After more than six years as executive director of the Woodstock Land Conservancy (WLC), Maxanne Resnick is leaving the organization. The week of December 6, she started orienting her replacement, Andy Mossey, who’s been working for the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development (CCCD), the Arkville non-profit where he spent the last three years creating and running a stewardship program to protect a threatened swimming hole and other sites in the region.
Resnick took on the job at WLC in January 2016, after a period of consulting for the organization. Since then, she has overseen the acquisition of six new nature preserves and supported the creation of the Ashokan Rail Trail. Under her watch, the WLC has received land trust accreditation, while stewardship and programming have expanded, and the new Pollinator Pathways Program has created a network of bee- and butterfly-friendly properties. Since the community, with the help of WLC and other groups, succeeded in halting Niagara Water’s proposal to bottle water from the Cooper Lake reservoir, more WLC programs have focused on water issues, as people become more conscious of where water comes from and the need to protect it.
“My job has always been very busy,” said Resnick, who recently hired a new staff person, Melissa Peterson, to work on stewardship and land acquisition. However, Resnick is ready to take a break. She plans to keep living in the area.
Three years of camping out
Mossey gained an appreciation for the value of wilderness and public outdoor space from his Expeditionary Studies major at SUNY Plattsburgh. As he learned skills of negotiating and surviving in mountainous terrain, combined with how to teach in an outdoor environment, he discovered how easily land can be threatened by development. “In the Adirondacks, someone is always trying to encroach on the wilderness,” he said. “It’s up to organizations to stand up for those resources and protect them.”
He spent three years working full-time for the national non-profit Leave No Trace (LNT). He traveled around the country with his then-girlfriend, Stephanie, an Accord native who is now his wife. They camped out every night for three years. “I learned the value of partnership for when things really needed to get done,” Mossey said. LNT focuses on educating people about minimal-impact recreational practices, from encouraging hikers to clean up after themselves (or their dogs) on the trail, to teaching sustainable trail building that, for example, doesn’t leave large muddy flat areas that hikers avoid by invading the surrounding wilderness.
LNT also makes recommendations to communities looking for solutions, and that’s how Mossey ended up working with CCCD, which was trying to address the abundance of trash around a local swimming hole. The spot had been listed in several online and print publications, resulting in up to 1800 visitors per weekend, booming music, smoking grills, and mountains of trash, disfiguring a once pristine stream bank. “When we made our recommendations,” Mossey recalled, “everyone laughed at the idea that educating the public would work.” Some improvement came from a permitting system set up by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), along with two student interns who spoke intermittently to visitors about the need to treat the site with respect. But more definitive success came from the consistent presence of stewards, in a program built and supervised by Mossey.
WLC used a similar model to co-found a volunteer stewardship program to keep the Ashokan Rail Trail clean, despite the abundance of visitors using the trail year-round since its opening in 2019.
While working for CCCD, Mossey was drawn into the community, attending such events as a meeting of the Catskill Park Advisory Committee, where he first met Resnick. “Andy is bringing in energy,” she said. “It’s good to have new blood,” especially as the local demographic, once aging, begins to skew toward young people who grew up in the area and are now returning here to work remotely or start businesses.
When asked what his first project for WLC will be, Mossey said, “I want to make sure I understand all the aspects of the organization and how they interact before I make any changes. We’re working from Vision 2025, our strategic plan.” One of the ongoing tasks he will take on is challenging the 850 Route 28 concrete/steel manufacturing plant proposed for a site near Onteora Lake in the midst of the 3,000-acre NYS Bluestone Wild Forest.
Mossey is excited to work for WLC, which he called “an organization that does solid work and has a fantastic reputation. I’m glad to put my skills to use in the community.”
To learn more about the Woodstock Land Conservancy, visit their website, https://www.woodstocklandconservancy.org. For details of the Pollinator Pathway Program, see https://woodstocknypollinatorpathway.org.