After 16 years on the job, Mike Carr says the time is right for him to step down as the executive director of the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy and to work full time for its affiliate, the Adirondack Land Trust.
Carr was instrumental in negotiating the deal to acquire 161,000 acres of Finch, Pruyn timberland for $110 million in 2007. Over the ensuing years, it sold 65,000 acres to the state. Most of the rest were protected with conservation easements.
The state purchased the last Finch, Pruyn parcel – the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract – in April. Over the next few years, the Nature Conservancy will oversee the removal of hunting camps on the Finch lands, but its work on the blockbuster deal is largely done.
“It feels like the right time,” Carr said when asked why he chose to change jobs now.
The Adirondack Land Trust is a separate entity, but it shares staff with the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Also, the board of directors is the same. In his current job, Carr already serves as the land trust’s executive director, but he will assume that role full time on November 15.
Founded in 1984, the Adirondack Land Trust concentrates on preserving rural landscapes and has been most active in the Champlain Valley. It has conserved nearly 22,000 acres, including the summit of Coon Mountain, which offers views of Lake Champlain.
Carr said he wants to help the land trust step up its conservation efforts. “We’re going to move very quickly on some conservation opportunities that have been on a low simmer,” he said, adding that an announcement will be made soon.
It’s uncertain whether Carr will be replaced at the Nature Conservancy. At the outset, Bill Ulfelder, the executive director of the state chapter, “will work closely with Adirondack chapter staff to ensure the continued success of our ongoing conservation programs,” said Connie Prickett, the regional chapter’s spokeswoman.
It’s also uncertain whether the relationship between the Adirondack chapter and the land trust will remain the same. “Over the next month or so that will become more clear,” Carr said, adding that the organizations are putting together a transition plan.
Asked if the state chapter of the conservancy will absorb the Adirondack chapter, Carr replied, “I don’t think we’re all clear about that.”
During his tenure, Carr put together several other big conservation deals. In 2000, the Adirondack chapter bought 26,400 acres from International Paper, including several lakes. Much of this land was later sold to the state.
In 2005, the chapter bought 104,000 acres in the northeastern Adirondacks from Domtar Industries. About 20,000 acres, including Lyon Mountain, were sold to the state.
And in 2008, the conservancy purchased the 14,600-acre Follensby Park (including Follensby Pond), a property long coveted by preservationists. The conservancy still owns the property. Now that the Finch, Pruyn deal is done, the organization is turning its attention to Follensby.
Carr said the conservancy originally planned to sell all of Follensby Park to the state, but the organization is looking at all its options. Asked what those might be, he replied: “It’s too early to say. We’re not ready to talk about it.”
Afterward, Prickett elaborated on the conservancy’s position: “Like we did with the Finch lands, and consistent with our mission and science-based approach to our initiatives, we are studying Follensby so tht we can work with New York State to make the best decisions about how to preserve the property’s conservation values. In addition to research of the lake trout and cisco fish communities, we also have botanists doing inventories.”
The Finch, Pruyn deal stands as Carr’s biggest accomplishment. The sixty-five thousand acres added to the Forest Preserve include such jewels as the Essex Chain Lakes, OK Slip Falls, stretches of the Hudson and Opalescent rivers, and Boreas Ponds. The state also purchased conservation easements on another 90,000 acres. Some of the easements lands are open to public recreation.Carr gave much of the credit for the Finch, Pruyn deal to his staff. “It was nine years in a full-court press by an amazing staff,” he said. “It took everything we had to cross the finish line for Boreas.”
Two weeks ago, the Adirondack chapter took the unusual step of offering a land-classification proposal for the Boreas Ponds Tract. The tract’s classification will determine, among other things, how much motorized use is allowed. The Adirondack Park Agency, however, did not include the conservancy’s proposal among the four options that will be presented to the public at hearings in November and December.
“We’re hoping it still gets serious consideration,” Carr replied when asked if he was disappointed by the APA’s action. The important thing, he said, is that Boreas Ponds be protected for future generations.
“This is an opportunity that will not come back to us,” he said. The Nature Conservancy’s proposal was more protective than any of the APA’s alternatives.
Photo of Mike Carr provided by Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
Maybe now that he is leaving, Mike can help explain this:
Chris, These look like pretty small clear cuts. Selective cutting does not mean that there will not be some clear cutting in places where it makes sense from a forestry perspective.
Those are 15 acre clearcuts, each equal to about 12 football fields. And when did clearcutting become “selective” logging? How perfectly Orwellian. And when did clearcutting at all, and especially next to a pond become “forestry”? It is nothing but lazy, lucrative deforestry, and when practiced by an “environmental’ group in a Park, it should be on the front page of the NY Times.
Instead of making excuses, at a minimum it should be denounced by those calling themselves “conservationists”.
I don’t know what was there on the ground, but there are absolutely conditions in which a 15-acre clearcut could be responsible forestry.
Perhaps there were invasive species present. Or large stands of diseased/dying trees.
I am familiar with FSC logging standards, and there are definitely times limited clearcuts meet those standards.
This is not an isolated incident. Recently, there has been a significant increase in clearcutting of Adirondack Park forests. Even the Adirondack Council has noted the problem, see page 16. http://www.adirondackcouncil.org/uploads/sop_archive/1473179678_SOP%202016%20FINAL.pdf
A while back I tried to get some rational explanation for this clearcutting around the pond from the State and TNC, but nobody would respond.
If you “fly” over Adirondack Park with Google Earth in areas not protected by state land, you can see plenty of clearcutting going on, and much increased from historical amounts. (You can go back in time with Google Earth to make comparisons)
Here is a series of Google Earth images showing the progression of clearcutting not far from Blue Mountain. It is on page 5 which I just added.
FSC allows the use of chemical herbicides and fertilizers and clearcutting as a general practice. How is that “green” forestry? See FSC-watch:
Please also see my response to Paul below.
These are small relative to the vast tracts of timber land involved. 12 football fields sounds large when you perspective is a city park but these are very large tracts of forest land under management. Trees will grow back in these cuts. None of them look to be on precipitous slopes so erosion should not be an issue. Be patient it takes time for trees to grow. Makes for catchy fliers to attack a group like TNC but its not very forestry science based.
Sorry, but clearcutting is not good “forestry”, it is lazy, lucrative, destructive, “deforestry” used to make a quick buck. If you disagree, go argue with E.O. Wilson. http://www.maforests.org/Timberspeak.pdf
The fact that this is happening on lands owned by a supposed “green” group is rightly scandalous. I doubt the people donating to TNC would be happy to know their donations go to an “environmental group” clearcutting forests in Adirondack Park. Clearcutting is also the worst option in terms of carbon impacts. p. 8 http://www.maforests.org/Keeton.pdf
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that the Nature Conservancy, and some other groups like them, have morphed into Nature, Inc., and work as a PR arm for government and industry when they need a good greenwash.
While we here in the Northeast have benefited to some degree that TNC acted as a middle man for transferring some of the Finch Pruyn lands to the state (they probably made a bundle in the process), it is debatable whether the environment is better off with or without TNC in the world.
I believe on balance, they do more damage than good, especially by undermining many genuinely green efforts and by endorsing many genuinely brown projects.
Here is a good story in the WA Post showing what TNC is really about:
Here is TNC wrecking a certified Adirondack Trout Stream:
Here they are in bed with BP:
Here they are in bed with Plum Creek Timber, cutting Montana forests so aggressively a judge stopped the logging:
In Massachusetts they enthusiastically argued in favor of a 400% increase in logging, most of it clearcutting, on state public forests. http://www.maforests.org/Report.pdf p. 36
Maybe the fact that the Chairman of the Board, Roger Milliken Jr. was a timber industry lobbyist has something to do with so much logging by this so-called “environmental” group.
Or maybe the fact that the president of TNC, Mark Tercek, who makes about $500,000 each year was previously a managing director at Goldman Sachs:
It is time for genuine conservationists to wake up and smell the Big Green Inc. greenwash, not only because it is a tragic betrayal, but because TNC and other big “green” groups like them often run interference against genuine environmental advocacy.
More on that here:
I can hear the excuses now, but there is no excuse for exploiting nature in the name of protecting it.
Sincerely pissed off,
EO Wilson’s specialty is ants not forestry. You are clearly have some kind of agenda here so I will leave you to it.
The only thing I would add is that the 69,000 acres from the TNC being added to the NYS forest preserve have been managed the same way by some of the same timber companies for over 100 years and the consensus there by everyone looking at these forest tracts now – is that they are a “gem”. So it sounds like somebody was doing something right. All your pictures are done pretty much during or shortly after a timber operation. Let’s take a look at the same places 50 years from now. Basically the whole of the Adirondacks was a clear cut at one time and look at it now.
Yes, I definitely have an agenda. Stop clearcutting the forests in Adirondack park.
By the way, E.O. Wilson is one of the worlds most respected biologists, specializing in biodiversity, including yes ants. If you don’t want to believe E.O. Wilson, you can think about listening to the other 599 biologists, ecologists, foresters, and scientists who came out publicly against clearcutting forests. See page 7. http://www.maforests.org/Timberspeak.pdf
Common sense is all one really needs anyway.
“Anyone can identify destructive forest practices. You don’t have to be a professional forester to recognize bad forestry any more than you need to be a doctor to recognize ill health. If logging looks bad, it is bad. If a forest appears to be mismanaged, it is mismanaged.”
~Gordon Robinson, Chief Forester Southern Pacific Land Company
Funny thing is there generally was NOT any clearcutting going on when Finch Pruyn was managing these lands. The clearcutting started after TNC purchased the lands.
If clearcutting in some forms is legal within the Park, then you would probably be better off pointing the finger at the legislation that enables it. I don’t agree with clearcutting, but if what these companies are doing is legal, I don’t see much recourse other than changing the laws.
Yes, you are right, the ultimate solution is to change the laws, but it seems fair to expect that an “environmental” group should be held accountable for clearcutting “protected” forests while claiming to defend nature.
Historically, clearcutting has been generally more limited in the Adirondacks, but it has been increasing lately, page 16:
which is no doubt in large part from the change to Timberland Investment Management Organizations (TIMOs):
Congrats to Mike on a great tenure at ANC!
Corrected some acreage figures and added a quote from conservancy spokeswoman Connie Prickett on Follensby Pond.