Press Releases

MEDIA ADVISORY: Adirondack Council Releases State of the Park Report

Park is ‘Challenged by Success’ Says Comprehensive Critique of Gov’t Actions

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. -- The Adirondack Council offered a sneak preview of its 2019-20 State of the Park report today, releasing an evaluation of progress by the State of New York expanding funding for Adirondack community and conservation priorities in 2019.

The Council gave the state a thumbs-up for new community funding and a thumbs-down for falling short on the goal of increased conservation funding.

“The full report, subtitled ‘Challenged by Success’ and awarding a positive or negative rating (thumbs up or down) for 106 government actions from the autumn of 2018 until now will be out after Labor Day,” said Adirondack Council Director of Communications John Sheehan.  “The report’s 28 illustrated pages will celebrate 2019 successes, the dedication of state employees and a successful tourism campaign that has led to rampant overuse of trails in the High Peaks Wilderness and other popular locations.  This has created both problems and opportunities.  At the federal level, the park is challenged by the Trump administration’s success at rolling back hard-won environmental protections.”

This 38th edition of State of the Park lays out the Adirondack Council’s hopes for the year ahead in Top Priorities for 2020.  The report also profiles 10 conservation and community successes accomplished by other organizations, businesses and individuals, in its Tip of the Hat section.

“Our freedom to publish a frank and unvarnished critique of the actions of public officials at the local, state and federal level is due to the support we receive from private citizens inside the Park, in New York, across the United States and around the world,” Sheehan said. “As the largest environmental organization focused entirely on the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Council is in the unique position of interacting regularly with officials who carry out every aspect of the park’s care and management. Therefore, we don’t accept government grants or taxpayer supported donations of any kind. We 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.

In the sneak preview, the Council released two items from its Report Card section, which explain how well our 2018-19 priorities for the Adirondack Park were fulfilled (State of the Park 2018-19; see page 21).

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/images/SOP_2019_Snippet.jpgCommunity Projects, Thumb Up

The State was exceptionally generous funding development and projects attempting to foster more vibrant, diverse local communities. The state invested or made announcements for “almost $400 million in aid for Adirondack communities including $180 million to the Olympic Regional Development Authority; $84.8 million for 70 economic development projects region-wide; $16.2 million for a Visitors Center on the Northway; and a $10 million revitalization grant to the Village of Saranac Lake. The state provided most of the $25 million for the Frontier Town Campground, Equestrian and Day Use Area and more than $75 million in Forest Preserve property tax payments.” The Adirondack Council applauded the investments that make Adirondack communities more vibrant and sustainable, consistent with preserving the clean water, and wild land of the Park.

Conservation Funding, Thumb Down

State officials fell short of goals for expanded conservation funding. The Environmental Protection Fund stayed at $300 million but there was not an increase in funding dedicated for clean air, preservation of wildlife and wildlands, parks and state agency operating budgets. There was no material effort to restore the more than 25% reduction in environmental agency staffing from the previous administration.

There was no increase in funding or staffing for the traditional work of forest rangers. There was no increase in the funding dedicated to stewardship and management of wilderness needed to address the impacts of overuse and to preserve wild lands for future generations. Even successes such as additional funding for clean water were tainted by a refusal to lift a cap on funding more than 25% of a local hamlet’s costs and adapt the program to the needs of the Park’s tiny communities. In sum, money was scarce for clean air, wildlife, wild lands, forest rangers, trail crews, conservation enforcement and other state personnel.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring 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, and vibrant communities. 

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action to ensure the legacy of the Adirondack Park is safeguarded for future generations. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 29, 2019

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