Press Releases

Acid Rain, Trout Scientist Daniel Josephson is Conservationist of the Year

OLD FORGE, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council will present the 2018 Conservationist of the Year Award to Adirondack acid rain and brook trout research scientist Daniel Josephson of Old Forge.

The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization will present the award to Josephson during its Forever Wild Day celebration on July 14. The annual event will be held this year on the playing fields of the Town of Webb School. The Adirondack Council will also recognize retired Forest Ranger Gary Lee for his efforts to understand and care for common loons – an iconic symbol of the Adirondack wilderness.

“Dan Josephson’s work with the team of Cornell University’s Adirondack Fishery Research Program has been nothing short of spectacular and the results speak for themselves,” said Adirondack Council Deputy Director Diane W. Fish. “When his work began in the mid-1980s, he was documenting the damage acid rain had caused in the southwestern Adirondacks, the worst-hit area in the entire nation. Like the rest of us, he was heart-broken to see the native trout and other fish disappear from polluted lakes and ponds – including the heritage strain Honnedaga Lake brook trout. But he didn’t give up.

“His research helped conservation advocates make a case to Congress for new rules governing power plants. This led to the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, which created the national Acid Rain Program and brought steep cuts in air pollution,” Fish said. “Working from the Little Moose Field Station, Josephson and his colleagues documented the results of pollution cuts and showed that regulators were on the right track. This led to additional cuts, ordered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, including the
Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

“Today, some of the latest acid rain research is focused on recovery of lakes and ponds where trout and other aquatic species were lost to acid rain,” Fish explained. “Slowing the rate of pollution was the key first step. Air pollution is now so much lower than it was in 1990. Many lakes will recover on their own now. Others were so thoroughly damaged that they will need our help to regain their native life in less than three or four centuries.

“One of Dan’s most important projects has been monitoring the health of Honnedaga Lake’s brook trout population,” she said. “Twenty years ago, there were no Honnedaga strain
brook trout to be counted. We’ll let Dan tell the story of how they came back from the brink of extinction, but rest assured the story will include excellent scientific research and the translation of that research into English, so someone could tell that story to voters, policymakers and lawmakers. Without sound science, there is no story, no law, no policy, no recovery. From the beginning, Dan’s science has helped advocates to define the problem, propose a practical solution and turn that solution into national policy.”

Special Recognition Award to Gary Lee

A 1963 graduate of the Wanakena Ranger School, Gary began his career as ranger for the State Conservation Department at what is now the West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. He was the last forest ranger to man the interior ranger headquarters there and then moved on to manage the east end of what is now the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.

Lee started in Adirondack scientific research and wildlife protection by assisting in the production of the New York State Breeding Bird Atlas from 1980 to 1985. He also worked on the 2005 update, handling more than 100 remote Adirondack blocks for each project. He spent a decade banding birds on Four Brothers Island in Lake Champlain. Every spring for the past 38 years, he spends two weeks banding birds at the Crown Point Bird Banding Station during spring migration.

“For the past 19 years, Gary has worked summers with the Adirondack Loon Conservation Program monitoring banded loons, capturing and banding loons and rescuing loons stranded in ice,” said Fish. “He has placed platforms in lakes with no islands, establishing a breeding pair in a new location or increasing habitat.

“Gary’s friends will tell you he can identify most Adirondack birds by their call, and tell you the names of all flowering plants, shrubs and trees in the Adirondacks,” Fish said. “He has painstakingly photographed all of these species and uses them to be nature’s ambassador to the North Country, giving slide shows and lectures about the wonders of the Adirondack Park’s wildness.”

Previous 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, Barbara L. Glaser, Harold Jerry, Bill McKibben, Chris Navitsky, David L. Newhouse, Peter Paine, Clarence Petty and Paul Schaefer.

Created in 1892, the Adirondack Park is one of the oldest and largest protected landscapes in the United States. It is a six-million-acre blend of public and private lands creating a true national treasure. New York’s Constitution requires that the park’s 2.7 million acres of public Forest Preserve be kept wild forever. Private lands consist of commercial timberlands, large estates, resorts, outdoor recreation venues, private homes and 130 small communities, only nine of which are large enough to be incorporated as villages. Its year-round population is 130,000 but nearly twice as many live here during the summer. More than 12 million people visit annually.

Established in 1975, 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. The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities.

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action to ensure the legacy of the Adirondack Park is safeguarded for future generations. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

For more information:
John Sheehan
518-441-1340 cell
518-432-1770 office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 1, 2018

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