Photo by Larry Master

“Any map of the Eastern United States shows it laced with roads. Parks and wildlands appear as lonely green islands. Just about the only exception is in northern New York, where the Adirondack Park covers an area the size of Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Canyon National Parks combined.”

—Bill McKibben

The Adirondack Park is unlike anyplace in North America. Inside the Blue Line boundary are 130,000 people living in 101 towns and villages, 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 85% of the designated Wilderness in the East.

If you’ve never been to the Adirondacks, don’t think national park; there are no entry gates or fees. It is a six-million-acre blend of wild and peopled places, public and private lands.

The Adirondacks is a living model of how people can thrive with nature, through economies tied to a healthy environment and communities that benefit from clean water and access to trails and wild places.

Map showing location of Adirondack Park in northern New York State and detail showing size is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Great Smoky, Grand Canyon and Glacier national parks combined

Why is the Adirondacks exceptional?

Land protection and stewardship have made all the difference. Two years before establishment of the first national park, New York State recognized that forests were the key to keeping the headwaters of the Hudson and other rivers cold and clear. Conservation in the Adirondacks has always linked the needs of people and nature.

Thanks to many generations of conservation action, the Adirondacks today contains one of the largest intact temperate-deciduous forests left on Earth—and rivers and lakes that provide water for drinking, swimming and fishing.

The Adirondack Park is the keystone of forested wildlife corridors that stretch all the way to the Canadian Maritimes, and it has high potential to provide lasting refuge for plants and animals as the climate changes.

Geese fly over field, forest and mountains

Photo by Linda Benzon

There is work to do.

The Adirondacks grows more important at a time when:

  • Every 30 seconds a football field of U.S. natural lands is lost to roads and other development
  • 3 billion North American birds (29% of avian population) have been lost since 1970
  • Climate change disrupts precipitation and migration patterns, water quality, and the ability of people to live in vulnerable places
  • We grow more aware of how access to the outdoors affects mental and physical health

The Adirondacks is a place of hope, but even here farmers and owners of large private forests are feeling financial pressure to sell or develop, and climate change threatens much of what we love — on the land, in the water, and in the Northern Forest way of life. As big and intact as the Adirondack Park is, it needs our help. It’s our turn to make sure it doesn’t splinter from inside or become an isolated island of nature

How well these mountains, forests, communities and waters withstand accelerating change depends on actions we take today.

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