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The Adirondack Forest Preserve Partnership Photo – The Backstory

August 3, 2009

A Version of this will appear in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise’s Embark

For over 20 years as director of the Wilderness Recreation Leadership Program at North Country Community College, I trained outdoor leaders for a variety of jobs ranging from outdoor guide, those that take clients hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, fishing and hunting, to Assistant Forest Rangers and wilderness leaders. My students were passionate about their love for the outdoors and no matter what their favorite outdoor activity they all had at least one thing in common, their desire to protect the natural environment. So whether they hunted, climbed, paddled, fished, hiked, snowmobiled, skied, snowshoed or studied nature they cared about the outdoors. It was part of the program’s philosophy that all legal activities had a place in the Adirondack Park and that wilderness recreation was just on one end of the recreational opportunity spectrum. I stressed to students the importance of accepting all outdoor recreation activities and not judging people because they favored one activity over another. As I worked with representatives from the various outdoor recreation factions I recognized that while there were issues that people disagreed on, that there were many more areas where they agreed. I envisioned an educational effort that focused on theses areas of agreement particularly as they related to protecting the outdoor traveler and protecting the natural environment. At some point I came up with an idea for a drawing or photograph that could be turned into a poster that would have people representing all the different user groups together promoting wise use of the outdoors. Although I left North Country Community College in 1996 I always thought this idea had merit. In 2000 when facilitating a meeting for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Communities Conservation Program (WCS-ACCP) in Long Lake I wasn’t surprised to hear tourism service providers talk about how poorly informed tourists were about recreation opportunities in the park and the need to educate both visitors and residents about:

  1. Where people can find out about different recreation opportunities
  2. What people need to do to be safely prepared for outdoor recreation activities
  3. What people need to do to protect the natural environment

These observations triggered discussions with Heidi Kretser and Zoe Smith of the WCS-ACCP and Tim Holmes a local researcher. Tim and I proposed a survey to see what regional recreation professionals and tourism service providers thought about these issues. The results were clear. Over 80% supported a more coordinated approach to educating the public about the Adirondack Forest Preserve and how to safely enjoy and protect it. The topics considered most important were, information about recreational opportunities, minimum impact techniques, safety, unique characteristics of the park and current forest preserve regulations.

The Wildlife Conservation Society followed up the survey by joining forces with Jen Kretser then the Education Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club and developing the principles and accompanying information that is now recognized as the Adirondack Forest Preserve Partnership (AFPEP) Message to “Know the Park”, “Protect the Park”, and “Protect Yourself”. A grant from Tourism Cares to further develop the educational materials allowed my dream of bringing all the various recreational users together for a photograph to become reality.

In the early fall of 2007 the AFPEP steering committee brainstormed the various user groups we thought should be included in the photo and then began lining up people for the photo shoot. We scoured the Park looking for possible locations. Fish Creek Pond Campground was selected. October 4th was set for the date, renowned Adirondack photographer Mark Kurtz was selected to take the photo, and photo releasers were prepared. Volunteer subjects were lined up right up to the last minute. October 4th was a beautiful fall day with over twenty people arriving at Fish Creek Pond Campsite number 234 in the late afternoon. Coffee, cider, and donuts were on hand as volunteers arrived, signed photo releases, donned their outdoor garb and Mark Kurtz started to choreograph the shoot. Fisherman Dick LaBombard arrived by motorboat and started fishing offshore. Jennie Sauseville hopped into her kayak and paddled out to join Dick. Terrance Fogarty of Fogarty’s Marina provided the boat on the left side of the photo while Dick and Elaine Holmlund brought their motorhome. Joe Moore of Lake Placid Boatworks provided the canoe in the foreground and Jesse Fitzgerald brought his snowmobile. It was a festive atmosphere as people joked and were genuinely enthusiastic to be part of this historic photo. At the last minute our guideboat person couldn’t make it and we weren’t able to get an equestrian to join us. Our goal was to have as many different user groups of Forest Preserve land as possible represented in the photo. Since ATVs aren’t allowed on Forest Preserve we did not include one. In retrospect perhaps that was a mistake since NY State has acquired access to so much private land via conservation easements, and ATVs are allowed on these lands, we probably should have included one.

Mark Kurtz set up his panoramic camera and a variety of strobes and started taking photos. Unfortunately our rock climber and snowboarder, students from Paul Smith’s College, hadn’t arrived. The sun was setting though so Mark fired away with his camera without them. Just as we were finishing Paul Smith’s College students Matt Ferrara and John Henaghan arrived. Mark quickly took a few more pictures with the young men and then we called it a day. I believe that everyone involved had a good time and appreciates what the photo tries to represent.

Mark had the special-sized film processed at Snap Shot Photo and we selected a few of the best shots for future use. Unfortunately none of the best shots included the Paul Smith’s College students. Through the magic of modern technology we had another local photographer, Barry Lobdell electronically scan the negatives and then Jason Smith of Jason Smith Design digitally took Matt and John from one photo and placed them into the best photo. With a few more minor electronic edits, voila, we have the picture that now represents our efforts.

  1. Bob Brown
  • Doug Fitzgerald
  • Rich Preall
  • Matt Ferrara
  • Katherine Trudeau
  • Stephanie Strack
  • Jesse Fitzgerald
  • Dick LaBombard
  • Julia Murray
  • Brian McAllister
  • Jennie Sausville
  • Zoe Smith
  • 13. Griffin Smith

    Charlie Jessie

    1. Ed Kanze
    2. Jen Kretser
    3. John Henaghan
    4. Dick Holmlund
    5. Jack Drury
    6. Elaine Holmlund
    7. Motorhome provided by Dick & Elaine Holmlund
    8. Boat provided by Fogarty’s Marina

    Thanks to everyone for their participation in this historical event. Hopefully many years from now people will look at this photograph and see that indeed, we are all in the Adirondack Park together!

    See and download the full gallery on posterous

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