The Adirondack Council has named Adirondack Land Trust director Mike Carr as its Conservationist of the Year, while Brant Lake resident Carl Heilman II was announced as the recipient of the Park Communicator Award for his stunning Adirondack photographs.
The Council announced the awards on Monday, April 17.
The environmental advocacy group has been giving the Conservationist award since 1987; previous winners include former state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, governors Mario Cuomo and George Pataki, and centenarian environmentalist Clarence Petty.
Carl Heilman II smiles as he leads a snowshoe bushwhack in Keene Valley as part of this year’s annual Mountainfest in January.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)
Until late last year, Carr was the director of both the ALT and the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. In October, Carr announced that was leaving TNC to become the full-time director of ALT. The two groups had shared staff and office space, but after the state bought the Boreas Ponds, the last tract of 161,000 acres TNC had bought from the Finch, Pruyn paper company in 2007, Carr said it was time to focus more on what ALT could accomplish.
"I'm excited about it; I really am," Carr said in an interview with the Enterprise last October. "We just finished the Boreas Ponds sale to the state, and it just feels like the right moment to begin to take some opportunities for the land trust forward into building it."
Carr said the land trust and TNC have run parallel for years but are separate 501(c)3 organizations.
"We were carrying tremendous risk for nine years, hundreds of millions of dollars," he said of TNC with the Finch lands. "It demanded full focus from everyone, and we got through that in fine shape. Both the Adirondack Chapter and the ALT are in good shape financially, so that's a big help if you're going to start to innovate and build."
In a press release announcing the awards, Council board Chairman Bob Kaffin said Carr's "persistence and willingness to listen have earned him access to the greatest conservation opportunities in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
"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."
"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, Inc. in 2004," the release reads. "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."
Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway gave credit to Heilman for his landscape photography that brings the beauty of the Adirondacks to people all over the world.
"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," Janeway said in the release.
The Adirondack Council will present the awards at its annual Forever Wild Day celebration on July 8 in Newcomb.