Albany, NY – The Adirondack Park benefitted enormously from cooperation between environmental advocates and communities across the state this year, securing state funding for vital scientific research, Forest Preserve visitor management, and education and career training for a new generation of environmental leaders, the Council‘s annual State of the Park Report noted today.
“This year marks the beginning of two very exciting programs that will help the Adirondack Park understand and cope with the consequences of a changing climate,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Raul J. Aguirre. “The Legislature and Governor created a Study of Climate and Adirondack Lake Ecosystems that brings together major research institutions and environmental scientists to collect the data needed to assess the ecological health and develop plans to protect them. This is a first-in-the-nation effort to develop a comprehensive protection plan for the park’s single greatest asset – abundant clean water.”
He thanked the leaders of both houses as well as members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus for their combined efforts to assist the park and its communities. In addition to environmental protection, new programs will mean well-paid new jobs and careers for Adirondack Park residents.
At the same time, the Legislature and Governor created the Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute, which brought aspiring college students from the five boroughs to the Adirondacks for an introduction to careers in wilderness protection, forest conservation and climate sciences.
“This was another first-in-the-nation effort aimed at bringing talented young minds from across the state to the Adirondacks to learn how special a place this is and why its vast forests are so important to the fight against catastrophic climate overheating,” Aguirre said. “We were almost immediately rewarded for this forward-thinking effort by a brand-new federal effort to create a Civilian Climate Corps. President Joe Biden’s new CCC would be similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps created almost 100 years ago by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Students come to the Adirondacks to get the training experience they will need for successful careers in fighting climate change, learning as they work on public benefit projects.”
A new CCC would hire and train employees to carry out research and on-the-ground mitigation measures, while helping to protect the Adirondack Forest Preserve, New York’s greatest greenhouse gas-reducing asset.
As both of those programs bring new people to the Adirondacks, the Governor and Legislature also acted to reduce the impacts of high visitation on damaged and overused areas of the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves.
“Governor Kathy Hochul continued investments in Adirondack and Catskill visitor safety and wilderness protection projects, which are critical for safeguarding our forest preserve and their rarest and most sensitive natural features,” Aguirre said. “This is the kind of planning and systematic rejuvenation that can transform the park’s trails, campsites and other recreational amenities, while protecting a sense of peace and solitude in our wilderness areas. We appreciate that the Governor took seriously the research we have done recently illustrating the damage caused by overuse of sensitive places.”
This year’s State of the Park report is a 28-page illustrated critique of nearly 80 government actions affecting the Adirondack Park over the past year. The report also reveals 15 important actions by individuals and non-government organizations in its “In the Spotlight” section.
The Adirondack Park consists of both public and private lands, covering one-fifth of New York State. It contains more than 3 million acres of protected forests. Unlike many other parks, it also contains 130 small, rural communities. Its 11,000 lakes and ponds, thousands of miles of navigable river and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams are the source waters for most of New York’s rivers.
Established in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.
The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities.
Photo at top: Cover of Adirondack Council’s State of the Park report 2023. Photo provided by John F. Sheehan, Adirondack Council Director of Communications.