Brewer named chair of Northern Forest Canoe Trail board

Anne Brewer of Lake Placid paddles in a kayak. (Photo provided)

LAKE PLACID — Anne Brewer has been paddling for most of her life.

The Lake Placid resident has competed in the 90-Miler, a three-day race from Saranac Lake to Old Forge, at least six times. She’s also participated in the Long Lake Regatta a few times. She works as a guide for an all-woman company, Adventures in Good Company.

So it’s only natural that three years ago, Brewer, 50, would join the board of an organization dedicated to promoting and maintaining the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 740-mile water trail that runs from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. It’s a trail that Brewer knows well.

During a meeting this past November, Brewer was appointed chair of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s board of directors, succeeding Don Hudson of Arrowsic, Maine.

It’s the first time a woman has chaired the organization’s board of directors, and Brewer said she’s glad to be able to represent women in this type of role.

“I wanted to become more involved and this gives me an opportunity to do that,” Brewer said Monday, Jan. 18. “I felt very humbled for the board to put that kind of trust and confidence in me.”

Brewer will be serving as chair while also working as the editor in chief of Local ADK magazine, as a real estate salesperson for Lake Placid real estate agency Merrill L. Thomas and the operator of Placid Waters Kayaking.

Her appointment as chair — it’s rare for a person from the Adirondacks to lead this board — comes as the NFCT prepares to take over management of the Adirondack Watershed Alliance. Along with it, the organization is taking on some large-scale, iconic Adirondack events, including the Adirondack Canoe Classic.

“The idea is to continue the model Grace and Brian (McDonnell) have established and run so well,” Brewer said, of the 90-Miler. “Right now, there isn’t any plan for changes. We will work alongside Brian (in 2021) to learn the ropes, and take it over in 2022.”

The NFCT was poised to take over the events this year, but the coronavirus pandemic happened, forcing the organizers to cancel last year’s event. That also shifted the timeline for NFCT’s takeover, according to Brewer.

Brewer said the former chair of the board left the NFCT “well-positioned” to continue its work despite “some major obstacles.”

“I learned to paddle a canoe along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and those experiences put me in a place to help the trail grow nearly 60 years later,” Hudson said in a statement. “When I passed the baton to Anne Brewer during our November board meeting, I breathed a sigh of relief, yet also a sigh of deep satisfaction for the privilege and opportunity to work on one of the world’s great long distance trails.”

Brewer was the manager of a kayak shop in Old Forge when she first became aware of the NFCT, which was in its infancy at that time. The trail begins in Old Forge. As an avid paddler, she followed the organization’s work before joining the board.

“I’ve always followed it because kayaking is part of my recreational world, and I made it part of my professional world,” she said.

Brewer hasn’t paddled the whole NFCT yet, but she’s familiar with the section of it that lies in the Adirondacks. There’s so much that makes this trail special, she said.

“It’s unique. The natural beauty, the ability to self-propel yourself from New York to Maine is pretty amazing. The experience people have had on the trail is one of the special parts about it. Just being a part of paddling something so rich in history.”

The trail follows travel routes used by Native Americans. It crosses both public and private lands. It took a lot of work to make that happen, and the result of that work is a community of landowners that welcomes visitors as they paddle through.

There’s a lot of interesting people to meet along the trail, Brewer said. There are also different trail stewards who take care of parts of the trail, and they’re usually knowledgeable about the history of their section and accommodating to those paddling through.

If you haven’t experienced the NFCT yet, Brewer said one way to do it is to paddle a section at a time.

“It doesn’t have to be something epic you do all at once. You can choose different sections and enjoy the trail for years.”

To learn more about the NFCT — both the organization and the water trail itself — visit https://www.northernforestcanoetrail.org/.