About Zachary Matson

Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. louis curth says

    Congratulations to the Adirondack Mountain club on a century of stellar achievements to the benefit of the Adirondacks and all who care about nature and the outdoors.

    I will always wonder if we made the right choice when the Upper Hudson Environmental Action Committee rejected Grant Cole’s offer to become a new North Creek Chapter of the club half a century ago?

    The first “Earth Day” in 1970 created a genuine groundswell of support all over America for protecting Earth’s environment. What followed was a true grassroots movement of all kinds of people coming together and forming local environmental groups. The UHEAC, and a similar group in Canton, were among many groups springing up everywhere. As time passed, these local groups slowly began to fade into inactivity. The environmental movement continued to flourish, but more and more as a top down movement as their support at the grassroots level continued to dwindle. In retrospect, I think Grant Cole had the experience and the wisdom to try to tap into the strength of that vibrant post-Earth Day enthusiasm in hopes of building and maintaining a strong future ADK.

    Perhaps if more environmental leaders had recognized that such activism at the local level was an essential ingredient for building citizen support and achieving greater success with their objectives, the whole environmental movement might look different today…..

    “If you cannot do something about that stream or those lovely marshlands in your town, then how do you think that you are going to save the globe?”
    Rene’ Dubos

    • Mary Thill says

      Lou, The quote you end with is powerful. Would you provide source information so we can see it in context? Eager to read more, thanks!

      • louis curth says

        Hi Mary, hope all is well with you,

        When we founded the UHEAC in Johnsburg after the first Earth Day in 1970, this quote by Rene’ Dubos was making the rounds among environmentalists, along with the more widely known “think globally, act locally”. As a new upstart local group, we liked the Dubos quote best, and it became our mantra, adorning the cover of our membership brochure for over twenty years.

        When ADKs Exec.Dir. Grant Cole reached out to us, I think he hoped to tap into that local potential. Later on, Almy Coggleshull – another ADK heavyweight, did in fact shepherd UHEAC into being a constituent group of the NYS EPL (now Environmental Advocates), most likely with the same idea in mind.

        As I look back, I think much more needed to be done by the big organizations to shore up the grassroots organizations before they disappeared, but it didn’t happen. Instead, the local groups faded and were lost as the whole environmental movement turned to its ” top down” political connections to get results rather than nurture local support and build strong coalitions with natural allies.

        There is a lesson there for today’s young people as they face climate change…..

  2. Jim says

    Forgot to mention the club was formed by members of the “Tramp and Trails” hiking club from Utica.

    The Andirons in the fireplace at JBL were a gift from “Tramp and Trails”.

  3. JB says

    (Louis Curth, what a great comment!)

    This was an impressive overview of the history of ADK–much more comprehensive than most of what I’ve seen elsewhere. The exhaustive list of achievements as champions of local environmental causes is even more impressive. However, there is obviously an elephant in the room that we are ignoring: Now faced with unprecedented overuse of the very recreation infrastructure that they have helped to create, does ADK need to overhaul their mission? Can summit stewards, education and trail redesigns ever fully compensate for the negative effects of an ever-growing surge in visitors? Can an organization that seeks to promote accessibility of wilderness–likely a self-contradiction in and of itself–really remain a wilderness preservation group in the 21st century?

    Grassroots organizational structure is essential to the success of environmental groups, and, while their grassroots spirit has inevitably eroded during the past century, ADK seems to have remained less corrupted by corporatism and more driven by volunteerism than many of their counterparts. However, grassroots is only the lesser half of the equation. More important than volunteerism is pluralism! The internal schisms about “balancing recreational access and wildlands conservation” seem to have disappeared. Where have they gone? Where is the robust debate about overuse? …Trail cutting? …Permits? …Wilderness character? Swept under the rug, it seems.

  4. Peggy VerDow says

    How exciting to read that the ADK club came out of the Tramp & Trail Club of Utica. My father, Walter Kelley, was president of the T & T Club for a couple of years back in the 30’s. His hiking partner was Burt Reiswig (not sure of the spelling). I have many early snapshots of the T & T’s 1920’s and 1930’s hiking adventures. Members of our family have been members of the ADK throughout the years. Now, our grandson, living in Saranac (a transplant from Ohio) is a member and has created a short ADK trail on his property dedicated to his great grandfather and great grandmother Kelley which he named the Glad-Walt Trail.

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