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Martens Chosen a Conservationist of the Year

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, March 28, 2016

Martens Chosen a Conservationist of the Year
Former NYSDEC Commissioner, Open Space Advocate to be Honored July 9

NORTHVILLE, N.Y. – Former NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens will be honored as Conservationist of the Year at the Forever Wild Day celebration hosted by the Adirondack Council on July 9.

The event will be held at the Inn at the Bridge in Northville. The Adirondack Council’s annual Forever Wild Day celebration will include a luncheon, annual meeting and outdoor activities.

More information is available HERE.

“We are very pleased to thank Joe Martens for all he has done to protect the globally significant legacy of the Adirondack Park, both as a state official and with the Open Space Institute,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “Joe expanded state land acquisitions and increased financial support for Park communities under two Governors. He has been an exemplary advocate as a private citizen and his return to the private sector will allow him to direct his attention to multiple issues including national climate policy.

“It is entirely appropriate that we will honor Joe in the Hamlet of Northville, at the start of the Adirondack Park’s longest trail,” Janeway explained. “Joe has been in it for the long haul. We look forward to presenting him our highest honor this summer, for all he has done for wilderness and communities in the largest Park in the United States outside of Alaska.”

Martens’s first work in the Adirondack Park came as assistant secretary and deputy secretary for energy and the environment under Gov. Mario Cuomo. He later served as chair of the board of the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

Currently, Martens is a Senior Fellow at the Open Space Institute, where he is focusing his efforts on national climate change policy and new strategies for promoting smart and effective land conservation in combating climate change.

Martens served as Governor Andrew Cuomo's Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from March 2011 to July 2015. Among his accomplishments were new additions to the “forever wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve, grants for communities to help them capitalize on the recreational potential of new lands, and new conservation easements to protect private forests from fragmentation and development.

He worked to expand access to the state's open spaces, restore environmental funding, and launch initiatives to improve air and water quality and reduce greenhouse gasses.

Martens also led the Department's response to hurricanes Lee and Irene. Following an exhaustive review, Commissioner Martens issued a Findings Statement in 2014 concluding that high volume hydraulic fracturing should not be allowed to proceed in New York State. While there was little chance of drilling inside the Adirondack Park, large-scale gas development south of the Adirondack Park would have increased methane and other air pollutants that cause acid rain, smog and poor visibility.

From 1998 through 2010 Martens served as president of OSI, after a stint as executive vice president from 1995 to 1998. He was responsible for directing and overseeing land acquisition, sustainable development, historic preservation and farmland protection.

His work for OSI in the Adirondack Park secured the protection of wild lands and wildlife habitat on Lake Champlain and in the southern High Peaks region of the Park, in the Town of Newcomb in Essex County – including the historic ghost-hamlet of Tahawus.

The Adirondack Council’s first Conservationist of the Year award was presented in 1984.

Each year, the Conservationist of the Year award is presented by the Adirondack Council Board of Directors to a person or organization that has made an exemplary contribution to the Park’s well-being. The recipient receives a life-size, museum quality, hand-carved common loon – an iconic symbol of the Adirondack Wilderness and represented on the Adirondack Council’s logo.

Previous Conservationist of the Year award winners include:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson; Governors George E. Pataki and Mario M. Cuomo; New York Times editor John Oakes; NYS Attorney General Dennis Vacco; and, NYS DEC Commissioners John P. Cahill and Erin Crotty.

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 comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant, local communities.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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