NY must invest in eco-tourism
Bravos to Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, for pushing back on pressure from environmental groups to institute a hiking permit system in the Adirondack High Peaks. The High Peaks has drawn a growing number of hikers in recent years, a positive development that has boosted the North Country economy. The burgeoning popularity of outdoor activities, especially wilderness recreation, is the realization of a vision put forward for many years by environmentalists, who argued that wilderness preservation would lead to Adirondack eco-tourism, making more environmentally destructive industries, like manufacturing, unnecessary. It would be the height of hypocrisy now for environmental organizations to attempt to curtail the very industry they championed. What is needed is support from the state for facilities to accommodate the growing number of hikers. Toilet facilities, beyond the odd portable toilet stuck in the corner of a parking area, should be at the top of the list. The shuttle buses scheduled to run to some of the busiest trailheads were scuttled this summer by COVID-19, but that service should be brought back next year, and expanded. More High Peaks rangers are needed, to police hikers’ behavior and to keep them safe. More rangers – many more – would be needed to enforce a permit system, anyway. New York should hire the rangers first and see if some of the behaviors motivating a call for permits can be curbed by the increases in education and enforcement rangers would provide. Perhaps, someday, permits will be necessary. But, as Seggos says, they should be a last resort.
College taking pandemic seriously
Bravos to SUNY Adirondack for taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously and putting strict protocols in place to protect students and the broader community as classes resume. It’s not ideal to be canceling athletics and holding many classes via internet software. But it would be worse to irresponsibly allow the sort of crowding that can easily spread infection. Too many colleges have shirked their responsibilities and suffered outbreaks as a result. No one is enjoying this – the masks and the shying away from contact with fellow human beings. We’re a social species. But we also are an allegedly intelligent one. Being careful early on, as SUNY Adirondack is doing, is a hassle, but it will avoid much larger problems later.
Filling out Census is important
Boos to everyone who has neglected to fill out their Census form. The deadline is Sept. 30. The Census can be completed online in a couple of minutes. Failing to do it means depriving our area of federal funds. That money is always needed, but it will be especially important in the post-pandemic period. Has your family ever benefited from local schools or hospitals, or from federal benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid? Everyone is touched by the federal funding determined by Census figures. This is money that is going to be spent, but the question is, how much will we get? The answer is, not much unless we do better in responding to the Census.
Postal Service deserves support
Bravos to Rep. Elise Stefanik for backing a $25 billion bill to improve mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service before the November election. Voters will be relying on the Postal Service even more than usual this November because of the pandemic. Some states conduct elections almost entirely by mail now (and have for years,) while others are expanding their mail-in voting so fewer citizens have to risk exposure at the polls. Beyond the exigencies of the election, many people rely on the Postal Service in their everyday lives. The post office is a critical institution in many small North Country towns, serving as the social center of the community. It’s ridiculous for lawmakers to argue the Postal Service should support itself. We’re lucky that such an important and effective agency does make some revenue to offset expenses. But what other federal agency is expected to support itself? We hope to hear Stefanik speak out on this subject, too, as she does on so many subjects, and make clear why the Senate and the president should also support (and should stop attacking and undermining) the Postal Service.
Local editorials are written by the Post-Star editorial board, which includes Ben Rogers, president and director of local sales and marketing; Brian Corcoran, regional finance director and former publisher; Will Doolittle, projects editor; and Bob Condon, local news editor.