Janeway, who is forty-nine, resigned this year as a regional director for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to become executive director of the council.
“I get to be an ambassador for the Adirondack Park. What a great thing to sell—the Adirondacks,” Janeway said Wednesday in an interview with the Adirondack Explorer and Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
Janeway describes himself as a “pragmatic optimist.” As a former state employee, he believes government can play a positive role in the Park, but he understands that it operates under political and financial constraints.
The council, too, must be willing to engage in dialogue with various stakeholders and at times give something to get something.
“Some would criticize that as compromising, but I don’t see it as that. I see it as realistic,” he said.
Asked how he differs from his predecessor, Brian Houseal, Janeway replied, “We may be more similar than different.”
He praised Houseal for helping to found the Common Ground Alliance, which seeks to bridge the differences between environmental and local leaders.
Janeway said the council has a fourfold mission:
- Fighting for clean air and clean water and against climate change.
- Preserving large wild landscapes and the diversity of plants and animals.
- Encouraging good stewardship of the Park’s private lands.
- Helping to make the Park’s communities economically vibrant.
Janeway, who plans to live in Keene Valley, has deep roots in the Adirondacks. His ancestors were among the founders of the Ausable Club and Adirondack Mountain Reserve. His family has a summer home at the club and a cabin on Upper Ausable Lake.
He attended St. Lawrence University in part so he could be close to the Adirondacks. He has climbed all forty-six of the High Peaks and is an avid backcountry skier. He also is a fly-fisherman. Not surprisingly, he is excited to be living full time in the Adirondacks.
“I intend to get out and enjoy the Park,” he said. “It recharges me.”
Photo by Phil Brown: Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan, left, and Willie Janeway in the Adirondack Explorer offices.