With the new year upon us here are a few of the big things I’ll be keeping an eye on this year.
- Salt: Road salt pollution continues to be a major threat to the park, but I hope there is more focus on solutions this year. State officials are promising a report from the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force will drop early this year. The report will be revealing, but it will be even more important to track the progress of pilot programs and monitor whether the state is making good on the task force’s recommendations. I also want to learn more about the role the state’s large salt industry plays in both the current use and potential reduction of road salt. I noticed the governor recently signed a law promoting the purchase of domestic salt.
- Study the Lakes: There are two disparate issues that center on one key topic: more closely examining Adirondack lakes. Scientists and other Adirondack advocates are organizing a survey of hundreds of Adirondack lakes, focusing on the impacts of climate change and other risks to water quality. The advocacy campaign in Albany will ramp up this winter, because if lawmakers boost funding for the survey project scientists say they could start sampling lakes this year. Separately, a court decision expected in the coming months could clarify the state’s responsibility to examine the “carrying capacity” of lakes, particularly in the context of proposed development. Though that decision could be appealed. Will the state make any progress this year in implementing a longstanding goal of the State Land Master Plan?
- HABs: Plenty of ink has been spilled about potentially-toxic harmful algal blooms made of cyanobacteria, but I want to dig more deeply into the evolving science of what’s behind the blooms and better parse the health and safety risks that lie behind the “harmful” in HABs.
- Money, Money, Money: The old journalism adage of “follow the money” will be an important watchword as we monitor how state, federal and local agencies are spending down an enormous influx of infrastructure and environmental funding. We’ve already started to see the first grants with new federal infrastructure money, and New York voters recently approved $4.2 billion in borrowing to fund environmental projects, infrastructure upgrades and land acquisition. The money could be transformative but will it be?
Let me know what you will be watching for this year or any suggestions/tips for peeling back the layers on these perennial issues. I can check back on progress on this list in December.
PS: One 2023 resolution I have: Go fishing!
Photo at top: West Canada Lake Wilderness in October. Photo by Zachary Matson
This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.