ADK Council hires national wildlife advocate

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Adirondack Council announced its hiring of John Davis, a renowned national wildlife advocate with Adirondack conservation experience, to advocate for wild land restoration and reconnected wildlife pathways that have been disturbed by roads, buildings and other obstacles, to benefit nature and communities. 

Davis served as conservation director of the council from 2005 till 2011. He rejoins the staff as rewilding advocate. 

“We are very pleased to welcome John Davis back after a decade away from our offices,” Executive Director William C. Janeway said. “We and others have kept tabs on John’s work as he helped to introduce the idea of ‘rewilding’ to the national lexicon. He has been all over North America talking about it and we are excited to add him to our talented and growing conservation team.” 

"It is a privilege to bring John, a renowned rewilding expert, back onto the Conservation team to add capacity and expertise to our efforts,” Vice President for Conservation Megan Phillips added. “His experience and vision will amplify the Council’s voice as a strong advocate for the wild character of the Park and the myriad species that call this national treasure home, as a complement to our efforts with others to foster more vibrant human communities.”  

“New York’s great Adirondack Park can one day see all its native wildlife return to healthy numbers, with habitat connections – both within and beyond the Park – that remain intact,” Davis said. “It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen on its own. Wildness needs nurturing. And wildness is good for wildlife and people."   

John will retain his complementary position as executive director of The Rewilding Institute, which serves the conservation community by promoting strategies to restore wildlife and wilderness throughout North America and the world. Together, the Adirondack Council and Rewilding Institute will apply on the ground the rewilding principles increasingly recognized as essential to averting extinction of local natives and climate crises. 

“The Rewilding Institute welcomes this great opportunity to work with one of the most powerful conservation groups in the country to ground the rewilding principles we’ve been promoting for many years,” Rewilding Institute President Susan Morgan said. “Together, the council and Rewilding will help make Adirondack Park a successful global model of coexistence between people and wildlife, including species eliminated or diminished by past human activity, like puma, gray wolf and salmon.” 

The council was sad to lose Davis in 2011, as he departed to pursue national advocacy opportunities. Davis began a series of wildway explorations that, together with his ongoing land stewardship in Adirondack Park, including with Adirondack Land Trust, Eddy Foundation, and Northeast Wilderness Trust, has helped inform his conservation perspectives. 

His 7,600-mile hiking/biking/paddling traverse of the proposed Eastern Wildway in 2011 is described in his book Big, Wild, and Connected: Scouting an Eastern Wildway from Florida to Quebec. His 5,000-mile traverse of the proposed Western Wildway from Sonora, Mexico to British Columbia, Canada is the subject of the film Born to Rewild. 

Davis was a co-founder of The Wildlands Project, now Wildlands Network, and Wild Farm Alliance and has served on boards of directors of wilderness groups across the nation.  He co-edited Dave Foreman’s landmark book REWILDING NORTH AMERICA. 

“I am grateful to have the chance to help Adirondack Council and partner groups realize the great potential of Adirondack Park, as a model of coexistence with all our neighbors, both wild and human,” Davis said. “Our park is the wildest landscape in the East, but it’s not yet wild enough. It is our country’s most miraculous rewilding story, but it is far from finished. Rewilding is helping nature to heal. New Yorkers have done that amazingly well in Adirondack Park over the last century, but some of our keystone species like the puma and wolf are still missing, some are imperiled like eastern hemlock and American beech; and many of our habitats — especially streams, lakes and valley forests — need more protection.” 

As Rewilding Advocate for the Adirondack Council, Davis will work with Janeway, Vice President for Conservation Megan Phillips, and the whole team to welcome home missing or diminished wildlife. Species of special concern to his efforts will be moose, salmon and eels. He will work to complete habitat connections, including the Adirondack to Algonquin (A2A), Adirondack to Tug Hill, Adirondack to Green Mountain, or southern Lake Champlain Valley, and Split Rock Wildways.   

He will seek opportunities to make human-built infrastructure, especially roads and culverts, more durable in the face of more intense, climate-driven storms, while easing safe wildlife movement. 

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