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December 17, 2007

Woodswoman still craves solitude

LaBastille an eco-feminist pioneer with lifelong commitment

WESTPORT -- The petite woman in the lumberjack shirt leads her German shepherd straight into the cafe, saying it's cold out and they should let the dog stay.

"I'm always for trying stuff," Anne LaBastille says, passing the no-pets sign and opening the door.

After decades of living in a wilderness cabin she built, field research in Central American jungles, a divorce, a science Ph.D. from Cornell, turbulent years on the Adirondack Park Agency board, a career writing books and articles, consulting and guiding in the outdoors, she also tends to stand her ground.

In 1997's "Woodswoman III," the autobiography covering her third decade living in a cabin in the woods, she urged older women, those of her generation, to "become a fierce eco-feminist and care for Planet Earth."

That was her response to the arsonist, never caught, who torched her barns five years earlier, presumably because of her environmentalist positions on the Adirondack Park Agency.

PRIVACY IMPORTANT

Right now, her only project is selling the house in Westport, with its pond and 42 acres of farmland, which are "a lot to take care of."

She wants to get back to the cabin, though not in winter anymore.

Hard experience has made her cautious. She won't give out her phone number to a stranger, or directions to her house. It was in 1992, during turbulence that pitted environmentalists against those opposing development restrictions, that her barns were set on fire.

"She was a very reliable green vote," recalls Bob Glennon, former APA counsel and executive director. "She was a valiant lady."

LaBastille absolutely won't disclose where her cabin is located, or the real names of the homesteads she euphemistically called Black Bear Lake, where she built the first one, or Lily Pad Lake, where she described building the second to get farther from intrusions.

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