Every year the Adirondack Council publishes its analysis of actions by the governor, legislature, courts, state attorney general, state agencies, local governments and federal policies that affected the 6 million-acre park. The latest State of the Park report came out this morning.
The State of the Park 2018-2019 calls the Adirondack Park a “National Treasure” with a globally unique natural landscape. It gives thumbs up or down on issues, agencies and individuals that affect the preservation of the region.
Adirondack Council Spokesman John Sheehan says their report ranges from last fall to now and covers a wide range of issues. “The highlights really are that the state protected Boreas Ponds as wilderness, that they worked with local and federal officials and Warren Buffett to eject an oil train junk yard from the Adirondack Park and began the process of addressing the overuse of public lands in the High Peaks region. So this is all very good on the state’s part. But the federal government has really threatened to roll back decades of progress on the air pollution that causes acid rain and smog and most of the news out of Washington has been bad for the Adirondacks this year.”
The report gives Governor Andrew Cuomo, the legislature and local government more thumbs up than down. Sheehan notes that the report rates more than 100 decisions, and many issues need further action. “The state legislature left some priorities unaddressed. The constitutional amendment that created a 250 acre land bank for roadside projects in the park that wasn't completed by the legislature this year. The legislature proposed a bill that would improve the Adirondack Park Agency’s ability to protect water quality, forest health and wildlife in the park. That bill had bipartisan support but it failed to pass. And one other thing that’s kind of hanging: there are 6 of the APA, the Adirondack Park Agency’s, 8 citizen board members are currently serving on expired terms. Two of the 6 have already resigned. So we’d really like to see replacements for them appointed as early in the new legislative session as possible.”
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve Managing Partner Dave Gibson hasn’t seen the latest State of the Park yet, but is familiar with the Council’s annual report. Adirondack Wild published its own assessment, “Adirondack Park At A Crossroad,” in 2015 and Gibson says many of those issues remain valid three years later. "There’s a lot that’s happened in terms of the budget. Once again the Environmental Protection Fund the governor and the Legislature have brought that to some strength, not full strength, but very much appreciated and needed statewide. The problem in the Adirondack Park and in the Forest Preserve, which affects both the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, is that the governor has put recreational access ahead of natural resource protection and he's done that for a number of years now. And we just can't look ahead to future generations and say our laws protective of the Adirondack Park are being well enforced and will be there for future generations if we allow constant compromising of those laws. So that’s the concern that we have, Adirondack Wild has, looking at the Adirondack Park today.”
The last page of the State of the Park report outlines the Adirondack Council’s priorities for the next year. Again John Sheehan: “We want to address overuse of the High Peaks region and other heavily used parts of the Adirondack Park with better staffing and management. We want to promote clean water, clean air and clean energy use. We want to continue the state’s efforts to protect the Forever Wild forest preserve. We want to preserve more forests and farms through land purchases and conservation easements. We want to make appointments at the Adirondack Park Agency that will help the agency fill its mission. And we want to protect the state better against invasive species while expanding funding for conservation and park staff.”