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Barbara Linell Glaser is Adirondack Conservationist of the Year

Glaser to be Honored at Renewed ‘Forever Wild Day’ Celebration in July

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

RAQUETTE LAKE, N.Y. – 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 9 at Great Camp Sagamore, near the hamlet of Raquette Lake.

“Barbara Glaser has devoted her life to protecting the ecology and beauty of the Adirondacks.  She knows that this requires constant vigilance – the kind that can only come from many generations working together and learning from one another,” said Adirondack Council Board Chair Michael Bettmann. “She has taken on the personal mission of ensuring that the next generation of Adirondack advocates has paid internships, so they can learn from today’s advocates. And she has done so much more!”

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, benefitting 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, such as Barbara. They 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, Barbara established the Clarence Petty Internship Program in honor of her friend and mentor. Characteristically, Clarence was the first person to make a contribution beyond Barbara’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 return adult students for careers in environmental advocacy and conservation.

“Barbara Glaser’s intelligence, kindness, leadership, and generosity have improved this organization from the first day she signed on to our all-volunteer board of directors,” said Executive Director William C. Janeway. “Even after she retired from the board, she gave freely of her time and expertise and continues to lead by example in financial support for the organization’s mission and vision. “More importantly,” he said, “she answered the call of Wilderness Society co-founder Bob Marshall, who a century ago said ‘the only hope of repulsing the tyrannical ambition to conquer every niche on the whole earth is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of wilderness.’”

Barbara moved to the Adirondacks in the early 70s to join the staff of an educational conference center. By the age of 26, Glaser 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 the young dynamic educator at Sagamore to join the Board of the Adirondack Council.

Clarence Petty was a spry 70 years old when Barbara 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 all of the park’s river systems. Both were now ready to fight for wilderness. They would do so the rest of their lives. Petty passed away in 2009 at the age of 104; Randorf in 2019 at the age of 82.

“Barbara's commitment to, and support for, the environment and education have been an inspiration,” said Clarence’s son Ed Petty. “She founded an internship program in my dad's name to honor his 80-plus years as a conservationist who always sought to involve younger generations in the cause.  My dad loved the idea of the intern program, in no small part because my mother dedicated her life to being a public school teacher. It is also a reflection of Barbara's generous nature and desire to share her love of the Adirondacks with others. It is just the kind of environmental education legacy he wanted to leave for all of us, and for those who are yet to come." 

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 Tragedyand 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’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 9 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.

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 (9,300-square-mile) blend of public and private lands protecting the largest temperate deciduous forest in the world. Within this single mountainous park are 11,000 lakes and ponds, and roughly 30,000 miles of rivers, brooks, and streams that provide water to most of New York State.

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 12.4 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. It is the largest environmental organization whose sole focus is the Adirondacks.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy, and legal action. It envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, core wilderness areas, farms and working forests, and vibrant, diverse, welcoming, safe communities.

For more information: John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340

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