"I can go inside now, confident that the youth of distant tomorrows
will backpack down winding forest trails, glimpse the sliver of a wildness lake
shining through the trees, and gather round their crackling campfire."
—Paul Schaefer

2012 Annual Meeting in Old Forge a Great Success
by David Gibson, Partner


The VIEW, Old Forge, NY. Photo © Ken Rimany

Sharing tall tales before the Annual Meeting. (left to right) Adirondack Wild volunteer, Kristen Swaney, Don Brightman, Board Member, Jeff Gronauer, Member, and Gary Lee, recipient of the Wilderness Stewardship Award. Photo © Ken Rimany

Dan Plumley & David Gibson presenting Adirondack Wild program highlights for Year 2. Photo © Ken Rimany  

John Nemjo (2nd left), receiving the Wilderness Stewardship Award from Peter Brinkley, Sr Partner/Chair, along with Dan Plumley & David Gibson, Partners of Adirondack Wild. Photo © Ken Rimany

Gary Lee receiving the Wilderness Stewardship Award from Peter Brinkley, Sr Partner/Chair. Photo © Ken Rimany

(left to right) -- Dan Plumley, Sheila & Ron Cuccaro and Shirley Cornish - Gateway of Wilderness Award recipients), David Gibson and Peter Brinkley. Photo © Ken Rimany

Kristen Swaney with Steve Hall, Keynote Speaker (Co-Founder of Adirondack Wildlife), and Utah (Great Horned Owl).
Photo © Ken Rimany

Steve Hall presenting Utah, a great horned owl, one of the most efficient predator's of the Adirondack forests.
Photo © Ken Rimany

Wendy Hall (Co-Founder of Adirondack Wildlife) presenting Tyton, a Barn Owl. Photo © Ken Rimany


Forge’s beautiful new arts center, VIEW, was the scene for Adirondack Wild’s second annual members meeting, highlighted by presentation of our first awards to deserving local wild activists and by a presentation from the Adirondack Wildlife and Rehabilitation Center.

About three dozen members and guests were on hand during a soft fall day to learn more about Adirondack Wild’s programs for safeguarding, extending and educating for the wild. As our chair and senior partner Peter Brinkley remarked, a true friend is someone who will speak up for you when you are not in the room. In a similar way, he said, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve speaks for all of you who value wilderness and the ecological integrity of wild landscapes, and represents your interests every month at the Adirondack Park Agency, with the Department of Environmental Conservation, and in meetings with Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

Dan Plumley and Dave Gibson described and illustrated these efforts in detail, as well as the legacy of Paul Schaefer, our founder, who successfully campaigned from 1945-1955 to save the nearby Moose River Plains from giant dams that would have flooded that country of the deer, the moose and the bear. Over the course of just two years, with a small program staff and budget, Adirondack Wild has certainly impacted public attitudes and outcomes, including Governor Cuomo’s recent commitment to acquire 69,000-acres of the Finch woodlands for the NYS Forest Preserve. In his financial report, Ken Rimany reported success in meeting our $300,000 annual budget, and in establishing an initial endowment of $200,000.

Following these reports, we launched our first awards program. We celebrated and recognized local conservationists who through their efforts demonstrate that laws to protect wilderness, even the Forever Wild clause of our State Constitution, are only as effective as an involved citizenry wants them to be. As Dan noted, he receives many phone calls each year from Park residents who reach out for help to protect their local wild forest, lake or stream, which are  crucial to the quality of their lives and communities. Our award winners epitomize a spirited, proactive, community-based approach to Park protection. 

Ron Cuccaro, Sheila Cuccaro and Shirley Cornish, all from the White Lake-Woodgate community southwest of Old Forge, were presented with the Gateway to Wilderness Award for their Save White Lake Trees campaign, which placed effective pressure on New York State DOT, APA, DEC and utilities to stop the intended cutting of hundreds of trees during a road and utility reconstruction project along State Route 28.  Through their efforts, the Route 28 entrance to the Park remains a scenic corridor which safely accommodates travelers without compromising the wild, rural and distinguishing character of this important gateway. In her acceptance remarks,  Sheila Cuccaro spoke for many when she said “if we expect to sustain this park for our children and for future generations, we have to be willing to get involved, and to speak up for it.”

A Wilderness Steward award was presented to John Nemjo, founder of Old Forge’s premier canoeing/kayaking center Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company (founded in nearby Inlet, 1993) and Paddlefest, the park’s largest festival for paddle sports. Through his successful businesses, John has modeled what ecotourism is all about in the Adirondack Park by generating strong, local economic activity and employment tied directly to the integrity of the Park’s wild waterways, while stimulating a passionate appreciation of the Park’s wilderness among thousands of visitors and customers each year. Through John’s boat shop, outdoor gear and bike shop and guided trip and boat rental businesses alongside the Moose River,  Mountainman is one of the area’s largest employers.

Gary Lee of Inlet was presented with a Wilderness Stewardship Award for over forty years of efforts as NYS DEC Forest Ranger (1966-1999) and volunteer steward of the Moose River Plains area of the Forest Preserve. Through his efforts, stewardship projects in our Forest Preserve were accomplished, campers and visitors contacted and educated, wildlife and habitats closely observed and safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.  Gary is also a noted birdwatcher, photographer, writer and tourism guide who has informed countless people, while contributing substantially to our knowledge of birds and their habitats in the Adirondacks. Noted Adirondack ecologist Dr. Michale Glennon wrote to us about Gary’s award:  “I’m glad to hear you’re honoring Gary Lee.  He has collected bird data for me for years, and worked with us on a moose project also. He’s fantastic.” We could not agree more. 

Our keynote presentation was from Wendy and Steve Hall of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington, near Whiteface Mountain.  The Refuge is a grass-roots funded effort to educate people about wildlife and wildlife habitats, and to care for injured wildlife, reintroducing them to their habitats whenever possible. Together, Wendy, Steve, an injured Great-Horned owl named Utah, an adorable Screech owl and sleek Barn owl all came to communicate how these creatures are vitally important indicators of the health of our environment. While these owl ambassadors are all successful predators, with specialized feathers, eyes, ears and talons, they are also exquisitely sensitive to ever-present poisons such as rodenticides, as well as to car collisions (Utah’s wing was broken by just such a collision) and to alteration and fragmentation of their woodland and grassland habitats by intensive human development.

Wendy and Steve have succeeded in convincing certain farmers across the country that Barn owls, for instance, have the greatest impact in reducing rodent numbers at the least cost when compared with rodenticides. These pesticides are insidious in that they build up in the owl’s fat tissues, leading to morbidity and death. Instead, say the Halls, farmers can learn to cultivate Barn owls, which kill rodents harmful to crops in prodigious numbers even in conditions of low or no light. The Wildlife Refuge is working with partners across northern New York and Vermont to preserve and restore Barn owls, as well as other threatened raptors such as Short-earned owls and Northern harriers which are dependent upon rapidly vanishing grassland habitats. For more information, please contact Wendy, Steve and the Refuge through their website, www.adirondackwildlife.org

We closed this year’s meeting with grateful appreciation to the staff at VIEW, Adirondack Wild volunteer, Kristen Swaney, and to all those who spent the day with us and who are supportive of Adirondack Wild’s mission dedicated to the wild woods, waters and wildlife we have inherited thanks to the magnificent legacy left to us by past wilderness champions.

Posted 10/04/12
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12/03/12 Fracking and the Adirondacks read more >
11/08/12 Stewarding the Wild Adirondacks:
2012 Workshop
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10/30/12 Iroquois Peace And Defending The Law
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10/17/12 Pace Law School Profs Issue Forest Preserve Papers read more >
10/04/12 2012 Annual Meeting in Old Forge a Great Success read more >
07/02/12 A Visit to the Hadley Mountain Firetower
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06/11/12Students Visit a Wilderness Retreat; Discuss Why Wilderness Matters read more >
05/03/12 Fifty Years of Caring for the Upper Hudson River read more >
04/08/12 Aldo Leopold's Greenfire Movie screening
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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.

Photos ©2011 Ken RImany

Peter Brinkley, Honorary Chair
Terry Jandreau, Chair
Kenneth J. Rimany, Partner
David H. Gibson, Managing Partner
Mobile: 518.469.4081

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