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Mike Carr is Adirondack Conservationist of the Year

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John F. Sheehan
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mike Carr is Adirondack Conservationist of the Year
Praise for Enduring Land Protection and Community Collaboration

Photographer Carl Heilman II Earns Recognition as Park Communicator

NEWCOMB, N.Y. – Michael Carr’s work with environmental advocates, community leaders and the state, protecting with partners some 340,000 acres of the Adirondack Park from subdivision and development won the high praise of his colleagues today.

The Adirondack Council announced that he would be honored as the 2017 Conservationist of the Year. The award will be presented in the Town of Newcomb, on July 8.

“Mike Carr has provided crucial leadership for nearly 30 years as he worked highly successfully to preserve the most special places in this national treasure we know as the Adirondack Park,” said Adirondack Council Board Chair Bob Kafin.  “We are thrilled to honor him.  We know we will have to sing his praises, because Mike is too humble to take personal credit for his many accomplishments.  He would rather point to the efforts of others -- his board, staff, volunteers and partners -- rather than to himself.  

“But we all know that his persistence and willingness to listen have earned him access to the greatest conservation opportunities in the late 20th and early 21st centuries,” Kafin said.  “He has made the most of those opportunities forever protecting the ecological integrity of vast tracts of wild lands.  Especially noteworthy was the 161,000-acre Finch, Pruyn & Co. deal that brought Boreas Ponds, the Essex Chain Lakes and a host of prime parcels into the Forest Preserve and open for public recreation.  It is our hope that these will be integrated into an expansion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area, bringing it to a size that will rival the greatest conservation landmarks in America.”

The Adirondack Council also announced it will present a special Park Communicator Award to recognize the extraordinary work by photographer Carl Heilman II of Brant Lake. 

“Through his family business Wild Visions Inc., Carl has produced thousands of stunningly gorgeous images of the Adirondacks, allowing park advocates and businesses to share its awesome beauty with people who have the ability to help protect it,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway.  “In the tradition of Seneca Ray Stoddard, Ansel Adams and our own Gary Randorf, Carl’s lens work has inspired Governors and Presidents, Legislators and Congressional representatives, state agencies and local governments to treat the Adirondack Park with respect.”

Created in 1892, the Adirondack Park is 6 million acres of public and private lands, large wilderness areas and small communities, woven together as the largest Park and landscape-conservation project in the contiguous United States. The recognition for Michael Carr and Carl Heilman celebrates two successful collaborators, the partnerships they each have fostered, and their efforts to share and help the world appreciate and enjoy the Adirondacks.

“Working with Mike has been one of the highlights of my career at both DEC and at the Open Space Institute,” said Joseph Martens of OSI, former NYS Commissioner of Environmental Conservation and 2016 Conservationist of the Year.  “Mike has the unique capacity to connect with people from vastly different backgrounds and perspectives and bring them together.  His leadership and communication skills, knowledge of the outdoors, and north country sense of humor, have made him one of the most accomplished conservation heroes of our time.”

“The Adirondack Park would not be what it is today without Mike’s heroic leadership, said Stu Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York.  “He finds common interests with everyone he meets, and approaches conservation from a place of deep respect for the park’s people and forests. With appreciation for extraordinary achievements to date, and in anticipation of successes ahead, the Conservancy congratulates Mike on this well-deserved recognition.”

“Mike has worked hard to assist the communities and the economy of the park. His work for TNC demonstrated a different level of sensitivity to balance which needs to exist,” Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Farber said.  “The conservation easements he negotiated ensured continued opportunities for lease camps while making sure hundreds of thousands of acres of commercial timberlands remained intact, producing good jobs, high-quality timber and other forest products that are a staple of the Adirondack economy.”

“Like every great leader, Mike accomplishes the miraculous by inspiring others with his integrity, generosity, and passion to do the right thing.  Nose to the grindstone, he avoids the limelight.  It’s clear that, in accepting this recognition, he is demonstrating his gratitude to all who have worked together to help achieve unparalleled land conservation in this region,” said Adirondack Foundation President and CEO Cali Brooks. “We are thrilled to see his work celebrated this way.”

“Mike Carr’s work with the park’s private landowners has won permanent conservation results that protect our park’s water, wild character and wildlife, while also supporting more vibrant communities,” said Ross Whaley, former Adirondack Park Agency Chairman and representative of the Adirondack Land Owners Association. “Mike has helped stakeholders across the Adirondacks realize how much we all love and value this priceless national treasure, making it easier for us all to work together for the good of the park and its residents.”

“Mike Carr’s impact on the landscape of the Adirondack Park is a shining example of how to protect the world’s wildest places,” said Janeway.  “His quiet confidence and easy-going style literally changed the map of the Adirondacks, making the park wilder, and helping communities be healthier and more resilient in the face of a changing world.”

The Adirondack Council is the park’s largest environmental advocacy organization.  It has been granting the Conservationist of the Year award since 1984.  Recipients include two governors, two attorneys general and a who’s who of New York’s top conservation leaders.  Carr and the achievements he and his teams and partners have been a part of will be celebrated at the Council’s annual Forever Wild Day, slated for July 8th at the Town of Newcomb Overlook Park.

The Adirondack Council’s Forever Wild Day celebration will include a luncheon and outdoor activities. 

Conservationist of the Year
Carr also worked for the Lake George Land Conservancy, and started his Adirondack career with the Adirondack Council in the late 1980s. Carr was for sixteen years the executive director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust, separate organizations that have been working through a collaborative agreement since 1988. The organizations recently transitioned to operate independently to increase conservation capacity in the Adirondacks. Carr is now full-time executive director of the Adirondack Land Trust in Keene Valley.

At the two conservancies, he and his teams orchestrated the purchase of hundreds of thousands of acres of Adirondack Forest Preserve, which are protected as “forever wild” by the NYS Constitution.  If not for the conservancy’s land purchases and business savvy, these lands may have been lost to development instead of transferred to NYS for all to enjoy.

Under Carr’s leadership, the conservancy and land trust also negotiated agreements called “conservation easements” with timberland owners and farmers.  The easements prevent the subdivision and development of hundreds of thousands of acres, while keeping those lands in private hands, producing goods and sustaining jobs.

Among the highlights of Carr’s achievements are TNC’s acquisition of 26,400 acres of land and lakes from International Paper Co. in 2000; the 14,600-acre Follensby Pond tract near Tupper Lake in 2008; and 104,000 acres in the northeast Adirondacks from Domtar, 2004. These examples, along with the Finch deal, collectively feature 306,000 acres with more than 730 miles of rivers and streams and 337 lakes and ponds.

Under Carr, TNC found common ground with the host communities of new state lands, and went a step further to “strengthen the link between local communities and protected lands” by committing more than $1.2 million to support sustainable economic development.

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 exemplary contributions to the Park’s well-being in the last year and/or over their life-time.  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:

The Marshall family; 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 DEC 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 Peter Borrelli, John and Margot Ernst, Harold Jerry, Clarence Petty, Paul Schaefer, Frances Beinecke, Christopher “Kim” Elliman and Barbara L. Glaser.

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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