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Green group credits Blue Line for population boost

U.S. Census figures released this month show that 10 of the Adirondack Park's 12 counties saw a moderate increase in population since 2000.

Other exclusively rural areas of the state saw their populations decline.

Environmentalists are interpreting this data as evidence that environmental regulations are helping to make the Adirondacks a more attractive place to live than other rural areas.

Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal said the Park is the envy of rural New York.

"Our public lands are getting larger and wilder and, overall, our year-round and seasonal populations continue to grow," Houseal said.

"It reinforces our belief that the Adirondack Park is a special and desirable place to live, not in spite of land-use rules, but because of them," he added.

Census data shows that other rural areas fared worse than the Park, including some western, central and southern areas of the state.

The Adirondack Park is comprised of parts of 12 counties, containing all or part of 92 towns and 12 villages. Of those, only Hamilton and Oneida counties suffered a population loss. Only a tiny portion of Oneida County is inside the Adirondacks and its major urban areas, including Rome and Utica, have been declining in population over the years.

George Canon, supervisor of the town of Newcomb and chairman of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, was not as jubilant about the census report.

He noted that Newcomb's population was among many towns that saw a population dip.

"Is there any relationship at all between public land ownership and people moving to the Park?" Canon asked, pointing out that Hamilton County has a high percentage of state land and yet their population dropped by 11 percent.

Canon said other counties with land inside the Blue Line may have increased in population because of trends in urban and suburban areas outside the Park. A relatively small chunk of Saratoga County is inside the Blue Line, and its population grew by more than 6 percent. Warren and Jefferson, which are also on the Park's fringe, saw population growth of more than 3 percent.

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