The Kelly Adirondack Center will host an upcoming program called “Inside The Green Lobby with Bernard Melewski and Brad Edmondson” on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. at Karp 105, Union College Campus. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be available beginning at 5 p.m. Retired lobbyist Bernard Melewski, author of Inside The Green Lobby, and journalist Brad Edmondson, author of A Wild Idea, will team up to tell a story about how politics made strange bedfellows in the Adirondack Park.
Between 1990 and 1994, a state commission’s spectacular failure forced a new coalition of activists, brokers, and elected officials to come together. They would protect a million acres of the Park over the next decade.
Inside the Green Lobby recounts the behind-the-scenes efforts, both at the State Capitol in Albany and the halls of Congress, of a lobbyist for a major environmental advocacy group. Bernard C. Melewski worked to save the six-million acre Adirondack Park from twin threats to its future: the devastating damage from acid rain and the sudden breakup of massive private land holdings that had been intact for almost one hundred years.
Starting with the political uproar ignited by the recommendations of New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s 1990 Adirondack Park Commission, and the rejection by the public of a new environmental bond act, Inside the Green Lobby documents the events that led to the sudden acquisition by New York State of tens of thousands of acres within the park that the public now enjoys. From strategy sessions with lobbyists to private meetings with legislators, governors, members of Congress, and even the President of the United States, Melewski recounts engaging and entertaining stories that introduce how environmental advocates successfully pursue legislative and policy change.
Bernard Melewski is an environmental attorney, organic farmer, and farm winery owner in Altamont, New York.
A Wild Idea shares the complete story of the difficult birth of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The Adirondack region of New York’s rural North Country forms the nation’s largest State Park, with a territory as large as Vermont. Planning experts view the APA as a triumph of sustainability that balances human activity with the preservation of wild ecosystems. The truth isn’t as pretty. The story of the APA, told here for the first time, is a complex, troubled tale of political dueling and communities pushed to the brink of violence.
The North Country’s environmental movement started among a small group of hunters and hikers, rose on a huge wave of public concern about pollution that crested in the early 1970s, and overcame multiple obstacles to “save” the Adirondacks. Edmondson shows how the movement’s leaders persuaded a powerful Governor to recruit planners, naturalists, and advisors and assign a task that had never been attempted before. The team and the politicians who supported them worked around the clock to draft two visionary land-use plans and turn them into law. But they also made mistakes, and their strict regulations were met with determined opposition from local landowners who insisted that private property is private.
A Wild Idea is based on in-depth interviews with five dozen insiders who are central to the story. Their observations contain many surprising and shocking revelations. This is a rich, exciting narrative about state power and how it was imposed on rural residents. It shows how the Adirondacks were “saved,” and also why that campaign sparked a passionate rebellion.
Photo at top: Whiteface Mt. view. Photo courtesy of the Kelly Adirondack Center.