognize both the progress and setbacks from 2015, the focus should be on the opportunity to move ahead.

“Will the Governor, Legislative leaders and others act in the best interests of the Park’s clean water, healthy forests, abundant wildlife and vibrant communities in 2016?” Janeway asked. “Or will they allow another year to pass without permanent comprehensive solutions to invasive species infestations, off-road vehicle damage, expansion of clear-cutting, and ill-advised development subdivisions in remote locations? Will under-funded state agencies including the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regain some of the budgets they need to better promote and manage the Park while protecting it from harm? The Adirondack Park is the best Park in the world, and it is truly poised for change.”

Janeway explained that the coming year will be a momentous one, promising an opportunity for the state to acquire more than 20,000 acres including the Boreas Ponds tract pictured on the cover of this year’s report, as part of a 35,000-acre addition to the High Peaks Wilderness, which it adjoins. Grants will be available to communities for clean-water infrastructure, expanded recreation and access, community connector trails, hut-to-hut lodging and green projects that will boost the economies and vibrancy of local communities.

State of the Park is the most comprehensive, non-partisan, annual review of the health and vitality of any park in the United States. The 24-page, illustrated report covers the decisions and actions of local, state and federal officials that helped or harmed the Park. Released each fall since 1986, this year’s edition provides brief summaries and critiques of more than 95 substantial Adirondack issues.

In its “Tip of the Hat” section, the Adirondack Council gives credit to some of the other not-for-profit organizations and individuals whose work advanced environmental protection and helped to show that people and nature can thrive together.

The Adirondack Park is a national treasure, managed by the State of New York.

It is the largest park in the contiguous United States, at more than 9,300 square miles (six million acres). It protects the sources of most of the state’s major rivers including the Hudson River, and is the world’s largest, intact, temperate, deciduous forest. It contains nearly 90 percent of the never-logged forest and motor-free Wilderness remaining in the Northeast.

The Park hosts 10 million annual visitors, as well as 130,000-year-round residents. Unlike national parks, it contains 130 permanent communities, 10 of which are incorporated villages.

The Adirondack Council is the largest conservation advocacy organization dedicated to the Adirondacks. The Council is an independent, privately funded, not-for-profit organization that accepts neither public grants nor taxpayer funded donations of any kind.

Elected and Government officials, and environmental advocates have called the Adirondack Council “an honest broker” and “dedicated to conservation, politically savvy, and effective.” Constituents and partners engaged with the Adirondack Council, and contributions to the Adirondack Council both hit new records in 2015.

The Council’s mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of large, core Wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms and vibrant local communities.

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

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