The Adirondack Almanack is pleased to offer this guest essay by Trudy Rosenblum, founder and editor of the Jay Community News. The Jay News is a free e-mail news service whose purpose is to bring folks around Jay closer together and to quickly spread local news and information. In addition to the email service there is also a Jay Community Services Directory that lists local products or services offered by the community. Trudy recently took a trip to the Caribbean island nation of Aruba, and brought back the following lessons for the Adirondacks.
We had a lovely vacation in the warmth and sunshine of Aruba. I feel compelled, however, to offer something about the conditions of that tourist spot that was once the gem of the Caribbean. Aruba can be a lesson to us here in the Adirondacks.
Like Aruba, the Adirondack Park is also a tourist area and like Aruba, much of our area receives its revenue from tourism. If we ruin it, not only will people not come and we will lose our jobs and revenue, but, and this is just as important, the land and animals will suffer and something beautiful will cease to exist on this planet.
There are still very beautiful places in Aruba; clean beaches with white sand and lots of beautiful corral; blue-green water and wonderful sunsets. But sadly, much of the coastline is trashed. Locals there say it is Venezuela’s garbage taken by the currents to Aruba. They also blame ships dumping waste and tourists who don’t care, as well as locals. At present there is so much trash it seems unlikely it can be cleaned up.
Tourists want to recreate. They will hike, ride bicycles, motor cycles, ATV’s, jeeps and ride horses. If one doesn’t designate areas for these things to be done, the tourists will go anywhere they please destroying delicate eco systems along the way. These things should not be forbidden, just managed, maintained and policed.
We found Wendy’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza everywhere; and we were hard pressed to find local crafts as the kiosks sold the same things one can find in any market south of Florida.
We in the Adirondack Park could be like this. Thank God for those who went before us and had insight as to how to preserve the park as well as attract tourists. Thank you to every person who reaches down to pick up someone’s trash, even when no one is looking. Thanks to the DEC, APA and others who designate activity-specific areas, stock fish, care for our waters, limit development, maintain and police our precious park to keep it attractive and thriving. Thank you to those who kept the fast food chains at bay and to the many local craft people who provide unique keepsakes for visitors to buy. Thanks to the planners who understand that there is room for recreating with motorized vehicles as well as for primitive areas where no motors are permitted. People in our area have understood that if we provide areas for recreation and maintain and police them we can both attract revenue and preserve the park.
Thank you to all the quaint little shops where things cost a little more but where the culture of rural America thrives in such an attractive manner.
Thank God oil or natural gas has not been discovered in our area, and thank you to those who said no to the big corporations who do not care about fitting in to the environment. It is tempting in this terribly difficult economic period to lose sight of the long term effects of neglect of our park. I deeply hope preservation for its own sake and for the sake of attracting tourist revenue will not be sacrificed to the short-term gains such economic times tempt.
As Prince Charles has said, we will probably survive for some time if we destroy the wilderness, but the lives of our children will be a misery. This is as true in the Adirondacks as it is in Aruba.