The Adirondacks are downwind of the highly industrial midwest. Cities such as Buffalo, Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland and Chicago pollute the atmosphere with gases that mix with water in the atmosphere creating acids. These acids are carried east by the wind until the mountains of the Adirondacks force the wind upward. As the air cools on its way up, the atmosphere loses its ability to hold the water and it falls as rain. This phenomenon -- mountains causing rain to fall -- is not specific to the Adirondacks. The unique, unfortunate thing about the Adirondacks is that the rain that falls tends to be acidic.
The Adirondacks comprise a region of "upstate" New York containing ancient mountain ranges, many lakes and rivers, and forests of deciduous hardwoods and evergreen conifers. The Adirondack Park, at 6 million acres, is the largest park of any kind in the lower 48 states. Unlike National Parks however, the Adirondack Park is not completely public. Many small towns dot the landscape of the park, and nearly two-thirds of the park is actually privately-owned. Within the 2.3 million acres of the publicly-owned puzzle pieces making up the Adirondack Forest Preserve are some of the most wild lands east of the Mississippi River.
Wildlife is not as abundant as it once was in the area, but there is still plenty to see. Moose are making a comeback after being extirpated from the area, beavers can be seen modifying the landscape as well as any human, and black bears still cling to enough habitat area to remain healthy. River otters can be found in or near the many streams in the park, and pine martens play in the high elevation spruce-fir forests. Salmon are returning to the streams after being cut off by dams and over exploited. Both golden and bald eagles are occasionally seen in the park, and peregrine falcons are being reintroduced after suffering from the results of DDT.
The plant communities in the park are influenced by the relative northern latitude, elevation, and soil characteristics. In the bogs of the lowlands, which are naturally acidic (not the result of acid rain), mosses and black spruces can be found. Hardwoods such as red maple, sugar maple, American beech and yellow birch, along with conifers such as eastern hemlock and white pine, make up the dominant forest type at slightly higher elevations. Above 2,500 feet or so in elevation, the dominant northern hardwood forest is replaced by the boreal-type forest composed of spruce and fir trees. On eleven peaks in the park, above treeline, alpine tundra communities exist.
Check out the gallery page for a video playlists on the Adirondacks. Some are not biology-related at all, and are to promote tourism. But some, like the first video that will play, will show the nature of the park.