View to host Adirondack Wild: Gary Lee, John Nemjo among those being honored for contributions to wilderness, wildlife, ecotourism

Awards will be presented to five area honorees, including John Nemjo of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company, and Gary Lee, a retired Forest Ranger and Adirondack writer/photographer, by the conservation and awareness group Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve at its annual meeting on Friday, September 28.

The meeting is being held at VIEW starting at 10 a.m., with the awards program starting at 11 a.m.

The public is welcome to attend free of charge.

The awards recognize individuals from the area who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and stewardship of wild lands, to ecotourism based upon the area’s wilderness, and to educating others about the importance of safeguarding wild nature in the Adirondack Park.

Honoree John Nemjo is founder of Paddle Fest, the largest annual canoe and kayak festival in the Adirondacks, and is founder/owner of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company, a canoe and kayak store in Old Forge, which first opened in Inlet in 1993.

Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson said Nemjo has shown himself to be a great friend of the Adirondacks.“Through his efforts and successful businesses, John has modeled what ecotourism is all about in the Adirondack Park, generated important local economic activity and employment tied directly to the Park’s wild lands and waterways, and stimulated a passionate appreciation of the Park’s wild lakes and rivers,” Gibson said.

Honoree Gary Lee of Inlet was NYS DEC Forest Ranger in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest and West Canada Lakes Wilderness for over 30 years.

He has continued as a citizen steward of the Moose River Plains after his retirement, Gibson said.

“Through his efforts, projects in our Forest Preserve were accomplished, campers and visitors contacted and educated, wildlife and habitats closely observed and safeguarded for future generations to enjoy,” he said.

Gary is also a noted birdwatcher, photographer, writer and ecotourism guide.

“He has informed countless people, while contributing substantially to our knowledge of birds and their habitats in the Adirondacks,” Gibson said.

Also being honored with awards are Shirley Cornish of White Lake, and Sheila and Ron Cuccaro of Woodgate and Utica, who organized Save White Lake Trees, a citizen coalition.

The group placed pressure on New York State DOT, APA, DEC and utilities to stop the intended cutting of hundreds of trees during a road and utility reconstruction project.

Shirley has fought for decades to conserve the scenic beauty and wildlife of her sector of the Adirondacks at White Lake, according to David Gibson.

“Through [this group’s] efforts, the Route 28 gateway to the Park remains a scenic corridor which accommodates travelers without compromising the very qualities which attract them in the first place,” he said. Following the awards ceremonies, Steve Hall of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center will discuss the mission of the refuge.

He will also introduce an ambassador for wildlife—a live bird of prey located at the refuge—as a catalyst for discussion about the bird, and the intimate connections between Adirondack wildlife and the health of wildlife habitats.

A question and answer session will follow Hall’s presentation.

The meeting is scheduled to end at 12:30 pm. Participants are asked to bring their own box or bag lunch. Morning refreshments will be provided.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not-for profit, member-supported organization devoted to wilderness and wild nature.

Adirondack Wild advances New York’s Forever Wild legacy and promotes policies and land stewardship consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research.

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