Eleven years ago, Adirondack Wild (www.adirondackwild.org) grew out of the Friends of the Forest Preserve, a wildlands organization founded in 1945 by our mentor, 20th century Wilderness Champion Paul Schaefer.
Today, Adirondack Wild is still on the Wild’s Side, acting as a conscience for the 3 million acres of publicly owned Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks – all protected by the New York State’s Constitution’s “forever wild” Article 14.
Increasing Board Capacity
In recent months, new talented board and advisory members have joined us to help Adirondack Wild speak for all who believe in a moral obligation to protect and steward our wilderness for future generations.
For instance, Chad Dawson, Professor emeritus State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and an internationally recognized wilderness management expert, has just joined our board. He resigned from the APA during its December 2020 meeting after his growing disappointment, shared by Adirondack Wild, in the agency’s lack of direction and leadership. In accepting his election to the board, Chad wrote:
“It is with great enthusiasm that I join your organization and its long history of state and national leadership in protecting wild places. Planning and management of the Forest Preserve within the Adirondack and Catskills Parks will be my focus as a member of Adirondack Wild.”
Supporting the NYSDEC & AMR Pilot Reservation System
Already, Chad is helping us to collaborate with members of the High Peaks Advisory Group and with DEC staff to launch a Visitor User Management initiative in crowded, overused parts of the High Peaks Wilderness.
Among strategies now being tried is one we have vigorously championed: a reservation system will be pilot tested this summer at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s busiest trailheads into the High Peaks Wilderness. We are optimistic about this project’s success at reducing wilderness crowding and overuse.
Forever Wild Upheld in Court
This month of May, the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, agreed with the plaintiff Protect the Adirondacks and Friend of the Court Adirondack Wild that highly engineered, flat, straight trails and extensive tree-cutting required for two-way, groomed snowmobiling on the forest preserve violated the “forever wild” clause.
We especially appreciate that this Court decided that the 54 words comprising New York’s unique ‘forever wild’ clause should be read as one integrated statement about principle, policy, and practice on the public’s Forest Preserve.
In essence, this court has ruled that the Cuomo Administration and DEC were improperly attempting to construct high-speed artificial environments completely out of character with the Forest Preserve.
Supporting Conservation Design Legislation
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Adirondack Park Agency, Adirondack Wild is redoubling efforts to strengthen the agency through a requirement that the Park’s largest, most speculative residential subdivisions be reviewed under conservation design principles.
We have worked hard on this negotiated legislation in Albany because it will slow fragmentation of private forests, ensure higher ecological standards of review before shovels are put in the ground and minimize the need for damaging new subdivision roads.
The APA’s recent permit allowing a 34-lot conventional subdivision at Woodward Lake needlessly fragments this private forest and lakeshore and threatens the lake itself with long-term loss of its wildlife, wetlands, and water quality. That the APA would continue to approve of such sprawling, damaging subdivisions when alternative conservation designs are feasible reveals the pressing need for this legislation.
Adirondack Park Agency Adrift
During Governor Cuomo’s tenure, the Park remains “open for business” and subject to adverse impacts from all forms of recreational and development pressures. The APA has been without a chair for over two years! Agency meetings are run by a Designee of the Department of Economic Development.
A once proud and independent agency is now unable to adapt policies to meet fact-based advances in environmental science, such as recent work on Conservation Design Subdivisions. The small agency is essentially administered from Albany. It needs the immediate appointment of a conservation-minded chair, and board members with appropriate backgrounds
We Can’t Do This Without You!
Adirondack Wild remains an energetic and determined group of well-informed citizen advocates protecting our “forever wild” lands and the entire public-private landscape of the Park. We cannot do this work of protection and stewardship for the future without you, our supporters. Adirondack Wild’s active voice is needed at times like these.
Therefore, we reach out to you this month to help us to close out our fiscal year, ending June 30th, 2021, on a strong note. A generous donor has pledged $25,000 towards $50,000 that we need to raise this spring so we can begin our new fiscal year on July 1 with confidence and fresh resources. Won’t you please join us today to help raise $25,000 that will be matched dollar for dollar up to $25,000?
In advance, thank you for your continuing support and for being on the Wild’s Side with Adirondack Wild!
In ‘forever wild’ friendship,