The Adirondack Council have 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.
Adirondack VISION 2050 (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,” Adirondack Council Executive Director William (Willie) C. Janeway said in an announcement sent to the press. “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.”
“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.
At 9,300-square miles, the Adirondack Park 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.
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 offers 18 eighteen paths to success and more than 240 suggestions and ideas for marking the milestones of progress.
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 said.
The goal of the Adirondack VISION 2050 project is 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 said.
“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,” Janeway said.
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
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 communities. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States.
You can read the full report here.