Thursday, November 18, 2021

Adirondack Council reveals new Vision 2050 plan

The Adirondack Council unveiled a new long-range vision for the Adirondack Park in a publication entitled Adirondack VISION 2050, offering recommendations for how to preserve the park’s ecology, sustain its small villages and hamlets, and improve park management by the middle of this century.

            The Adirondack VISION 2050 publication (98 pages of text and illustrations) was released principally in digital form via the Adirondack Council’s web site.

            “Arriving at a destination requires action,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William (Willie) C. Janeway. “Doing nothing is a choice as well, but not a static one. If no change is made, the ecological integrity of the Park will continue to erode, the human communities will struggle to retain their quality of life, and management will drift further and further from the cutting-edge leadership that is needed.”

“Together with our fellow Adirondack Park residents, visitors, and supporters we hope to achieve a future with intact natural systems, vibrant and diverse human communities, and cutting-edge park management,” said Sarah C. Hatfield, Chair of Adirondack Council’s Board of Directors.  “The park belongs to the wild creatures, the people who live here, those who visit, and those that may never set foot inside the Blue Line, all of whom sustain this park in their own ways.  Its successes belong to all New Yorkers. So, too, does the responsibility to take bold action to preserve this legacy for the future.”

Why is VISION 2050 Needed? 

 “The Adirondack Park Agency has not had the resources and capacity to provide the long-range unified planning, wilderness protection and local government assistance that was envisioned in the now 50-year-old Adirondack Park Agency Act,” said Janeway.  “This has created a vacuum in comprehensive, long-range park planning. One of the goals of Adirondack VISION 2050 is to restart and continue a dialog about and implementation of improved planning and plans.

“The Adirondack Park is a national treasure — a legacy we inherited more than 100 years ago — that we must collectively protect for current and future generations,” said Janeway.  “To produce Adirondack VISION 2050 the Adirondack Council gratefully accepted participation and input from conservation professionals, community leaders, business owners and other stakeholders with deep roots in, and knowledge of, the North Country.” 

The Adirondack Park is vital to New York’s ecology and its economy, he explained.

            At 9,300-square miles, it is the largest park in the contiguous United States.  It safeguards the world’s largest, intact temperate deciduous forest; 87 rare species; most of the uncut ancient forests remaining in the Northeast; more than 11,000 lakes and ponds; more than 1,500 miles of rivers, and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams.  Created in 1892, it is a rare example of an American park that intentionally includes dozens of small communities alongside vast and well-preserved wilderness areas.  It has a year-round population of 130,000 and yet hosts more than 12.4 million annual visitors.

            “The Adirondack VISION 2050 Project grows out of the need to understand the forces of change within the Adirondacks,” Janeway said.  “Adirondack VISION Director Julia Goren encouraged long-range strategic thinking about the future of the Park.  Understanding how the past provides historical context for today’s policies allows us to move towards a stronger future.”

“The strength of the Adirondack VISION 2050 is from the myriad community leaders, government officials, scientists, advocates, and other stakeholders who engaged with the project,” said Julia Goren, VISION 2050 project director. “While their voices and perspectives were diverse, all influenced and inspired the final product.”

            One point of concern is the fragmented nature of state management of the Adirondack Park, the publication notes.  For example, most state agencies divide the park into regions and manage it piecemeal.

            “Adirondack VISION 2050 embraces a holistic Adirondack Park, where public and private, human and natural, and different aspects of governance are considered as pieces of one whole,” explained Board of Directors VISION Committee Co-Chair Charles Canham.  “We chose to use an integrated approach in which the park’s ecology, its communities and its management fit together and work in harmony.”

The Components of VISION 

            Adirondack VISION 2050 is a single vision, founded upon three mutually supportive pillars. It offers 18 eighteen paths to success and more than 240 suggestions and ideas for marking the milestones of progress.

            There are also reasons to be optimistic that the park’s future is bright, Janeway said.

            “In the Adirondack Park, people and nature do coexist and can thrive together. Public and private landscapes model the success of people and nature rather than people versus nature. The scale of this effort is hard to comprehend — six million acres, forests sequestering carbon, protecting waters on which over 11 million people and countless wild creatures depend.”

            And yet, the Adirondacks remain threatened.  Natural and human systems are at risk from climate change, challenging economic forces, and inadequate, under-funded management, he said.

“Short-term thinking that is too focused on immediate issues can lose sight of larger preservation goals,” he said. “Lasting protection will require a long-range vision that guides all management decisions year after year. A new vision is necessary to chart a course to a brighter future.”

Arriving at a Shared Vision 

Noting that its previous long-range vision for the park (2020 VISION: Fulfilling the Promise of the Adirondack Park) had been aimed at the 30 years between 1990 and 2020.  More than half of its four volumes of forest protection recommendations had been accomplished by 2020, Janeway noted.

Recognizing the need for a new plan, the Adirondack Council launched the Adirondack VISION 2050 project. Its goal was to engage with stakeholders and experts to create a narrative of the Park’s future that inspires support and specific actions to preserve natural communities, foster vibrant human communities, and manage the Park. From the beginning, listening to and learning from a variety of different voices was essential, he explained.

“To preserve the Adirondack Park forever we need consistent principles and a comprehensive plan, based on sound science that also addresses real needs and concerns by those who live, work, play, and visit here. The need and the will exist to launch a period of rapid transformation in management within the Park.

“When those who care about the Adirondacks see beyond the turmoil of the moment to a shared vision, we can fulfill the promise of a Park where people and nature can thrive together,” he said, “meeting the challenges of our time.”

A Few Specific Examples 

1.      Preserving Natural Communities: The Adirondack Park must elevate the importance of ecological integrity and wild character in its management. Recommendations include:

  • A reimagined and adequately staffed and funded Adirondack Park Agency
  • Robust monitoring, research and science
  • Restoration of degraded wild lands (rewilding) & recognition of carrying capacity
  • Independent funding, and
  • Building a broad and diverse constituency for nature and the Adirondacks

2.      Fostering Vibrant Human Communities: Human communities within the Adirondack Park must have the resources to thrive economically and demographically and fit the character of the place. Recommendations include:

  • Building more diverse, welcoming and safe communities
  • Ensuring there is a diverse spectrum of good paying jobs
  • Aid from the state and others to plan and build community infrastructure,
  • A concentrated focus on the importance of education in its many forms including schools, workforce development, visitor interpretation, and local history, and
  • Small scale and regional collaboration to share expertise and resources.

3.      Managing the Adirondack Park: Management creates a structure that can accomplish these goals. One important change is for the Adirondack Park to be managed as a singular entity rather than a collection of disparate units. Recommendations include:

  • Dedicated and increased Adirondack Park funding
  • A change in planning and management strategies
  • A shift to watershed management with more of an emphasis on holistic, regional planning, and
  • Integrated public lands management by experts in wilderness and recreational management
How Can I Support Adirondack VISION 2050? 

            The Adirondack Council’s Adirondack VISION 2050 web page provides an opportunity to support the continuing effort to discuss the project, distribute the publication and achieve its goals.  The Adirondack Council has a Four-Star (94.94/100) “Give with Confidence” rating from

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Before John Sheehan joined the Adirondack Council's staff in 1990, he was the managing editor of the Malone Evening Telegram, and previously worked as a journalist for the Troy Record, (Schenectady) Daily Gazette, Watertown Daily Times and Newsday. For the past 20 years, John has been the voice of the Adirondack Council on radio and television, and on the pages of local, regional and national media.

20 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    While this Vision includes many very good goals, I shudder every time increasing funding or aid is alluded to. I am sure that there are many noble, good entities across the Empire State that think that they can fix or solve one problem or another with increased aid or funding. The New York tax payer is already pushed beyond their limit, being one of, if not the highest taxed state in the nation. Where will Peter borrow from to pay Paul?

    • Boreas says:


      I hear you. If the environmental bond act is passed, that should add some funds. If it doesn’t, there is no reason the Park can’t gain more funding at current tax levels. It boils down to sending more tax revenue North. That requires strong representatives in Albany, not more taxes.

      • That is a fair point, if we are talking about property taxes, sales taxes and other levies that pinch working folks and middle class families. There are other ways to finance dedicated environmental funds. The state’s Environmental Protection Fund, for example, is a capital projects account for the entire state. It is drawn from a tax on major sales of real estate — commercial real estate development that has a direct impact on the local and regional environment and generates enormous profits. After the first $300 million goes into the EPF, the rest goes to the state’s General Fund to offset the need for additional taxes on the poor and middle class. In times like these, it is generating way over a billion in revenue that doesn’t have to come from other taxes.

  2. Zephyr says:

    Unfortunately, these vision plans are often used as smokescreens to obscure organizations just doing what they want to do. As always, the well-connected insiders decide what they want and then figure out how to market it so it fits with their “vision.” Exhibit A is the idiotic permit system at the AMR designed to limit the number of people who can use a legal right-of-way, an easement that the taxpayers paid for and continue to pay for. Where is the study done to show there was overuse at that location? Where was the public input? Where is the “robust monitoring and science.”

    • Dana says:

      I feel landowners who allow access to remote areas through their land should be compensated and applauded, not reviled. If it entails limits, so be it.

      • Zephyr says:

        They were heavily compensated to the tune of $750,000 (in 1978 dollars) for the purchase of land and the easement, basically saving the club from a financial crunch. This also means the state pays the town in lieu of taxes that used to be paid by the club on that land. They sold a public easement meaning the public has the right to access those lands. Therefore any restrictions on the easement have to be done with the approval of both parties. The DEC and the club signed off on the deal to limit access, but with no scientific study, no public process, and no input from the actual public that pays the taxes that purchased the easement and pays the salaries of the DEC.

        • Dana says:

          Indeed – both parties agreed to the easement, and the reservation trial. Both parties can change the agreement or dissolve the easement entirely. NYS will still own the land.

          I consider this trial as a study. Would you abandon it? Correct, no scientific studies were done prior (which is inexcusable to this date!), but they do have the data showing the increase in hiker flow through their property. There is nothing in the easement that shows they have to prove physical damage to their property. The language involves maintaining the wild nature of the land.

          Keep in mind, that price tag you are throwing around involves a large land purchase that “included” the necessary easement. NYS wanted that land. It wasn’t forced on them. The land they purchased is still accessible via longer routes. They will still own the land if the easement is eliminated, so it remains a wilderness asset regardless of easy access.

          • Zephyr says:

            It isn’t a “trial” of anything, other than whether or not they can get away with unilaterally denying the public access because a private party wants it that way. You can’t have a trial without a known starting point. What was/is the carrying capacity of the trail? What was/is the environmental damage? How were these things determined? What were/are the goals of this?

            • John Sheehan says:

              Let’s not put too fine a point on that. Asking someone to make a reservation before parking a car on private property is not “denying the public access.” It is managing a fragile natural resource that cannot defend itself. The easement is called a “Conservation Easement.” It is not a recreational mandate. There are examples of conservation easements with no public access whatsoever. This is more of a compromise.

              • Rich says:

                Announced less than a year after the shuttle program and then the shuttle can not stop at AMR. That’s not suspicious. Not saying permits or reservations are all bad, but the process this went through was joke. I’d like to the see the day when AMR members have to get permits to access past their easement.

              • Zephyr says:

                The contract says the grantor must provide “…as an absolute and unconditional gift, a Foot Travel Easement in perpetuity, for foot travel only on, over and across all such trails, paths and roadways as now exist on the Adjoining Property and the Protected Property which are presently utilized for foot travel by the general public…” The summer restriction did not allow anyone to hike without a parking permit, so it is disingenuous to argue it was only about parking cars on private property. You weren’t allowed to take a bus there, or be dropped off, or ride a bicycle and then hike the trails.

                • Dana says:

                  Are you so naive to believe a contract cannot be voided or altered by both parties’ consent? Read up on contract law.

                  • Zephyr says:

                    I believe there are things that are right and things that are wrong. To deny the general public access to a trail that they have paid for, without their input in the decision, with no scientific study providing valid reasons for doing so, and in defiance of a long-standing agreement is wrong. Period. I’ll let lawyers squabble over what is legal or not.

  3. Rich says:

    The general theme is the Park needs more money which is fair, but hardly visionary. Some other ideas like an ADK Park Trust/ APA reform with Assembly picks are good conversations to have. I applaud the Council for using resources on this effort seeing no one else would. But I think the ambiguity of many of the recs were used to have this be more of a consensus document which the Council can use in its effort for other initiatives, many of which may be controversial.

  4. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Susan says: “Where will Peter borrow from to pay Paul?”

    Curiously, this is a favorite line of late from the Trump sump. “I heard it again this morning…”Never has so much money been put upon the taxpayers in one package…” or some partisan words to that effect. This was in reference to the Biden infrastructure bill recently passed after so much opposition from you know who.

    Yeah but! It’s only money! And look at what it will be doing for our country, how many jobs will be created from it. It is futuristic! If we wait much longer think of how much it will cost then. Gibberish is all them folk in the other aisle talk! My point is…..It ‘is’ only money! We can’t take it with us when we finally die whenever that shall be. It’s not like it will be going into pork, or weapons of mass destruction which is where a lot of our money goes, and O’ the horrible after-effects, and for what! Some things are worth investing in (the Adirondack Park being one of them) and many of us don’t mind paying. Once some ‘thing’ is gone, it is gone forever.

  5. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “we hope to achieve a future with intact natural systems…”

    We have hoped the same for countless ecosystems, not just locally, but the world over for generation upon generation, and have failed in that regard. We can keep wishing to save that fragile wee ecosystem the Adirondacks, but if we keep allowing the world outside of it to crumble, to be poisoned….. there’s no hope, as much as others would like to believe otherwise.

  6. Sarah H says:

    The Council did a decent job with this effort. Lots of the ideas have been around a long time. The words about the hamlets and inclusion are big steps forward.

    It is hard to claim it represents much other than the plan of the Council and their elite connected friends and donors. “Advocacy” of this sort doesn’t respect the larger Park as worthy of inclusion (one of their big words). In this sense it is a missed opportunity.

    • John Sheehan says:

      I am not sure who missed the opportunity to provide input. Adirondack Vision 2050 Director Julia Goren spent two years asking people all over the North Country what they thought. Perhaps that is why so many of the ideas seem familiar. You may call this advocacy if you wish, but it is really just an invitation to take a look into the organization’s skull and see what its dreams are. Most privately funded organizations don’t do that — won’t do that. Many don’t dare to dream beyond the end of the current fiscal year. Consider this an enormous expression of faith in humanity, New Yorkers especially, and our ability to collectively solve problems.

      • Sarah H says:

        You missed my point. It may well be that you included the perfectly representation group of diverse people to include, just as you claim. But because you do not name them, my guess is you spoke with the regularly involved people, your leading donors, your board, and so on.

        You can prove me wrong by releasing the names. Then we will know who’s views this work actually represents. Transparency has value. My issue is keeping the participants secret and unidentified.

  7. Concerned citizen says:

    Agenda 21 “Buzzwords”

    Feb 22, 2013 | UN Agenda 21

    Thanks to Rosa Koire and her team at Democrats Against Agenda 21 we have this comprehensive list of key words and phrases that are often used at the local level when discussing Agenda 21 related initiatives.

    Affordable housing
    Ballot Box Planning
    Benefit of all
    Buffer Zones
    Cap & Trade
    Climate Change
    Common Core Curriculum
    Common good
    Community Protocol
    Comprehensive planning
    Conservation Easement
    Direct instruction
    Endangered species
    Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
    Environmental Justice
    General Plan
    Global Warming
    Good Business Sense
    Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions
    Growth management
    HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Communities
    Healthy Communities Strategy
    High Speed Rail
    Historic preservation
    Housing Element
    International baccalaureate
    International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
    Invasive species
    Jobs-Housing Connection
    Land Use Policies
    Lifelong learning
    Livable communities
    Livable Communities
    Local Governments for Sustainability
    Metropolitan Planning Organizations
    Mixed Use Development
    Multi-Use Dwellings
    New Economy New Urbanism
    New World Order
    One planet communities
    Open Space
    Outcome based education
    Parking Policy
    Precautionary approach
    Precautionary Principle
    Priority Conservation Areas
    Priority Development Areas (PDA)
    Public/Private partnerships
    Quality of life
    Resilient Cities
    Responsible development
    Safe Routes to Schools
    Scenic views and vistas
    School to work
    Sensitive Lands
    Smart growth
    Smart Streets
    Social justice
    Stack and Pack Housing
    Sustainable Communities Initiative
    Sustainable communities partnership
    Sustainable communities strategies
    Sustainable development
    Sustainable Economic Development
    Sustainable medicine
    Three “E”s of Sustainablity-Equity, Economy, Environment
    Traffic calming
    Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
    Transportation Justice
    Triple bottom line
    Urban Growth Boundary
    Urban revitalization
    Vehicle Mileage Traveled Tax
    Vibrant Neighborhoods
    Visioning Meetings
    Walkable Communities

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