Officials with the state Adirondack Park Agency say 2010 was a year of challenges, adding that the agency overcame a variety of hurdles despite a decrease in appropriations.
The APA released its 2010 Annual Report earlier this month. The document summarizes the agency's activities last year, and highlights key documents like the Citizen Guide and Unit Management Plans.
The report also details action taken by the APA Board of Commissioners and features information about telecommunication sites and broadband coverage inside the Blue Line.
Curt Stiles is chairman of the APA. He says the agency overcame a variety of "hurdles" in 2010, but never lost focus on the APA's core mission.
"In the coming years, the protection of the Park's natural resources and the promotion of economic opportunities must remain one of the state's highest priorities," he said.
APA spokesman Keith McKeever says staff carried an increased workload last year due to financial constraints and a smaller workforce.
"But we have a staff that is extremely dedicated and believes in what we do," he said. "They know it's in the best interest of communities in the park to do our work. Certainly, there was some additional stress, but the dedication of our staff made the difference."
According to APA Executive Director Terry Martino, the annual report shows how the agency delivered "critical services" to in-park communities.
Martino says the agency looks forward to protecting private and public lands in the coming year, while improving the economic vitality of towns and villages.
APA officials note the agency was able to meet all budget mandates in 2010, including a work force reduction. The size of the APA's staff shrank last year through retirements and the closure of two visitor interpretive centers - one in Paul Smiths, another in Newcomb.
The Economic Services Division approved 42 new projects last year, many of which either created or retained jobs within the park.
Agency staff also worked with the town of Brighton on reuse opportunities for Camp Gabriels and provided guidance on the Lake Champlain bridge project.
Regulatory Programs staff issued 392 permits in 2010 and processed 167 pre-application requests. Officials note that 59 economic development and 28 cellular projects were approved, as well.
Additionally, officials note that APA planning staff worked closely with numerous townships to address community needs. In Tupper Lake, for example, staff assisted with map amendments that were subsequently approved by the agency board.
Local Government Services staff was busy in 2010, responding to nearly 600 inquiries from local officials regarding land-use issues. Those employees also participated in 26 meetings with town officials, providing information on jurisdiction and land-use law.
The APA saw four state land classification packages approved last year, including the creation of the new Little Moose Mountain Wilderness Area, a new intensive use camping area in the Moose River Plains, and the reclassification of two fire towers on St. Regis and Hurricane mountains.
Those towers are now classified by the APA as "historic."
The APA's legal staff focused heavily on regulatory issues in 2010, specifically regarding boathouses.
Legal staff also made strides in advancing three pieces of legislation last year.
Currently, the APA has three bills awaiting legislative approval. One aims to create a community housing incentive, another creates a local planning grant program, and the third would streamline the agency's permitting process while enabling development rights to transfer.
McKeever says the agency's legislative reform team is still waiting for lawmakers to take action on the proposed bills.
"At this point in time, we do not have a clear agenda as to what will happen with out legislative proposals - that's yet to be determined," he said. "But we are committed to the reform process and putting forth legislation that good for the park and the people of the park."
In terms of enforcement, staff handled 380 cases in 2010, 372 of which were successfully closed. The agency reached 189 settlement agreements, while 112 cases closed without any violations.
One office at the APA that was particularly busy last year was the Jurisdictional Inquiry Office. Staff there wrote 856 jurisdictional determinations - 560 of which were found to be non-jurisdictional.
That's important, McKeever says, because many individuals believe the APA has jurisdiction over projects when, in fact, local governments have final say.