Why Are We Doing This?

B002_C020_06140J (3)Many of us take for granted the scenic beauty of the Thousand Islands and the economy that it helps support.   And many of us assume that the region will always be the way it is today.   But it won’t.  Change is inevitable.   The question is:  will change hurt the scenery and economy of the region or can change be managed to ensure that our children and grandchildren enjoy the landscape beauty we appreciate today.

Scenic Landscapes

One purpose for this project is to recognize and document what makes the region scenic and to use currently available tools to ensure that future large scale development projects are located and designed in a way that minimizes damage to the region’s scenic character and its economy.   If scenic views are destroyed, if large towers and tall buildings are built in inappropriate places, if wildlife habitat is destroyed and the environment is degraded, the region’s tourist-based economy will suffer.  Who will want to travel for hours to visit a formerly scenic region marred by inappropriate development?   Who will want to go fishing or birding in a place whose habitats have been compromised?  Who will want to invest in businesses or real estate in a region that has lost its historic architecture, homes that sit lightly on islands and undeveloped natural areas?  A lot is at stake.  New York State’s Scenic Areas of State Wide Significance Program can help.

Promotion of Tourism and Marketing of the Region

Another important purpose for the project is the promotion of tourism and the marketing of the region to the rest of the state, the country and internationally.   Identifying the Thousand Islands as one of the most scenic coastal areas in New York State will more emphatically put the region on the map, attracting visitors and boosting its tourist-based economy.   Promoting the region based on sustainable development practices will create a unique image for the Thousand Islands as a beautiful, carefully managed area that values its scenery and environmental quality…a place that hasn’t been spoiled yet and won’t be in the future.

Identification and Promotion of Lesser Known Scenic Areas

IMG_1835While the iconic Thousand Islands landscapes of castles on rocky islands, sweeping water views,  and craggy, unspoiled shorelines shape the public perception of the region,  many lesser known, less spectacular scenic areas have great potential for marketing and careful stewardship.  These less well known scenic areas include portions of the river with fewer islands, tributary streams and their associated marshlands, bluffs and hills with distant views of the Saint Lawrence, rolling woodlands dotted with small farms, sweeping expanses of open farmland extending inland from the river, and historic waterfront villages and boathouses with classic Thousand Islands architecture.   These areas have great potential to blend existing land uses with future tourist activities.

 Grants and Funding

Another reason we’re doing this project is to improve opportunities for grants related to economic development, natural and scenic resource protection.  Designation as a Scenic Area of State Wide Significance greatly increases a region’s ability to obtain public grants and private foundation support for a range of projects.   Grants including economic development, tourism promotion, land conservation, environmental restoration, historic preservation, downtown revitalization and sustainable transportation are among the many potential sources of funding that will be enhanced by state-wide recognition.   Private investment in residential and commercial real estate, businesses, and infrastructure will also be encouraged by the fact that the region has been officially recognized as a unique and valuable asset to the entire state.

New York State’s Vision

The New York State Legislature summed up compelling reasons to complete projects like this when they enacted NYS Executive Law 42 in the early 1980’s, stating that their goal was to “achieve a balance between economic development and preservation that will permit the beneficial use of coastal resources while preventing the loss of living marine resources and wildlife, diminution of open space areas or public access to the waterfront, shoreline erosion, impairment of scenic beauty, or permanent damage to ecological systems.”


Project Staff

Background Information