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Old 10-19-2012, 08:31 PM   #1
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The Adirondack Council - thoughts?

I made a donation to the Adirondack Council this year, seemed like a worthy organization but was wondering what folks thought of their objectives or accomplishments. I did a search here but didn't find a whole lot of discussion.
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:26 PM   #2
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I've always liked that the Council seems to have a pretty even approach that doesn't just focus on environmental issues, but addresses social and economic issues as well.
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:22 AM   #3
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I have donated $$ to them in the past, and will do so in the future. I, much as DSetthar said, appreciate that they are such an organization. However, I did not approve of their support of the Tupper Lake Resort Project.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:57 AM   #4
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I think the AC is somewhat balanced, like DS said. This is a recent move for them; clearly they plan to survive. Years ago, they were your typical radical group, with leadership that "had their piece of the Adirondacks" and were by God trying to drive everyone else out. The recent self destruction of other groups (RCPA) has provided an object lesson, and I think AC took notice.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:04 AM   #5
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I was wondering In what ways does the AC differs from the APA so I looked at their mission statements.

The Adirondack Council is the largest citizen environmental group in New York State working full-time, on a daily basis in the Adirondack Park, in the state capital and in Washington to preserve this six-million-acre treasure.

"The Adirondack Council inspires public participation in policy debates by advocating for positive solutions to complex issues for the benefit of the Park and its people."

Founded: 1975

Lake Lila
Mission: To ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park for current and future generations.

Vision: An Adirondack Park with clean air and water and large wilderness areas, surrounded by working farms and forests and vibrant local communities.
The APA is responsible for maintaining the protection of the forest preserve, and overseeing development proposals of the privately owned lands. The Agency prepared the State Land Master Plan, which was signed into law in 1972, followed by the Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan in 1973. Both plans are periodically revised to reflect the changes and current trends and conditions of the Park. The mission of the APA is to protect the public and private resources of the Park through the exercise of the powers and duties provided by law. This mission is rooted in three statutes administered by the Agency in the Park, they are:

The Adirondack Park Agency Act
The New York State Freshwater Wetlands Act and
The New York State Wild, Scenic, and Recreational Rivers System Act.
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Old 10-21-2012, 05:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Neil View Post
I was wondering In what ways does the AC differs from the APA so I looked at their mission statements.
The APA (Adirondack Park Agency) is a unit of the executive branch of the state government, created by the legislature but answerable to the governor. It is in charge of (primarily) administering the private and state use plans. If you wanted to build a ski resort, you would need their permission. It's basically a regional zoning board.

The Adirondack Council is a non-profit that was originally created by other conservation groups to be a shared legal service, if I recall the story correctly. However, within a few years the AC took on a life of its own and became independent of the other groups. I believe its story is covered in one of the political histories written by Phil Terrie and/or Barbara McMartin.

The AC writes letters, attends public hearings, and litigates. They also buy ads in magazines and sent out quarterly mass mailings in search of donations; your guess is as good as mine as to what they do with money received. You will never see anyone in the field wearing an AC uniform accomplishing something tangible. I once saw a young AC representative attend a public UMP meeting in Lewis County; the room was filled with ATV enthusiasts, but he came dressed in a suit and tie, looking like a lawyer. Note that their new map of the "Bob Marshall Wilds" or whatever they call it these days repeats many inaccuracies from the 1960s USGS maps for that region; this signifies to me that they have limited on-the-ground experience.

The council tends differ with the other conservation groups at unexpected moments. This is good if you like independent thinking; it's annoying if you think groups working for a common cause should have an easier time achieving unanimity.

I tend to steer clear of them, and I can relate one annecdote that colors my personal opinion of the AC. A few years ago the DEC issued a draft management plan for the Blue Ridge Wilderness, which includes parts of Wakely Mountain as well as Sawyer Mountain and Sagamore Lake. Within the text of the UMP was a typo that said the area featured more than 5000 acres of open rock. Anyone who has been to Wakely or Sawyer could only dream of finding that much open summit. The AC was upset with the plan to retain the Wakely fire tower, so they provided a form letter to their membership that people could sign and send to DEC as a comment letter. So when the DEC forester got numerous identical letters from people upset that the state wants to keep a fire tower on a mountain with 5000 acres of open rock, the forester, Rick Fenton, wote back to some of these individuals asking them if the fact that Wakely is indeed completely wooded altered their opinions. Word of this got back to the AC; the AC informed DEC; and DEC reprimanded Rick Fenton for inappropriately trying to influence public comments.

I met Rick Fenton a couple times and enjoyed the fact that he was a forester you could correspond with. I had also met Brian Houseseal once at a banquet for Barbara McMartin, so I sent off a letter of my own, basically criticizing them for not having the on-the-ground knowledge of an issue they were up in arms about, and for passing the blame onto a state employee rather than admitting their own mistake. All of this happened at an odd time of year, late fall I think. I never got a response, but soon afterward I was amused to see a picture of the Wakely tower, taken with snow on the ground, appeared on their website. They had at last sent someone up the mountain specifically to confirm it was not blessed with 5000 acres of open rock.

Then a few years later, at a holiday party for one of the magazines I write for, the editor steered the AC's wilderness advocate my way so he could learn all about my Cotton Lake proposal. I did tell him my idea, but I chose not to respond to his offers of help.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:56 PM   #7
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At one time, TAC was the "go to" hard advocacy organization on Adirondack matters. In more recent years, it has morphed into an organization that does not seem to have hard views on much of anything. Contrary to TCD'a statement, RCPA lives on and thrives as a part of Protect the Adirondacks! which is now the hard advocacy representative of the Adirondacks.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:43 AM   #8
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I donate to the Adirondack Council exactly because they don't have "hard views" - they choose their battles wisely and focus on building consensus to get things done. They're willing to let their positions develop and evolve.

The Adirondack Council has a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator and you can see the financials on their page on the site -

The exclamation point in PROTECT! says it all for me - they seem more interested in confrontations and ideological battles than protecting anything.
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