Cooperation between local government and environmental organizations increased in the last year, which was good for both the environment and community development, according an Adirondack Council report.
The environmental advocacy group on Wednesday released its 2013 State of the Park Report, a 20-page report that gives thumbs-up or thumbs-down ratings to more than 100 actions taken by local, state and federal governments in the last year.
Read the full report on the In the Adirondacks blog.
“The Adirondack Park can be, and should be, the world’s greatest example of how a modern society can live in harmony with nature,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “Local officials are recognizing more than ever that their communities depend upon the health and beauty of the public Forest Preserve for their survival.”
At the same time, he said environmental groups like his are recognizing successful communities are needed to sustain conservation efforts and provide services to those who visit for the wilderness opportunities.
“This year, community leaders and environmentalists collaborated and made modest progress on issues of mutual concern,” Janeway said. “Next year, we hope to accomplish more.”
About half of the 6 million acres in the Adirondack Park are privately owned, a fact that over the decades since the Adirondack Park Agency was established in 1972 has led to tension at times between the state, environmentalists and local residents.
But this year, the report said, they more often found common ground in the effort to halt invasive plant and animal species, rebuild water and sewage treatment systems and pay for local planning efforts. The council said the various sides also worked together to get the state Legislature to approve two land swaps that will be on the November ballot as proposed constitutional amendments.
Local governments took on major environmental protection roles this year, the council noted, with the town of Chester instituting the park’s first mandatory boat inspection program to protect Loon Lake. Planning is also underway for mandatory boat inspections starting next spring at Lake George, with the support of local communities in Warren, Washington and Essex counties.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo received praise for increasing the Environmental Protection Fund for the first time since 2007 and for the state’s buying former Finch Pruyn lands for addition to the “forever wild” Forest Preserve. But he got thumbs down for failing to reappoint an environmental advocate to the APA board of commissioners, loosening state rules for animal waste handling on farms and not encouraging more change at state agencies.