Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Philip Terrie On The Regional Assessment Project Update

APRAP Update CoverIn 2009, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages sponsored a report, the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project (APRAP), full of important, often-distressing data on the demographics of all 103 towns and villages in the Park. In May of 2014, a five-year update was released, with a spurious—if not downright deceptive—explanation for why our towns are in trouble.

Let’s get the problems on the table first, for they are indeed real and pressing. The overall population of the Park is declining. More important, as the report correctly observes, the population of young families with children is declining even more rapidly than is the overall population, while the median age is rising (and rising faster than the state average).

Because the number of young families with children is declining, school populations are falling off to the point where some districts may not be viable.

Finally, the report assesses the current status and future of emergency services. Just as the decline in young families means fewer students in the schools, it also means fewer people in their twenties, the key demographic for volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. Given the aging population in the Park, this means fewer first responders, with ever greater demands on their time and expertise.

Buried in the report is this critical admission: these data are not unique to the Adirondacks. In fact, “one in every 10 counties in America is currently experiencing this kind of aging.” In other words, although this report completely dodges the importance of this comparison, what is happening in the Adirondacks is typical of much of rural America. By failing to adequately acknowledge this, the report departs from a clear statement of empirically collected data and enters the shady realm of promoting a dubious political agenda.

The essential argument of the report, implied in considerable detail in its opening section, is that the explanation for these dreary statistics is the enlargement, over the last two or three decades, of the total acreage of protected open space within the Blue Line, either through fee acquisitions for the Forest Preserve or conservation easements. In fact, there is no evidence whatever to show that the amount of land protected for the people of New York is a factor in the pain of Adirondack towns. It should be pointed out, moreover, that title to these lands changed hands because woods-products companies were not making money with them and dumped them, either to the state or to a not-for-profit like the Nature Conservancy.

This report uncovers a genuine concern—mainly a declining and aging population—and then suggests an explanation, a villain, committing in the process a fundamental error in logic, the confusion of cause and association. The statistics are there; no one disputes that Adirondack demographics are less than cheerful. But if you look around the country, or even around the state, you will see that rural America is in trouble, with or without protected open space. The jobs, the kind of jobs that will support a young family with children, are largely elsewhere.

The data used in the report were assembled by statisticians at the Cornell University Program on Applied Demographics. If we go to their website and fish around, we can see that what’s happening in the Adirondacks has nothing to do with the Forest Preserve. For example, let’s ask which New York counties have experienced the greatest population decline since 2010. Schoharie, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and Madison—no Forest Preserve there!—have all suffered a greater percentage drop than has any Adirondack county. Indeed, the Adirondack county with the greatest percentage decline, Saratoga, is the one with the least Forest Preserve acreage.

What if we look at poverty levels? Outside of New York City, the worst is Chatauqua, with Cattaraugus, Allegany, and others in the Southern Tier all showing depressing percentages of people living in poverty. Again, no Forest Preserve. The same Southern Tier counties show population losses equal to or even worse than those across the Adirondacks. The farther a New York town is from an urban center, regardless of how much local land enjoys some sort of protection, the more likely it is to experience the levels of poverty and aging that this report exposes.

In 2010, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report showing the economic benefits to local communities of protected open space (it’s on his website). Among other things, it documents the economic benefits of natural areas as well as this important fact: open-space protection reduces local infrastructure demands and helps keep taxes down. In the Adirondacks, we should add that every acre in the Forest Preserve generates tax dollars for local schools and government while needing no roads, no water or sewer, no school-bus routes.

The APRAP authors and everybody else concerned with the future of Adirondack towns are correct to note that the trends are not good, that our towns are threatened. All of us who appreciate our Park need to be ceaselessly aware of this. But there is nothing to be gained by putting the blame on conservation; let’s focus on what can realistically be done to create jobs and opportunities.


Related Stories

Philip Terrie is an Adirondack and environmental historian, and the author of five books on regional history, including Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks (2nd ed., Syracuse UP, 2008) and Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian (Saranac Lake: Adirondack Explorer, 2017).

48 Responses

  1. Pete Nelson says:

    Thanks for writing this, Phil. This is very important.

    The tired, evidence-free canard that the economic woes of the Adirondacks are the result of over-zealous purchases and protections by the State is nothing more than ancient politics that impedes our opportunities to leverage our wild beauty to change the economic climate for the benefit of all residents.

    I have written several columns about this. In one entitled “Promoting Wilderness” I was given permission by Headwaters Economics, an independent, non-partisan economic research organization, to quote from their report West is Best: How Public Lands in the West Create a Competitive Economic Advantage. It offers a compelling case based upon hard data to support exactly the opposite effect to that implied by the APRAP report. Here is that excerpt:

    This report finds that the West’s popular national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands offer its growing high-tech and services industries a competitive advantage, which is a major reason why the western economy has outperformed the rest of the U.S. economy in key measures of growth—employment, population, and personal income—during the last four decades.

    In addition, as the West’s economy shifts toward a knowledge-based economy, new research shows that protected federal public lands support faster rates of job growth and are correlated with higher levels of per capita income.

    General findings:

    – Higher-wage services industries, such as high-tech and health care, are leading the West’s job growth and diversifying the economy.
    – Entrepreneurs and talented workers are choosing to work where they can enjoy outdoor recreation and natural landscapes.
    – Increasingly, chambers of commerce and economic development associations in every western state are using the region’s national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands as a tool to lure companies to relocate.
    – High-wage services industries also are using the West’s national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands as a tool to recruit and retain innovative, high-performing talent.

    Specific points:

    – From 1970 to 2010, the West’s employment grew by 152 percent compared to 78 percent for the rest of the country.
    – This western job growth was almost entirely in services industries such as health care, real estate, high-tech, and finance and insurance, which created 19.3 million net new jobs, many of them high-paying.
    – Western non-metropolitan counties with more than 30 percent of the county’s land base in federal protected status such as national parks, monuments, wilderness, and other similar designations increased jobs by 345 percent over the last 40 years. By comparison, similar counties with no protected federal public lands increased employment by 83 percent.
    – In 2010, per capita income in western non-metropolitan counties with 100,000 acres of protected public lands is on average $4,360 higher than per capita income in similar counties with no protected public lands.

    More and more, people are are seeking wild and protected surroundings, supported by hi-tech infrastructure, to live a better quality of life. Let’s leave the ancient politics behind and look for real ideas.

    • Paul says:

      ” From 1970 to 2010, the West’s employment grew by 152 percent compared to 78 percent for the rest of the country.”

      What part of these service oriented jobs are related to the oil boom that happened during this period and the migration of tech sector jobs that also occurred during this period? The west also has weather that kills northern NY as far as where folks from places like Northern CA might want to migrate. There was also infrastructure there. Not in the Adirondacks. This does have something to do with “wild” places but that is just a part of the puzzle. There is no shortage of wild places in the Adirondacks so if that is the only ticket we are all set and the trends should be other than what they are.

  2. Tony Goodwin says:

    I’ll echo Pete Nelson that your comments are both correct and need to counter the notion that new state land purchases and APA restrictions are the reason for the demographic decline. I can think of many areas in New England, central Maine, for instance, where lumber mills are idle and the towns look depressed. No forest preserve restrictions on tree cutting or APA restrictions on building in these areas that can be blamed for the decline.

    The next step is to figure out how to attract more small, high-tech businesses to locate here because the workforce they seek will be attracted to the lifestyle and recreational opportunities we do have here.

  3. Buddy Boyd says:

    However, what is true is that groups like Protect are doing everything possible to block efforts to reverse the trend.

  4. Pete Klein says:

    There are two problems facing the Adirondacks and all rural areas.
    Lack of jobs, especially those that are being created for the 21st Century, and a boring social life for young adults.
    Tricky Trays and garage sales will not entice any young person to live in a rural area.

  5. Ellen says:

    I have had a bone to pick with the APRAP report since it was first released, for the very reasons that you cite in your post. Why the Association of Towns hired a landscape architecture firm to prepare such a report in the first place, I’ll never understand…

    The information in the report is provided without the necessary context to explain that these demographic trends are occurring in many other rural areas, including communities outside New York State. That’s not to say that the trends aren’t valid, but you can’t attribute them to the regulatory environment.

    I have read the report that Pete Nelson references, and I found it similarly compelling. There are other rural areas of the country that the Adirondacks could probably learn a lot from, but not if people continue to focus their energies on pointing fingers instead of seeking solutions.

    • Jamie says:

      Ellen, There is theory out there that the LA Group was hired partly because of their ties to the ACR project. By citing all the terrible statistics in the APRAP report they tried to bolster the ACRs cred of creating hundreds or thousands of jobs and bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to the park. Just a theory of course but it may have some validity. The LA Group has done a lot of work for the ACR, getting paid for it is another thing.

  6. Brian Mann says:

    Hi folks,

    I think Phil has it pretty much exactly right, that this report identifies a very real problem but once again as in previous iterations fails to make a convincing argument that the forest preserve is the culprit.

    That said, there are a couple of points that warrant a little more discussion.

    First, the Comptroller did issue a report on the value of preserved land to economies. Similar reports have been issued over time by various green and academic groups.

    But my reporting has found found that there is, remarkably, no good research data on the economic value of preserving land in areas that already have substantial amounts of open space.

    The Comptroller leans on data that points to economic gains that stem from preservation in suburban and urban areas, or in rural areas that do not already have vast protected green spaces.

    It is astonishing, and perhaps inexcusable, that in 2014 we still do not have good peer reviewed economic data on what impacts forest preserve expansion are bringing to local communities.

    We do not know what the Champion or IP or Domtar or Whitney deals meant for neighboring towns.

    Which means that we simply do not know if big land deals are helping, hurting, a combintion of the two, or are having a negligible impact on local communities and their economies.

    Which means that big land purchases, like the Finch deal, are essentially an experiment, wihtout baseline data in place, the outcomes of which are largely unknown.

    This matters not least because one of the new rationales for land deals is that they actually boost economic activity through tourism.

    The second point that I would make is that while these demographic changes are not unique to the Adirondacks, many of the severest impacts may be.

    The reason is that many of our communities are “hyper” rural, meaning the loss of relatively small number of people can make a significant difference on viability and sustainability.

    A town with three thousand people can lose ten percent of its population and might still sustain a grocery or a volunteer fire squad or a fully operational school district.

    A town with 300 people that loses ten percent of its population might cross a more terminal boundary.

    Brian Mann, NCPR

    • Justin says:

      “It is astonishing, and perhaps inexcusable, that in 2014 we still do not have good peer reviewed economic data on what impacts forest preserve expansion are bringing to local communities.”

      Agreed! However, while the economic impacts of preservation should be quantified and considered, I think it is a great mistake to promote preservation on economic grounds, rather than environmental, cultural and social grounds.

    • Paul says:

      “We do not know what the Champion or IP or Domtar or Whitney deals meant for neighboring towns.

      So report on this. The Champion deal is 15 years old is there a positive effect???

    • Paul says:


      For example some of the towns received funds from a APA settlement with Champion over violations that were found when permitting these easements. What did the towns do with the money? Did they ever get it? Brain have you ever looked into this?

  7. August says:

    Young person here, Keene resident, soon to make the move out of the park. Just wanted to provide an anecdote. For me and my partner, the access to open space has been the biggest thing that has kept us from pulling the trigger sooner.

    • Jim Frenette Sr. says:

      When comparing Adirondack counties with other rural counties we obviously need to look at our advantages and how we can keep moving forward.

      We have natural resources that if properly promoted would enhance our basic business..tourism. The High Peaks would be one example of a natural resource that attracts tourists from a wide area.

      ..We also have the potential to be recognized as the outstanding canoe,kayak,rafting region in the Eastern United States. We do a pretty good job of promoting our back yard attractions. A designation as the water sports capital of the east would attract tourists from a wide area.
      Comments and concerns have been expressed for example that the Essex Chain by itself would just be “cannibalizing” which I take as meaning the same tourists that are here anyway. If part of a regional offering of outstanding opportunities that would not be a concern.

      We have the natural resources that people are looking for,what we need is to recognize that the whole is greater than the individual parts.

  8. The telling factor is that the young adult population is declining even faster than the population as a whole. What do young people want that is hard to find in the Park? Yes, a job where you can make a decent living is one… though in our increasingly service-based economy, that’s becoming harder to find everywhere.

    But other factors include things like broadband internet access, cell phone access, arts and cultural events. These are things that may be less important to older folks (not universally of course) but the expectation of these things is a bit more “hard wired” into younger folks.

    The open spaces, outdoor activity opportunities and quiet are the only reasons I am even considering moving in to the Park (certainly not for the booming economy, wonderful weather and great transportation infrastructure). Get rid of those and it becomes WNY with bigger hills.

  9. Ethan says:

    Excellent analysis of a useful report (useful as long as you set aside the weak attempt to tie the increase in open space to the demographic issues).

    What’s missing is clear: an actual attempt to analyze
    (a) why those people who leave the park are doing so, and where are they going. Do they need broadband, cell phone coverage, are the winters too harsh, do they want access to jobs unavailable in the park, what?
    (b) why the people who are moving TO the park and especially those who are starting up businesses there are choosing to do so there. I would love to see someone approach all the hamlet Chambers of Commerce, get the names of every business opened in the last 24 months in their towns, and interview every one of those business owners to find out what drew them to the park.

    I have my own preconceived notions of what the answers to these might be but I’m willing to set them aside. Let’s get the ACTUAL answers and then attempt to come up with potential policies. Right now? How do you choose between lobbying the state government for, say, the following (presented WITHOUT judgment as to what might be best):
    i. broadband access
    ii. improved cellphone coverage
    iii. better rail access from NYC
    iv. decreased or increased regulations on private and/or public lands in the park
    v. more (or fewer) snowmobile or ATV trails
    etc. etc.

    You need some sense of what’s bringing people to the park and driving them from it first ….

    • Ellen says:

      I think that would be really interesting, Ethan, although I suspect that there are multiple factors at play. The consensus among demographers is that most long-distance moves are job-related (e.g., new job, job transfer, or simply seeking a higher-paying job elsewhere). But underlying the jobs issue may be those other things you mention, like broadband access, housing costs, recreational opportunities, etc. – in other words, the whole package that must be considered in deciding whether to stay or go.

  10. Charlie s says:

    I’ve been visiting the Adirondacks since before teen was attached to my age,which was two-score and some years ago.I remember quite well the young locals moving away soon after school was finished to seek employment elsewhere because there were no jobs up there….that has not changed evidently.
    Every time I visit the Adirondacks nowadays I always say to myself “I wish I could afford to live here.”
    The reasons? All of those beautiful, untainted, serene, sweet-smelling woods and those clear streams and bodies of water that dot its landscape. I would love to wake up every morning and smell that fresh earthy Adirondack air,to be a part of that magical place.If they started putting up Walmart’s or super shopping centers or crowded snobby tourist traps like Saranac just so as to draw more people,i’d have different thoughts about the place for sure.Many of us go to the Adirondacks as a reprieve from all of that!

    • Dean says:

      “crowded tourist snobby places”…. so what ur saying is you found a way to drive AROUND these villages and also you only get near them on weekdays in the off-season?

  11. Charlie s says:

    I meant to say “snobby tourist traps like Lake Placid.”

  12. Paul says:

    “From 1970 to 2010, the West’s employment grew by 152 percent compared to 78 percent for the rest of the country.

    From 1970-2010 the amount of protected land in the Adirondacks has grown like gang busters. Not only in FP acquisition but other protections like the APA etc. Why not a similar trend in employment???

    I personally moved out west during this period (away from the Adirondacks) for a job. I was glad to see the good skiing when I got there and was able to continue hiking like I did back at home in the Adirondacks.

    • Pete Nelson says:

      Paul, I answered that question in my original column: hardly anyone outside the Adirondack region thinks the Adirondacks have wild, mountainous grandeur a la out west. That’s a problem and an opportunity.

      • Paul says:

        Pete, I don’t think that it is simply a marketing issue. The weather is a tough sell. Colorado has 300 days of sunshine per year. We are probably more like 60!

        When it come to issues like Forest Preserve acquisition reality (as usual) lies between the what you hear from the proponents and the opponents.

        In this case there is plenty of protected land now adding more is probably not going to do much of anything.

        At this point is is not a stimulant for the economy or a drag.

  13. Brian Mann says:

    Hi again,

    There is actually already a ton of research exploring why young people are fleeing rural America.

    Most of it makes for pretty dreary reading. The US Ag department has found that young people are even leaving communities with relatively strong economies.

    Broadly speaking, the problem appears to be as much cultural as economic.

    The vast majority of young people simply do not associate a vivid quality of life with small towns, especially hyper small small towns.

    There are also studies showing that fewer and fewer young people have significant interest in the outdoors, which is REALLY problematic for our corner of the world.

    So…I think there are a couple of missing pieces here.

    First, good data on the impact of the forest preserve and open space preservation on a massive scale. What does that variable mean, if anything. If the Park is to be a meaninful model or experiment for rural open space conservation, we need to know that.

    Secondly, we clearly need better planning and implementable steps to minimize the drain of young people, and maximize the number of people migrating in later, maybe in their late thirties or early forties.

    Remember that even small victories matter. The cluster of young farmers around Essex is relatively small in demographic terms, but their presence and energy have helped revitalize a chunk of the Champlain Valley.

    One thing that I think the APRAP report IS doing very effectively is reminding us that for many towns the clock is ticking pretty rapidly on these questions.

    Brian, NCPR

  14. Brian Mann says:


    It is not just a US problem either. I am currently traveling in Portugal and have trekked through small towns in several regions that are in severe decline or, in some cases, are essentially abandoned.

    Not to be melodramatic, but urbanization is one of the great tectonic events of the last century. It has altered human life and culture planetwide, from China to India to the small towns where I grew up.

    The Adirondacks are a microcosm of a pretty amazing event, really, the transition of our species from a predominately rural people to a people anchored in overwhelming margins in bigger and bigger cities.

    One cool thing is that we, unlike most rural places, are still trying to think about and adapt to and shape this trend…

    Brian, NCPR

    • Pete Nelson says:


      Your point about urbanization being akin to a tectonic event is right. It would be naive to think anything will change that. Globally human society is moving to a more urban profile, period.

      What we can take advantage of is the growing counter trend. While there is no doubt that overall the percentage of people living in urban environments is going to continue to increase, there is a measurable and growing stream of urban flight, people who want out. This counter stream is well documented in studies and borne out by 2010 US Census figures. It is this stream that is measured in the Headwaters Economics study of Western States.

      The same studies which document urban flight also offer at least a cursory profile of this cohort: primarily holders of service and/or hi-tech jobs that allow teleworking, sophisticated users of the connected world, discretionary income, upwardly mobile, seeking a healthier quality of life and seeking it through proximity to wilderness and grandeur, to a clean and green environment and to outdoor recreation activities.

      So this counter stream is a niche. But it’s our niche, our opportunity. Given that this stream is dwarfed by the urban flow, it necessarily follows that urban flighters must be competed for. The Adirondack region has to have a competitive advantage to draw these people to us in favor of other rural areas. I think it can, what with its iconic beauty, its intimate forests and perhaps most of all its streams, rivers and lakes. But it has to be marketed effectively. The traditional marketing approach of Adirondack chairs, quaint rustic charm, B and B’s and high-end resorts does not target this cohort. Besides, we won’t be out-competing Vermont on that front any time soon. Yet in terms of grandeur, wilderness, clean air and water, Vermont ain’t us. So let’s use what we’ve got.

      I think wiring the region to support a robust, reliable, high-capacity on-line world is essential. I think marketing the region as wild, grand, mountainous and pristine, yet with sophisticated, wired communities, instead of the quaint and rustic approach, is critical. I suspect that leveraging that our incomparable water resources to market recreational opportunities no region in the country can match is the single greatest competitive move we can make.

      Last but not least, I agree with you; we need more data, more studies. We have to be smarter about this.

      • Paul says:

        “This counter stream is well documented in studies and borne out by 2010 US Census figures. It is this stream that is measured in the Headwaters Economics study of Western States.”

        Pete, are these the folks that you describe that were filling up the west above? I don’t think these are folks that are seeking out a rural or very small town life like what is offered in the Adirondacks.

        I personally moved from an Adirondack small town (Lake Placid at the time) to the Colorado front range (Ft. Collins and then Denver). It was a move from a rural to a far more urban setting. Many of the folks moving to Colorado at the time were interested in living in Urban places like Denver and the growing front range towns. Many were migrating from urban settings (many from CA) to another urban setting that was closer to the mountains instead of closer to the ocean. Of course they have grand mountains and hiking in and skiing in CA as well.

        But again they were attracted to jobs that were being created. Add jobs to your Adirondack marketing campaign and it will work. Just saying there is lots of wild spaces to roam isn’t going to cut it.

  15. Pete Klein says:

    No one else will say it but I will.
    When talking about young people, think of sex.
    Young people want to be where there are lots of young people to chose from. They want to party and have a good time before they settle down.
    With an aging population, the Adirondacks tends to be a bit square and prudish. It doesn’t offer much of a life for the young.
    For the young, jobs are important because you need a job to live on your own and meet the people you might eventually want to marry and live a life with.
    The pickin’s are slim here and even if you find someone, what is there to do here? Take a hike? Go fishing? Really?
    And let’s not forget that when you are young and living on your own, the last thing on your mind is buying a house. Singles date singles who have their own apartment, not someone who is living with their parents.

  16. Paul says:

    The two things that I would say that have been the most positive for the Adirondacks recently are improved cellular service and improving the minimal air service the area has. For all the hullaballoo about land acquisition I don’t think it has meant much of anything. Environmental groups keep using it as some type of economic trump card but I don’t think it really holds up.

    It sounds like Pete’s idea here is to try and attract the small cohort of people who don’t want to deal with the trappings of urban life. The better idea seems to give the much larger cohort a taste of some of the trapping they want. make the place a little less wild and you will probably be much more economically successful.

    We have got the “lots of wild green space” part figured out, mission accomplished. It seems like now you probably want to make the not-so-wild parts into fun places to live.

  17. Charlie S says:

    Dean says: “crowded tourist snobby places”…. so what ur saying is you found a way to drive AROUND these villages and also you only get near them on weekdays in the off-season?”

    I don’t understand what you’re implying.

  18. Charlie S says:

    Brian Mann says: “There are also studies showing that fewer and fewer young people have significant interest in the outdoors…”

    This statement prove what I’ve been surmising for some years…This neo society,and each new generation sprouting from it,especially the young,are a more complicated and material lot and see less and less connection to the natural world and can give two hoots about it.Indeed bugs scare a good chunk of this society and many of us wouldn’t know a cricket from a grasshopper. It explains all of the indifference to the damage done on a daily basis to our streams,the remaining woodlots, farmfields,etc… It explains much of our pollution problems,the trash thrown on the ground instead of into the garbage can ten feet away.It explains many of the dead animals on our roads,which surely number in the millions every year. It explains why a sports arena is more attractive than a tract of wilderness.

  19. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “It sounds like Pete’s idea here is to try and attract the small cohort of people who don’t want to deal with the trappings of urban life. The better idea seems to give the much larger cohort a taste of some of the trapping they want make the place a little less wild and you will probably be much more economically successful.”

    Less wild Paul says! More wild Charlie says.

    A couple things came to mind when I read the above.
    Uno: Lodging in the Adirondacks that shout out with very visible signs; “Free internet and or cable tv,etc…” What is the sense of even going to the Adirondacks if you need to be connected to the material world,the world of entertainment…which distracts? As if we’ll die without it! It defies the whole idea of even going to this special place….to get away from it all,a reprieve from the mundane.This is part of our problem,this always needing to be connected to Hollywood or other people because we’re insecure.And if you’re going to the Adirondacks and you have to work (online) while on vacation…how sad!

    Dos: When I camped in Moose River two years ago there was this guy and his family who drove in with a three-ton pickup truck and a mobile home in tow that must have been thirty feet long.How he got that contraption in there is beyond me.He certainly didn’t come in the Limekiln way as he would have never made it up those steep grades with all of that weight.I heard his generator going every night and I imagined he had a tv going and who knows what else.Why even go back that far in the woods if you cannot get away from all of the noise? Geez!

    And why does it always have to be about economics? Why not just ecology and the beauty and serenity that comes with that? The best things in life are free Paul.

    • Paul says:

      “Less wild Paul says! More wild Charlie says.”

      Actually Paul said that these are the things that might attract more people to come and live in the Adirondacks (or perhaps the lack of them is what keeps them away, same difference). I did not say that this is what should be done.

      Charlie, are you saying that “more wild” will attract more people and help the area economically? Some other folks are making the same argument. Given demographic trends and what people seem to have interest in this probably will not work. If you just want fewer people in the Adirondacks than fine, but it isn’t really part of a discussion related to how to improve the economic situation in the area.

      Do you think that a “more wild” Adirondacks will have an economic benefit?

  20. Hope says:

    36 years ago I moved here because I loved the area and a job opportunity presented itself to me at the time. The job was part time but professional and utilized my degree, I was pretty sure I could find additional part time work in the area (Lake Placid) and I would be able to be a part of the 1980 Olympics. If things didn’t work out after that I would have some professional experience under my belt and I would move on. Since that time I met a local man and married, changed careers, built several businesses and raised a child who is now a young man who, after finishing college, is planning on staying here and making a life. He is under no delusions about the difficulties of doing just that but willing to make sacrifices to live the North Country lifestyle of hunting, fishing, camping, snowboarding and other outdoor pursuits. Surely he could make more money outside of the Park, as his degree is in demand, but chooses to stay here and try and make it work. I wish him well as any parent would but also know that unless we have things, such as reliable broadband and excellent cell service throughout the park, the number of people, already limited to folks who crave outdoor activity and a non urban lifestyle, will be even less. As that happens only a few tourist oriented communities will remain and the death of the Adirondack Park, as envisioned, will be complete. Say hello to the newest addition the the National Park Service. I know there are folks salivating at that opportunity. The easiest way to hasten our decline is to limit modern communication. If the telephone lines had never been strung through the Park this would have already come to pass.

  21. adirondackjoe says:

    i love lake placid and will be moving there soon. i don’t find it snobby at all having close friends that live there. as for it being a tourist trap if you call all those great places to eat, all the cool shops and the great fishing, hunting skiing hiking swimming bobsledding and ski jumping a trap i’ll take the bait any time.

  22. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “Charlie, are you saying that “more wild” will attract more people and help the area economically? If you just want fewer people in the Adirondacks than fine, but it isn’t really part of a discussion related to how to improve the economic situation in the area.”

    I’m just bouncing around Paul,around you and everyone else. I did not imply that more wild will attract more people (though I believe it very well may,especially in the future)I just like the idea of ‘more wild.’ I go to the Adirondacks not to bump into other people.

    I’m not an economist and I don’t know what it will take to stimulate Adirondack communities economically,but what I would not like to see is even a slight ‘big boom’ there like what you see everywhere else.I’ve even heard some of the locals suggest the same thing….they like their quiet towns.

    It seems to me the Adirondacks is on the verge of some kind of transformation.In my crystal ball I see fifty years ahead in the Adirondacks.There will be a Mickey Mouse theme park at Tupper Lake,a Tupper Resort at Indian Lake….

    Sometimes desperation will skew the thinker Paul and before you know it we’ll get more than what we asked for and not necessarily in a good way. The Adirondacks is a very unique place and I hope it stays this way…not for me as much as for my great grand children.

    • Paul says:

      Let me give you a few examples of the things we have seen recently in the Adirondacks.

      We have protected from development (forever) almost 1 million acres of land in conservation easement alone tis is just in the last 15 years.

      We have aded or are adding 161,000 acres of forest preserve land under the protection of the forever wild clause in one deal alone. (In fact – yet another Wilderness area like ones classified recently is being proposed for the SE Adirondacks you can read about it here at this same blog)

      We have instituted some of the most restrictive development rules anywhere in the world.

      We have stopped the building of large boathouses in the Adirondacks.

      Etc. Etc.

      By almost all measures the Adirondacks just doesn’t seem to be undergoing this “transformation” you describe. It seems quite the opposite if you look carefully at the facts. If you look at the big picture it is more wild for our grandkids then it was for you and me.

      • John Warren says:

        All but the first of these claims are demonstrably false, and conservation easement land is privately owned.

        • Paul says:


          Number two see this:

          Number three see this:

          Number four see this:

          I guess that you can argue that what is now allowed for boathouses is “large” but it is much smaller than what was allowed before that change.

          Also, what is wrong with protecting private land. Protected is protected? Or are you saying that because the public can stomp all over most of these they are not protected. I said protected from development anyway.

          John can you explain how any of these are false other than just saying that they are false??

          • John Warren says:


            Pointing to regulations does not prove your points at all.

            2) We have not added 161,000 acres of forever wild forest preserve land. That is completely false. I can’t disprove something you made up.

            3) We do not have the most restrictive development rules anywhere in the world. In fact most suburban and urban areas of New York State have more rigorous development rules, for example historic districts. For one simple example of how wrong you are, storm water rules in Queensbury are more strict than inside the park.

            4) We have regulations that limit the size of some boathouses unless the builder seeks exemption. They have not eliminated the construction of large boathouses as anyone who spends time on populated lakes in the Adirondacks can tell you.

            • Paul says:


              I do stand corrected on point number 2 as far as forest preserve land goes. But all that land is protected from development in perpetuity (89,000 acres as FP (eventually). The FP has grown in yours and my lifetime that is indisputable.

              You are really quibbling as far as the regulations go. Sure you can cherry pick a few things that are more strict here or there. But having vast amounts of land where you can have one house per 42 acres is about as strict as you will find anywhere. The point was that it is far more restrictive (even in hamlet areas)that it was prior to those regulations. Now you can argue that the APA will allow you to cluster development and build more than one per 42 acres while leaving more green space but in the end it leaves more land protected from development than even the 42 rule.

              The criteria for getting an exemption to the new boat house regulations (and they are clearly more restrictive than prior to that change) is a high bar.

              How many boathouses exceeding 900 (or 990 or whatever it is) have been permitted since that change? If it is a bunch I would concede that point.

              • John Warren says:

                Easement land is not “protected from development in perpetuity”. I’m not quibbling – I’m pointing out that, as usual, you are spreading false information and (surprise!) now shifting the debate when your claims are challenged.

                You are being intellectually dishonest.

                • Paul says:


                  I stand behind all of those points with the one correction noted. It is all true.

                  Anyone who claims that the Adirondacks is less protected now than it was 40 years ago just doesn’t understand what has gone on for the past 4 decades.

                  As far as “perpetuity” goes those restrictions go with the deeds they cannot be changed by the current or future owners.

                  You can make a pretty good argument that a place like Elk Lake is as well, or better, protected than the NYS owned Wilderness land that surrounds it.

                  • John Warren says:

                    Which straw man is claiming the Adirondacks is less protected now than it was 40 years ago? And even if someone did actually argue that, it has nothing to do with the false claims you made above.

                    A deed restriction on excessive development is not the same as constitutional forever wild protection. You know that conservation easement are mostly being logged, yet you first claim they are ‘forever wild’ and when challenged now claim that “you can make a pretty good argument” that they are better protected.

                    Your claims were, and continue to be, false. You are simply shifting the argument to perpetuate your misinformation.

                    We have not added 161,000 acres of ‘forever wild’ forest preserve, we do not have “the most restrictive development rules anywhere in the world”, and we have not “stopped the building of large boathouses in the Adirondacks.”

                • Paul says:

                  John, always looking to improve. How did I change the debate?

                  Let me know and I will try and stop doing that.

                  Intellectually dishonest? How?


            • Paul says:

              Also, there were no shoreline setback regulations prior to the APA that was a huge change.

  23. Charlie S says:

    You know Joe… I’ve had experiences where some person or another would share their discontent with me over this or that person or place and I had found quite the opposite.It doesn’t make anybody right or wrong,it’s just that we all have different interpretations in the light of experience.

  24. New dataset for various quality of life measures places the Adirondack Park in a national context | Protect the Adirondacks! says:

    […] pieces posted by PROTECT Board member Phil Terrie and Executive Director Peter (here and here) in the Adirondack Almanack stressed the importance of placing the Adirondack Park […]

Wait! Before you go:

Catch up on all your Adirondack
news, delivered weekly to your inbox