David Brunner and Joe Martens have joined the board of directors of the Adirondack Land Trust.
David Brunner, of Au Sable Forks, owns and operates Asgaard Farm & Dairy with his wife, Rhonda Butler. Asgaard was the home of artist Rockwell Kent from the 1920s until his death in 1971. Brunner and Butler acquired the farm in 1988. After working to restore the land and buildings, they put the former dairy farm back into production in 2003. Today Asgaard is known for award-winning goat cheeses and pastured meats, including beef, pork and poultry. Brunner worked previously in finance with BNP Paribas. » Continue Reading.
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. » Continue Reading.
In one of his last acts as the state’s environmental conservation commissioner, Joe Martens overturned a predecessor’s finding that part of the Jackrabbit Ski Trail was still a town road and therefore could be open to snowmobiles, ATVs, and other vehicles.
Martens, who left his post last week, wrote in a July 22 decision that the road had long been abandoned and so the state had the power to close it to vehicular use. The road in question — known as the Old Mountain Road — cuts through the Sentinel Range Wilderness between Keene and North Elba.
Joe Martens’ announced departure this month as State Environmental Conservation Commissioner prompts a post of appreciation and a note of apprehension about his future successor.
I have no right, and certainly possess inadequate, incomplete knowledge and understanding to write anything comprehensive about the Commissioner. But throughout four challenging years as head of the DEC, working for a very controlling boss, the Commissioner seemed to remain true to himself. From my point of view, he listened, welcomed input, kept his good sense of humor, could disagree without being disagreeable, and at times privately welcomed criticism of DEC’s performance, capacity and budget. While others in his position might get prickly under similar circumstances, Joe remained approachable. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says it submitted a proposed amendment to the 2010 Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan (UMP) on Wednesday to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in an attempt to change the UMP to be consistent with the constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2013 that permits, in the words of a DEC press release, “exploratory sampling” on the state-owned wilderness area in the Town of Lewis, Essex County. » Continue Reading.
Given Governor Andrew Cuomo’s projected $2 billion surplus, his environmental agencies could have used a bit of a budgetary boost.
One can always hope. But readers already know this is not the case. Cuomo’s Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Joe Martens, made it explicit when he testified recently to legislative committees “Basically, this is a flat budget staff-wise,” he told legislators who politely questioned why his DEC budget appeared to be cut $43 million.
“Those dollars were non-reoccurring federal pass-through funds,” the commissioner answered. “Those are not cuts to our operating funds.” When questioned about the apparent loss of staff, the commissioner answered that those were DEC information technology personnel moved to a central IT office in Albany. » Continue Reading.
Words of wisdom can be found in the latest issue of the Conservationist magazine, published bimonthly by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. In his introductory letter to readers, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens makes the following comments that have special application to the proposed Adirondack Rail Trail that would run 90 miles between Old Forge and Lake Placid. Following the Commissioner’s comments are observations of our own. » Continue Reading.
State officials are considering a variety of possible recreational uses, both motorized and non-motorized, for the former Finch, Pruyn lands, according to Joe Martens, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Martens said officials from DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency have been in discussions with various stakeholders, including environmental groups and local officials, on what types of recreation would be appropriate on the 21,200 acres acquired in the past year from the Nature Conservancy.
Martens told Adirondack Almanack that he believes the lands, which are split among three tracts, can accommodate a wide variety of recreation, including snowmobiling, without putting natural resources at risk. He declined to say where he thought snowmobiling might be allowed.
Joe Martens may be the head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, but he is no different from a lot of paddlers: he couldn’t wait to canoe a stretch of the upper Hudson River recently added to the Forest Preserve.
On Tuesday, Martens and Mike Carr, executive director of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, led a flotilla of canoes on an all-day trip down the river, giving us a preview of an excursion that will soon be open to the public, perhaps in a few weeks. » Continue Reading.
New York State has purchased 518 acres of land in northern Oneida County which will become the area’s newest state forest, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The acquisition in the Town of Forestport will protect almost a mile of Black River shoreline, just outside the Adirondack Park.
According to the press announcement, the state paid $385,400 for the land, which came from the Environmental Protection Fund. The property will be its own named state forest, as it is not adjacent to other state forests and will remain on local property tax rolls. The property is characterized by shady ravines with several springs that run year round, northern hardwood and coniferous forests, bogs with rare plants like pitcher plants and forested wetlands. The area is adjacent to conservation easement lands that protect the Town of Forestport water wells and will provide added protection for the Town’s water supply. » Continue Reading.
The state’s newly signed contract to buy sixty-nine thousand acres of former Finch Paper lands won’t end the controversy over the future of these forests, lakes, and rivers. The next battle will be over their classification: Wilderness or Wild Forest?
Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed Sunday that the state will acquire the land over the next five years, adding it to the Forest Preserve and paying the Adirondack Nature Conservancy a total of $49.8 million.
The governor’s announcement in Lake Placid put to rest any doubts about the state’s intentions. Some political leaders in the Adirondack Park had been lobbying the state to protect the land with conservation easements rather than add it to the Forest Preserve. This option would have allowed logging to continue and hunting clubs to remain as leaseholders. » Continue Reading.
In a letter today complaining to The New York Times about its coverage of a new Department of Environmental Conservation study on fracking, commissioner Joe Martens lists the Adirondack Mountain Club as one of three environmental groups who support its move toward partially ending the freeze on the controversial gas-drilling technique.
Except that’s not the case. In fact, the Mountain Club (ADK) supports only the DEC’s decision not to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing on state-owned forests, parks and wildlife reserves. “This is great news and a major victory for the 28,000 members of the Adirondack Mountain Club who use these lands for outdoor recreation,” ADK director Neil Woodworth said in a statement released Thursday.
“Like our many environmental allies, we share a deep concern about the potential environmental impacts of fracking on drinking water, rivers, streams and other natural resources,” ADK’s statement continued. ADK plans to read and analyze the DEC’s study before making further comment. The report is scheduled to be released at 5 p.m. today. (Happy Fourth of July weekend, reporters.)
Hydraulic fracturing would affect mainly the Southern Tier of New York State, which is underlain by a massive shale formation containing natural gas pockets. The Adirondack Park is not expected to be affected.
Joe Martens, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s choice to become the state’s new Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, was instrumental in protecting the 1,423-acre Berry Pond Tract on Prospect Mountain that includes the headwaters of West Brook.
Protecting the land was a crucial part of the West Brook Conservation Initiative, a $15 million project to restore the water quality of Lake George’s south basin; as president of the Open Space Institute, Martens arranged a $2.64 million loan to the Lake George Land Conservancy to buy the property. “We wouldn’t have been able to protect the Berry Pomd Tract without OSI, and Joe Martens was instrumental in securing the OSI’s loan to the Conservancy,” said Nancy Williams, executive director of the Lake George Land Conservancy.
“Joe Martens understood the importance of the Berry Pond tract and the necessity to protect it from development if we are to protect the water quality of Lake George,” said Walt Lender, the executive director of the Lake George Association.
When Cuomo announced that he would nominate Martens to head the Department of Environmental Conservation on January 4, Lake George conservation groups were unanimous in their praise.
“Joe Martens has a strong grasp of the importance of Lake George to this area’s economy and way of life. We expect him to be an advocate for protecting the environment around the state and around Lake George; we all know that when we protect the lake, we protect this area’s most important economic asset,” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George.
“It’s a positive sign that someone who’s already familiar with our issues, who has an intimate knowledge of Lake George and the Adirondacks, has been appointed to the position,” said Lender.
“We feel his experience and leadership on conservation issues will set a good precedent for the Department and hopefully sets a strong commitment for the new administration on environmental issues,” said Chris Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper.
According to The Fund for Lake George, Martens brings a long resume in state government to the new position. In addition to serving as president of the Open Space Institute and president of ORDA, he worked in the State Legislature, as an administrator at the Adirondack Park Agency, and as a top environmental aide to Governor Mario Cuomo.
Martens studied Resource Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and received an M.S. in Resource Management from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University. Photo: Tim Barnett, Adirondack Nature Conservancy; Dave Decker, Lake George Watershed Coalition; Peter Bauer, The Fund for Lake George; Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village; Walt Lender, Lake George Association; Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward; DEC Region 5 director Betsy Lowe; Nancy Williams, Lake George Land Conservancy; with Joe Martens in Lake George to announce the protection of the Berry Pond Tract, 2008.
There were hints last week that it would happen, but it’s official, Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) Chair and Open Space Institute (OSI) President Joesph Martens has been nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo to head the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Martens has quite a legacy already in the Adirondack region. Under his leadership OSI secured protection of the 10,000-acre Tahawus property and most recently the 2,350-acre Camp Little Notch in Fort Ann. Martens also spearheaded OSI’s involvement in the Nature Conservancy’s 161,000-acre Finch Pryun purchase. » Continue Reading.
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