Newcomb, NY – Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve presents its 2023 awards at an annual meeting on Friday, October 6, 2023, at the Newcomb Visitor Interpretive Center, operated by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The meeting is free and open to the public. Same day registration at the Newcomb VIC begins at 10:30 a.m. Award ceremonies begin at 2 p.m. For a full meeting agenda and to register, visit adirondackwild.org/events.
Steve Englebright, former chair of the New York State Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, will receive the group’s highest honor, the Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award, for his embrace of the “forever wild” clause of the New York State constitution and his thirty-year record sponsoring environmental laws to improve the quality of life in the state.
His many accomplishments include:
- laws protective of the Long Island Pine Barrens and its sole source aquifer, the drinking water source for several million people;
- the first significant increase in the statewide Environmental Conservation Fund in many years, now grown to $400 million;
- the 2019 Climate and Community Protection Act which, among other provisions, mandates that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by 40% by 2030;
- the most significant strengthening of the Freshwater Wetlands Act since 1975;
- the 2017 Forest Preserve health and safety land account, a carefully crafted land exchange authorizing local highway improvements adjacent to the Forest Preserve;
- An act to preserve ecological integrity, wildlife, and open space in the Adirondack Park, which passed the State Assembly in 2022.
The Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award is named after Paul Schaefer (1908-1996), leading defender of the “forever wild” Forest Preserve and founder of Friends of the Forest Preserve.
The Northeast Wilderness Trust, headquartered in Montpelier, VT, will receive the group’s Wild Stewardship Award for a 20-year record of acquiring and connecting wildlands throughout the Adirondacks and the Northern Forest. N.E.W.T’s exemplary work includes acquisition of land parcels connecting Lake Champlain with the High Peaks Wilderness, the Split Rock Wildway; Eagle Mountain connecting Lake Champlain valley with the Jay Mountain Wilderness; and most recently at Bear Pond Preserve which will re-wild a private inholding and eventually become a seamless part of the Five Ponds Wilderness. These and other accomplishments align with Adirondack Wild’s own vision for an interconnected, unfragmented network of protected public and private wildlands across the Adirondack Park.
Also presenting at the meeting will be Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Director of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, or ADI. ADI exists at the intersection of environmental and transformational justice. ADI works to make the Adirondacks a welcoming and inclusive place for both residents and visitors while ensuring a vital and sustainable Adirondack Park for future generations. Its vision is for an Adirondack Park and North Country where ALL people feel a sense of safety, connection, and belonging whether they live here or are visiting.
Also, SUNY ESF Newcomb Associate Director Paul Hai, host for the annual meeting, will speak about progress made during the first year of the Timbuctoo Climate and Career Institute involving students from the City University of New York’s Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY. The students spent several weeks studying climate and related ecological sciences with a goal of contemplating future careers. Paul Hai will present what was learned and discovered. Timbuctoo Climate and Career Institute is funded through the New York State Legislature, with special support from the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian legislative caucus, the Adirondack Council, SUNY ESF, and the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not for profit, membership organization devoted to the protection and stewardship of wilderness and other wild lands through advocacy and education. The organization protects wild lands from threats, holds officials accountable and proposes policy reforms. More on the web at adirondackwild.org.
Photo at top: Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve logo. Image courtesy of David Gibson, managing partner, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.