Wilderness is vital to Adirondack economy

Paddlers, like these on the Essex Chain, are an economic force. Photo by Susan Bibeau
Paddlers, like these on the Essex Chain, are an economic force.
Photo by Susan Bibeau

In the It’s Debatable section of the November/December issue, Sue Montgomery Corey, then supervisor of Minerva, took the position that Wilderness Areas hurt the economy.

To test this theory, on the opening day of the Essex Chain Tract, she polled several businesses in the local area and found that they had no increase in activity on that day. So she concluded that Wilderness Areas would not “draw a large contingent of hikers and paddlers who would exercise their economic power in the area.”

Strangely, Hornbeck Boats was not part of her poll. We have operated a business in Minerva for over forty years. We actually had a pretty good day on October 1, the day the Essex Chain was opened to the public. We had revenue of $3,119.36, which includes $224.36 in sales tax.

Do these figures in and of themselves indicate that Wilderness Areas are good for the economy? Not exactly. What is a strong indication of the vital contribution that Wilderness Areas make to the success of this business are our combined sales figures, year after year. It is easy to determine that people buy our boats and related equipment because of the existence of Wilderness Areas. Without Wilderness Areas and the Forest Preserve, this region would be just like many, many other places. There would be no particular reason to build a vacation home here. There would be no Hornbeck Boats because, frankly, Hornbeck wouldn’t live here.

Peter Hornbeck, Minerva
Hornbeck is owner of Hornbeck Boats in Minerva

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