Press Releases

Conservationist of the Year: NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus

Will be Honored at In-Person ‘Forever Wild Day’ Celebration July 15 

CROWN POINT, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council will present its Conservationist of the Year Award to the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus for its support of Adirondack environmental science, education, jobs and wilderness protection. 

The presentation will take place during the Adirondack Council’s annual Forever Wild Day Celebration, at the Crown Point State Historic Site on the shore of Lake Champlain on Saturday, July 15.   

The Council is holding a virtual annual meeting of its members today at noon. 

The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus’s efforts have led to better recognition of the Park’s multi-cultural history. It has provided funding for a new careers institute to educate young people about environmental jobs. And, the caucus fought for funding for a comprehensive, new scientific study of the impacts of climate change and pollution on Adirondack water quality, the Adirondack Council said. 

Champlain Area Trails Honored as Well 

The Adirondack Council on Saturday will also present an award to Chris Maron and the organization he leads, Champlain Area Trails, which has connected thousands of people to nature through its 77 miles of trails, 983 acres of protected land, and hundreds of hikes, outdoor education events and volunteer workdays, since 2009. 

Caucus & Timbuctoo: Legacy of Voting Rights, Race and the Safety of Wilderness 

In 2022, an historic marker was placed on Old Military Road in Lake Placid, where the 19th Century Suffrage Settlement of Timbuctoo was located. Several former Suffrage Settlement sites are currently under study by archeologists hoping to find traces of their former inhabitants.  Prior to this, only the former cabin and farm of White abolitionist John Brown had been identified for the public, marked by historic signs and a state historic site. 

The caucus has been working in cooperation with the Adirondack Council and other local organizations as part of the outreach efforts of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative. Part of the initiative was an exploration and celebration of the history of Black people in the Adirondacks, including the Suffrage Settlements of Essex, Clinton and Franklin counties in the northeastern Adirondacks.   

Suffrage Settlements were farming communities where Black men such as Lyman Eppes of Troy could gain the right to vote in New York by claiming and working lands offered by abolitionists.  Thus, he obtained the $250 in property required of Black men who wished to vote at that time.   

Eppes later founded a religious school and choir, was elected overseer of roads and inspector of elections in the Town of North Elba, where Timbuctoo and Lake Placid are located. His family remained in the area through the 1940s.  Other Suffrage Settlements included Blacksville, Bloomingdale, Vermontville, Ray Brook, Freeman’s Home, Township 9, St. Armand, and Negrow Brook/Negro Hill.  The latter two settlements are part of a current effort to rename those places in honor of the persons who lived there. 

Summer Careers Institute 

The Timbuctoo Summer Climate and Careers Institute was funded through the work of the caucus, receiving $2.1 million in each of the FY2022-23 and 2023-24 budgets.  The program links prospective City University of New York students at Medgar Evers College with the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry campus in Newcomb, Essex County. There, New York City students will spend two weeks learning about rewarding environmental careers not generally available at urban campuses and visiting the wilds of the Adirondack High Peaks. The Institute is intended to create a new pipeline to good environmental careers for Black and Latino students, while providing the Adirondack Park with a larger, more diverse pool of talented young people. The first cohort of students is set to arrive this summer.   

Calibrating the Scientific SCALE 

The caucus also helped to establish an important scientific research project intended to assess the impact of climate change, water pollution and air pollution on Adirondack lakes and rivers.  It has been nearly 40 years since the most recent comprehensive field survey of more than 1,400 major Adirondack lakes has been conducted.  The results of the last one led to a national acid rain program that cut dramatically the acid rain-causing air pollution falling on the Adirondacks.  The project will assess how that has translated into improvements in soil health and water quality, while also gauging the impacts of climate trends such as hotter summers and shorter winters. Additionally, the study will seek to understand how Adirondack lake ecosystems can help combat climate change, and provide necessary data that will aid in the protection of public health for New Yorkers. 

The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus is a 76-member body of state legislators representing a third of residents across the State of New York from Long Island, the metro New York City area, and upstate.  The Legislature has 213 members. 

Champlain Area Trails was founded in 2009 as a land trust with a mission to make trails, protect land, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality in the Champlain Valley.  

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.  Adirondack Council advocates live in all 50 United States. 

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

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