WCS North America

Climate Change and the Adirondacks

At the interface between northern boreal ecosystems and temperate forests to the south, the Adirondacks face significant ecological changes from climate change.  Habitats such as open peatlands, open river corridors, conifer swamps, and alpine tundra are vulnerable to climate changes, as are the species dependent upon these habitats. 

Economic and cultural systems in this northern region are also vulnerable, as climatic factors such as the region’s long, dependably snowy winters, brilliant fall foliage displays, and spring maple sugaring season experience changes.  Winter recreation and the tourism industry upon which it is based are examples of important elements of Adirondack culture likely to suffer with a changing climate.  Although the Adirondacks are not likely to experience the same extreme water shortages, flood risks, and violent storms that are anticipated elsewhere, we risk losing some of our characteristic conifer species, as well as our deep cold, ice and snow – important factors that define our culture, make this ecosystem special, and allow northern wildlife species to exist here.   
WCS is providing information on the impact of climate change on the region, and the opportunities that we have to guard against climate change and its impacts.


  • Understand the effects of climate change on Adirondack ecosystems and human systems, and increase public understanding about these impacts.
  • Help individuals and communities mitigate carbon in Adirondack towns, businesses and residences.
  • Develop adaptation strategies to help wildlife respond to the changes brought on by climate change.


Developing Climate Smart Management Strategies

Conserving the biodiversity of the Adirondacks and of New York as a whole requires strategies to understand and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change and to protect the critical habitats our wildlife species need to respond to this large scale threat. We are working on a variety of activities to understand which species and systems are most vulnerable in the Adirondacks, what a warming climate means for them, and what the options are for increasing their chances for survival and persistence in our landscape.

Climate Change in the Adirondacks: Path to Sustainability

Published in 2010, this book by Jerry Jenkins expands on the themes begun in an earlier report-length version.It provides a comprehensive analysis of climate changes anticipated in the Adirondacks, their ecological and social effects, as well as the steps that local individuals, households, and communities can take to address the energy dependencies driving climate change. WCS is sharing the book’s messages through an outreach program. Read More >>

Adirondack Climate Action Partnership

WCS is a partner in the Adirondack Climate Action Partnership (ADKCAP), a grassroots coalition of Adirondack organizations that is working to make the Adirondack Park energy independent (excluding the transportation sector) within 20 years by decreasing reliance on imported energy, reducing carbon emissions, and building energy-smart local economies.


WCS convened many of the early forums to raise the issue of regional impacts of climate change.  These included a conference at Great Camp Sagamore cohosted with the Adirondack Council in fall, 2002, an Oswegatchie Roundtable on this topic in 2003, and the Adirondack case study as part of the Consortium for Atlantic Regional Assessment.

Latest Publications

All Adirondacks Loon Conservation Publications >>

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Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program
Wildlife Conservation Society 132 Bloomingdale Avenue, Suite 2, Saranac Lake, NY, 12983 USA
(518) 891-8872