U.S. Census 2011 figures show that 10 of the Adirondack Park’s 12 counties have grown in population since 2000.
The growth stood in stark contrast to other exclusively rural areas of the state, which saw their populations decline, according to the Adirondack Council. Most of New York State’s population growth since 2000 occurred in urban settings.
“It shows that environmental protection doesn’t drive away residents,” Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal. “It reinforces our belief that the Adirondack Park is a special and desirable place to live, not in spite of land-use rules, but because of them.”
Roughly the southeastern third of St. Lawrence County is inside the Adirondack Park’s Blue Line. The entire county’s population, as counted by the 2010 Census, grew by 13 over the 2000 Census count.
“The Adirondack and Catskill parks both showed consistent population growth, and were the only completely rural areas of the state to do so,” he said. “Trends were generally worse in all of western New York, in rural central New York and in the Southern Tier.”
He added, however, that remote Hamilton County needs special attention. Plus, more funding is needed for local land-use planning to stop suburban sprawl in the Adirondacks.
The Adirondack Park comprises parts of 12 counties, containing all or part of 92 towns and 12 villages. Only Hamilton and Oneida counties suffered a population loss. Hamilton is one of two counties entirely inside the Park. Essex is the other. and it grew by nearly two percent.
There were two trends in the U.S. Census data that troubled the Adirondack Council. First was the 11 percent loss of year-round population in Hamilton County. A few towns in Hamilton County saw growth, but most did not.
“We are talking about the loss of fewer than 600 people in total from Hamilton County, which doesn’t seem like much in a state of more than 19 million people,” explained Houseal, “but that is a big number for the Adirondacks. The people of Hamilton County need and deserve special attention from state economic development officials. We will continue to help local officials push for that.”
The second troubling trend was the general loss in population in the Adirondack Park’s 12 incorporated villages. It is a sad symptom of poor local planning and zoning, Houseal noted.