CRP's Richard Booth Receives Adirondack Wilderness Award

News
October 17, 2016

The advocacy group Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has given its highest honor, the Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award, to CRP Professor Richard Booth. Booth, a former New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) member and state land chair, received the award at Adirondack Wild's annual meeting on October 1 in Indian Lake, New York.

The award is named for Paul Schaefer, a leading conservationist whose decades of work to protect the Adirondack Park inspired the creation of Adirondack Wild. Adirondack Wild's mission is to advance New York's "forever wild" legacy and forest preserve policies in the Adirondack and Catskill parks. Booth left the APA this summer after more than eight years of service — Dan Plumley of Adirondack Wild called him "the conscience of the APA."

"I'm deeply honored by this award, and to have been a voice for protecting the Adirondacks," said Booth, who was born in New York's north country in Plattsburgh, and spent much of his early life in the Adirondack forests camping and leading groups in the park.

The award honors Booth for his many achievements, including leadership in the 2013 classification of the Essex Chain of Lakes and Pine Lake Primitive Areas in Newcomb, Minerva, and Indian Lake; and for "consistently upholding the integrity of the APA's legislative responsibilities under the Adirondack Park's State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) and Private Land Use and Development Plan," according to Adirondack Wild.

Because the APA regulates non-state land development and sets policy concerning the recreational use of state lands within the park, heated debate is the norm, according to Booth. "In the Adirondack Park the controversy over state land issues almost always takes the form of passive recreational uses — such as hiking, camping, and canoeing — versus mechanized or motorized recreational uses on state lands as well as motorized access into those lands," said Booth. "It's the conflicting interests of hikers, kayakers, and hunters versus motor-boaters, snowmobilers, and bicyclists."

During his years with the APA, Booth cast the agency's only vote against the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake, a 6,300-acre luxury residential community and outdoor recreational facility. He voted against the Essex Chain of Lakes Unit Management Plan, because, he said, "the plan was inconsistent with the APSLMP." In addition, Booth voted against a package of 2016 amendments to the APSLMP because they allowed the use of motorized vehicles and widespread use of bicycles in designated primitive areas, and permitted the construction of steel bridges on all trails and across all streams in wild forest areas throughout the park. In his final week with the APA, Booth issued a public memo that, he said, "urged the strong protection of wilderness values whenever the agency undertakes state lands Master Plan classifications dealing with large-acreage additions to the New York State Forest Preserve."

Reflecting on his time at the APA and life-long conservation work in the Adirondacks, Booth says, "It was a great deal of work. Always controversial, always interesting, sometimes frustrating, and often fun."

By Patti Witten