Adirondack Council says there’s been progress on key issues

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ADIRONDACKS — There has been progress in the last year on some of the key environmental issues facing the Adirondacks, officials with the Adirondack Council said.

The non-profit advocacy group offered a “sneak preview” of its 2020-2021 State of the Park report, saying that there has been progress on road salt reduction, increasing diversity and on acid rain. The full report will come out after Labor Day.

Much of the recent focus of environment-focused groups like the Council has been on the heavy public use of the High Peaks Wilderness — a problem that has hit a new peak this summer, with people seeking refuge from the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic issues. The coming Labor Day weekend will be among the Adirondack Park’s busiest.

The Adirondack Council, which has done some of the most serious study of the High Peaks overuse concerns, is labeling this year’s State of the Park report as “Landscape of Hope.”

“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,” said Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “We are happy to applaud and give a ‘thumbs up’ for progress on each of these issues.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the state Legislature and state Attorney General Letitia James all get “thumbs up.”

Specifically, the Legislature gets praise for passing the “Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act,” which aims at reducing road salt contamination of drinking water wells, and creates a task force to conduct pilot tests on reducing winter road salt use along state highways in the Adirondacks. That legislation is currently awaiting Cuomo’s approval.

On diversity, the council gave a “thumb’s up” to Cuomo for including $250,000 in the state budget for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative. Nicole Hylton-Patterson was hired last year as the program’s first executive director to increase diversity and equity in the Adirondacks, for both residents and visitors.

When Hylton-Patterson, who is Black, was apparently targeted by racially-oriented graffiti along her jogging route in Saranac Lake in July, the Council praised Cuomo for ordering a criminal investigation.

James, meanwhile, earned praise for her successful efforts in federal court to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce parts of the Clean Air Act that should protect New York and New Jersey from smog emitted by power plants in other states. Such emissions are a leading source of acid rain, but the EPA under the Trump administration had refused to enforce the emissions restrictions.

Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter

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