Vice-Chair, Conservation: Peter O'Shea, 315-848-2178
The current fiscal crisis and the dysfunction in Albany have emboldened foes of the Adirondack Park and of the environmental in general. Proposals are circulating to abolish the Adirondack Park Agency and to convene a constitutional convention, which would have the intent of severely weakening the concept of the park itself. Sadly, our local political leaders seem to be sympathetic to these efforts. Supporters of the Adirondack Park and the North Country environment will have to be extremely vigilant and ready to coordinate with other groups to counter these threats.
The “rooftop highway” proposal has surfaced anew with a proposal to use federal stimulus funds to realize it. A number of local naturalists and scientists, including Joan Collins, Tom Langen, and Erica Barthelmeiss, have pointed out the hazards this boondoggle presents to the North Country’s quality of life and environment. It is ironic that some government leaders who proudly proclaim to be against big government and the spending of taxpayers’ dollars see no contradiction in loudly supporting this ill-conceived highway.
Another ill-conceived project, the proposed 700-unit Tupper Lake Club and Resort, seems to be proceeding along, despite the poor state of the housing market. Hearings may convene this summer, so we’ll have another chance to address it. If this project proceeds as proposed, it will damage the Adirondack environment and set a precedent for massive development elsewhere in the park.
While the governor has imposed a moratorium on state land acquisition, the DEC is at least proceeding on the 90,000-acre conservation easement component of the Finch-Pruyn sale. It is absolutely imperative that the state acquire the remaining Finch-Pruyn lands plus Follensby Pond, and not leave the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, which bought it for posterity on a short-term basis, hog-tied with a mountain of debt. Our lobbying efforts with legislators to restore the land purchase component of the EPF will be vital here.
Efforts are being explored to save the Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Centers (VICs) at Paul Smiths and Newcomb, also casualties of the governor’s budget cuts. It has been suggested that DEC or the state’s Audubon Society could have a role. These valuable educational facilities must not be allowed to wither away, leaving our park as the only park of any significant size in the nation without a visitor center.