Press Releases

Forever Adirondacks Campaign Shifts to High Gear  

Pushes for Program Funding, Policy Changes for Clean Water, Green Jobs, Wilderness 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Forever Adirondacks Campaign is investing money, time, and energy into getting the attention of the NYS Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul over the next 30 days with a stepped-up television and online advertising campaign seeking support for clean water, new jobs, and wilderness protection. 

“New York has an exciting opportunity to bring new people and investments to the Adirondacks,” said Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director Aaron Mair. “We can do this while diversifying the economy with new green jobs, protecting the pure water we all depend upon, and managing wilderness in a more sustainable way.” 

Mair said his coalition of supporters had grown since the campaign was announced in December. It has released a new campaign commercial and 15-point plan for state and federal action. The campaign purchased air time on television programs and online news services aimed at state lawmakers and the Governor to drive home the message.   

The coalition’s members will also hold a lobby day at the Capitol this spring to meet with legislative leaders and executive staff. Mair said he welcomed participation by any others who are interested in joining the effort while pointing to several initiatives already in the works. 

Seeks New SUNY/CUNY Climate Careers Institute, Comprehensive Lake Survey  

“We are thrilled to say that we are already working with sponsors in both houses on bills that would provide money for clean water projects in communities all around the Adirondack Park, safeguarding a precious resource at a time when both face risks from acid rain and climate change,” Mair said. “Our efforts to secure state and federal grants to communities for water and sewer system upgrades will lift some of the financial burden of maintain clean water from the taxpayers in tiny, rural villages and hamlets. 

“At the same time, we are working to create a major new conservation jobs pathway for City University of New York students through a cooperative program with a State University campus inside the Adirondack Park,” he explained.“This program will honor the legacy of civil rights, racial equality and cooperation that was born here in the Suffrage Settlements of the Adirondacks in the 1840s.” 

Some 20 years prior to the Civil War, the Adirondacks were an important link in the Underground Railroad that led enslaved persons to freedom in Canada.   

Lesser known is the role of abolitionist and suffragist Gerrit Smith, who helped poor Black men gain the right to vote by granting applicants a 40-acre farm in one of the eight Suffrage Settlements of the Adirondacks. The most famous of these is Timbuctoo, where John Brown brought his family to live with the settlers, prior to attempt to incite a revolt among the enslaved persons of West Virginia by attacking the armory at Harper’s Ferry. 

Hundreds of Black men earned the right to vote through farm ownership in one of the settlements. Women gained the right to vote in NY in 1917. 

Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute:  

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn and Assemb. Michaelle Solange, D-Elmont are sponsoring legislation to create a Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute based at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Newcomb in partnership with CUNY’s Medgar Evers College of Brooklyn, named for the famed civil rights activist of the 1960s.   

“We are seeking a $2.1 million investment from the state to get this institute started and help students who might never set foot in the Adirondacks learn about its value and beauty and consider a career working to protect its ecology and enhance its economy,” Mair said. “In order to save this place from the ravages of climate change, we will need a broad array of fresh minds and bodies on the job – from rangers and visitor-managers to climate scientists, forest ecologists, engineers, lawyers, journalists, artists, you name it … That can all start right here.” 

Survey of Climate and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems 

Following its visit to Lake Placid last fall, members of the Legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus expressed an interest in supporting a new comprehensive survey of Adirondack lakes, similar to the survey completed in the 1980s that set off nationwide alarms over acid rain. This time, the survey would track the continuing decline of acid rain and provide a modern snapshot of the impact of climate change on the Park’s waters. 

“Whether you are poor living in the Adirondacks and can’t eat the fish because they were poisoned by acid rain, or are poor and living in New York City where the air has been awful in the summer time, you are seeing real progress these days because of scientific research conducted on the lakes of the Adirondacks,” Mair said. “That scientific effort began with a comprehensive survey of the Park’s waters to show how pollution had harmed them.” 

Mair noted that both groups of New Yorkers were now vulnerable to more powerful storms and potentially deadly flooding due to a rapidly changing climate. 

“It’s time to redo the baseline study that proved acid rain needed state and federal attention,” he said. “This time, climate change is the target.” 

Mair’s coalition, as well as a group of research institutions and conservation organizations, will seek $6 million for a three-year study. 

Mair said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-NY, has proposed an additional federal matching grant of $2 million for the survey. 

Among other priorities of the Forever Adirondacks Coalition in the NYS Budget: 

Enhanced Clean Water Grants – Adirondack communities need assistance applying for and obtaining state and federal grants for multi-million-dollar water and sewage treatment facilities.  

Visitor Use Management Framework – The Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness Area and other overused/overcrowded areas of the Adirondack Forest Preserve need a visitor management program similar to national parks that establishes thresholds for trail redesign/reconstruction, sanitary facilities, parking, reservation systems, and visitor limits where needed. 

Universal Broadband – Adirondack communities can solve a myriad of communications problems and sustainably attract new residents and visitors with universally accessible broadband internet. Governor Hochul has said she would use state and federal money to bridge gaps long-neglected by prior state administrations. 

The Forever Adirondacks is a project of the Adirondack Council, based in Elizabethtown, NY.   

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 more information:
John Sheehan 
Director of Communications 
The Adirondack Council 
518-441-1340 

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