Can the APA Rediscover its Park Mission?

Chad Dawson

Ever since his resignation from the Adirondack Park Agency last December, Chad Dawson (now a member of Adirondack Wild’s board of directors) has been reflecting on the APA during its 50th anniversary and what the agency must strive for in order to regain the public’s trust that it will carry out its basic legislative purpose: “to insure optimum overall conservation, protection, preservation, development and use of the unique scenic, aesthetic, wildlife, recreational, open space, historic, ecological and natural resources of the Adirondack Park.”
At our September 24th Annual Meeting in North Creek, keynote speaker Chad Dawson listed six critical goals for the APA to regain its effectiveness, goals that Adirondack Wild also embraces and will share with Governor Kathy Hochul and her team:

  1. Leadership: APA members serve the public, not any one Governor. APA has been without a chair for over two years. This greatly weakens an independent agency like APA in its legislated role as a check and balance on the much larger NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. A dynamic leadership team must be reinstated at the APA. 
  2. Strategic planning: Who is planning for the entire park and public these days? For some time, APA has largely lost its public planning role and staff and been reduced to review and approve every private application that comes before it. This reduction of APA’s public planning role underprepares park communities for climate change. The carrying capacity of the Park’s lakes and ponds are neglected as one consequence, as is planning for long-distance hiking and paddling opportunities.
  3. Monitoring of change: The Adirondack Park will increasingly become a refuge region as people migrate to the Park to escape the climate impacts they face near the coastlines. APA must gain more capacity to expertly monitor trends brought on by climate alterations to the park’s communities of life, growth in park human populations, and to help prepare park communities to become more resilient.
  4. Staffing: APA staff once thought of their jobs as much as a personal and professional calling as well as a job. Fresh, dynamic leadership is required to help the hard-working APA staff regain their sense of and personal obligation to agency mission and purpose.
  5. State Legislature: The State Legislature should once again consider the Adirondack Park a vital statewide resource and priority in need of their attention. From conservation subdivision design, to the neglected program of adding new Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers, to the State Land Master Plan, to new APA nominations, the Legislature needs to re-engage and seek to strengthen 50 year old Adirondack statutes.
  6. Education and engagement: Without its former visitor interpretive centers or sub-offices spread around the park, when will APA once again consider its role as a regional educator? APA can do much better to communicate how and why its legislated responsibilities are carried out to achieve statewide public objectives and expectations.



09/24/21 Expanding the Reach of Forever Wild
As my friend and I hiked underneath groves of large eastern hemlock trees in the part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve called Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, we thought again about what this forest is, and the vast ecological system that it represents. What towered above us, hemlocks over a century in age, are dwarfed in scope by the vaster yet unseen root and fungal synapses and microbiota that sustain this wild forest beneath our feet.

09/10/21 ‘If Allowed to Continue at Present Rates’ September, 1989: George Woodwell, global ecologist and then director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, from an address at the Ausable Club, St. Hubert’s, Keene: By cutting vast tracts of the world’s forests without replacement, humans are seriously adding to the atmospheric pool of CO2 and diminishing the natural background modulating effect of the earth’s lungs – our forests. A 25% increase in atmospheric CO2 since the mid-19th century, if allowed to continue at present rates, will have a severe impact on our climate.

08/17/21 Outdoor Recreation Collaboration with Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center
Dr. Chad Dawson is spearheading a low key collaborative effort at the Paul Smith's College Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC), using the Visitor Use Management (VUM) framework to show its practical utility. Across the Park, there is a demand to expand various kinds of outdoor recreation and equipment compatible and consistent with environmental and wild forest goals and objectives.

08/16/21 Lesson from Wetland Hydrology 101
Many, many years ago I entered graduate school at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT. My graduate interests lay primarily in water resources, so I searched that first semester for a lead professor/advisor in that vast field – and, due to recent retirements, found none. As luck would have it, a Ph.D. candidate hosted a course in basic wetland hydrology 101 that fall. He was young, energetic, no nonsense kind of person, a stickler for getting out in the field and measuring things like water flow, water inputs and outputs.

07/05/21 From Perkins Clearing to Cathead Mountain
I was hiking in Hamilton County recently when one of my companions spoke of the days of the Perkins Clearing land exchange (1979), a publicly supported amendment to Article 14 of the NYS Constitution which led to a significant land exchange between the State of New York and International Paper Corporation north of the village of Speculator.

06/16/21 The End of Arbitrary Powers to Dam Adirondack River The State Legislature has just adjourned, but on a good many nights this past month I grew sleepy watching legislative TV or legislative proceedings on the internet. For the non-debate pieces of legislation, meaning when the legislative majority is not allowing minority debate on bills, the viewer is treated to the following exchanges in a monotone, one after the other:  The speaker or his representative, or the Senate president or her representative: “The clerk will read the bill.” The clerk: “a bill to” …whatever it does.



The mission of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is to advance New York’s ‘Forever Wild’ legacy and Forest Preserve policies in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and promote public and private land stewardship that is consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research.

Photos: Top left: Adirondack scenery © Ken Rimany;
Field Notes From the Partners: Carved 'Beaver House' sign - by Paul Schaefer. Photo © Ken Rimany;
Wild Action Now photo: Dan Plumley at the Keene Valley Library, along with Naj Wikoff, sharing what they learned and offered to the gathering of leaders at the Conference of World Parliamentarians on Tibet. Photo  © Ken Rimany.

Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
Terry Jandreau, Chair
Kenneth J. Rimany, Partner
David H. Gibson, Managing Partner
Mobile: 518.469.4081

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve    Founded 1945   PO Box 9247 • Niskayuna New York 12309 | ©