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Groups name a lot more than 5 threats to the Adirondacks

December 28, 2018
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid News recently conducted a survey of environmental groups and colleges with environmental programs in the Adirondack Park, plus the two state agencies that oversee environmental protection here, the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation, asking them to name the "Top 5 Environmental Threats to the Adirondacks."

The News received responses from both state agencies, one college program - the Paul Smith's College Adirondack Watershed Institute - and five environmental groups: Adirondack Council, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, Adirondack Wild and Protect the Adirondacks.

The ranking was done by tallying up the most-mentioned threats and ordering them accordingly. The threat that was named the most times rose to the top of the list, and so on.

Article Photos

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, seen here on the underside of a hemlock branch, is seen as one of the biggest threats to the Adirondack Park.
(Photo provided by APIPP)

Many more environmental threats did not make it to the top 5 list; therefore, the groups' full lists are printed below. They are not necessarily listed in order of importance.


Adirondack Council

1. Underfunded planning: Visionary, comprehensive, regional Adirondack Park planning, with robust education and outreach is lacking so inappropriate development, habitat fragmentation and an absence of world class management threaten the planet's largest intact temperate deciduous forest, 87 rare species, the Park's wild character, and efforts to foster more vibrant communities. What is needed to realize the promise and full potential of the Adirondack Park is an updated vision of the future that is based on the best available science and inspires broad support, far-sighted public policies and specific actions that together deliver on the promise of the Park, protecting the ecological integrity and wild character of this national treasure.

2. Pollution: Air pollution contributes to damaging acid rain and climate change. Drinking water is impacted by discharges from non-compliant wastewater treatment plants, failing septic systems and overuse of road salt. Aquatic and other invasive species invade and harm, as with other pollutants, the ecological integrity, wild character and economy of the Adirondack Park. Funding for research and monitoring of the extent of and impacts of pollution and clean air policies is inadequate.

3. Overuse: Intensive recreation including overuse of hiking trails and boat launches and increased ATV use are negatively impacting protection of natural resources, the quality of people's Adirondack experience, and visitor safety across and beyond the High Peaks. Inadequate funding and staffing levels for management of overuse result in further negative impacts to the Park.

4. Outdated legal protections: Outdated legal protections and inadequate private forest and farmland stewardship incentives fail to prevent over-harvesting or unsustainable cutting of forests and to ensure enforcement of existing environmental laws and policies is inconsistent or lacking.

5. Politics and funding: Threats include: 1) decreased investment in science; 2) less fact-informed decision making that is based on inclusive engagement of diverse stakeholders and cultures; 3) increased politicization of federal and state decision making; 4) below standard funding and not enough staff dedicated to the Adirondack Park, and; 5) Park visitation that does not reflect a changing state demographic profile.


Adirondack Mountain Club

1. Dismantling of environmental protections, especially the Clean Air Act by the federal government including the regulation changes that will increase the carbon, acid deposition and mercury emissions of coal-fired power plants. Failure to up-hold commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce U.S. emissions and combat global climate change.

2. Insufficient funding for New York State Forest Rangers, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Adirondack Park Agency.

3. Significant need for coordinated, state supported (in all agencies and offices - DEC, Office of Tourism), educational outreach to recreational users about responsible wilderness recreation and Wildland Ethics.

4. Attempts to undermine the Article XIV Forever Wild clause of the New York Constitution with proposals to allow huts and all terrain vehicles on the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

5. Invasive species, both aquatic and terrestrial, tree diseases and pests like winter ticks, hemlock woolly adelgid, emerald ash borers, hydrilla, milfoil and spiny water flea.


Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program

1. Invasive forest pests and pathogens

2. Climate change

3. Aquatic invasive species

4. Terrestrial invasive plants

5. Over-application of road salt


Adirondack Wild

1. Climate change - carbon pollution

2. Acid deposition

3. Landscape fragmentation

4. Invasive species

5. Highway, roadway density, pollution, road salts, oils, asphalt discharges, siltation and run-off impacts

Plus, according to managing partner David Gibson, "The one item I would add - in terms of top environmental challenges - is the state's ongoing commitment to 'stewardship,' by which I mean the year-in, year-out challenge to pay for (or not to pay for) full taxes and personnel and non-personnel services needed to plan for, maintain, enforce, and sustain the Forest Preserve and the towns and schools reliant on full ad valorem taxes. The era of retrenchment of State commitments, or the threat of same, is ongoing and chronic. That is in and of itself a top challenge going forward."


Paul Smith's College Adirondack Watershed Institute

1. Air pollution

2. Climate change

3. Development and overuse

4. Invasive species

5. Road salt


Protect the Adirondacks

1. State will not meet challenges to purchase key lands in the future, such as Follensby Pond and Whitney Park tracts.

2. Continued poorly planned development of private lands that leads to water quality degradation and forest fragmentation.

3. Impacts from climate change change Adirondack forests, waters, and rural communities.

4. Inadequate investment by the state of New York in Forest Preserve management.

5. Invasive species and changes to terrestrial and aquatic systems in the Adirondacks.



1. Climate change

2. Acid rain/air pollution

3. Invasive species

4. Water quality degradation from non-point source pollutants

5. Loss of biodiversity



1. Climate change

2. Invasive species

3. Possible relaxation of clean air regulations

4. Water infrastructure

5. High use of the Forest Preserve



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