By SARA RUBERG
The Open Space Institute plans a $1 million investment in its 212-acre Tahawus property to improve public access there and at the nearby Henderson Lake and southern approach to the High Peaks.
The plan is to help disperse High Peaks crowds and preserve trails and natural resources by providing an alternative entry to the popular mountains, OSI president and CEO Kim Elliman said. He spoke Saturday at the Adirondack Council’s “Forever Wild Day,” at which the conservation group named him its “Conservationist of the Year.”
Under Elliman’s leadership, OSI has protected thousands of acres in the Adirondacks and elsewhere.
“There’s no better day to announce something like this … than on Forever Wild Day, offering what I hope will be an example of how we increasingly think and act as stewards for humans and nature in a world where climate and demographics are changing before our eyes,” Elliman said.
OSI’s announced improvements at Tahawus, near Newcomb, include:
- Expanded parking at the Upper Works.
- Renovations on the 1845 MacNaughton Cottage and space for an outfitter to rent equipment and guide visitors.
- Interpretive signage.
- Historic preservation of the old iron works blast furnace..
The institute will raise private funds and grants, and will partner with the Town of Newcomb.
In a news release, Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway praised OSI for helping to “support, accommodate, educate and manage the increasing number of explorers that flock to the Adirondacks year-round.”
Elliman has also served on the board of the Adirondack Council and helped create the Adirondack Land Trust. Joe Martens, the Council’s 2016 Conservationist of the Year recipient and longtime colleague of Elliman, commended his legacy.
“In the conservation world, in my opinion, there’s no one better,” Martens said. “Whoever thought that good guys don’t win were clearly wrong.”
Sheri Amsel was also honored at the event. She received the Special Recognition Award for her books and illustrations, which encourage kids to engage in the wilderness and learn about the natural world. Amsel said when she first started taking kids onto the trails, their excitement was profound to her.
“It certainly made me realize the power of taking kids outside and getting them into the woods and seeing them as new advocates for future stewards,” Amsel said. “Any kids that you have, take them out, get them excited, because they are going to go out there and save the world—no pressure.”
Amsel received a painting of a bear in the town of Keene, and, in tradition, Elliman received a life-size loon, hand carved by Robert Padden.