Letter from PROTECT Board Chair Chuck Clusen outlines accomplishments of 2019 and challenges of 2020.

Click here to read our new Annual Report 2018-19.

Dear PROTECT members:

We’re only a few months from 2020, the beginning of a new epoch, and hopefully a year when we’ll all see things ever more clearly. 2019 was a year of big wins and major achievements for Protect the Adirondacks, and we see many possibilities for big wins in 2020.

Over the past year I have had the privilege once again to serve as the Chair of Protect the Adirondacks. I worked to help build upon our past successes and to grow the organization so that we can expand our work to defend—and expand—the Forest Preserve, and protect the forests, waters and mountains of the Adirondack Park.

This past year I was very proud of our work to publish The Adirondack Park and Rural America: Economic and Population Trends 1970-2010. For decades I have heard unsubstantiated allegations and complaints that Adirondack communities were different from other rural areas and suffered at the hand of environmental protections. Our analysis of long-term trends found that Adirondack communities are faring similar to other rural areas, sometimes better, sometimes worse. I was also very proud of our legal work. We started a lawsuit 2013 to defend the public Forest Preserve and while the wheels of justice have been slow, we were enormously gratified by the decision this past July that ruled in favor of Protect the Adirondacks, finding that the cutting of over 25,000 trees violated the forever wild protections of the Forest Preserve.

These are exciting times in New York. The State Legislature passed landmark climate change legislation last spring, which other states are looking to replicate. An environmental bill of rights was also passed, which will be on the state ballot in 2021. Protect the Adirondacks also worked closely with local governments to create a new Health and Safety Land Account, where a small acreage of Forest Preserve will be made available for municipal purposes to assist in the delivery of basic community services. This was an effort to build strong communities and make the Adirondack Park work.

I continue to marvel at the commitment of my fellow Board members. They drive thousands of miles each year to Board and policy meetings. They take on major legal and policy research. They participate in seemingly endless public stakeholder meetings. They get out into the Forest Preserve and around the Adirondacks to see things first-hand. They do their homework and come prepared for meetings. And, if all that was not enough, they all make very generous financial contributions to the help grow Protect the Adirondacks and keep us afloat.

As always we are incredibly grateful for the support of our members. You have all stood up with us and for us year after year, and that has allowed us to win new and longstanding protections for the Forest Preserve and Adirondack Park. We simply could not do this work without you. Thank you.

Chuck Clusen, Chair, Board of Directors