The Wild Center and its partner, the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center began the Northern New York Maple Project to promote resource conservation and tourism in a manner consistent with the region’s economic development goals.
Maple syrup is a luxury item consumed around the world, yet the greatest market for syrup is in the United States. New York State currently taps less than 1% of the state’s nearly 300 million maple trees, forcing the state to import four times as much maple syrup as it produces from Canada. However, the potential to increase local maple syrup production as a path to sustainable economic development has never been greater. Maple syrup production is growing in the U.S., as a shortage of syrup and corresponding price increases led many sugar makers to expand production and others to get started in recent years.
Maple sugar is the local healthy sweetener for the Adirondacks. Increasing production and consumption of maple products has the ability to create sustainable economic growth based on the growing local food movement. Per capita maple consumption has been on the rise for the last 36 years according to a 2012 paper Assessing the Growth Potential and Economic Impact of the U.S. Maple Syrup Industry in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. The results of this research determined that New York State has the greatest potential to increase local productions and consumption of pure maple syrup to take advantage of the growing demand for local, healthy, and organic food.
The Northern New York Maple Project will meet this need by providing activities, support for a growing industry and resources to build the New York State Maple brand through awareness and education as well as help an economically distressed region of New York State. This project is supported by the Norther Border Regional Commission.