ELIZABETHTOWN — Leadership at the Adirondack Council is changing hands.
Executive Director Brian Houseal is stepping down from the Adirondack Park’s largest environmental group.
He and his wife, Katherine, plan to continue to live at their home in Westport, inside the Blue Line, he told the Press-Republican on Thursday.
He indicated that 10 years at the helm meant it was time for him and the organization to refresh.
“I think it’s a positive evolution,” he said from the council’s central office here.
“After 10 years, I think it is important for any executive director to take stock of what they’ve done. There are many areas beyond the Blue Line where the advocacy of a group like the Adirondack Council is needed. My wife and I are excited to look at the opportunities. I think the council has a bright, bright future.
“There are many, many things to address in the Adirondack Park.”
A SUSTAINABLE PARK
Houseal said building relationships with town and community leaders through efforts such as the Common Ground Alliance, which he co-founded, have been among endeavors he enjoyed most.
He plans to attend the alliance gathering in Long Lake next month.
“One of the great efforts under way in the park has been ‘Mapping the Future of the Adirondack Park,’” he said. “It encompasses a vision of a sustainable park, and I’ve found nearly everyone is looking to achieve that shared goal. Nearly all of us agree — that’s what we’re trying to move towards.”
Land use and the attendant discussion, regulation and challenges provide a global model for coexistence, he said.
“Large protected areas that don’t have people inside them are hard to find anywhere in the world. It is what’s called a biosphere, and the Adirondack Park is a model for that type of landscape. It’s been a lot of fun with a lot of excitement working at the Adirondack Council. It’s a great organization.”
John Sheehan, spokesman for the environmental group, issued a news release indicating that Houseal will remain on the job until the end of October.
Ann Carmel, chairwoman of the council’s Board of Directors, said in the statement that the board will then turn to Deputy Director Diane Fish of Lake Placid to serve as acting executive director.
The Council Board will undertake a national search for a new executive director.
In a statement, Carmel said Houseal exhibited leadership and innovation on so many issues affecting the environment and the communities of the Adirondack Park.
“He is leaving the council in a strong position as it continues to face issues affecting this magical park,” she said.
OVERSAW RESORT INPUT
Among Houseal’s key accomplishments, the council said, is the enactment of the Clean Air Interstate Rule, a regulation mandating deep pollution cuts from power plants in 23 states to curb emissions that cause acid rain and mercury pollution in Adirondack lakes.
In connection with that effort, Sheehan said, under Houseal’s leadership, the council encouraged New York and nine other Northeast states to create the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2008.
The council then became the first environmental organization to participate in a government-mandated carbon auction.
“The council and its supporters have retired more than 12,000 tons (of carbon) to date,” Sheehan said.
Houseal also oversaw the organization’s input on the 700-unit Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake.
“After six years of reviewing plans, participating in mediation sessions and public hearings — which changed many aspects of the development — the council supported (APA’s) decision to approve the project,” Sheehan said.
The council has just launched a lobby to modernize APA regulations and how they are deployed via local land-use plans.
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