By David Gibson, Managing Partner, Adirondack Wild
Newcomb, NY – The Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb played host this month to Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve’s annual meeting and 2023 award presentations. The Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award, named after 20th century wilderness preservation leader Paul Schaefer, was presented to Steven Englebright. Englebright represented the Assembly’s 4th District on Long Island from 1992 through 2022 and chaired the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee starting in 2015. Adirondack Wild lauded Englebright for his tact, wisdom and tenacious environmental leadership which has left every New Yorker with a better quality of life.
A Democrat, Suffolk County resident Englebright was re-elected 19 times by both Republican and Democratic constituents, proof that protecting our environment is not a partisan act. His many accomplishments include embrace of Article XIV, the “forever wild” clause of the State Constitution, protection of the Long Island Pine Barrens and the Long Island aquifer, strengthening of the 1975 Freshwater Wetlands Act in 2022, and passing the groundbreaking Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019. He was the only trained geologist elected to the Assembly. He has curated the geologic collection at Stony Brook University and is founding director of the Museum of Long Island Natural Sciences.
“One of the most important qualities of Steve Englebright is how he thinks in the long-term and how the actions he has taken to protect our environments will benefit the youth of generations yet to come,” said Adirondack Wild’s Ken Rimany. A letter from State Senator Dan Stec congratulated Englebright and thanked him for reaching across the aisle politically to achieve important environmental legislation. While in the Assembly, Stec served as the Republican ranking member on Englebright’s committee.
In his acceptance remarks, Englebright said he was humbled by the recognition and then recalled his earlier career as a museum curator.
“This Park is museum quality,” he said, “and its human and natural communities demand the highest level of care and stewardship. One out of five New York State acres is contained within the Adirondack Park whose ecosystems and Park residents and visitors are crucial in today’s struggle to slow climate change.”
The team from Northeast Wilderness Trust – Jon Leibowitz, Caitlin Mather, Hannah Epstein, Janelle Jones, and Bob Linck (L-R) receive their award in Newcomb.
The team from Northeast Wilderness Trust (pictured left to right): Jon Leibowitz, Caitlin Mather, Hannah Epstein, Janelle Jones, and Bob Linck receive their award in Newcomb. Photo by Adirondack Wild’s Ken Rimany.
- Photo at top: The team from Northeast Wilderness Trust – Jon Leibowitz, Caitlin Mather, Hannah Epstein, Janelle Jones, and Bob Linck (L-R) receive their award in Newcomb. Photo by Adirondack Wild’s Ken Rimany
The group’s Wild Stewardship Award went to the Northeast Wilderness Trust (N.E.W.T.), based in Montpelier, VT. N.E.W.T. was lauded for acquiring and connecting tracts of wilderness so that they are not isolated but connected to benefit wildlife migration, critical habitats, and outdoor recreational opportunities. N.E.W.T. has protected lands within the Split Rock Wildway connecting Lake Champlain to the Jay Mtn Wilderness, and most recently at Bear Pond preserve which will re-wild a private inholding and eventually become a seamless part of the Five Ponds Wilderness.
“These are all significant accomplishments for wildness, accomplishments aligned with Adirondack Wild’s vision for an interconnected, unfragmented network of protected public and private wildlands.”
Accepting the award were N.E.W.T.’s Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director; Caitlin Mather, Land Protection Manager; Hannah Epstein, Stewardship Director; Janelle Jones, New York Land Steward; and Bob Linck, Conservation Director. In accepting the award Jon Leibowitz shared that N.E.W.T. got its start and inspiration from the Adirondack Park. N.E.W.T. was founded on the principle that wild places are not just essential for people, but also hold intrinsic value—a sentiment that echoes Article 14, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution – the “forever wild” clause. N.E.W.T. currently safeguards over 10,000 acres of forever wild lands and waters in and around the Adirondack Park and has other projects underway.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not for profit, membership organization devoted to the protection and stewardship of wilderness and other wild lands through advocacy and education. The organization protects wild lands from threats, holds officials accountable and proposes policy reforms. More on the web at adirondackwild.org.
Photo at top: The team from Northeast Wilderness Trust – Jon Leibowitz, Caitlin Mather, Hannah Epstein, Janelle Jones, and Bob Linck (L-R) receive their award in Newcomb. Photo by Adirondack Wild’s Ken Rimany