Modern Day Perspectives
People living and working in the Adirondack Park today carry a wide variety of opinions on and experiences with the regulatory Adirondack Park Agency (APA). Featured here are the perspectives of a variety of park stakeholders, the majority of whom are full-time residents of the park. Their backgrounds include local government, non-profit work, and environmental organizations.
Director of the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center
Click to the left to see Dave's perspective on the APA
Adirondack and environmental historian, Author of Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks
- Phil thinks the original designers thought the Forever Wild clause would eventually encompass the entire space within the park.
- The biocentric argument in favor of the conservation of the park has a future with the rise of ecology; people are protecting wetlands because of what they do for birds, not for people, and there can be a projection of power (the APA) over private land because it is right, not because of people’s involvement with it.
PhD, Director, Local Food System Program, Adirondack North Country Association
- “[Economic development] is not the APA’s job.”
- Conservation and preservation are not the same thing.
- Wilderness areas are preservation, with no motors, while wild forest areas are more conservation, with careful access
- There are parts of the Adirondacks where people just shouldn’t be allowed to go, since we have a moral and legal obligation to leave parts of the Earth undisturbed.
- “The APA is not a boogeyman...there are a lot of reasons for the not-great economic situation in the Adirondacks, and environmental protections might be part of it, but if this was a place like everywhere else, we would be even worse off.”
Executive Director, Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board
- Land in the ADKs lost a lot of economic value, which stymied growth in the park for 35 years.
- “The APA is supposed to be a planning agency, but they don’t really plan, they just regulate development.”
- “There is a love-hate relationship”...people love living in the park and credit the APA with the way it is, but also think they have absolute control, when they don’t.
Deputy Supervisor, Town of Newcomb
- “The intention of the APA was noteworthy, the actual implementation needs some reflection…[need to] put common sense in ‘let’s have a tree museum’.”
Associate Director of Education, Adirondack Ecological Center at SUNY-ESF, Chair of the Newcomb Town Board
- Each issue facing Newcomb is common within rural America.
- The APA is “absolutely, 100%” a positive influence on the park. Their performance should be based on their mandate and mission: Are they regulating effectively?
Executive Director, Protect the Adirondacks!
- “There’s the argument that we need to protect some remnant of our state and country in a natural state or a regenerated state of wild nature.”
- “It’s a world out of balance when it’s so skewed, you’ve got the developed landscape and relatively little wilderness...we would argue, there just needs to be more.”
- “The Cuomo APA is hamstrung by a weak board, micro-management by the Governor and his staff, and its failure to exert its required checks-and-balances authority over the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Forest Preserve matters.”
Joe Pete Wilson
Supervisor, Town of Keene
- Globalization has led to doubts that a timber economy would save the park, even if the APA weren’t enforcing land use regulations.
- “Working with the APA is not a problem, it’s a process.”
Supervisor of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation
- “[There is a] fairly healthy relationship between the APA and the DEC. They have slightly different goals.”
Publisher, The Adirondack Explorer
- The APA under Cuomo has been weaker, due to micromanagement and pro-development board member appointments.
- The APA is supposed to be planning long term with science and data, but right now they aren’t even conducting their own analysis on applicant projects.
- Environmentalists want a bill that requires conservation design, but a common belief is that Cuomo and the APA are blocking the bill.
Executive Director, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest
- The APA issues permits monthly, many of which don’t make sense to Adirondack Wild with regard to forest sustainability.
- “The APA knows what to do, but doesn’t have the latitude to do it. They’re less capable of thinking for themselves.” It’s a younger staff, hired without a proper orientation, faced with legislation from 1973.
- An updated legislation is needed that makes the agency’s responsibilities more explicit, including a requirement for conservation design.