The past 12 months have been a time of extremes for the Adirondack Park, according to the Adirondack Council.
The group cited the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene and the state’s announced plans to buy 69,000 more acres of wild land as among the top developments.
The assessments were contained in the council’s 2012 State of the Park report, released Monday. The private conservation group offered thumbs up or down for legislative, regulatory and court decision developments in the 6 million acre park, which is a blend of private and public lands.
“Last fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo acted quickly to marshal state agencies to the aid of communities that were hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene,” said Diane W. Fish, the council’s acting executive director. “In the process, however, damage was done to rivers and trout streams that will take great effort and substantial investments to repair.”
The Aug. 28, 2011, storm’s rains flooded communities north of the High Peaks and washed out natural stream beds, but the immediate repairs — which involved lining what had been natural stream beds with stone — have been faulted by the Adirondack Council and other outdoors groups.
The council praised the state’s planned $49.8 million purchase of the 69,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn lands now owned by The Nature Conservancy. The purchases expected over the next five years will include properties long-coveted by conservation groups, including the Boreas Ponds and most of the southern side of the scenic Hudson River Gorge.
“These lands are unique, biologically rich and vitally important to the park’s water quality and wildlife,” Fish said. “They will be a lasting environmental legacy for the governor and a big boost to local tourism.”
However, the group criticized the funding levels for state environmental agencies, which have seen deep cutbacks in recent years.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors won praise for adopting a local invasive species law containing fines of up to $5,000 and possible jail time for anyone introducing invasive species into Lake George or other water bodies in the county. Lake George officials are already battling zebra mussels and Asian clams, among other invader species.
The council has issued a state of the park report every year since 1986. The full 18-page report is available online at www.AdirondackCouncil.org.
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