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ADIRONDACK LIVING: Prickett at home on the trails of the Adirondack Park

Connie Prickett bikes on the Scotts Cobble Trail on Wednesday, Aug. 3. (News photo — Lauren Yates)

LAKE PLACID — Connie Prickett, of Wilmington, is just as passionate about conserving land in the Adirondack Park as she is about recreating here.

Prickett grew up in New Jersey, but she vacationed here with family as a kid — her uncle had a home in Jay, and she always felt connected to the area.

“I just felt like it was a place for me,” she said.

Prickett’s connection to the Adirondacks grew when she was in graduate school with the Audobon Expedition Institute. She spent a couple of semesters following and studying the Rio Grande from its source all the way to Texas, but after she sustained some injuries, she found herself finishing out her last two semesters independently in the Adirondacks. She was hooked.

“It gave me the perfect excuse to dig into all things Adirondacks,” she said.

Prickett learned all about advocacy, how lands are managed, and how the state Adirondack Park Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation operate. She said that work grounded her in the Adirondacks “in a different way” and prepared her for a career in environmental conservation.

Now, Prickett has lived here for around 30 years. She said she loves the community she’s found here, and the all-season access to the outdoors is a big plus. Prickett is an avid mountain biker and skier.

Prickett received her graduate degree in environmental education, which has supported her interest in land conservation throughout her career. She first worked at the Adirondack Mountain Club as an outdoor skills instructor, and she helped to launch the Student Conservation Association Adirondack AmeriCorps program in Long Lake that’s still in place. She worked in communications and community engagement with The Nature Conservancy for 19 years before leaving in 2018 to become vice president of communications and community engagement at the Adirondack Foundation in Lake Placid. Now Prickett is taking a position as director of communications for the Adirondack Land Trust in Keene.

Prickett said she’s learned a lot about Adirondack communities and nonprofits at the Adirondack Foundation, but she’s been wanting to get back into land conservation. Humans have done a lot of damage to nature, she said, and she likes being part of the solution here in New York’s Adirondack Park. Communicating the importance of stewardship is her “niche.”

“Nature doesn’t really have a voice, and I think it’s important for people to advocate on behalf of nature,” she said.

In her new role with the ALT, Prickett is looking forward to seeing more of the “tangible” results of land conservation in the Adirondacks, like the iconic McKenzie Mountain viewshed at the corner of routes 86 and 186. That area will stay forever wild thanks to the ALT’s purchase of the land in 2016. More land isn’t being created, Prickett said, and she’s glad to be part of this chapter in the Adirondacks Park’s unmatched history of land conservation.

“To be able to sort of add to that is that much more meaningful,” she said. “We’re not starting from scratch — we’re adding to this incredible, resilient, recovering forest.”

BETA

Prickett said she lives about a mile from the nearest Barkeater Trails Alliance — or BETA — operated trail in Wilmington. It’s both convenient and fitting for her, because she’s also the president of the BETA board of directors. BETA has a lot of projects both current and upcoming in Keene, Lake Placid, Elizabethtown and possibly the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, and Prickett was teeming with excitement about the alliance’s work as she walked BETA’s Scotts Cobble Trail in Lake Placid on Wednesday, Aug. 3. She said BETA has filled a gap in the types of trails that are available in the Adirondacks by creating “game-changing” trails that are friendly to mountain bikers, hikers and cross-country skiers of all different skill levels.

“I think BETA really found this niche that hadn’t been here before, because everything was just a hiking trail straight up a mountain,” she said, noting the ease of walking Scotts Cobble Trail.

Prickett said she likes BETA because the alliance values trail sustainability and maintenance just as much as creating new trails.

“The thing about trails is they’re never done,” she said. “You’re making an investment in a community, and trail stewardship is just as important as building new trails.”

Prickett loves seeing the material result of efforts made by organizations like BETA. She said she’s been seeing people of all ages enjoying the expanded Hardy Road and Flume trails in Wilmington with their dogs often in tow. You don’t have to be a “hardcore” mountain biker or hiker to enjoy the BETA trails, Prickett said. BETA is all about access.

Prickett enjoyed BETA’s trails even before joining the board of directors in 2018. She and her husband Kevin, who works at the APA, have a lot of the same outdoor-related interests and often recreate together.

“We do recognize that we’re pretty lucky to be able to live here and have careers here that mean a lot to us,” she said.

Prickett said she bikes and runs trails in the summer and skis in the winter. She said she’ll trail run in the shoulder seasons, but she prefers as little of a shoulder as possible.

“For me, a good year, a really good year,” she said, “is when biking season and ski season are as close together as possible.”