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Open Space Institute to receive Adirondack Council's highest honor in July 10 ceremony at Fort Ticonderoga

TICONDEROGA, NY - July 6, 2004 - The Open Space Institute, which buys and protects important lands for environmental conservation and historic preservation purposes, will become the 20th annual recipient of the Adirondack Council's “Conservationist of the Year” award when the Council's members gather for their annual meeting at Fort Ticonderoga on Saturday (July 10). 

“We are extremely pleased to present our highest honor to the Open Space Institute,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal. “OSI's work to protect the headwaters of the Hudson River, as well as critical bird nesting sites and wildlife habitat on Lake Champlain, will leave a permanent legacy to future generations of New Yorkers. One of the sites is adjacent to Fort Ticonderoga, where the awards ceremony will be held on Saturday.” 

As in previous years, the Council will present OSI with a museum-quality, specially commissioned, hand-carved loon to commemorate the milestone. OSI is based in Manhattan and recently created a government relations office on the same Hamilton Street block as the Adirondack Council's Albany office. Accepting the award for OSI will be its President Joseph Martens, who spearheaded the Tahawus acquisition. 

May 2003, OSI announced that it would work with New York State to preserve more than 10,000 acres of forests, lakes and rivers in the heart of the Adirondack Park, located in the historic hamlet of Tahawus, in the Town of Newcomb, Essex County, at the source of the Hudson River. 

The first phase, OSI purchased approximately 10,000 acres from NL Industries, a mining company headquartered in Texas. In the second phase, OSI plans to subdivide the land into four parcels, including a 6,300-acre tract that the State will purchase and add to the Forest Preserve, forever protecting it from logging and development. The project includes the Tahawus Talus, a rare rock formation at the base of cliffs that forms unique wildlife habitat, including homes for the long-tailed shrew and the rock vole, at the north end of the parcel. 

The second phase will involve preservation of historic structures on private lands adjacent to the Forest Preserve parcel, and an agreement with a timber company to sustainably harvest the nearly 3,000 remaining acres at the southern end of the tract, closest to the hamlet. 

Also in 2003, OSI protected a crucial section of shoreline adjacent to Fort Ticonderoga. The deal preserved an important, historic view of the fort, since it will remain forever in the same undeveloped state it had been in during the French & Indian War and the American Revolution, when the fort was last used as a military installation. The land is located near the LaChute River, which connects Lake George to Lake Champlain. The site is important habitat for more than a dozen species of nesting and migratory birds. 

In 1992, OSI stopped an auction of the Heurich property a three-mile stretch of undeveloped Lake Champlain shoreline in the towns of Essex and Westport. OSI bought the land and resold the majority to the state, protecting habitat for bald eagles, peregrine falcons and endangered timber rattlesnakes. The deal also preserved agricultural lands and allowed the previous owner to preserve an historic lighthouse and farm house on the shoreline under a conservation easement. 

Founded in 1963, the Open Space Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit land conservation organization that works to permanently protect from development landscapes of significant environmental, historical and agricultural value. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund, formed in 2000, OSI has assisted in the protection of nearly 1,000,000 acres in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. OSI also provides support to small community groups in New York's Hudson River Valley through its Citizen Action Program. 

The 2003 winner of the Adirondack Council's Conservationist of the Year Award was NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty, at the Lake Placid Resort. The Adirondack Council's 2002 Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to New York Rivers United at the Council's annual awards dinner, held at the Garnet Hill Lodge in North River. 

Other previous winners include: Governor George Pataki, Governor Mario M. Cuomo, New York Times editor John Oakes, NYS Attorney General Dennis Vacco, NYS DEC Commissioner John P. Cahill, Senate EnCon Chairman Carl Marcellino, Assembly EnCon Chairman Richard Brodsky, Assembly En Con Chair Maurice Hinchey, Adirondack Park Agency Executive Director Robert Glennon and Adirondack activists Clarence Petty and Peter Borrelli, the late Paul Schaefer and the late State Senator and Public Service Commission Chairman Harold Jerry. 

Founded in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.

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