AJES Article Appears

The Adirondack Journal of Environmental Science recently published our article in their 2012 edition (which was released in May 2014).  The article contains the details of the methodology behind the ADK Futures Project.  You can find the article here.

Written in 2012, it recounts the approach and the data set.  For some readers, this will be a dry academic snore of a read; no worries.  But for others, this is where you can read about what we actually did.  Our current plan is to use the same methodology to develop a set of scenarios about different responses to climate change over the next 25 years.

The ADK Futures work is the first time we have used the methodology for a public process.  The innovation is that we leave behind a database evidence tracking tool for the public to view progress on the events and scenarios, or lack of it, as the case may be.  It will be dynamic, accumulating actual developments over time, comparing the news to the workshop events and scenarios.  This blog, and all the associated files for workshop and materials, constitute our ‘report’ of record.

Our hope is the tracking database becomes more useful over time, as the future unfolds and uncertainties are resolved. In just 18-24 months, the Sustainable Life vision developed from this work is accumulating plenty of evidence showing progress. But it is just the beginning and lots of uncertainty remains.

We didn’t actually create a new direction for the region, but we uncovered something already here,  gave a voice to it, and built shared intentions around it.  The long-running conflicts all still exist, but our shared intentions have become the center of attention and drawn considerable positive government attention as well.


August 16 Symposium “Toward a More Diverse Adirondack Park’

The Park’s first diversity symposium is on Saturday August 16 at the SUNY ESF Newcomb Campus from 8am-5pm.

The web site with registration information, the agenda and details can be found here.  For additional information please call John Sheehan at the Adk Council, 518-432-1770

Participating organizations include:  Adirondack Almanack, Adirondack Council, Adirondack Foundation, Adirondack Futures, John Brown Lives, SUNY ESF, the Common Ground Alliance  and The Wild Center.

Here is a link to a post abut the event on the Adk Life blog.

For background, see this current report analyzing diversity in enviro groups and this article about the same issue.  It is a bigger issue than the Adirondacks, for sure, but go look at the Boards and staff of the enviro groups related to our Park for some insight about us.  It isn’t conscious, I don’t believe, but the situation speaks for itself.

The Park’s demographics are strikingly at variance with the rest of NY State, and particularly the cities, in most every dimension from age to race, to language, to sexual orientation and on down the list.  This widening gap is one possible route to failure in the Park’s future. Today we get the full attention of Albany, but there is nothing the suggest it will stay this way.  A big election, with high city voter turnout, could change a lot of things pretty quickly.

A few decades back, the issue was ‘home rule’ being trumped by excessive outside attention. But now the risk suggested by demographic trends is the actually opposite.  It is the possibility that the Park will become a largely neglected, abandoned, and increasingly irrelevant backwater of the State.  We need to find ways to make the people who visit and live here a better reflection of the state’s population.

The Park and the Forest Preserve exist at the pleasure of NY State voters.   The lofty notion that it is ‘forever’ is only actually true until an amendment on the ballot changes it.  It is not nearly the bedrock certainty that the tone of the Forever Wild language implies.

Please come join us at this symposium to share,  to think, and to learn about this challenge to our region.  Think of this as a starting point.  See you on August 16th?

Thanks to Pete Nelson for actually getting attention focused on this issue.

2014 Common Ground Alliance Forum Report

The documentation for this year’s CGA Forum is now available to download here.

The 2014 Forum was largely a work group based format.  Two months before the Forum, the Core Team circulated a survey monkey poll to the entire CGA email list, the ADK Futures email list and the Adk Council also sent a link to members.  People were asked to pick 5 topics of interest for discussion from a list of 29 topics.

The top 14 were each assigned a Core Team member to facilitate.  This report captures the work of all the groups.  If you wanted to be in another group, this is how you find out what they talked about.

Feedback cards were given back to us by 57 of the 170 attendees.  The report transcribes the comments and groups them by topic. There were all sorts of comments:  suggested projects, business ideas, format suggestions, topics for upcoming years and more.  Please do read them. They will help you see you are part of something pretty big, very grassroots, covering a broad set topics and needs.

This is the best comment, capturing what CGA strives to be:   This is one of the most important events of the year in the Adirondacks. The people who attend are the leaders, knowledgeable about the progress, projects, etc. They have a sophisticated understanding of the barriers and issues. They can point the way to next steps

There is rarely much press about Common Ground.  But Brian Mann was at the Forum this year and posted this report.  It does give you a sense of the progress we are experiencing, in a style that is notably different from our national debates.  That is something all of you should be proud of.


2014 CGA Forum Materials

The 2014 CGA Forum is this Wednesday July 16 at the Sabattis Pavilion in Long Lake.  For those of you who would like to have the materials distributed at the Forum electronically, we are posting them here.  The theme of the Forum is Collaboration Works and the main focus of the day is a workgroup activity organized around 14 topics chosen through an online survey.

Everyone at the Forum will receive the following:

Slides used at the Forum, including workgroup exercise instructions.

The ADK Futures Vision Statement.

The CGA Amendment Working Group White Paper and FAQ


In addition, if you participate in a workgroup you get a set of handouts specific to the workgroup topic.  The 14 workgroup topics and their associated data packets are:

1. Backing off the back country, promoting hamlet life.

2. Recreation and Destination Planning.

3. Thwarting invasive species.

4. The Adirondack response to Climate Change

5. Scaling up the local food sector

6. Forging a regional identity

7. Financing innovations for small businesses

8. Water:  waste treatment, storm management, drinking water

9. Enhancing the stability of our Forest and Agriculture industries

10. Transportation infrastructure improvements

11. Renewable energy

12. Making small school great yet affordable

13. State Land Master Plan update

14. Arts, culture and heritage as drivers of Park revitalization


Hope to see you there.

FAQ about the Amendment Proposal

The previous post here was the release of a White Paper proposing an amendment to Article 14 to enable Adirondack communities to handle modernization of utilities, improve water quality, handle adaptations to climate change weather and improve habitat connectivity for fish and wildlife.

It is a two part proposal – a use amendment and a land bank (the third). It generated some excellent questions from a variety of people.

This link contains the Frequently Asked Questions and their responses.  The first post of this file generated more questions, so they have been added to the file.  We will continue to add questions, so check back here for updates.  The current file is called FAQ6.

Start here if you are not familiar with the current state of Article 14 of NYS Constitution. Scroll down to Article XIV.


CGA Amendment Working Group Offers Whitepaper

At the CGA Forum in July 2012, we presented the results of the ADK Futures work, and a number of working groups dove into various topics during the afternoon.  BTW, this year’s CGA Forum will use a workgroup format again.

One of those July 2012 groups discussed amendments to help towns get broadband, water, rebuild bridges more wisely, etc.  Neil Woodward and Kayrn Richards left with the task of writing up the notes and getting others involved.  By October 2012 a working group had organized itself and I wrote about it here.

Now it is June of 2014, and we are pleased to say good work has been done on the data gathering and legal thinking.  It has come far enough to be worth sharing for considered discussion.  There is no rush.  It’s taken 22 months to get this far, and it improved over time.  This is a complicated topic.  So, we offer a deeply considered proposal that we hope will find wide support and success over time.  We want your pubic voice in support, and we also want to hear concerns.  Take the time to download the map data (warning, large files involved) and read the other two appendices. This is not intended as a yes-or-no offer, it is an invitation for ideas to resolve the issues we find present.

Please pass along this information as you wish.  We welcome comments here (you need to create an account with your real name and log in) and anywhere else discussions might take place.  We expect to write followups here as the summer unfolds so you might want to check back from time to time.

Click here to download the CGA Amendment Working Group White Paper.

Adk Park Trail User Database Presentation

Ever wonder what happens to trail registers?  A research project run by Abigail Larkin and Colin Beier at the SUNY ESF Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb has been building a database using the 2012 trail register data.  Abbie previewed her work at the Adk Research Consortium’s annual event in May and there are many interesting data points emerging already.  Here are a few to peak your interest:

- There are 2,350 miles of DEC trails in the Park.  The study found 210 usable register stations. There are an estimated 95 more than were not received or usable by the study.  There are additional non-DEC trails – we have a lot of trails – but this is a good data set to work with.

- Usage totals 565,502 person-days, 21% hike alone, 66% hike in groups of 2-4, 13% in groups of 5 or more

- 88% are day trips, just 12% camp overnight

- Adk Loj is the most visited with 54,511 people.  Second is Rondax / Bald Mtn with 30,388 people, near Old Forge, a one mile hike to a restored fire tower and great views.

- Generally, peak use is in July and August seeing 120,000 people each month.  Variances show up in special use areas, for example a region with lots of hunters or ski trails.

- Because hikers register their destination, the data revels detailed trail segment use information.  This can help maintenance planning.

- Hikers also write down what town they are from.  Regional promotions by organizations like ROOST can be more effective by focusing on geographic areas where visitors commonly reside.

- A higher portion of Park residents are trail users than any other area of the State (except Rochester).  NYC sends large absolute numbers, but <.1% of the population.

- Analytic work can model the road network used by visitors to any register, enabling one to see what services were available, or not, along these routes.

WOW, such data, about each trail!  It can help marketing each area.  It can also help with stewardship, maintenance plans, and suggest business opportunities related to the trail assets of an area.  But this is only based on one year of data, 2012.  It would be great if funding would appear to do this for a few years in a row.

Here is an idea:  If there is cell phone coverage at a trail head, ask hikers to register using their cell phone and enter the same info.  It would automatically be summarized each year. Imagine how much we would learn about the typical visitor to our trails.  Of course, you would have to have paper registers too for people without phones.  There would be plenty more surprises, I am sure.

Take some time and review Abbie’s presentation here.