Adirondack Council releases State of Park preview

North Country
Fall foliage in Adirondack Park

Fall foliage changes colors near Three Brothers Mountain in Adirondack Park in Keene Valley, N.Y. in October 2016. (AP / Tom Curley)

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Adirondack Council leaked a preview of its upcoming State of the Park report on Wednesday. The sneak peek includes praise for government action on road salt and air pollution from other states, two enduring environmental issues.

The full 28-page, illustrated 2020-2021 report, subtitled “Landscape of Hope,” is set to be released after Labor Day. It awards a thumbs up or thumbs down for 105 government actions taken between September of 2019 and September 2020.

The preview sets forth positive and negative ratings for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state legislature, and New York Attorney General Letitia James. Check out the ratings below:

On road salt, a thumb up for the State Legislature, Both Houses: 
“Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo and Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, joined with Assemblymen Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, and Daniel Stec, R-Queensbury, to pass the bipartisan “Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act.” This legislation aims to reduce road salt contamination in wells, especially along state highways in the Adirondacks. It would establish the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force and direct the departments of Transportation, Environmental Conservation, and Health to conduct a three-year, road salt reduction pilot program on every state road in the Park. Recent testing by the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College showed that 64% of tested drinking water wells downhill from state roads were found to have sodium levels exceeding the federally recommended health limit of 20 parts per million. The legislation now requires the Governor’s approval.”

On Diversity, a thumb up for the Governor: 
“For the second year in a row, the final budget included $250,000 for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI), which seeks to make the Adirondack Park a more welcoming, diverse, equitable, and just place for visitors and residents alike. Nicole Hylton-Patterson of the Bronx was hired in 2019 as the ADI’s first executive director. She works for the Adirondack North Country Association, a not-for-profit community- and economic-development organization, and is also supported by a team of volunteers. When Hylton-Patterson was targeted with hateful racially oriented graffiti in Saranac Lake in July 2020, the Governor backed up his commitment by ordering a criminal investigation.”

On Acid Rain, a thumb up for Attorney General Letitia James:
“Attorney General Letitia James saved many lives when she persuaded the three-judge panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in July to issue a unanimous decision to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect New York and New Jersey from smog emitted by other states. Under the “good neighbor” policy in the Clean Air Act, it has been illegal since 1990 for any state to emit enough smog-causing air pollution to cause a public health risk in another state. The court said the EPA was obligated to order more than 350 power plants in nine upwind states to turn on already-installed pollution controls.  The EPA estimates that the summer smog controls prevent thousands of premature deaths each year in the Northeast, most of them in NYC and NJ, and help prevent a return of acid rain. The Trump administration was the first to refuse relief to New York.”

Preview of the State of the Park Report

“This sneak preview focused on three issues that are vital to the future of the park’s ecological integrity, communities, and wilderness, but might otherwise be overshadowed in the report: road salt, diversity, and acid rain,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “Acid rain and road salt pose serious threats to the Adirondack Park’s water quality. Addressing the park’s lack of diversity and need to be more welcoming and inclusive is critical. We are happy to applaud and give a ‘thumbs up’ for progress on each of these issues.” 

The annual report will also include past community successes along with upcoming conservation priorities, like controlling overuse of wild lands, protecting the Whitney Estate from development, and curbing climate change. It will also include thumbed-down actions, with substantive bipartisan critiques of politicians’ stances.

Janeway says this year’s report was the most detailed and comprehensive of any park in the country. The Adirondack Park is the largest in the contiguous U.S., containing most of the remaining old growth forests—vital for carbon sequestration—in the Northeast.

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