by Peter Brinkley, Senior Partner/Chair
During 2010 David Gibson, Dan Plumley, Ken Rimany, and I decided formation of a new conservation advocacy enterprise for the Adirondacks was needed.
We came to this independently united in the belief that a bold, fresh start was essential.
The core values for which the Forest Preserve and Adirondack Park were established, the protection afforded them and principles applied to their management have suffered erosion and unless corrective action is taken likely will be further eroded.
We will shine a light on this erosion and its consequences.
To begin anew, we wished to anchor our enterprise in the State’s Forever Wild tradition. We chose to re-start Friends of the Forest Preserve, a non-profit founded by Paul Schaefer in 1945 and operated by him until his death in 1996.
Dan Plumley, left, Dave Gibson, center, Peter Brinkley
Our Staff is defined by unmatched advocacy experience and its cohesion has been fostered and tested over many years; our Board and Advisory Council expand this conservation experience and provide added perspective.
I see David, Dan, and Ken inheriting an unbroken line from conservation and literary legends to Paul Schaefer. These include Henry David Thoreau, Bob Marshall, Aldo Leopold, Howard Zahniser, and Verplanck Colvin, Adirondack surveyor extraordinaire, a strong early voice for creation of a Park for the Adirondacks. Paul drew many lessons from these men and passed them on through his mentoring each member of our Staff.
It is said history of the past, if abused, can crush contemporaries, making them feel powerless, unable to match the “best that has been thought and done”. But historic knowledge, well used, can inspire and instruct us toward better paths.
Effectively dealing with Park’s issues today, I believe requires a deep knowledge of our Adirondack history. How many situations or issues come up brand new? Most often we have been there before whether those involved today know it or not.
Yet we live in a time in which the politics of division reigns. Park residents are pitted against non-residents or groups in the Park are pitted against other groups. And what is the purpose of this unsightly elbowing by public officials, organizations and individuals? Is it not to gain an edge, a special advantage to be used at the expense of others?
This is not the manner in which we will operate.
Those who love and respect the wild character of Adirondack lands are people we wish to engage. And it matters not whether these lands are owned by the people of the State of New York and protected by the NYS Constitution or owned by individuals, families or corporations.
These committed individuals then can influence others by their example and passion and help build a larger, permanent constituency for the Park.
We understand fully that the NYS Forest Preserve and Adirondack Park are experiments and that their future existence requires a broad base of support.
While we may think some landscapes are unique, they most often have counterparts elsewhere.
In this sense, our initial constituency will reside here in the north-country and in New York State but, over time, perhaps they will live in Virginia, Kansas, Wyoming, Alaska, Russia, China or Argentina. People from these areas possess local knowledge, have research and practices that may well apply to our Adirondacks mountain forests, just as we have something to offer them.
Such exchanges and information sharing have been made more possible by the existence of our digital means of communication.
Wildness comes in many forms. We live in a nearly 50 year old development in Jay and own a few acres, yet there are places in our woods where you do not see homes or roads.
We believe it will be those lovers of the wild places, however small or large, who ensure that the Adirondack Park realizes its potential for the benefit of New Yorkers and others.
We will appeal to people from all walks of life, especially those who see clearly how our Adirondack protection stands in stark contrast to landscapes they have seen, landscapes degraded to an irreversible state.
It is they who most appreciate the Park as a watershed providing clean water for miles in all directions, for its wildlife habitat, as a source of fiber and food, a repository for carbon dioxide, places for a large variety of responsible recreation, for observation of wildlife, for hunting and fishing, places of beauty, a contributor to our health and curer of ills -- places we repair to for quiet and solitude.
Aldo Leopold laid out our task as well as anyone: “to live on a piece of land without spoiling it”. This task, generations everywhere get to take their turn and now it’s our turn.
Training young leaders and activists must be a crucial activity of our organization, for already they are among us, eager to learn and to be put to work.
Coming up from behind us, they must replace us.
That Wild country remaining in the Adirondacks only will become more precious to New Yorkers and to others. Therefore, it is imperative we act now to shield it from destructive pressures and to secure its great promise to sustain us.
Should you be of like mind, we want to hear from you and to receive your support. Here you are welcome.
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