The Adirondack Council has released its annual report assessing actions by governmental leaders and agencies toward the Adirondack Park.
The 2015 State of the Park report looks at actions affecting the 6 million acre park taken by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state Legislature, the courts and the Attorney General, local governments, the DEC, the APA, and federal and state agencies. For each issue a thumbs up or down is assigned.
For example, Governor Cuomo received thumbs up for crafting a pro-Adirondack budget and fighting invasive species. But there were thumbs down for raiding Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds and lack of leadership toward the Adirondack Park Agency. The Council says the Park is poised for change, according to spokesman John Sheehan. “When these reports first started the park was in many ways a very different place. In a lot of ways we’ve improved our ability to protect the park. We’ve improved the habitat and given some species a real fighting chance to come back. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. I think that in the years ahead as we try to control climate change and try to control pollution, both from the air and in the water, that we can expect the Adirondack Park to continue to improve. But it’s really going to take a commitment of money and political will from the governor and from the state legislature.”
While David Gibson, a partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, hasn’t dived into the council’s report, his group earlier this summer issued a similar report: “The Adirondack Park at a Crossroad.” “We need to have a resurgence of state concern and advocacy for the park right now. The state of New York is compromising their standards in protection of natural resources and the wilderness and open space of the park. All of which are at the basis for the park’s economy so that’s very worrying. This is a pattern of state agencies compromising their high standards. And those standards are contained in the statutes and in the laws and policies of their predecessors. So this is very concerning and we are paying very close attention to the way the state is carrying out its mission in the park.”
Local governments within the Blue Line received mixed reviews from the Adirondack Council. They were praised for questioning oil trains traversing the area and working with stakeholders on common ground issues. But towns were panned for advocating for snowmobile and ATV trails. Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe agrees with the environmental groups that the Park is at a crossroad. “There’s an excellent opportunity to improve conditions here by amendments to the State Land Master Plan which were really envisioned when it was created in 1972 and it just hasn’t happened. You know the time is right to do that. It has the potential to really increase the accessibility for many New Yorkers who are paying the bills and to improve the economy of the region. The Review Board did a white paper several months ago on proposed changes to the State Land Master Plan and many of us in local government think that’s a great opportunity to improve conditions here.”