Endstate A

2037 A:  Wild Park

This is what the Adirondack Park has always been in the minds of the rest of New York State and indeed the world: open, green, wet, with incredible vistas and deeply silent.  It is an island of wild, a haven of peace and tranquility located within a days’ drive of some 100 million people.  New Yorkers are notoriously proud people and, as NYC is the greatest city in the world, this is the world’s greatest achievement in wilderness preservation.  Article 14 remains its foundation and the courts have continued to provide protection against shifting public attitudes and opportunistic politicians. This is the goose that laid this golden egg and the APA and especially DEC are clear that preserving this wild experience is their mission, with economic and even ecosystem health secondary. It is not about balance. They have recommitted to limiting human structures, motorized, noisy vehicles, large developments, and any encroachment on the Forest Preserve. Land use regulation for the Forest Preserve is designed around a hands-off approach that maximizes old growth forest and natural processes. The Forest Preserve is larger and more contiguous. Private land use regulation is tighter with fewer exceptions for developers. The people who live here want to live here and love the wild nature of the Park.

Many treat this special place as ‘their secret’ that would be spoiled by too many visitors – better not brag about it too loudly lest it get too popular.  It never has supported lots of people.  Even the Native Americans in pre-historic time only visited here; they didn’t live here.  “Leave no trace” is a long-standing tag line with real meaning.  From an environmental point of view, too many people mean more generalist species that go where humans go and crowd out the rarer wild species.  The Park’s diverse ecosystem has turned out to be a resilient one, better able to fight off invasives and adapt to climate change than other parts of the State.

Today, in a world of water wars and a warmer climate, people realize there is economic value in large scale ecosystem services: water filtration and carbon sequestration.  The Park produces amazing amounts of fresh water – it can flush salt out of the Hudson when needed.  Old, untouched forests are different from managed forests that require roads and machinery.

The Park, largely, built from land abandoned in economic crises in the 1890s and 1931 is a symbol of recovery – proof that man-made insults to the land do heal, if given time.  The healing of nature seems to heal people spiritually too. The citizens of New York State and those in its government entrusted with this treasure, take the long view of what they are doing.  They won’t exploit this place for short term gain.  The forest will adapt to the threats around it because it is larger and less populated than any other in US.  No less wild, the ecosystem in 2150 will be fine, just different – as different perhaps as 2037’s ecosystem is from that of 1900.

People got really scared when water quality began to tangibly decline in the Park.  Large late summer algae blooms in lakes and streams became pervasive, ugly and stinky.  Many stream-side farmers, lake front owners and Town road crews voluntarily organized to clean up septic, runoff and road salt problems.  In Adirondack style, they did it themselves because they had to, to enjoy the life they wanted, not because the government said so.  The Park continues to be a major research center for impacts of climate change, acid rain and invasives.  Leading NGOs in the region are more unified to protect the Park. NGOs nationally have collaborated to eliminate mercury deposition and other ecosystem threats. The Park’s communities suffer from the same problems as those faced by other northern forest regions: poor infrastructure, difficult transportation, abandonment by extraction industries, and an aging population.  But, the Park is not the problem.

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