Behind the Loon: Meet John Davis

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There are so many reasons our Adirondack Council team is great, and we want to give you a chance to meet every one of them and their talents, quirks, and passions. We will be highlighting a member of our team each month. It’s so nice to meet you! 

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Meet John Davis

Originally from Red Sox country (and begging forgiveness from his Yankee friends!), John Davis chose the Adirondack Park when he returned to the East from wilderness work out West, because he considers it the wildest landscape in the East – but not yet wild enough. John has explored wild places throughout the country, but especially in what he hopes will eventually be an Atlantic/Appalachian/Adirondack/Algonquin Wildway in eastern North America and a Spine of the Continent Wildway in western North America. John lives with his wife Denise Wilson-Davis in Essex when not roaming the forest.

What’s your role at the Council?

I’m fortunate to assist the Adirondack Council to keep the Adirondack Park as wild, connected, and abundant as possible. As Rewilding Advocate for the Adirondack Council, I help other Council staff and board and other conservation groups protect more lands and waters, restore healthy wildlife populations, and reconnect the Park to surrounding wildlands. I’m especially involved in work to protect Split Rock Wildway, linking Lake Champlain with the High Peaks; and the Adirondack Park to Algonquin Park (A2A) Wildway. I also advocate for current or past residents of our region who may need extra help from conservationists – including American Eel, Puma, Wolf, Moose, and American Chestnut.

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It’s Friday 5 PM.  What are your plans for the weekend?

I spend as much time as possible exploring wild places, especially here in Adirondack Park. So, when Friday arrives (perhaps ending with beers at the local brewery with Council friends), I’m likely looking at maps to see what hills to ramble or ponds to paddle. I try to understand land from the perspectives of some of its wild inhabitants, particularly the wide-ranging ones; so often I’m looking for how creatures like bears, wild cats, and otters may move through a landscape, and how we can make it safe for them to do so. If I’m extra lucky, I may be guided on an outing by one of the biologists I’ve been lucky to befriend.

What’s one thing people don’t know about the Adirondacks but should?

Most people do not realize that the Adirondack Park is among the world’s great rewilding success stories, but a story unfinished. Much of the wildlife that early European colonists eliminated has returned, thankfully; but keystone top predators, like Puma and Wolf, are still missing; and many aquatic species, like American Eel and shad and trout and salmon, are diminished. We will be a better people in a healthier land when we welcome home all this land’s original inhabitants. Doing so will require we learn to coexist with all our neighbors, along with expanding and reconnecting wild lands and waters.

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What is one issue that we are engaged in that means a lot to you?

Wilderness expansion is essential ecologically, climatically, aesthetically, and spiritually.  I’m proud to work for a group that has helped protect more wilderness than you can find anywhere else in the eastern US, and I want to help the Council keep protecting more, larger, and better-connected wild lands and waters. I’m also glad the Council is giving great attention to waterways. As biologist Jerry Jenkins wryly noted years ago, sometimes in the Park it has seemed the Forever Wild clause of the Constitution stops at the water line. Much of the needed rewilding work in and beyond Adirondack Park is in waterways. So I’m proud to be part of the Adirondack Council working with partners to remove derelict dams blocking fish passage on Adirondack streams.

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