February 27, 2024

2023 Ronald Montesi Conservation Recognition Award

The Ronald Montesi Conservation Recognition Award is provided to individuals who have taken the initiative to improve their environment and developed partnerships in their community.  The District is committed to recognizing those people who we have worked with to provide new conservation opportunities and enhance existing programs.

Ron Montesi Honoring Jason Monroe in 2017 for the Conservationist of the Year Award

Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program

2023 Ronald Montesi Conservation Recognition Awardee

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program known as APIPP, was established in 1998 as a partnership program founded by The Nature Conservancy, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Department of Transportation and the Adirondack Park Agency to work on invasive species. APIPP’s stated mission is to work in partnership to minimize the impact of invasive species on the Adirondack region’s communities, lands, and waters and they certainly do that effectively and efficiently throughout the Adirondack Park.

There has never been a time that I can recall that either the District or APIPP did not work together or assist the other when requested.  Our staff has a deep respect for APIPP’s knowledge, abilities and willingness to help our county residents or municipalities when dealing with invasive species.

APIPP has long and short-term goals, which helps to keep municipalities, partners and the public involved with education and outreach, and projects.   We have been fortunate to work with Tammara Van Ryn, Brian Green, Zach Simek and Rebecca Bernacki in recent years and always receive great recommendations, that we know we can trust.

It is normal for organizations to change from inception to their current state, especially after 25 years.  However while one may see significant changes in the partnership, with APIPP that is not the case and in fact the District-APIPP partnership is stronger than before and is continuing to evolve.

We thank APIPP for all that it does to ensure that our current ecology and biodiversity is not completely altered and for the tremendous partner and resource  that they are.  Keep up the great work!

Tamara VanRyn
Rebecca Bernacki from APIPP

Jim Niles

2023 Ronald Montesi Conservation Recognition Awardee

The first time Jim Niles showed up on our radar was following a report to the Lake George Park Commission’s Board of our findings from the Pre-& post herbicidal treatment aquatic plant surveys completed by the District on Lake Sunnyside. Jim was quite complementary of both the technique and findings that were given during that day’s presentation. His questions and comments were prudent and well thought-out; he asked about the District and how we became involved with this project. He has become a regular attendee of the Warren County Water Strategy Committee meetings and suddenly, we are setting up to repeat the whole process on Lake Luzerne following their receiving an APA permit for the treat of milfoil using the new herbicide. He along with 3 representatives of the Lake Luzerne Association met us for the initial survey, one piloting a brand new electric pontoon boat, one being a rocket scientist, another a Clarkson Professor and statistician, not the usual lineup one finds during a site visit. We were concerned with using such a new boat for our work with all of our equipment and wetsuits. Talking to Jim, he arranged a town work boat for us to do our sampling from and made sure we had all that was needed to complete the first year of the project. He then requested that we present our film and finding at a town board meeting. He has now become a regular at our office as an advocate for both his town and his lake.

Lake Luzerne Plants
Curly leaf Pondweed
Bob Bombard and Jim Niles

Crandall Park Beautification Committee

2023 Ronald Montesi Conservation Recognition Awardee

The Crandall Park Beatification was created in 1999, in order to continue the civic vision and legacy from Henry and Betsey Crandall, who donated the land to the City of Glens Falls in 1899, which became Crandall Park.  It takes many hands to work in concert to maintain and move forward the many aspects of the nearly 70 acres park.

Crandall Park is a jewel of the City and the County.  There is hardly a weekend day, or for that matter a weekday, that an event/activity or program is not occurring.  Just yesterday I walked around the park and looked at the decorated Christmas trees that are placed in memory of or to honor a friend or loved one, I think there were about 180.   Many improvements that have been accomplished by the CPBC, have positively impacted local residents, especially children and allow park users to experience nature, in an urban environment.  In today’s world is vital that communities provide educational opportunities, environmental connections and places for community members to relax, unwind and reflect.  Crandall Park has all of those items.

The committee has been exceptionally easy and effective to work with, from tree plantings to stormwater management recommendations, trail ideas and our favorite, the Pollinator program.

I can go on, but am deferring to the committee members here to tell their story, but know the District is pleased to have you as a Ron Montesi Conservation Recognition Award member.

Crandall Park Beautification Committee members with District Manager, Jim Lieberum

Town of Warrensburg Department of Public Works

2023 Ronald Montesi Conservation Recognition Awardee

When our office proposed this nominee, it was without question or doubt that this nominee should be recognized for all that they do for their community. This nominee is known to wear many hats and what we would consider to be a jack-of-all-trades type. Their call to action varies so much in a day, that we sometimes don’t even know what to refer to them as…

If you are ever out and about in their area, you will usually get a friendly wave or hello as they are 99.9% of the time out working on projects all over and I mean all over the place.

From water line breaks to maintaining parks, they pretty much do it all.

I first began working with this nominee when we received an Urban Community Garden grant for the Warrensburg community garden at one of Papermill Park. When we received the award, this crew immediately jumped in to help with constructing a composting unit and offering project assistance with the grant. This partnership effort with our office and the garden built upon the work they initiated a year before to build a fence and re-established the community garden.

It’s simple acts like these where we have seen this nominee transform areas into parks and create new recreational spaces within their community.

This nominee is ambitious to plant trees…in appropriate the places of course. Frequently we partner with them to host Arbor events around town and this year they even took the initiative to plant sugar maples at a town park that needed some greenery! They don’t even ask me to come help prep the planting sites anymore because they enjoy the process.

It’s impressive to see a group of individuals who enjoy their “many hats” and incorporate simple conservation values into what they do. Another prime example of this was about a phragmites or common reed grass patch at the Echo Beach Park in the swimming area. After a short visit and a few phone calls, we came up with a solution for how to control the plants. This nominee took our recommendation, completed the work, and has continued to do so year after year. I remember the first year they mowed the phragmites and multiple crew members mentioned to Jim and me how excited they were about this project and to go see it! We usually don’t get a response like that. Echo Beach still has a swim area and just look at the results…

While some of their call to action may be addressing a grumpy landowner from time to time, this crew never ceases to amaze me with how they tackle a situation and the effort they put behind it.

I may have given away who this nominee is at this point… but one last thing worth noting…

This nominee always goes out of their way to help others. For me, I can always count on them to help answer questions, offer help, or give our office a quick training.. they even trust us enough to loan us a hydrant wrench in a pinch… which I did return. You just can’t replicate a crew like this one! If you haven’t noticed all of my examples here today are just from my short time at the District but their value to our office and community goes far beyond that and we all know that.

Their commitment, communication, willingness to work with others, and call to action are what make this nominee an excellent recipient of the Ronald Montesi Conservation Recognition Award. Congratulations to Tracey Benoit and the Warrensburg Water Department, Parks & Rec, or DPW… and the many hats they wear. They get the job done and we can’t thank them enough for that!

Echo Beach Park