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Adirondack Explorer editor retiring

September 8, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Phil Brown, the 19-year veteran editor of the Adirondack Explorer magazine, put his last issue to bed in August, but a pending legal battle and a bevy of book ideas will keep the Saranac Lake resident busy for the foreseeable future.

Brown came to the Explorer after then-publisher Dick Beamish wanted to review one of Brown's guidebooks. In the intervening two decades, Brown and the Explorer have covered a wide array of topics, from state land purchases to environmental crimes.

"I think the biggest story has been the expansion of the Forest Preserve and conservation easement land," Brown said. "It's a huge process. There's a number of steps, so we would follow every step of the deal along the way.

Article Photos

Phil Brown
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)

"I guess the challenge for us was to explain this very complicated process. The public doesn't always understand the difference between wild forest and wilderness, what's the [state Department of Environmental Conservation's] role, what's the [state Adirondack Park Agency's] role. So explaining all that is one of our missions, and I'd like to think we did a decent job."

Brown said the mission of the Explorer is to "promote and protect" the Adirondacks, and in that vein the magazine covers mainly environmental issues. But he added that the social and political issues inside the Blue Line have also been important.

Although the Explorer's expressed purpose is to advocate for the Adirondacks, Brown said he feels like the magazine's journalism has been free of bias.

"I think our news stories are objective, and I think most people would agree that we give both sides of the story," he said. "We're selective in what we cover, but once we choose to write about a story we try to give both sides, or all sides. So I don't think we're biased in that sense.

"Obviously, an editorial would advocate for whatever you believe in."

Brown said he's going to continue to work and write on environmental issues and guidebooks. He is also facing an estimated three-week trial for trespassing that dates back eight years. Brown is being sued by two groups of private land owners who claim he trespassed while canoeing, although Brown - and the DEC - contend that it was a navigable waterway that is open to the public. That trial is slated to begin next week in Johnstown.

Brown's retirement comes little more than a year after the Explorer hired Tracy Ormsbee as the new publisher. Brandon Loomis, whose environmental reporting in Arizona helped win a Pulitzer Prize, has come on as Brown's replacement. But Brown plans on writing for the Explorer and working on some book projects after the trial. When asked what the difference was going to be between working and retirement, Brown laughed and said, "More freedom, less money.

"I have a lot of ideas percolating," he said. "I've got to sit down once I'm actually retired and figure out what I'm going to do. I want to revise my paddling book [Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures], and I have to decide what will pan out."

Brown admits that much of his retirement is still up in the air but said he wants to spend more time with his girlfriend, who lives in New York City, and with his three kids.

Asked what he was going to do to celebrate his post-trial retirement, Brown said "Well, I'm going to do some work."



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