The Adirondack Council announced it has hired three new staff members for an expanded fund development and communications team to allow the organization to better help the Adirondack Park meet a growing list of challenges including record popularity.
The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.
Joining the fund development team is Amanda Birchenough of Saranac Lake, in a new position of Associate Development Director. Amanda has most recently been the Associate Director of Reunion Giving at St. Lawrence University since 2017 and lives in Saranac Lake. She previously worked in fund development for Middlebury College in Vermont, and the University of Rochester. She will work with Development Director Debbie Pastore and Development Assistant Jess Kelley, in the Council’s Elizabethtown headquarters, and from an expanded Council office in Saranac Lake.
Former Adirondack Daily Enterprise Outdoor Writer Justin Levine of Vermontville has joined the communications team as Communications and Outreach Assistant. Justin is based at the Saranac Lake office. He will work with Communication Director John Sheehan in Albany, and Membership Director Tyler Frakes in Elizabethtown, among others. Levine was working in communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and had previously worked as a recreation specialist with the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.
Jessica Grant of Plattsburgh will become Executive and Development Assistant, working with Executive Director William C. Janeway and others in Elizabethtown. She had formerly served as an intern with the NYS Senate and with the Adirondack Land Trust in Keene and was working in communications for the Plattsburgh YWCA until she was hired by the Council.
The 9,300-square-mile Adirondack Park is the largest park in the contiguous United States. It safeguards the largest intact, temperate deciduous forest on earth. About half of the park is a Forest Preserve protected from logging or development by the NYS Constitution since 1894. The original Forest Preserve was less than half its current size, but the preserve remains incomplete.
The Adirondack Council’s 2020 VISION program plans (published starting in 1988) recommended key additions, about two-thirds of which have been purchased or otherwise protected by the state. The initial stages of the Council’s VISION 2050 park-improvement project are currently underway.
The preserve is intermixed with a patchwork of commercial timberlands, private estates, farms, resorts and 130 rural communities, only nine of which are large enough to be incorporated villages. The park covers parts of 92 towns within 12 counties. More than 130,000 people reside in the park year-round.
Normally, summer weather sees the park’s population swell to twice that number with the addition of seasonal homeowners and renters. In the age of COVID, real estate sales have skyrocketed as has the year-round population. The shift began during, and just after, the federal census, so the trends haven’t yet been quantified.
The Adirondack Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, and vibrant communities. The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States.
Photos, from above: Amanda Birchenough; Justin Levine; and Jessica Grant provided.