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Adirondack Park Agency mapping technologist John Barge receives prestigious Geographic Information System Award

At this year's Northeast ArcInfo annual conference held in Lake Placid John Barge was presented the Peter S. Thacher Award. Mr. Thacher was a diplomat with the United Nations and Distinguished Fellow with the World Resources Institute. His peers considered him a pioneer in using modern computer mapping technologies and an outspoken advocate for Geographic Information System Technology (GIS). The award, initiated in 1999 as a memorial to Mr. Thacher, recognizes individuals who demonstrate commitment and excellence utilizing GIS to achieve success in natural resource management and conservation at the local level.

John Barge's career embodies this criterion.

John Barge has been working in the field of cartography and GIS in the Adirondacks since the summer of 1981. He began his career as a summer intern with the Adirondack Park Agency where he conducted a needs assessment for a new computerized storage system for maps. He then went to work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and was involved with the development of Forest Preserve Unit Management Plans. He returned to the APA in October 1983 having an immediate impact by successfully installing the very first installation of ERDAS, a computer mapping software, in the world.

Over the next twenty years, his dedication and commitment to the Adirondack Park and GIS has foraged partnerships that resulted in the successful completion of GIS projects with local and global implications. He is considered the "backbone" of GIS inside the Adirondack Park. Some major accomplishments spearheaded by John Barge include:

  • Essex County Forest Feasibility Study - This project was a resource, conservation and development project that was completed in partnership with Essex County, the Soil Conservation Service and SUNY-ESF that used mapping technology to identify lands with the highest potential for timber harvest.
  • Northern Forests Lands Inventory (NFLI) – In the 1990s, worked with the NFLI project which developed map information on natural and cultural resources for the Adirondacks and New England.
  • APA Look Up System – Developed an easy –to-use GIS application for APA staff for project review. The system is an incredible and efficient tool that staff refer to as a "digital institutional memory" and is used daily at the Agency. This system is directly responsible for the reduction in time required for jurisdictional determination.
  • EPA – funded Wetlands projects – Worked on the staff team that has been mapping detailed wetlands and watersheds around the Park since 1993. This data is utilized by researchers to study chemical cycling and wildlife habitat. In addition, it is essential data for nature resource planners when reviewing development applications.
  • Shared Adirondack Park Geographic Information CD-ROM. Worked on the staff team to develop a data library compiling over 50 GIS data layers from multiple organizations involved in the Adirondacks. The Agency has distributed over 500 copies of the CD-ROM since its creation in 2001.
John Barge (center) receives award from Peter August and Sam Wear.
John Barge (center) received the "Thacher Award" recently at the annual conference of the Northeastearn Arc/Info Users Group. Peter August, director of the Coastal Resources Institute at the University of Rhode Island (left), presented the award. Sam Wear, President of the 2000+ member NEARC group, GIS Manager, Westchester County Department of Information Technology, White Plains, New York. is at right.

Mr. Barge is a founding member of the Adirondack GIS Users Group, a member of the State Advisory Group to the New York State GIS Coordinating Body and a member of the New York State Standards/Data Coordination Work Group.

APA Chairman Ross Whaley said, "As the 2004 recipient, Mr. Barge exemplifies a GIS professional. He thoroughly understands the technology and more importantly understands how to apply its analytical powers to solve problems. When this technology first came on the scene in the 1980s, I said that it was the most expensive mapping file cabinet ever invented but people like John Barge, through hard work and innovation, brought profound applicability to the world. The Agency is proud of John Barge and his contributions."

Executive Director Daniel T. Fitts said "Over the years John has continued to impress his colleagues at the Agency with his steadfast dedication to integrating sophisticated mapping software and high quality digital data into logical applications that enhance and improve our decision making ability. He quietly goes about his work. Although his contributions to the GIS community are significant, he remains a humble and hard working person. His dedication to his work is only over shadowed by his dedication to his family.

John Barge lives in Saranac Lake with his wife, Cindy and children, Elizabeth, Jonathan, Aaron, Ethan and Jeremiah. He is a Cub Scout leader (where he is often called onto teach map and compass skills) and plays guitar.

Cindy, Elizabeth, Ethan, Jeremy, Jonathan, Aaron, and John Barge



John Barge
John Barge at the October Adirondack Park Agency meeting.



Northeastearn Arc/Info (NEARC) Users Group website...


About the Thacher Award...


Map and Geographic Information Systems at the Adirondack Park Agency more...


Adirondack GIS Users Group...


Statewide GIS Coordinating Body...













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