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Wilderness Protection, Equitable Access, Clean Air, Climate, New Agency Staff are Adirondack Council's Top Priorities in NYS Encon Budget

Adirondack Council’s Kevin Chlad to Testify before Legislature Tuesday 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council will support wilderness protection, equitable access, clean air, climate action, and new staff at state agencies when it testifies today in front of the NYS Legislature’s joint hearings on the Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s budget and other environmental investments. 

“Two of the more important actions the state should take in the year ahead involve the science of wilderness protection and the deep social need for equitable access to that wilderness for all New Yorkers,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “There are many opportunities to act this year in the interest of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.” 

Adirondack Council Director of Government Relations Kevin Chlad's testimony notes: 

For example, the state has long been required to establish a carrying capacity for our Wilderness lands but has not done so. Carrying capacity is a determination of the amount of use the landscape can withstand without degrading the natural resources, visitor safety, or wilderness experience. The hiker shuttle system does not connect with public transit hubs such as the Westport Amtrak station. Traffic on some of the most popular Wilderness peaks exceeds the acceptable level of traffic for NYC sidewalks. Forest Rangers are summoned to rescue hundreds of hikers each year. More than 130 miles of trails in the High Peaks are in need of major repair and redesign, and these needs are currently being addressed at a rate of only one-two miles per year. Waters near the summit of Mount Marcy, our state’s highest peak, have tested positive for E. Coli bacteria, indicating the presence of human waste in Wilderness waters.      

Chlad will call for a $500,000 appropriation from the proposed $400-million Environmental Protection Fund to ensure that the DEC completes a Visitor Use Management Framework similar to those in place in national parks, using data to drive decisions on how to protect natural resources, visitor safety, and user experience of the Park’s most overused, damaged and poorly situated wilderness trails and other visitor facilities. 

Chlad will also ask for $6 million in capital project spending for a 21st Century comprehensive survey of Adirondack lakes to track progress in combating acid rain and document current climate conditions. The Survey of Climate Change and Adirondack Lakes Ecosystems (SCALE) would take three years. 

He also will call for new investments in clean air monitoring around low-income communities in both urban and rural settings. Past clean air laws and rules designed to prevent acid rain in the Adirondacks have helped protect public health in big cities too but were not designed to do the entire job. Clean air science has advanced to the point where both can be accomplished as part of the concurrent effort to curb climate change.  

The Council also will call for $2.1 million to create a partnership between the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and CUNY Medgar Evers College (MEC). Together, they would design, develop and host an annual Summer Climate and Careers Institute dedicated to providing an introduction to climate science, an exploration of intersectional careers, and addressing systemic issues of access to the Adirondack Park from an equity and justice perspective.   

The program would be dedicated in honor of Timbuctoo and the other suffragist settlements in the Adirondacks that allowed poor black and white farmers to gain the right to vote in the 1840s by acquiring land worth more than the $250 now-repealed threshold.  

“This is an important job-skills program for students who might never come to the Adirondacks on their own,” Chlad explained before he testified. “This is an important part of community support for the Park.”

Chlad noted that the Adirondack Council will also express its support for investments in universal broadband internet access inside the Park, but that topic was not part of this testimony on environmental programs, the subject of today’s hearings.  

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, 518-441-1340 

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