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Glaser is Council’s Conservationist of the Year

Barbara Glaser (Photo provided)

RAQUETTE LAKE — The Adirondack Council will present its Conservationist of the Year Award to Barbara Linell Glaser, Ed.D, during the organization’s Forever Wild Day celebration on July 9 at Great Camp Sagamore, near the hamlet of Raquette Lake.

Glaser joined the Adirondack Council’s board of directors in 1976, just a year after the organization was founded, at the age of 25. A native of Minnesota, she spent the next 25 years as a board member, studying the history of and challenges faced by the Adirondack Park, and learning how to advocate for the protection of wildlife, pure waters and wilderness.

Along the way, she developed a deep friendship with one of the organization’s founders and oldest board members, Clarence Petty. She sat next to him at every meeting, benefiting from his experience and offering her energy and youthful enthusiasm.

Petty was a native of the Adirondacks who spent his lifetime working to ensure good stewardship of the state’s public lands and sound decision-making about private land use in the Adirondack Park. He inspired many young conservationists, such as Glaser. They spent a generation together as colleagues building and leading the largest environmental organization in the Adirondack Park.

In 2003, as she was leaving the board after 25 years of service, Barbara established the Clarence Petty Internship Program in honor of her friend and mentor. Characteristically, Petty was the first person to make a contribution beyond Barbara’s.

Barbara Glaser and Clarence Petty walk together in the woods near Camp Uncas, Raquette Lake. (Photo provided)

For more than 21 years, this program has supported a paid internship for students seeking experience in conservation, government relations, communications and organized environmental activism. Along the way, it has prepared nearly 70 young people and a handful of return adult students for careers in environmental advocacy and conservation.

Barbara moved to the Adirondacks in the early 1970s to join the staff of an educational conference center. By the age of 26, Glaser had become founding co-director, with Howard Kirschenbaum, of Great Camp Sagamore, rescuing the aging architectural gem from the prospect of demolition.

Gary Randorf, the early executive director of the Adirondack Council, recruited the young, dynamic educator at Sagamore to join the Adirondack Council board.

Glaser was elected board chair from 1989 through 1991, serving at a challenging time as the organization matured from a “council” of its founding organizations (Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, Adirondack Mountain Club, Hawkeye Conservationists, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc.) to an independent organization.

At the same time, the organization came under attack from a small group of private property-rights activists who were opposed to state environmental protections for the Adirondacks. Council board and staff members were subjected to harassment and occasional violence during this period. The Council says Glaser’s steady hand helped cooler heads prevail.

Glaser spearheaded the effort to expand the organization’s staff and outreach, opening an Albany office and engaging directly with state and federal officials on a full-time basis. The Adirondack Council grew from having just a few thousand members, mostly in Albany, Syracuse and the New York metropolitan area, to more than 10,000 throughout the state and the Northeast. The organization has continued to grow and now has advocates in all 50 United States.

In 1998, to assist the organization with its fight against acid rain, Glaser commissioned a new educational booklet “ACID RAIN: A Continuing National Tragedy” and companion video. They explained the damage being done by air pollution and the solutions that were needed. They served as the organization’s main tools in the efforts to defend the national Acid Rain Program and secure additional relief in the form of the federal Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

In addition to her guiding role in the restoration of Great Camp Sagamore, Glaser and her first husband Howard acquired neighboring Great Camp Uncas and organized a small cadre of preservationists to protect its historic and unique William West Durant buildings on Mohegan Lake.

In addition to her work in Hamilton County, in Saratoga County Glaser helped to establish the regional Community Hospice and the Foundation for Hospices in sub-Saharan Africa, creating partnership between American and African hospice programs. She has championed local farmland and forest conservation efforts, historic building restoration and environmental education through her company Linell Lands Inc. and the Nordlys Foundation.

Glaser helped to found the regional land trust Saratoga PLAN and is a founding board member of Pitney Meadows Community Farm. She has served on the board of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, where she and Petty founded a Conservation Internship program. She is currently secretary of the Adirondack Land Trust.

The Adirondack Council had planned to honor Glaser at an in-person Forever Wild Day celebration in July 2020, but those plans were prevented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The award will be presented at the organization’s July 9 virtual membership meeting. She will be congratulated by board and staff members at an in-person quarterly board meeting the next day in Raquette Lake. Also at this year’s ceremony, Glaser will receive greetings from former Council interns, including SUNY Chancellor James Malatras, whose Clarence Petty Internship for the Rockefeller Institute of Public Policy was with the Council’s Albany office.

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