The Adirondack Council will present its Conservationist of the Year Award to Barbara Linell Glaser, EdD, during the organization’s Forever Wild Day celebration on July 9th at Great Camp Sagamore, near the Adirondack hamlet of Raquette Lake.
Glaser joined the Adirondack Council’s board of directors in 1976, just a year after the organization was founded, at the age of 25. A native of Minnesota, she spent the next 25 years as a board member, studying the history of and challenges faced by the Adirondack Park, and learning how to advocate for the protection of wildlife, pure waters and wilderness.
Along the way, Glaser developed a deep friendship with one of the organization’s founders and oldest board members, Clarence Petty. She sat next to him at every meeting, benefiting from his experience and offering her energy and youthful enthusiasm.
Clarence Petty was a native of the Adirondacks who spent his lifetime working to ensure good stewardship of the state’s public lands and sound decision-making about private land use in the Adirondack Park. He inspired many young conservationists. He and Glaser spent a generation together as colleagues building and leading the largest environmental organization in the Adirondack Park.
In 2003, as she was leaving the Board after 25 years of service, Glaser established the Clarence Petty Internship Program in honor of her friend and mentor. Characteristically, Petty was the first person to make a contribution beyond Glaser’s.
For more than 21 years, this program has supported a paid internship for students seeking experience in conservation, government relations, communications and organized environmental activism. Along the way, it has prepared nearly 70 young people and a handful of adult students for careers in environmental advocacy and conservation.
Glaser moved to the Adirondacks in the early 70s to join the staff of an educational conference center. By the age of 26, she had become founding co-director with Howard Kirschenbaum of Great Camp Sagamore, rescuing the aging architectural gem from the prospect of demolition. They worked to restore the iconic historic buildings that have come to be known as the preeminent Adirondack Great Camp, now a National Historic Landmark. Sagamore is an active cultural and education center, open to the public, welcoming people of all generations to experience the central Adirondacks and its history.
Gary Randorf, the early Executive Director of the Adirondack Council recruited Glaser at Sagamore to join the Board of the Adirondack Council.
Clarence Petty was 70 years old when Glaser joined the board. He had recently retired from state service as a regional forester for the Dept. of Environmental Conservation and a staff member of the fledgling Adirondack Park Agency. There, he and the Council’s first staff member, Randorf, walked and mapped the park’s river systems. Petty passed away in 2009 at the age of 104; Randorf in 2019 at the age of 82.
Glaser was elected chair of the Council’s board of directors from 1989 through 1991, serving at a particularly challenging time for the organization as it matured from a “council” of its founding organizations (Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, Adirondack Mountain Club, Hawkeye Conservationists, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc.) to an independent organization.
At the same time, the organization came under attack from a small group of mean-spirited private property-rights activists who were opposed to state environmental protections for the Adirondacks. Council board and staff were subjected to repeated harassment and occasional violence during this period. Glaser’s steady hand helped cooler heads to prevail as local and state authorities brought the vigilantes to justice.
She relied on Petty and Randorf and other old hands for advice, then worked together to steer the course through those tumultuous times. Glaser spearheaded the effort to expand the organization’s staff and outreach, opening an Albany office and engaging directly with state and federal officials on a full-time basis. The Adirondack Council grew from having just a few thousand members, mostly in Albany, Syracuse and the New York metropolitan area to more than 10,000 throughout the state and the Northeast. The organization has continued to grow and now has advocates in all 50 United States.
In 1998, to assist the organization with its fight against acid rain, Glaser commissioned a new educational booklet ACID RAIN: A Continuing National Tragedy and companion video. They explained the damage being done by air pollution and the solutions that were needed. They served as the organization’s main tools in the efforts to defend the national Acid Rain Program and secure additional relief in the form of the federal Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.
In addition to her guiding role in the restoration of Great Camp Sagamore, Glaser and her first husband Howard acquired neighboring Great Camp Uncas and organized a small cadre of preservationists to protect its equally historic and unique William West Durant buildings on Mohegan Lake. Remaining in private ownership, this National Landmark property remains programmatically affiliated with Great Camp Sagamore and together are part of the Great Camps Historic District.
In addition to her work in Hamilton County, Glaser has worked to improve the quality of life for Saratoga County residents. She helped to establish the regional Community Hospice and the Foundation for Hospices in sub-Saharan Africa, creating partnership between American and African hospice programs. She has actively championed local farmland and forest conservation efforts, historic building restoration and environmental education through her company Linell Lands, Inc., and the Nordlys Foundation.
Glaser helped to found the regional land trust Saratoga PLAN, and is a founding board member of Pitney Meadows Community Farm. She has served on the board of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, where she and Petty founded a Conservation Internship program.
She is currently secretary of the Adirondack Land Trust, where she has worked with Clarence Petty’s son Ed to establish the Internship for the Future of the Adirondacks. A recent ALT intern, Jessica Grant, is now a full time Executive and Fund Development Assistant with the Adirondack Council. The land trust was founded by the Adirondack Council, which later transferred control to the board of the Adirondack chapter of The Nature Conservancy, due to their similar missions. ALT now has its own building in Keene and an independent board.
In 2010, Glaser was appointed to the board of the NYS Parks Commission for the Saratoga/Capital Region. In 2019, Glaser was granted the Harold K. Hochschild award by the Adirondack Experience/ADKX (formerly the Adirondack Museum) in honor of her work to preserve and enhance the region’s culture and quality of life.
The Adirondack Council had planned to honor Barbara Glaser with its Conservationist of the Year award at an in-person Forever Wild Day celebration in July of 2020. Those plans were prevented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The award will be presented to Glaser at the organization’s July 9th virtual membership meeting. She will be congratulated by board and staff members at an in-person quarterly board meeting the next day in Raquette Lake.
Also at this year’s awards ceremony, Glaser will receive special greetings from former Council interns, including State University of New York Chancellor James Malatras, whose Clarence Petty Internship for the Rockefeller Institute of Public Policy was with the Council’s Albany office.
Other Conservationist of the Year Award winners include: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson; NY Governors Mario M. Cuomo and George E. Pataki; New York Times editor John Oakes; NYS Attorney General Dennis Vacco; NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Commissioners John P. Cahill, Erin Crotty and Joseph Martens; Senator Carl Marcellino; Assemblymen Richard Brodsky and Maurice Hinchey; Adirondack Park Agency Executive Director Robert Glennon; Adirondack environmental activists Timothy Barnett, Frances Beinecke, Peter Borrelli, Michael Carr, George Davis, Christopher “Kim” Elliman, John and Margot Ernst, Harold Jerry, Bill McKibben, Chris Navitsky, David L. Newhouse, Peter Paine, Clarence Petty and Paul Schaefer.
For more information visit the Adirondack Council’s website.