The Adirondack Council called on the New York lawmakers to prioritize wilderness preservation, climate protection measures, clean air across the state and incentives that boost diversity in the Adirondack Park’s workforce, visitors and residents, in its testimony on Governor Kathy Hochul’s FY2023/24 budget proposal.
The organization said the park will help the state achieve its climate goals, but only if New York takes steps to protect the forests and wetlands that absorb carbon dioxide and calm surging flood waters. In turn, the park can offer jobs and career training to a new generation of students and a sustainable refuge to millions of annual visitors, Adirondack Council Government Relations Director Kevin Chlad said in his testimony to a combined Senate and Assembly budget committee.
“As the largest temperate deciduous forest in the world, the Adirondacks play a prominent role in achieving the state’s newly codified ‘30 by 30’ goal,” Chlad said. “Natural climate solutions are an essential piece of the puzzle for New York to achieve climate justice. Highly populated regions of our state face the specter of severe flooding and storm impacts if we do not successfully combat climate change. Large forested regions, none bigger than the Adirondacks, will absorb water and greenhouse gases. This will slow climate change and associated impacts if we take the necessary steps to leverage these important assets.”
Chlad said that New York State has led the nation in the sciences of measuring and controlling air pollution in an effort to defend itself from acid rain that was killing the forests and waters of the Adirondacks, while smog was killing people, especially in urban areas. Part of that scientific leadership was a comprehensive survey of Adirondack lakes, undertaken in the mid-1980s, which gave the state the data it needed to show that acid rain had damaged ecosystems across the entire landscape. Such as survey is needed again, he said, with new components added to study the impacts of climate change.
“A consortium of non-profit partners and top academic institutions in New York State have come together to design a $6 million, 3-year, 21st century water quality survey that has great potential to guide climate policy just as the Adirondack lakes survey of the 1980’s did for the fight against acid rain,” he said in written testimony. “Though this is not an exhaustive list, this study will examine carbon and methane cycling, storage potential and prediction methods for freshwater. Researchers will also examine how climate change impacts baseline conditions of waterbodies, including temperature, dissolved oxygen, and the duration/length of seasonal stratification. Scientists will explore the relationships between climate change and harmful algal blooms, food web attributes, cold water fisheries, and mercury bioaccumulation.”
Chlad also called on Legislators to support Governor Hochul’s proposal to fund the Timbuctoo Summer Climate Careers Institute in Newcomb. The summer job training program is expected to bring students from the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College to the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry campus in Essex County to learn about climate, the Adirondacks and find a path to job opportunities in the field they prefer.
“These careers start with the physical sciences but include everything from engineering to public policy and journalism to philosophy and ethics,” Chlad said. “The FY 22-23 state budget approved a $2.1 million appropriation for the first year of this program, which is set to commence in the summer of 2023.”
Chlad also called for $300,000 to support the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, and for a set of priorities in the proposed $400-million Environmental Protection Fund capital projects list, including:
- $37 million for open space protection with $3 million for the Land Trust Alliance Conservation Partnership Program
- $48.7 million for state land stewardship
- $19.5 million for invasive species prevention and eradication, with $900,000 for the Lake George Park Commission
- $150,000 and $225,000 for the Visitors Interpretive Centers at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry and Paul Smith’s College
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. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States.
Photo: New York State Capitol.