Albany, NY (October 21, 2021)—Longtime trustee of the Open Space Institute (OSI), John Ernst, has been selected by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul to chair the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) board.
“For the past 13 years, John Ernst has been an effective and insightful leader on our OSI board, helping to grow the organization in both size and impact; never losing sight of our commitment to land protection for the benefit of people and wildlife,” said Kim Elliman, OSI president and CEO. “We congratulate our good friend and offer best wishes as John begins this new endeavor as head of the APA.”
"Adirondack Park is a unique asset to New York and we must preserve its natural beauty for future generations to enjoy, while also boosting tourism and small businesses across the region," Governor Hochul said. "This appointment is an important first step in developing a long-term public and private land use plan for the largest protected area in the continental United States. John has demonstrated a strong dedication to the North Country and I am certain he will excel as the next Chair of the Adirondack Park Agency, helping build a better and brighter future for this natural gem."
Noting that the position of APA chair has been vacant since 2019, Elliman acknowledged that the post has challenged many leaders for more than 50 years. “Still,” he assured, “John has proven to be a leader of great integrity, a consensus builder, and an overall class act. I cannot think of a person better-suited to take on the critical work of the APA.”
“John has proven to be a leader of great integrity, a consensus builder, and an overall class act. I cannot think of a person better-suited to take on the critical work of the APA,”said Kim Elliman, OSI president and CEO.
Ernst has served as a member of the APA board since 2016. He and his wife, Margot, are owners of Elk Lake Lodge in North Hudson, Essex County. His family has spent vacations in North Hudson since his grandfather camped at Clear Pond in 1905. In 1963, Elk Lake Lodge donated the first conservation easement in New York State. The easement protected the shoreline of Elk Lake. Easements donated to the State in 2012 protected the remainder of the property and included public access to the Dix Mountain and Marcy Mountain state trails.
In addition to his extensive land protection work with the Open Space Institute, Ernst has been involved with Adirondack organizations for 40 years. He is past chair of the Adirondack Council and the Adirondack Foundation as well as a past president of the Adirondack Landowners Association. He has served on the boards of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, the Adirondack Land Trust, the Adirondack Center for Writing, the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation, and the New York State Tourism Advisory Council. He was a past member of the Executive Council of North Country Public Radio and has served on the boards of the New York League of Conservation Voters and the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands and sustain communities. Founded in 1974 to protect significant landscapes in New York State, OSI has been a partner in the protection of more than 2.3 million acres in in the eastern United States and Canada. In the Adirondacks, OSI has protected more than 55,000 acres, including the historic Tahawus property, the village of Adirondac, and Split Rock Wildway wildlife corridor, and has added several properties to the Adirondack Forest Preserve, including the Finch Pruyn Lands and Mount Treambleau.