(Saratoga Springs, NY – October 17, 2014) More than 50 of the country’s leading scientists, policymakers, environmentalists, and other acid rain experts met in Saratoga Springs yesterday for an all-day session about the future of Adirondack Park.
“We had some fascinating and productive discussions yesterday,” said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. “We had a chance to celebrate all the progress we’ve made in fight against acid rain, and also to look in-depth at what we need to finish the job and really restore the health of Adirondack Park.”
Environmental Defense Fund and the Adirondack Council, along with the Kirby Foundation, hosted the forum, called “Acid Rain in the Adirondacks: A Roadmap to Recovery.” They invited experts from around the country to discuss the current state of acid rain impacts in Adirondack Park, what the future holds for the economic and ecological state of the region, and what additional measures will be necessary to secure the vital ecosystem’s protection.
The six million acre Adirondack Park suffered the worst damage in America from acid rain. Scientists estimated that 700 of the park’s 2,800 major lakes and ponds were polluted to the point where native aquatic life could no longer survive. Recent reductions in air pollution have helped many areas of the park start to recover, but some areas are still in bad shape — and some damage was irreversible, such as the loss of several strains of native brook trout that were wiped out entirely.
Yesterday’s conference explored solutions to continue the progress in protecting the park from acid deposition, making it possible for surviving native plants and animals to repopulate their former homes. It also looked at several opportunities on the horizon for further pollution reductions.
“We need additional pollution cuts to ensure the health of the Adirondacks and other ecological systems in the nation,” said Steven Hamburg, Chief Scientist of Environmental Defense Fund. “EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a key step in protecting both human health and the environment from power plant emissions. It will set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, and will also reduce the emissions that contribute to acid deposition and harm our natural treasures like Adirondack Park.”
Experts on acid rain gave presentations at the conference on the current state of acid deposition impacts, on how Adirondack ecosystems have responded to decreases in acid deposition, and on ways that state and federal regulatory policy can help curb impacts in the future.
Participants also explored the establishment of science-based benchmarks for the Adirondacks — called “critical loads” — which would indicate whether ecological protections are being achieved, and they discussed other options for accelerating recovery in the area.
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.
The Adirondack Council is privately funded, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park. The Council envisions an Adirondack Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by working forests and farms, and vibrant rural communities. The Council carries out its mission and vision through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.