The Forest Preserve Is the Economic Driver in the Adirondacks

January 12, 2013

Inclusion of more lands in the forest preserve is viewed by some as a “kiss of death” for the economy. I don’t agree. Here is an example. Several months ago a couple entered our boat shop and told us their story. This was their very first trip to the Adirondacks. They had spent the night at the Sagamore in Bolton Landing. In the morning they wanted to take a hike. They were directed to a trail that led to a pond on state land. They were quite “awed” by the “gigantic” trees that lined the trail. The pond itself provided many wonders including their first experience with loons.

On the way back to their car they encountered the first human they had seen in several hours. She was carrying camera gear along with a small canoe on her shoulder. Her mission was to photograph the orchids that grew around the pond. They thought that this was a great idea because they loved orchids and weren’t aware that they grew in the wild. They inquired about the woman’s canoe. She gave them a glowing report and directed them to our shop. While here they purchased two boats and the related equipment so they could seek out other ponds found in abundance on state land. Once again, Hornbeck Boats had a nice payday as a direct result of the forest preserve.

The couple’s story continues. Several weeks passed and they returned to our shop to tell us their news. They had made several return trips to the Adirondacks. They squeezed in as much hiking and paddling as they could and in the process had totally fallen in love with the Adirondacks, so much so that they had decided to spend their retirement years here. To this end they had retained a realtor to find them property and a contractor to build them a house. This would be a significant contribution to the economy of the Adirondack area and it was linked to the existence of the forest preserve.

I question whether or not the realtor or the contractor was aware of this linkage. I belong to several environmental organizations with the mission to advocate for the protection of the forest preserve. I can attest that their membership, for the most part, does not include realtors, contractors, resort owners, or gift shop owners, business people in general whose welfare is directly or indirectly tied to the forest preserve. Most seem to be unaware of the relationship. Many seem to feel that the forest preserve is a burden to be dealt with instead of the critical asset that it actually is. It is our economic advantage, our Gulf of Mexico, our Grand Canyon. In brief, it is what we have to offer the world. It is time for business interests in the park to become more aware of this.

It is also the time for environmentalist to recognize the importance of a diverse, thriving business community to the long term health of the forest preserve. We have to keep a flow of people coming into the park , to enlist and keep them as friends of the forest preserve. People require the goods and services that businesses provide. Without the support of the general population the park could be considered an expensive ornament that through a constitutional change could be transformed into a desolate tree factory.

Environmentalists, business interests and politicians should work together for their common interest, a world class forest preserve and an awesome wilderness.

About the author. Peter Hornbeck, a board member of Protect the Adirondacks, grew up in and around Buffalo, New York. After college and military service he and his wife, Ann , moved to the Adirondacks where they have lived on Troutbrook Road in Olmstedville for the last forty years. hey own and operate Hornbeck Boats and can be reached at www.hornbeckboats.com.

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