Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute, may be the state’s next environmental conservation commissioner, according to the Albany Times Union.
The newspaper reported on its Capitol Confidential blog that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is looking at Martens, who in the early 1990s served as an environmental adviser to then-Governor Mario Cuomo, the incoming governor’s father.
Asked to confirm the report, Martens told the Explorer today: “I’m being considered, that’s about all I can tell can tell you.”
Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto could not be reached for comment.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said he is not surprised by the report. “I would think Joe would be the top choice or very close to it,” he said.
Woodworth said Martens has hiked and skied throughout the Adirondack Park and has a deep knowledge of the economic and environmental issues facing the region. “He really understands the balance that is needed in the Park,” he said.
As president of the Open Space Institute, Martens has been involved in several land-conservation deals in the Adirondacks. In 2003, OSI bought the ten-thousand-acre Tahawus Tract near the High Peaks. Much of that land has since been added to the Forest Preserve. In 2007, the institute offered loans to the Nature Conservancy for the purchase of 161,000 acres owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company.
Since 2007, Martens also has served as chairman of the Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs the state-owned ski centers at Whiteface Mountain and Gore Mountain.
In the late 1980s, he worked for the Adirondack Park Agency.
If selected, Martens would succeed Pete Grannis, who was fired in October after the leak of a memo in which he warned that proposed cuts in the Department of Environmental Conservation budget would severely impair the department’s effectiveness. Peter Iwanowicz is now serving at acting commissioner.