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Top 10 Things Adirondack Park Needs to Thrive Another 125 Years Park's 125th Birthday is Saturday, May 20

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 17, 2017

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park is poised to celebrate its 125th birthday on Saturday (May 20), so the park’s largest environmental advocacy organization has offered a Top 10 list of ways to help celebrate New York’s national treasure.

“Our park is the largest and best-protected park in the contiguous United States.  That didn’t happen by accident,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council.  “The Adirondack Park is great because generation after generation of New Yorkers have demanded that our public officials protect it.”

As time passes, we find that we need the Adirondack Park even more, he said.

“Especially in times of turmoil and political change, the ageless beauty of the Adirondack Park’s living landscape provides a legacy of hope, for us and for countless generations into the future,” Janeway said.  “No matter how tough things get, the Adirondacks remind us of where we came from, and show us a path to a sustainable future.  It’s up to us to choose that path.”

Founded May 20, 1892 and expanded three times, the Adirondack Park is a 9,300-square-mile expanse of unspoiled forests, clean water and 130 historic villages and hamlets.  Almost half of the park is public Forest Preserve, protected by the “forever wild” clause of the NYS Constitution, protecting it from lease, sale, logging or development.  The remainder is devoted to commercial forestry, outdoor recreation, private homes and businesses, and visitor accommodations.

Located half-a-day’s drive from 70 million Americans and Canadians, the Adirondack Park remains the wildest landscape in the Northeast.  It contains most of the motor-free wilderness in the Northeast, and nearly all of the never-logged, old-growth forest remaining east of the Rocky Mountains.

Here are 10 things that government can do to protect this national treasure for another 125 years:

  1. Expand Wilderness for Boreas Ponds: Gov. Andrew Cuomo can expand the High Peaks Wilderness by 30,000 acres including the recently acquired Boreas Ponds and a mile-wide buffer to the south, which would make the wilderness the same size as Rocky Mountain National Park, while providing access and economic opportunity for host towns;
  2. Curb Acid Rain & Greenhouse Gas: New York’s Congressional delegation can unite to stop the Trump administration’s attacks on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and the regulations that protect Adirondack forests, waters and communities from acid rain and climate change;
  3. Adopt New Conservation Cluster Development Rules: The NYS Legislature can update the 45-year-old rules for private land development inside the Adirondack Park, to focus development in appropriate locations and protect the wild character and wildlife habitat of the park’s most remote and unspoiled private lands;
  4. Ban ATVs from State Forever Wild Lands: The Legislature can enact a general ban on all-terrain vehicle riding on the “forever wild” Forest Preserve  in the Adirondack and Catskill parks, which Forest Rangers call their worst enforcement problem on the Forest Preserve;
  5. Approve the Safety & Broadband Amendment: The Legislature can grant second passage to a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow road straightening and installation of public utilities, such as broadband cables and drainage, along town and county roads that cross Forest Preserve, putting the proposal on the November ballott.
  6. Reject a Constitutional Convention: New York voters can reject a proposal on this November’s ballot asking whether a Constitutional Convention should be held in 2019, since convention delegates could recommend repealing or weakening of the Forever Wild Clause that protects the Forest Preserve;
  7. Expand Grants to Communities for Clean Water, Smart Growth and Invasives: The State’s Environmental Facilities Corporation, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health should provide $100 million or more to communities to repair and replace aging water and wastewater treatment facilities, such as on Lake George, to protect the sources of the state’s major rivers from poorly treated sewage. Grants for smart growth climate smart communities and to prevent and combat invasive species are a priority too;
  8. Restore Park Staffing for Water, Land and Forest Stewardship: Areas of the Forest Preserve such as the eastern High Peaks need protection from overuse in the form of funding and additional personnel. Private landowners and the dedicated men and women working for the state’s agencies, including forest rangers, foresters, planners, engineers, educators, law enforcement and scientists, need help;
  9. Foster Healthy Forests and Farms: The Governor’s state of the state included pledges to support improved private forest stewardship. The State should improve incentives to foster better forest and farm stewardship, protection of wildlife habitat, low carbon farming and improved forest harvesting activities on private lands. The State and the Adirondack Park Agency should update clear-cutting regulations to formally incorporate modern sustainable healthy forest management within an improved permit process.  The cumulative impacts of clear-cutting on the park’s watersheds and ecosystems need to be addressed. More than 6,000 acres of clear-cuts have been authorized by the Governor’s Adirondack Park Agency (APA) since 2013; and,
  10. Bring Adirondack Park Administration into the New Millennium: The Adirondack Park is a national treasure that we hold in trust for future generations. The Park should be administered as a Park, with an updated state-of-the-art plan put together with input from all stakeholders. An Adirondack Park Service could be built out of a strengthened APA and parts of the DEC, working in partnership with other stakeholders and local government to provide services including rangers, conservation police, stewardship and visitor services. We live in an increasingly diverse state, country and world.  With investments in the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, the Adirondacks can become known for being welcoming to and inclusive for everyone, bringing full benefits of clean Adirondack air and water, wilderness and vibrant communities to all.

“Governor Cuomo is a national environmental leader and visionary who is making historic commitments to the Adirondacks,” said Janeway. “These are the Adirondack Council’s suggestions for the top 10 things the Adirondack Park needs to thrive for the next 125 years. We encourage others to let us know what’s on their Top 10 list.”

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, local communities.

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

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