Thursday, July 14, 2011

Envisioning a Future for the Adirondack Park

The Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks will meet in Long Lake this Wednesday, July 20, for an interactive forum that will focus on future scenarios to assist the Park’s communities, their economies and the environment.

More than 100 participants are expected to attend the event, including local, state and federal officials, small business owners, non-profit leaders and citizens from across the Adirondack region.

Local businessmen and scenario experts Dave Mason and Jim Herman will present six possible scenarios for the future of the Park. Mason and Herman are the entrepreneurial team that brought affordable broadband telecommunications to Keene and Keene Valley. “We hope to stimulate people to think more strategically about the difficult and complex issues facing the Park”, Mason said. “We want people to think hard about what they want the Park to become in the future.” “Scenarios are a great way to expand the scope of ideas under consideration and improve the conversation” according to Jim Herman.

Participants in this year’s forum will rank the scenarios and discuss how they can work towards, or away from, these possible future outcomes. Each participant will also have the opportunity to sign up and be part of a team that will continue scenario planning to help drive the process into the future of the Park.

“There are too few people in the Adirondacks for us to be sending mixed messages to our officials,” said Lani Ulrich, founding Director, CAP-21. “We need to determine what our strongest mutual concerns are, get them down on paper and work together to get attention for them.”

“The Adirondack Park has only about 150,000 residents, spread over 12 counties, covering more than 9,000 square miles. It is larger than Massachusetts, but has barely 1/40th of its population. So it’s easy for lawmakers and policymakers to write-off the region as politically insignificant,” said Brian L. Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “But the Park has a strong supply of dedicated leaders and well-run organizations that can help bring the needs of the Park and its residents to the forefront. By working together on our common problems, we can send a stronger and clearer message to Albany and Washington, D.C. than any of us could manage on our own.”

The Common Ground Alliance grew from a small core group of local elected officials, economic development non-profits and environmental non-profits who asked the question: “What solutions can we offer for the Park that will benefit the communities, their economies and the environment?”

Although the Adirondack Park has few year-round residents, more than 10 million visitors per year make the Park one of the state’s most important tourism destinations. It also protects a huge portion of the state’s fresh water, with 2,800 lakes and ponds, more than a thousand miles of navigable rivers and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams. About half of the Park is made up of “forever wild” Forest Preserve, which is protected from logging and development by the NYS Constitution.

Those protections ensure the long term health of the Park’s forests and waters, but can be an impediment to traditional development and commercial activity on the adjoining private lands. The Alliance groups are coming together to find ways to nurture the environment and economy at the same time.

The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance core group is made up of Lani Ulrich, founding Director, CAP-21 and local resident commissioner on the Adirondack Park Agency Board; Brian Towers, President of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages; Bill Farber, Chairman, Hamilton Country Board of Supervisors; JR Risley, Adirondack Economic Development Corporation; Kate Fish, Executive Director and of the Adirondack North Country Association; Zoƫ Smith, Adirondack Program Director, Wildlife Conservation Society; Ray Curran, Sustainable Communities; Ross Whaley, senior advisor to the Adirondack Landowners Association; Greg Hill, Independent Adirondack Consultant; and, Brian Houseal, Executive Director, The Adirondack Council.

The Common Ground Alliance Forum will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Mt. Sabattis Pavilion, Long Lake. Media are invited to attend. The cost of the event is $18. Participants may register on-line at http://tinyurl.com/6be9pdr.

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  1. […] welcomes the Adirondack Futures as a project that is working to build support for a vision for the Adirondacks that was built […]

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