Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Willie Janeway: Adirondack Park Poised for Change in 2016

SOP 2015The globally unique Adirondack Park is poised for change.

That change could be very good or very bad. Much will depend on political leadership from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to the Adirondack Council’s State of the Park report for 2015. The report is being released to the public on Wednesday.

The future of the Adirondack Park depends on change that is good for clean water, wildlife, wilderness and communities. The park’s most difficult problems affect both the environment and the economy. They include the recent proposal to store derelict oil tanker cars on local railroads, the continuing battle against invasive species infestations and the long-standing need to update the rules for siting new homes on the park’s most remote private lands.

The Adirondack Park is poised for change because of the Governor’s willingness to seek creative solutions, while a new spirit of cooperation has brought formerly conflicting Adirondack stakeholders together to find answers. Thanks to an improved economy and strong leadership from the Governor, the state is poised – and able – to make a legacy investment and legislative and policy updates to secure the future of the Adirondack Park.

Heading into 2016, the Governor has an opportunity to help state, local and environmental leaders reach new agreements that are good for the park’s environment, its residents and its visitors. The park is poised to capitalize on the new commitment to collaboration in the year ahead.

The report notes progress including acquisition of new wilderness lands, better wildlife management planning and restoration of 36 environmental staff positions. A three-year, $200-million grant program for clean water infrastructure highlighted a generally pro-Adirondack budget. But an increase in the Environmental Protection Fund was offset by a raid in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s fund balance.

Many other important Adirondack initiatives stalled in 2015, including efforts to modernize the Adirondack Park Agency’s regulation for clear-cutting to better reflect current standards and best management practices for sustainable intensive timber management.

The Governor and Legislature accomplished very little after adopting a pro-Adirondack budget. Progress was slowed by political pressure to expand motorized recreation in inappropriate locations and to undo some of the State Constitution’s protections for the “forever wild” Forest Preserve.

While it’s important to recognize both the progress and setbacks from 2015, the focus should be on the opportunity to move ahead.

Will the Governor, Legislative leaders and others act in the best interests of the park’s clean water, healthy forests, abundant wildlife and vibrant communities in 2016? Or will they allow another year to pass without permanent comprehensive solutions to invasive species infestations, off-road vehicle damage, expansion of clear-cutting, and ill-advised development subdivisions in remote locations?

Will under-funded state agencies including the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regain some of the budgets they need to better promote and manage the park while protecting it from harm? The Adirondack Park is the best Park in the world, and it is truly poised for change.

The coming year will be a momentous one, promising an opportunity for the state to acquire more than 20,000 acres including the Boreas Ponds tract pictured on the cover of this year’s report, as part of a 35,000-acre addition to the High Peaks Wilderness, which it adjoins. Grants will be available to communities for clean-water infrastructure, expanded recreation and access, community connector trails, hut-to-hut lodging and green projects that will boost the economies and vibrancy of local communities.

The Adirondack Council’s State of the Park report, issued each fall since  1986, reviews the decisions and actions of local, state and federal officials that helped or harmed the Adirondack Park. This year’s edition provides brief summaries and critiques of more than 95 Adirondack issues. It is available online and includes recommendations for 2016.

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Willie Janeway is the Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, a privately funded, not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.

The Council envisions a park composed of large wilderness areas, surrounded by working farms and forests and vibrant, local communities.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Council members and supporters live in all 50 United States.




5 Responses

  1. Marco says:

    Yes. Expanded motorized use in the wild country is a bad thing. Hunting & fishing are well regulated, keep them that way.

    The natural forests are regenerated from the late 1800 and early 1900 problems. But, some managed (and I mean well managed) harvesting will only benefit the state and the north country. The old “clear cutting” cannot be used for intensive long term, sustainable, harvesting of the timber. Hell, I pay too much for wood, grown somewhere else!!! We have one heck of a lot here. Let’s join in to the export business for furniture grade hardwoods.

    No, there cannot be more housing in the ADK’s at this time. I believe that there is plenty of development space without disrupting the delicate balance so far achieved. I would hate to push a little more and find out that it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Expansion into the forest will destroy that which makes the ADK’s so attractive. Keep things confined to the villages and towns.

    It takes a lot of space to keep the ADK’s the wild forest that it is. I would vote for a simple purchase policy for all lands bordering on any state lands. A standing offer at the going rate…if they can avoid the damn corruption. Ahhh, there be the rub…

    The cities need clean water. That will be the single most important currency in the upcomming century. The ADK’s supplies that. Keep it that way.

  2. Woody says:

    I love how Mr. Janeway and his organization are worried about “political pressure” to “undo some of the State Constitution’s protections for the ‘forever wild’ Forest Preserve.” He would know from first hand experience! This clown was complicit in the passage of the NYCO amendment, and that’s about as much of an undoing of “forever wild” as we’ve seen since 1894. The Adirondack Council was more than happy to be strong-armed by political pressure from DEC into supporting that BS. Thank you Willie! We all owe you a big hug for that one! I never would have guessed that strip mining was a better use for a wilderness area if it wasn’t for your wise leadership! Let’s give the Siamese Ponds to Barton next — there are lots of garnets there, just being wasted in all that wilderness! I’m drooling about all the cut over wasteland we could get in exchange!

    What a bunch of hypocrites. Stop funding the Adirondack Council and put them out of our misery, already.

  3. Boreasfisher says:

    Ad hominems do not help clarify these issues.

    The Adirondack Council may in fact be following the will of its constituency…. and like the governor, a Clinton era middle way philosophy. So it does not seem to push anything very controversial and is not particularly forceful in dealing with the APA and DEC. Too bad. To many of us, they seem to leave their cajones at the door.

    • Woody says:

      There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the Adirondack Council was obeying the will of its membership.

      In fact, the council’s role in supporting the NYCO amendment was exposed this summer when a bunch of state emails were made public in a FOIL request. The New York Times reported that NYCO was the state’s idea, and that Willie Janeway’s predecessor, Brian Houseseal, resigned when DEC pressured the council into supporting NYCO.

      So the facts demonstrate that Willie Janeway has no business crying about the threat of political pressure threatening to erode the concept of “forever wild,” when that was precisely how he obtained his current job. Before becoming the director of the council, Janeway was a DEC employee, and he has effectively turned the council into a mouthpiece for the Cuomo administration. People who think they are supporting an independent “watchdog group” when they send in their membership dues to this organization are, in my opinion, being scammed.

      This may sound like an ad hominem argument, but I don’t believe that ineffective public figures should be coddled. It’s important to expose groups like this for what they really are, to counter some of the more heroic narratives told by their press agents.

  4. Boreasfisher says:

    Interesting….well, I don’t subscribe to the coddling of public figures either. Will the real Willie Janeway please step up?