continued EB: How do you balance the needs of public use and conservation in the Essex Chain Lakes?
WJ: For me, the stronger economic future for the park and the communities is in protecting those natural resources that people want to come and see. When you open it to the public, the challenge is that the state has not been very good at saying OK, there’s only this many people allowed to go in there. We wanted to try and come down with a very balanced approach.
EB: What do you see as the vision for the Park, short term and long term?
WJ: My hope would be if we can focus on what the Park should look like in 2050, and then work backwards from that, it is going to be a lot easier to resolve the next round of questions. What is the real vision here and how do we make some bigger changes? The politics always drives you to smaller, incremental changes, but if you just do that, the Adirondack Park continues to struggle economically and environmentally.
EB: What is the biggest challenge facing the Adirondack Park?
WJ: Missing the opportunity that we now have and if politics or ideology will get in the way of caring about the park. If we can’t, we will have missed a chance to finish the park in a way that works for everyone. I think that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is really concerned about moving the park forward. He likes it up here and he does not ignore the Adirondacks. With this governor, there is an opportunity that has not existed for years.
EB: What are the main themes to the report?
WJ: The theme of this report is people are now talking and working together. There are a lot of successes, but they are moderate. If we can have these discussions and disagreements yet still talk and work together, it shows how much the Adirondack community has changed. At one of the first meetings I attended, a person started talking about being upset over the APA boathouse restrictions and I thought, “Here we go with a get rid of the APA rant.” But at the end of his statement, he asked if we could help him work with them to change these. That was refreshing.