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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
- 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
- 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) 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
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.
John Barge at the October Adirondack Park Agency meeting.
Northeastearn Arc/Info (NEARC) Users Group website...
About the Thacher
Map and Geographic Information Systems at the Adirondack Park Agency
Adirondack GIS Users Group...
Statewide GIS Coordinating Body...