Press-Republican

Environment

May 21, 2014

Analysis: Blue Line population declining

ELIZABETHTOWN — Adirondack school enrollment is still in decline, state-owned land holdings have increased, and the Adirondack Park population is shrinking.

An update to the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment shows those trends in three data sets that were captured in the initial report five years ago. 

STUDY REVISITED

The report’s primary research author, Brad Dake of Arietta, said they revisited specific areas of the 2008 study.

“We did an extensive analysis of economic factors and employment data in the first report. Those numbers were not changed. Land use did not change much. 

“The next area we looked at was population. In five years, with changing data, we believe we have identified a trend.” Adirondack Park population has decreased 1.3 percent, while the statewide population has growth slightly.

“Then we looked at schools,” Dake said. “I went to every school district last June and counted students inside the Adirondack Park. And clearly, the further you go into the park, the more kids you lose. We are losing more school enrollment inside the park than out.”

The new report, titled “Seeking Balance,” suggests that in the 12-county interior Adirondack region the “number of public-school students who live inside the park is declining at twice the rate of students who live outside the park.” 

Working directly from school data, the assessment says that over 10 years — from 2003 to 2013 — 422 fewer students attended Adirondack schools.

 LAND PROTECTION

The assessment reports this number against another statistically significant change: “More than 62 percent of the land in the park is under some form of state-authorized resource management.”

And while the data does not draw any formal conclusion, Dake, in fact, believes that the public-to-private land-holdings ratio won’t stabilize until there is 67 percent state land ownership inside the Blue Line.

“About 3 out 5 acres in the park are protected now, either in easement or in fee,” Dake told the Press-Republican on Tuesday.

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