Former NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens will be awarded Conservationist of the Year at the Forever Wild Day celebration hosted by the Adirondack Council on July 9.
The event will be held at the Inn at the Bridge in Northville. The Adirondack Council’s annual Forever Wild Day celebration will include a luncheon, annual meeting and outdoor activities.
Martens’s first work in the Adirondack Park came as assistant secretary and deputy secretary for energy and the environment under Gov. Mario Cuomo. He later served as chair of the board of the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
Currently, Martens is a Senior Fellow at the Open Space Institute, where he is working on national climate change policy and new strategies for promoting smart and effective land conservation in combating climate change.
Martens served as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from March 2011 to July 2015. Among his accomplishments were new additions to the “forever wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve, grants for communities to help them capitalize on the recreational potential of new lands, and new conservation easements to protect private forests from fragmentation and development. He also worked to expand access to the state’s open spaces, restore environmental funding, and launch initiatives to improve air and water quality and reduce greenhouse gasses.
Martens led the Department’s response to hurricanes Lee and Irene. Commissioner Martens issued a Findings Statement in 2014 concluding that high volume hydraulic fracturing should not be allowed to proceed in New York State.
From 1998 through 2010 Martens served as president of the Open Space Institute (OSI), after a stint as executive vice president from 1995 to 1998. He was responsible for directing and overseeing land acquisition, sustainable development, historic preservation and farmland protection.
His work for OSI in the Adirondack Park secured the protection of wild lands and wildlife habitat on Lake Champlain and in the southern High Peaks region of the Park, in the Town of Newcomb in Essex County – including the historic ghost-hamlet of Tahawus.
The Adirondack Council’s first Conservationist of the Year award was presented in 1984.
Each year, the Conservationist of the Year award is presented by the Adirondack Council Board of Directors to a person or organization that has made an exemplary contribution to the Park’s well-being. The recipient receives a life-size, museum quality, hand-carved common loon – an iconic symbol of the Adirondack Wilderness and represented on the Adirondack Council’s logo.
Previous Conservationist of the Year award winners include U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson; Governors George E. Pataki and Mario M. Cuomo; New York Times editor John Oakes; NYS Attorney General Dennis Vacco; and NYS DEC Commissioners John P. Cahill and Erin Crotty.