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02-28-2002

Clarkson Students Decide Proposed Wildlife Corridor Desirable, But Difficult To Implement

A group of Clarkson University students who researched and submitted recommendations for the proposed "A2A" Corridor, a natural link that would connect the Adirondack Park to the Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, have determined that such a wildlife corridor would be desirable but difficult to implement.

Concerned environmentalists first introduced the idea of recognizing and preserving a natural corridor between the Adirondack Park and the Algonquin Park nearly a decade ago. The corridor would help preserve biodiversity by allowing the movement of animal species between the two reserves, and create a connected and sustainable ecosystem. The protected area would extend through western St. Lawrence County, eastern Jefferson County, the Thousand Islands region and up into Canada.

The students' work is the first policy study of the A2A corridor's feasibility by a neutral party. It is therefore quite significant, said Tom Langen, assistant professor of biology and co-teacher of the honors course that studied the issue. "Their reports can be referenced by town and county legislators and will also inform citizens groups and other concerned stakeholders about the issues."

The students' recommendations were made as part of an honors multidisciplinary course that looked at environmental history, conservation biology, sustainable agriculture, public and private property issues, valuation of natural resources and wildlife protection within the context of the A2A proposal. Working in small teams, the students generated nine "white papers," each of which analyzed the facets of the proposal, identified potential problems and then made policy recommendations or directions for further study.

The A2A initiative is important from an ecological viewpoint, but hard to realize as most of the land under consideration is privately held, said student Nathan Post. "We had to consider how to weigh the rights of the land owners and dairy farmers against the public good. It was very challenging. It made me realize just how difficult it is to create a single policy that will be unanimously supported by the different constituents involved. "

The Clarkson students recommended that a public-based movement, rather than a government- initiated expansion of publicly held land, had the highest likelihood of success. "People do not want government agencies or outside experts telling them what to do with their land or seizing their property," added Post. "By using a land-trust approach, property owners would receive tax benefits and still retain certain usage rights to their land. The downside is that it could take decades for this approach to become fully functional."

The students' proposals also suggested the development and promotion of eco-tourism, which would add an additional financial incentive to land owners who did not develop their land.

A discussion of the students' proposals will take place on Wednesday, March 13, from 4-5:30 p.m. in Bertrand H. Snell Hall Room 177 on the Clarkson University campus. "Teaching Sustainability Issues: The Case of the Proposed Adirondack Park to Algonquin Park Biodiversity Corridor" will be presented by co-teachers Tom Langen and Rick Welsh, assistant professor of sociology, and a student representative, as part of the Clarkson University Sustainability Seminar Series. The public is invited to attend.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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