45 years of fighting for the Pine Bush
John Wolcott, historian, preservationist, activist, and fierce advocate for the Pine Bush, dies at 90
ALBANY, NY: It is with great sadness that Save the Pine Bush learned of the passing of John Wolcott of Albany, NY, Thursday afternoon, August 17. John was a founding member of Save the Pine Bush in 1978. He was a plaintiff on every lawsuit filed by Save the Pine Bush.
Born September 22, 1932, John passed away a few weeks shy of his 91st birthday.
John was an expert map-maker and researcher. He discovered evidence of a forgotten foot path through the Pine Bush that in the 1600’s and 1700’s ran parallel to the main Albany-Schenectady Road, called the Maquas Padt or Indian Path. His research showed that the common name of the federally and state endangered Karner Blue butterfly was named after a developer (such irony!). His ground-breaking research into historical deeds for a SPB lawsuit over water lines resulted in defending the integrity of the borders of the Pine Bush Preserve. Since this incredible research by John, there has been no significant encroachments on the boundaries of the Preserve. John’s meticulous research into property-owner deeds has led over the years to the addition numerous parcels of land to the Pine Bush Preserve. John was instrumental in persuading the City of Albany to purchase the City Preserve.
John’s love for the Pine Bush began when he first visited the Pine Bush, at the age of 3. For nearly 40 years, John led (or organized) monthly hikes in the Pine Bush. He knew a wide range of hike leaders who, in addition to taking people to the Pine Bush, showed hikers birds of the Pine Bush, plants, butterflies and many other aspects of this unique ecosystem. Over the years, John attended and spoke at hundreds of public hearings regarding development proposals in the Pine Bush. He spoke always for preserving the land, and opposing any construction.
In addition to his passion for Pine Bush preservation, John was known for his deep love of historical buildings. He was an expert on Dutch colonization of Albany in the 1600s. He could actually could read documents in the City of Albany archives that date to the 1600s that were written in a version of old Dutch that was archaic when it was written. He was the first one to date 48 Hudson Avenue, the oldest standing building in Albany. He identified and advocated for the preservation of the “Rum Factory”, an impressive 18th century rum factory located on Broadway that was unfortunately was destroyed by New York State. Part of the rum factory was excavated prior to the construction of the offices of the Dormitory Authority of New York State.
Not all of his efforts at preservation were successful, for example, his efforts to preserve the original Fort Orange that was built in the 1600s by the Dutch. Elevated Route 787 was built on top of it with a pillar going through the heart of Fort Orange. For several decades, that pillar sported the graffiti “Oranje Boven” (Arise Orange) which John always asserted was scrawled by a drunken sailer.
John cared deeply for people, always there to help friends and strangers. He and wife of nearly 50 years, Linda Becker, would offer their home and support to so many people. We don’t know how many; John never talked about it; he just did it.
John was an integral part of the success of Save the Pine Bush. His knowledge of the history, geography and significance of the Pine Bush in Albany and surrounding communities was essential.
The New York State Assembly passed a special resolution on June 20, 2001 to honor John Wolcott. The resolution said, in part: “That this Legislative Body pause in its deliberations to honor John R. Wolcott for his leadership, activism and resolute devotion to the City of Albany, New York.”
Save the Pine Bush wishes to extend sincere condolences to John’s wife, Linda Becker, and to their family.
John Wolcott, passionate advocate for Albany Pine Bush, dies – Albany Times Union (archived/no pay-wall)
Latest updates on what’s happening with Costcos in Pine Bush including a recent press conference/protest. Photos taken by Jeanne Finley, volunteer with Save the Pine Bush.
News Articles from April / May 2023 Newsletter
The Costco Public Hearing & Climate Change – Lynne Jackson
April / May 2023 Newsletter – Download printable PDF version
Remembering Ward Stone
Here is the sad news about the death of Ward Stone. We will miss him very much; he did so much good for the environment.
You can click here to see our archives to read more about Ward Stone’s work and many dinners he spoke at for Save the Pine Bush: https://savethepinebush.org/?s=ward%20stone
Save the Pine Bush Volunteers call on County Legislature to include funding for acquisition of lands in Albany Pine Bush.
Proposed Developments in the Albany Pine Bush
Proposed developments are shown as blue balloons, mouse over to see site plan, click on balloon to see page for more information. Preserve is shown in green, conservation agreements are yellow. Aerial photo was taken in April 2021, and may not represent current site conditions.
View Power Point – Down To Earth: Practical Steps You Can Take to Reduce Carbon Emissions & Save Our Climate
Volunteer Opportunity: There are several proposals to build in the Pine Bush in the Towns of Colonie and Guilderland, and more seem to be coming every day. Save the Pine Bush needs volunteers who would like to work intensely on opposing these proposed projects. Save the Pine Bush uses the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), a law that allows citizens to participate in the process. If you are interested in getting more involved in protecting the Pine Bush, in ecology, in SEQRA, or in stopping development in our beautiful Pine Bush, please contact me. No special knowledge is needed – only a passion to protect the Pine Bush. And, I guarantee, it will be an adventure!
Thank you all so much,
For Save the Pine Bush
Donate to fight Proposed Developments
Donate online at rapproadgofundme.com or send a check to:
Save the Pine Bush
c/o Lynne Jackson
223 S Swan Street
Albany, NY 12202