Property Rights Foundation of America®

2. Adirondack Council
(Latest update 2001)

P. O. Box D-2
Church Street
Elizabethtown, NY 12932-0640

(518) 873-2240
Fax: (518) 873-6675

Key Personnel

Staff: Timothy J. Burke, Executive Director
Michael G. DiNunzio, Director of Research and Education
Bernard Melewski, Legislative Director
Gary A. Randorf, Senior Counselor
John F. Sheehan, Communications Director

Membership

18,000 (1999 news report, same number as 1996 mailing)

Finances

Assets: $1,271,240 (1997); income: $1,904,047 (1997). Public charity.

In 1994, spent $207,711 on fund-raising, more than any group concerned with Adirondack landowner rights spent during that year for its entire budget. Oddly, its 1994 IRS 990 form states that it spent nothing on "printing and publications."

Either the operating funds or the assets of the Adirondack Council alone exceed the combined Adirondack-related expenditures of every local landowners, government and property rights group concerned significantly about the excesses of environmental restrictions in the Adirondack Park.

Coalition Involvements

Adirondack Mountain Club
Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Environmental Advocates
National Audubon Society
National Parks and Conservation Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
Northern Forest Alliance
Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks
The Wilderness Society

Honorary chairs and co-chairs of their 1995 20th anniversary included: Jane Pauley, Garry B. Trudeau, Rick and Candace Beinecke, Kim Elliman, John and Margot Paul Ernst, Gary Heurich, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Sally Engelhard Pingree, David and Ruth Skovron, Thomas D. Thacher, II, Sigourney Weaver, Curtis R. Welling.

The scores of prominent individuals on the benefit committee included Arthur Crocker, James C. Dawson (Prof. SUNY, 21st Comm. Technical Reports, DEC Reg. 5 Open Space Advisory Comm.), Richard Lawrence (orig. APA chairman), Clarence A. Petty (Rockefeller Temporary Study Commission and Geo. Davis mentor), Barbara McMartin (author Adir. hiking guides), Paul Schaefer (deceased, "Mr." Assn. Prot. Adirs.), and Norman Van Valkenburgh (Open Space Inst., formerly DEC).

Organizational Description and Goals

Founded in 1975, The Adirondack Council is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the natural and open space character of the Adirondack Park (the "Forever Wild" clause) through media relations, lobbying and legal action when necessary. It is the best-known preservationist spokesman on Adirondack issues.

The Council was formed to monitor the operations of the APA, which was deemed to be too weakly constituted.

The Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, National Parks and Conservation Association—were recently listed as the current coalition making up the Adirondack Council. According to the first edition of this report, the National Audubon Society was also among the founding coalition until a Dick Beamish and Eric Siy left the Council for the Audubon Society after a dispute over their excessively hard line against opponents over the Twenty-first Century Commission report.

In 1990, the Council stated that it advocated a final goal of 53% State ownership of land in the Adirondack Park.

Board of Directors

Stephen K. Allinger
Peter R. Borrelli, Chair (formerly vice pres. Open Space Institute)
David Bronston
Alison Hudnut Clarkson
James C. Dawson, Ph.D. (SUNY Plattsburgh, Member DEC Reg. 5 Open Space Committee)
Joanne W. Dwyer
Barbara L. Glaser
Alyse Gray
Gary F. Heurich
George F. Lamb
Ernest LaPrairie
Clarence A. Petty (Member of Temporary Study Commission on the Adirondacks)
Peter B. Pope
Katharine M. Preston
John K. Ryder (Formerly Member of APA Commission)

Publications

Adirondack Council Newsletter (quarterly)

Its most influential publication was the 2020 Vision reports, published in three volumes. A summary was published in 1992.

Comments

(1) Fund-raising.

The Adirondack Council effectively uses its fear-driven fund-raising to sustain its lobbying. The most recent example was the Champion International sale of 139,000 acres in the Adirondacks to the State of New York as fee simple (29,000 ac.) and conservation easements (110,000 ac.). After the sale, a totally successful effort by the Council and other environmental groups over the protests of local towns and landowner interests, was announced in December l998 with great fanfare as the largest ever State purchase of land for preservation, the Council in the spring of 1999 sent out a fund-raising letter headlining, For Sale: Your Natural Heritage-The Adirondack Park, opening with the underlined words, "Are you and I witnessing the beginning of the end of the wild Adirondack Park." Then it went on to describe the "threat" of "enormous land liquidation" posed by the Champion sale and other timber lands "on the block."

Other successful fear-driven fund-raising in recent years has included the "threat" to the Forever Wild clause posed by salvage logging after the 1995 blowdown, the "threat" to old growth forests, the acid rain "threat," the "threat" of the proposed Whitney subdivision, the Lake Champlain pollution "threat," the landfill threat, and the "threat" of mall development (in this ominous problem, the Council pretends to take the side of local people while arguing for the APA's increased jurisdiction).

(2) Lobbying

The Council "works on every government level" and—in addition to its part in the issues noted above-takes credit for helping pass the Clean Air, Clean Water Bond Act, assuring adequate funding for the state Environmental Protection Fund and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The Council is assisting in Defenders of Wildlife's wolf reintroduction campaign. Ottaway News Service quotes Mike DiNunzio, a "research specialist" for the Adirondack Council in September l998: "The wolf is controversial but we think the proposal for the Adirondacks does make sense." It was part of the state's natural heritage, he said, and might be a new tourist draw and control the overflow of beavers now causing erosion. He said on one occasion that wolf are needed because deer browsing is reducing timber production. In 1992 DiNunzio called for the reintroduction of the cougar and wolf in the "Bob Marshall Wilderness."

In July l999 presented the "Conservationist of the Year" award to DEC Comm. John Cahill for the acquisition of the Champion and Whitney lands and other things.

(3) Major areas of influence

The Council's 2020 Vision reports were the foundation for the Twenty-first Century Commission and its 1990 report. Council staffers developed and wrote most of the recommendations in the report. The Council greatly influenced the squelching of the Governor's intention to allow salvage logging after the 1995 blowdown. The Council successfully secured the State acquisition of 15,000 acres from the Whitney Estate, which is part of the area it covets for State ownership as part of the "Bob Marshall Wilderness" and "Oswegatchie Great Forest." "It's taken seven years of my life to reach this point," stated John Sheehan when the State's Whitney land plan was released in April 1998.

Takes primary New York credit for the U.S. Forest Service involvement and subsequent formation of the Northern Forest Lands Council, passage of the Forest Legacy Act, and formation of the Northern Forest Lands Alliance.

The Council brought issues related to ownership and use of so-called Canal lands to State attention.

The Council greatly influences the State's Open Space Plan policies related to the Adirondacks and exerts great inside influence on the APA.

(4) Successful Spin

At a rally for Sen. Stafford in June l992, John Sheehan, the Council's communications director, got into a fist fight with Cal Carr of the Adirondack Solidarity Alliance. Both claimed the other started it, but no charges were filed. In some cases, media coverage of the rally was overshadowed by the coverage of the fight, portraying Sheehan as the victimized, peaceful naturalist and Carr as the crazed Adirondack land owner. This and a similar incident involving Maynard Baker and Earth First activist Jeff Elliott of Lancaster, N. H., at Crane Pond Road are still cited by environmentalist authors and media as examples of violence by Adirondackers.

(5) Failures

In addition to losing its campaign for passage of the strict Twenty-first Century legislation in 1990-92 and the failure of the 1990 Environmental Quality Bond Act, the Council experienced the State's dropping of both the lynx and the moose reintroduction efforts over the its objections. Its opposition to the constitutional amendment to allow for improved landing at the Piseco Airport was defeated by referendum.

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