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The Adirondack Council releases its annual State of the Park report

2023 State of the Park cover
Cover photo © Carl Heilman II/Wild Visions Inc.
Adirondack Council
2023 State of the Park cover

The Adirondack Council has issued its annual “State of the Park,” a report card on actions that have impacted the six-million-acre area of northern New York.

The report traditionally provides thumbs up or down for actions taken by the state legislature, governor, attorney general, local governments, state agencies and the federal government.

This year the Adirondack Council provided more positives than negatives overall. Spokesman John Sheehan says that’s in part because the report’s theme “Strongest Together” illustrates their increased collaborations.

“We spent most of our time working in coalitions with community groups and with other environmental organizations and the success that we had was pretty spectacular this year. I think that the cooperative effort, while that can be a challenge to keep it together, really paid off and it was something that assisted the Park in many ways.”

One example, Sheehan notes, was the long-awaited release of the Road Salt Task Force report.

“We’ve been reliant upon the coalition of local government support that we’ve had in this case because when things got tough with state agencies we were able to rely upon our colleagues to help us make it clear that the state had an obligation to make this work. We also did some work on the federal level with national ambient air quality standards and had help from a cadre of national and international organizations that helped us get the attention of both Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

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Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer has not yet read the Council’s report but he too notes there have been some positive developments in Forest Preserve management. He adds that there are some critical challenges.

“Some of the key challenges is continuing to reform the management of the Forest Preserve by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency. We need these agencies to really uphold and obey the State Land Master Plan. We need these agencies to keep the constitutional Forever Wild protections front and center in Forest Preserve management. Also how are they going to deal with climate change impacts in the Park under the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act? And then parkwide affordable housing is a major issue.”

The State of the Park report includes 10 priorities for the coming year including clean water, defending forever wild and securing federal funds for clean air and water monitoring. The Adirondack Council also plans to start work on what they say are first-in-the-nation initiatives. The first is a comprehensive study of how climate change has affected Adirondack lake ecosystems. Sheehan says the second implements a state-approved Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute which will bring New York City students to the Adirondacks.

“We are trying to bring a focus by youth to the Adirondacks and one of the ideas has been to create a workforce development plan that includes getting credentials and training to people who might not ever get to the Adirondacks otherwise but who have the skills and the talent and the interest to do the work.”