Press Releases

Adirondack Council Hires National Rewilding Expert John Davis  

Restoring Adirondack and National Wildlife Habitat, Reconnecting Landscapes with Pathways 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

ELIZABETHTOWN, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today hired John Davis, a renowned national wildlife advocate with Adirondack conservation experience, to advocate for wildland restoration and reconnected wildlife pathways that have been disturbed by roads, buildings, and other obstacles, to benefit nature and communities. 

The Adirondack Park is a 9,300-square-mile expanse of forests and lakes interconnected by thousands of miles of navigable rivers and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams. During the early phases of the American Industrial Revolution, the area that is now the Adirondack Park suffered great damage from clearcutting, which led to erosion-driven water pollution, rapid evaporation, and loss of wildlife. New Yorkers learned that preserving its wild forests would protect its pure waters. So, voters wrote the state's "forever wild" law into the Constitution in 1894. Efforts to repair the damage continue.        

“We are very pleased to welcome John Davis back after a decade away from our offices,” said Executive Director William C. Janeway. “We and others have kept tabs on John’s work as he helped to introduce the idea of ‘rewilding’ to the national lexicon. He has been all over North America talking about it and we are excited to add him to our talented and growing conservation team.” 

“It is a privilege to bring John, a renowned rewilding expert, back onto the Conservation team to add capacity and expertise to our efforts,” said Vice President for Conservation Megan Phillips. “His experience and vision will amplify the Council’s voice as a strong advocate for the wild character of the Park and the myriad species that call this national treasure home, as a complement to our efforts with others to foster more vibrant human communities.”  

“New York’s great Adirondack Park can one day see all its native wildlife return to healthy numbers, wth habitat connections – both within and beyond the Park – that remain intact,” Davis said.  “It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen on its own. Wildness needs nurturing. And wildness is good for wildlife and people."   

Davis served as Conservation Director of the Council from 2005 till 2011. He rejoins the staff as Rewilding Advocate. 

John will retain his complementary position as Executive Director of The Rewilding Institute, which serves the conservation community by promoting strategies to restore wildlife and wilderness throughout North America and the world. Together, the Adirondack Council and Rewilding Institute will apply on the ground the rewilding principles increasingly recognized as essential to averting extinction of local natives and climate crises. 

“The Rewilding Institute welcomes this great opportunity to work with one of the most powerful conservation groups in the country to ground the rewilding principles we’ve been promoting for many years,” said Rewilding Institute president Susan Morgan. “Together, the Council and Rewilding will help make Adirondack Park a successful global model of coexistence between people and wildlife, including species eliminated or diminished by past human activity, like puma, gray wolf, and salmon.” 

The Council was sad to lose Davis in 2011, as he departed to pursue national advocacy opportunities. Davis began a series of wildway explorations that, together with his ongoing land stewardship in Adirondack Park (including with Adirondack Land Trust, Eddy Foundation, and Northeast Wilderness Trust) has helped inform his conservation perspectives. 

His 7,600-mile hiking/biking/paddling traverse of the proposed Eastern Wildway in 2011 is described in his book “Big, Wild, and Connected: Scouting an Eastern Wildway from Florida to Quebec.” His 5,000-mile traverse of the proposed Western Wildway from Sonora, Mexico to British Columbia, Canada is the subject of the film “Born to Rewild.” 

Davis was a co-founder of The Wildlands Project (now Wildlands Network) and Wild Farm Alliance and has served on boards of directors of wilderness groups across the nation. He co-edited Dave Foreman’s landmark book “Rewilding North America.” 

“I am grateful to have the chance to help Adirondack Council and partner groups realize the great potential of Adirondack Park, as a model of coexistence with all our neighbors, both wild and human,” Davis said. “Our Park is the wildest landscape in the East, but it’s not yet wild enough. It is our country’s most miraculous rewilding story, but it is far from finished. Rewilding is helping nature to heal.   

“New Yorkers have done that amazingly well in Adirondack Park over the last century, but some of our keystone species like the puma and wolf are still missing, some are imperiled like eastern hemlock and American beech; and many of our habitats -- especially streams, lakes, and valley forests -- need more protection.” 

As Rewilding Advocate for the Adirondack Council, Davis will work with Janeway, Vice President for Conservation Megan Phillips, and the whole team to welcome home missing or diminished wildlife. Species of special concern to his efforts will be moose, salmon, and eels. He will work to complete habitat connections, including the Adirondack to Algonquin (A2A), Adirondack to Tug Hill, Adirondack to Green Mountain (Southern Lake Champlain Valley), and Split Rock Wildways.   

He will seek opportunities to make human-built infrastructure, especially roads and culverts, more durable in the face of more intense, climate-driven storms while easing safe wildlife movement. 

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. Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. It is the largest environmental organization focused solely on the Adirondack Park.  

For more information: John Sheehan, Director of Communications, 518-441-1340 

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