Schenectady County

Area activist selected for Sierra Club board

For Aaron Mair, getting selected for a seat on the Sierra Club’s National Board of Directors was a b
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For Aaron Mair, getting selected for a seat on the Sierra Club’s National Board of Directors was a bit like getting promoted to the big leagues.

The Guilderland resident and one-time president of the Atlantic Chapter was appointed to a three-year term along with four others on the 15-member board. And with critics of climate change gaining influence in Congress, Mair said getting picked for the position islike getting called up during the World Series.

“This is huge,” he said Friday. “I feel like a kid from a local team getting picked for the major leagues.”

Mair is the first Capital Region resident to be chosen for a board seat in recent memory. Board members aren’t paid, but oversee an annual budget of more than $80 million.

Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest environmental organization. The San Francisco-based organization has more then 1.3 million members in local chapters across the country.

Mair was among eight candidates under consideration for the five seats. He was humbled to serve on the same board that was once led by John Muir, the Sierra Club founder and one of the nation’s most influential conservationists.

“Election to the Sierra Club Board of Directors is a tremendous opportunity to represent the environmental challenges facing communities in the Northeast to this important, distinguished national environmental organization,” he said.

Mair, 51, served many years as an executive committee member of the Sierra Club’s Hudson-Mohawk group. He was an ardent proponent of compelling General Electric to clean PCBs from the upper Hudson River and waged a successful campaign to shut down a trash incinerator in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood.

Mair was also a vocal advocate for protecting the Great Flats Aquifer, a 45,000-acre watershed that serves as the sole source of Schenectady County’s drinking water. The one-time Rotterdam resident bitterly fought against Amedore Homes’ project to build the 52-unit Putnam Woods condominium complex on part of the aquifer’s sensitive recharge area off West Campbell Road.

Though unable to derail Putnam Woods, Mair was part of the successful opposition to Rotterdam’s plan to build a park and athletic complex on 67 acres across from the Rotterdam Square mall. The state Department of Environmental Conservation quashed the project by ruling the town couldn’t develop the deed-restricted land.

“No one deserves this honor and responsibility more than Aaron,” said Virginia Boyle-Traver, Hudson-Mohawk’s chairwoman in a statement. “He is [unwavering] in his work to improve our environment and our communities.”

Mark Bettinger, the director of the Sierra Club’s Northeast Regional Office, said Mair’s tireless dedication will serve the national organization well. He said Mair’s ability to bring all parts of the community into the discussion about environmental issues will be invaluable to the organization.

“Having local leaders of the stature of Aaron Mair is very important for our organization,” he said.

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