The 2023 Annual Members Meeting for Protect the Adirondacks was held on Saturday, July 22, 2023, at the Adirondack Gateway at Frontier Town (Exit 29). The day featured our business meeting on the state of the organization, election of the Board of Directors, a Conservation and Advocacy Report, and a special presentation “An Exploration of Forever Wild” that provides an in-depth overview of PROTECT’s 10-year-long successful legal challenge to uphold and defend the Forever Wild clause in the State Constitution.

Click here to see the presentation for the Financials Report, Board of Director’s Election, and the Conservation and Advocacy Report.


Board Chair Chuck Clusen addresses the crowd.

An Exploration of Forever Wild

The highlight of the day was a presentation “An Exploration of Forever Wild” that probed the meaning of the Forever Wild clause in the New York State Constitution and our successful legal challenge against state agencies. This presentation will featured historian Dr. Philip Terrie, attorneys John Caffry and Claudia Braymer, and attorney Christopher Amato.

Phil Terrie talked about the creation of the Forest Preserve in 1885, origins of the wording “forever wild” and “timber” and their uses at the 1894 and 1915 New York State Constitutional Conventions. John Caffry, the lead attorney on PROTECT’s successful defense of Article 14, the Forever Wild clause in the State constitution, talked about the two Article 14 court decisions from 1930 and 1990 that shaped PROTECT’s legal challenge. Claudia Braymer, PROTECT’s Deputy Director, and co-counsel on PROTECT’s successful defense of Article 14, talked about the substance of the 2021 decision by New York’s highest court. Christopher Amato, PROTECT’s Conservation Director and Counsel, talked about the long-term impacts of this decision on Forest Preserve management.

Click here to see the presentations for Phil Terrie and John Caffry.

Click here to see the presentation for Claudia Braymer.

Click here to see the presentation for Chris Amato.


From the left, Christoper Amato, Claudia Braymer, John Caffry and Phil Terrie.


Phil Terrie talks about the origins of Article 14 and the debates at the 1894 and 1915 NYS Constitutional Conventions.


Chris Amato talks about the impacts of the 2021 Protect decision from New York’s highest court.


A Packed House

Over 80 members attended the annual meeting. Due to severe flooding and road damage in the central Adirondacks, PROTECT moved its meeting from the Newcomb VIC to Exit 29. The recently renovated giant A Frame of the Adirondack Gateway provided excellent meeting and hospitality space.


A packed house.


2023 Board of Directors Slate

The 2023 Board of Directors slate was approved by those in attendance. The 2023 election included:

Nancy Bernstein: Nancy lives Vermontville, and is an energy efficient, solar powered home that she built. Nancy formerly worked as a builder of timberframe houses and barns, and continues work as a noted freelance illustrator and mapmaker. She has served on the Saranac Lake School Board. She currently works as an Energy Circuit Rider for the Adirondack North Country Association. Nancy was a founding director of Protect the Adirondacks.

John Caffry: John Caffry has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2010. He is Co-chair of PROTECT’s Conservation Advocacy Committee. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section. John is a partner in the law firm of Caffry & Flower, concentrating in environmental law. He is a native of Glens Falls and resides there with his family. He was the lead attorney in PROTECT’s successful lawsuit to defend and protect the forever wild clause in the State constitution. He makes the Palinesque claim that he can see the Adirondack Park from his house (during leaf-off conditions). In his spare time, he hikes, camps, and paddles in the Adirondacks, bicycles, and goes alpine, telemark, and cross-country skiing.

Chuck Clusen: Currently the chair of Protect the Adirondacks, Chuck was a founding member in 2009. Chuck worked previously as the Director of the National Parks and Alaska Projects for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. He has worked as an environmental advocate for forty years specializing in federal public lands, Wilderness, national parks and Alaska. In the 1970’s Chuck organized and led the Alaska Coalition pushing the Congress to pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Act of 1980 which created over a 100 million acres of national parks and wildlife refuges and an additional 56 million acres of Wilderness in the state. In addition, he was a leader in getting Congress to pass over 14 million acres of Wilderness in the Lower 48 and worked as the Executive Director of the Adirondack Council in the 1980s.

Dean Cook: Dean Cook was a founding member of Protect the Adirondacks in 2009. He is an Adirondack native with a private dental practice in Ticonderoga. Dean holds a BA from the University of Buffalo and a DMD from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a past board member of the Adirondack Council, the Lake Champlain Committee, the Lake George Land Conservancy, Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and a past President of High Peaks Audubon. He currently serves on the Lake George Park Commission. Dean lives in a solar powered, energy efficient house that he built on a family farm that has been in his family since the 1800s.

James McMartin Long: A resident of Canada Lake, James Long is deeply familiar with the southern Adirondacks from bushwhacking and cross-country skiing since his youth. Co-author of the second edition of 50 Hikes in the Hudson Valley, Mr. Long monitors Canada Lake for PROTECT’s Adirondack Lake Assessment Program, and is a co-author of The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Population and Economic Trends 1970-2010.

Philip Terrie, Ph.D.: Phil lives in Ithaca and Long Lake, and is emeritus professor of American Culture and Environmental Studies at Bowling Green State University. An eminent regional historian, Dr. Terrie is the author of Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks, and Forever Wild: A Cultural History of Wilderness in the Adirondacks, as well as numerous articles, chapters, and reviews on regional history and culture. A former Assistant Curator at the Adirondack Museum, he is a regular contributor to the Adirondack Explorer, and is a 46-er who enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking, and birding.


The Adirondack Gateway at Frontier Town (Exit 29) on the Adirondack Northway

The Adirondack Gateway is located in the renovated A Frame that was part of the longstanding, and now defunct, Frontier Town Wild West theme park. The current owner Muhammad “Mo” Ahmad is working to make the facility an event and information center along with a restaurant. Right now, the Gateway is the only place in the Adirondacks to enjoy authentic Pakistani food.


Owner and operator of the Adirondack Gateway at Frontier Town, Muhammad “Mo” Ahmad, talks to PROTECT members seeking support for his plans to fully realize the potential of his site as a gateway to the High Peaks Wilderness and the Adirondacks.