continued WJ: The concern was more about the process, and the issue was the last-minute modification of the permit. Everyone had come together, and we thought there was a deal. What happened then undermines the ability of everyone to come together.
EB: What are ways to secure infrastructure within the Park without tampering with the natural habitat?
WJ: We have gone into Jay and looked at the buyouts and talked about specific things that we as a Council will say, these are things that you will not have to worry about us commenting on. When community groups and environmentalists go to Albany and they go together, it turns heads.
EB: You give a “thumbs up” to a merger between two school districts. Is that something you support throughout the park?
WJ: We believe communities should talk with each other and look for opportunities to share services. We also realize there is a narrow set of communities, and the distances are long in the park and the schools are a focal part of the communities. We want to facilitate and offer support for these kinds of conversations.
EB: Is there a responsible way to create a series of connected snowmobile trails to maintain and promote the industries’ importance to the economy?
WJ: I hope so. I can stay optimistic about this. We have been very public that even though we sued the state over the Unit Management Plan, we do support the idea of connected trails. You manage wilderness, but you do not just lock it up and set it aside. I think that we can find places for communities where we can connect.
EB: The whole locals versus downstate thing, what do you tell local residents when they ask, “Whose park is this, anyway?”
WJ: It’s everybody’s. It belongs to all of the people of the state, and the residents of the park have a special position. As residents, they get the benefits of living in a place with clean water and clean air, but there are responsibilities and obligations that come with that as well.