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Organizations Seek Alternatives to Road Salt that Keep Roads Safe, Water Clean in the Adirondacks

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Organizations Seek Alternatives to Road Salt that Keep Roads Safe, Water Clean in the Adirondacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, August 18, 2014

For more information:

Alice Hart, AdkAction.org, 518-323-2284
John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-432-1770 (o),518-441-1340 (c)
Daniel Kelting, Paul Smith’s College, 518-327-6213

PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. -- Salt contamination of our streams, watersheds and aquifers from aggressive use of salt in winter road maintenance has become a major threat to the ecology of the Adirondacks, local advocates warn.

Finding ways to minimize or avoid that threat while keeping roads safe is the goal of the third annual Adirondack Winter Road Maintenance Conference, which will explore alternatives to current road salting and clearing policies at Paul Smith’s College on September 16, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“AdkAction.org and the Adirondack Council invite the public to join us for an update on the progress made since the last conference in 2012,” said Lee Keet, Water Quality Chair of AdkAction.org.  “After this conference we will make additional recommendations for action to curb this growing problem.”

“Some of the Park’s best research scientists have been studying the road salt problem and its impact on the health of the Park’s environment and our communities,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “Road salt takes a toll on road, bridges, fish, wildlife, aquatic plants, roadside trees, wild flowers and water quality.  We need to implement workable alternatives that keep roads safe and water clean.”

Seminal studies presented at the first road salt conference in 2010 documented the impact that current winter road maintenance procedures are having on Adirondack groundwater.  A second (2012) study authored by Dr. Dan Kelting of the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute was presented at the second conference and then published in peer-reviewed journals.  It demonstrated that 86 percent of the sodium and chloride buildup in Adirondack Park watersheds can de directly attributed to current New York State road salting policies.

Highlights of the Sept. 16 conference will include:

  • Experts from the Adirondack Watershed Institute will review recent advances in the science and their studies of road runoff;
  • NYS DOT will present the results of two-year’s worth of testing alternative methods on three road systems;
  • An expert from the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies will discuss road salt’s environmental impacts; 
  • The manager responsible for Colorado’s maintenance and operations will share how they moved away from road salt and what the implications of alternated deicers are; 
  • A former New York State Assistant Attorney General who has taught the legal issues surrounding winter road maintenance will address the liabilities associated with reducing our dependence on salt; and,
  • Three breakout sessions will attempt to identify additional research needed, alternative scenarios for reducing salt use, and the possibilities or moving away from a ‘clear roads’ policy.

The event is free and open to all, but attendance will be limited to registered guests.  The conference, coffee breaks and lunch are being underwritten by the Adirondack Council and AdkAction.org.  Those who wish to attend can register at www.AdkAction.org/conference.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park.  The Council envisions an Adirondack Park with clean air and pure water, with protected core wilderness areas surrounded by working forests and farms, and vibrant local communities.  

AdkAction.org undertakes specific projects that have clearly defined goals and that improve the Adirondacks for all users. Find out more at www.AdkAction.org.

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