Why aren’t the Adirondacks a national park?

KEENE VALLEY, NY (NEWS10) – Established in 1892, the Adirondacks Park is known for its vast forests, lakes, rivers and outdoor recreational activities. The park contains six million acres and is the largest park in the contiguous United States. However, it does not have a national park designation.

The National Park Service is the organization that designates national parks and monuments. There is a wide range of designations including National Reserve, National Monument, National Memorial, National Historic Site, National Seashore, and National Battlefield Park. The organization currently has about 19 name designations.

The National Park System has 423 national places on its registry. To receive a national designation, the site must meet the following National Park Service criteria:

  • Possess natural, cultural or recreational resources of national significance
  • Be an appropriate and workable addition to the national park system
  • Require direct management by the National Park Service instead of protection by another government agency or the private sector

New York State has sites designated as national places, but does not have national parks, such as Yellowstone or Arcadia. National sites in New York State include:

  • Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater
  • Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Catskill
  • Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Hyde Park
  • Statue of Liberty, National Monument, New York
  • Fort Stanwix, national monument, Rome
  • Harriet Tubman National Historic Park, Auburn
  • The Appalachian Trail, National Scenic Trail

According to the Adirondack Council, Adirondack Park occupies one-fifth of the state and is nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park. The park is a mix of state-owned and private land. More than half of the park is private land, home to 130,000 permanent residents and 200,000 seasonal workers. The remaining 45% of the land is a public forest preserve, protected as “Forever Wild” by the New York State Constitution since 1894.

Unlike a national park, the Adirondacks have no admission or entry fees, as it is not just public land. The same goes for Catskill Park. It’s a mix of private and state-owned land, there’s no entrance fee, and it’s also protected as “Forever Wild” by the New York State Constitution.

The Adirondacks do not necessarily meet the criteria for a national park designation. Since much of the land is privately owned, it does not require direct management by the National Park Service. Public lands are also currently managed by state agencies, including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Although the park contains significant natural or recreational resources, it may not be appropriate or feasible for national park designation. A complete list of national landmarks can be found on the National Register of Historic Places, located on the National Park Service website.

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