By MIKE LYNCH
The Adirondack Mountain Club plans to start searching this fall for a new executive director to replace Neil Woodworth when he retires in coming years.
“We’re going to be searching for a new executive director and bringing that person on as soon as we can so that I will have the maximum amount of time that we can arrange to mentor that person,” Woodworth said. “The executive director position at ADK is a pretty complex job.”
Woodworth said he could retire as soon as 18 months from now, and the organization could hire someone as early as Jan. 1. He has held his current position since 2004 and worked for the organization for about 30 years overall. He was counsel and deputy director for public affairs prior to becoming director.
ADK is a nonprofit advocacy organization that focuses on protecting New York State lands and waters and helping people use them for recreation.
The organization has 30,000 members and 27 chapters statewide.
Woodworth said ADK employs more than 40 people full-time and close to 100 overall, when seasonal workers are factored in. Its budget is $4.2 million.
The organization has its own magazine, Adirondac, and publishes books, including its popular guidebooks. It owns and runs the High Peaks Information Center, a campground, and the Adirondack Loj at the gateway to many High Peaks trails outside of Lake Placid. It also runs the Johns Brook Lodge, a backcountry lodge for hikers in Keene Valley. It has other facilities in Lake George and Albany and also works on issues in the Catskills.
ADK has its own professional trail crews that work in the High Peaks Wilderness region and oversees the summit steward program, which educates hikers and works to protect alpine vegetation.
The club often weighs in on state land-management decisions and purchases in the Adirondacks. Woodworth worked on numerous major land deals, including the lands that became the Whitney Wilderness and Boreas Ponds. The organization has worked with the state Department of Environmental Conservation as it implements new measures to deal with the overuse issue in the High Peaks.
ADK has engaged in numerous lawsuits over the years in the name of protecting state lands. The lawsuits have resulted from DEC and Adirondack Park Agency land-management decisions. On a national level, it has sued the Environmental Protection Agency to fight pollution from Midwest power plants that cause acid rain in the Northeast.
Woodworth said the organization plans to remain active in lobbying and possibly lawsuits in the future as the Trump administration works to dismantle environmental restrictions.
Besides managing the “complex organization that the Adirondack Mountain Club is,” he said, “we’re going to look for someone who has the legal skills and lobbying experience to support our very active advocacy program.”