"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s
peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms
their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

— John Muir


A Living, Growing Memorial to Brother Yusuf
By Dave Gibson, Managing Partner Adirondack Wild

DEC Forest Ranger Chuck Kabrehl instructs students on how to properly plant potted trees. Photo © Dave Gibson

I recently went back to an area where the NYS DEC Forest Rangers and Foresters had recruited us to help plant young potted and bare root trees from the DEC’s Saratoga Tree Nursery on an eroding section of Adirondack Forest Preserve. The planting took place seven growing seasons ago. How were they doing today?

Among the tree planters were Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi (Joseph Burgess) and his team of youth and adult counselors and teachers from the Green Tech Charter School in Albany and Youth Ed-Venture and Nature Network or YENN, and several volunteers from Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

The hillside just after planting, Arbor Day 2012. Photo © Dave Gibson

My colleagues and I met Yusuf when he was a youth counselor at the Albany Boys and Girls Club. He was seeking to expand his discovered life’s work to help urban young men  and women become not just aware but comfortable in the woods, the waters and the mountains of our state; and not merely comfortable, but to gain a sense of expanded opportunity in their lives that might someday evolve from many positive exposures to the great outdoors.

This man of action had a mission and was not to be denied. Later, he went to work for the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, DEC, to help to recruit and to diversify the color and the backgrounds of the youngsters attending DEC Summer Camps. Yusuf served on the board of the Children and Nature Network (www.childrenandnature.org) . He had developed a national and international reputation for his efforts to mentor urban young people and expose them to the wilder places he loved himself; have them disconnect from their phones;  connect with their environment; and cooperate as working unit to hike up to a peak, set up and take down a campsite, read a topo map or a wild river, ski or kayak, or in this case, plant a whole lot of young trees on a very chilly series of mornings near the Hudson River south of Warrensburg around Arbor Day, 2012.

The same hillside today, 2019. Photo © Dave Gibson

On my return in recent days, I found the many hundreds of trees the young people planted under the direction of DEC Forest Ranger Chuck Kabrehl and Forester Tad Norton – mostly white pine and larch – now 10 to 12 ft. tall and thriving. Thanks to the DEC’s planning and direction the young trees are now serving valuable (and intended) public purposes of stopping erosion,  steering foot traffic,  cooling the immediate environment through shading and evapotranspiration and taking in carbon dioxide. DEC Forest Ranger Kabrehl writes me today that: “We really did make an impact, and the environment in that area is unquestionably healthier that it would have been otherwise.”

Brother Yusuf, 2012. Photo © Dave Gibson

I consider this small example of Adirondack forest stewardship and habitat restoration a living, growing memorial to the late Brother Yusuf, who passed in 2014. His Youth Ed-Venture and Nature Network (www.theyenn.org)  is a “strategic partnership of individuals, organizations and agencies dedicated to increase awareness and engagement of the young people of the Capital District of Albany New York and our Nation, with the common interest in conserving our natural environment, expanding the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth, young adults and families to reconnect with nature and the environment.” I’m happy that Adirondack Wild continues to be one of YENN’s partners thanks to Ms. Cherrie Burgess and Mr. Jaimz Edwards, who have recruited young people to help with several other Adirondack restoration projects under the direction of DEC, most recently on Thomas Mountain.

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2020 - Click Here for Archives


12/26/19 DEC Evaded Review of Bridge Over Scenic River read more >
11/24/19 95% Protected Open Space? APA Knows Better read more >
11/10/19 State Forest Preserve Use Plans Ignore Climate Change read more >
10/06/19 Time To Reconsider An Old Idea, A High Peaks Permit System read more >
09/12/19 A Living, Growing Memorial to Brother Yusuf read more >
08/26/19 The Roots of the Conflict Over Snowmobile Connectors read more >
07/29/19 Forever Wild, ORDA and Adirondack Legal History read more >
07/08/19 On APA Appointments; Role of Statewide Interests read more >
06/10/19 Did Her Independence Sink APA Acting Chair Feldman? read more >
04/28/19 In 1969, Citizens Saved the Upper Hudson from Destruction read more >
04/09/19 Making Conservation Design The Norm, Not The Exception read more >
03/19/19 Adirondack Wild and Sierra Club Seek Sunset for Mineral Sampling in Wilderness Lot 8 read more >
03/07/19 E-Bikes Are Not For The Forest Preserve
read more >

02/21/19 New York’s Highest Court Accepts Brief in Defense of Wild Rivers read more >
02/11/19 Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century: A Status Report read more >
01/12/19 Becoming Rooted Thanks to People like Bob read more >
2018 - Click Here for Archives

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ADK ALMANACK - Writings by David Gibson

Wilderness 50th

The mission of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is to advance New York’s ‘Forever Wild’ legacy and Forest Preserve policies in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, and promote public and private land stewardship that is consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research.

Top left, Autumn © Ken Rimany; Maple Leaves and Lichen ©Ken Rimany

Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
Terry Jandreau, Chair
Christopher Amato
Vice Chair & Counsel

David H. Gibson, Partner
Mobile: 518.469.4081

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve    Founded 1945   PO Box 9247 • Niskayuna New York 12309 | ©