Organization & Personnel

The Northern Forest Atlas is a project of the Northern Forest Atlas Foundation, a tax-exempt corporation registered in New York State, guided by a volunteer board.

The Northern Forest Atlas Foundation is based in Lake Placid New York. Ed McNeil has been its president for the past 12 years. Amy Vedder is the new President, with Brendan Wiltse as Vice-President. Cindy Baerman is the new treasurer, and Kathy Regan is the new Secretary.  Current Board members include the officers listed above plus Ed McNeil, Charles Canham, Ray Curran, Larry Master, Margot Ernst, and Kitty Liu. Support for Jerry Jenkins and his work is the reason the organization exists. Melissa Eisinger, Lee Keet, Tom Butler and Elizabeth Lee have retired from the board in 2023. Melissa Eisinger and Lee Keet have been strong supporters from the beginning.

Our new President of the Northern Forest Atlas Foundation, Dr. Amy Vedder, teaches at Yale University, and is best known for her many years of work with gorillas in Rwanda and books In the Kingdom of Gorillas and African Rain Forest Ecology and Conservation. Amy is also well known for her conservation work in the wilds of the US and Africa.

Ed McNeil, over the Ausable Lakes

Ed McNeil, flying and filming over the Ausable Lakes

Amy Vedder, Johnsburg

Amy Vedder, Johnsburg

Jerry Jenkins & his Collaborators

Jerry Jenkins expertly directs and leads the Atlas project. He is a former staff scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society Adirondack Program and does field work, photography, writing, graphics, and design for the Atlas project. He was trained in physics and philosophy and has fifty years of field experience as a botanist and ecologist in the northern forest. In addition to the publications shown on this website, he is the author of The Adirondack Atlas, Acid Rain in the Adirondacks, Protecting Biodiversity on Conservation Easements, and Climate Change in the Adirondacks. He has received, among other honors, the Harold K. Hochschild award from the Adirondack Museum (Adirondack Experience) and the W.S.Cooper award from the Ecological Society of America.

Jerry Jenkins, in White Creek

Jerry Jenkins, in White Creek

Brett Engstrom on East Twin

Brett Engstrom on East Twin

Brett Engstrom is a botanist and natural-resource ecologist from Marshfield, Vermont. He has thirty years of field experience in the northern forest, and is an expert in grasses and sedges. He is providing ecological information and helping edit the Woody Plants guide, and will be a co-author of the Sedge and Grass guides.

Charles Canham is a senior scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., and an Atlas board member. His work has involved the measurement and modeling of forest dynamics; the flow of nutrients through forested watersheds; the impacts of small mammals on forest regeneration; and the simulation of long-term changes in forest composition under different climate and harvest scenarios. He has been involved in the Atlas project from the beginning and authored the recently published Forests Adrift.

Charlie Canham, Great Mountain Forest

Charlie Canham, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Sue Williams, Algonquin Peak

Sue Williams, on Algonquin Peak

Sue Williams, from Rowe, Massachusetts, is a naturalist, consulting botanist, and artist. She and her daughter studied bryology with Howard Crum at Eagle Hill in the early 1990s. She went on to become one of the best field bryologists in the east; her daughter went on to become a soloist with Ballet West. Sue is currently helping with moss inventories and ecological mapping for the Atlas, is co-author of our Moss Digital Atlas, and author of An Ecological Guide to Mosses and Common Liverworts of the Northeast.

Board Members

Amy Vedder, Ed McNeil and Charlie Canham (above) serve on the board of the NFA joining those listed below.

Brendan Wiltse, our new board Vice President, is Water Quality Director at Paul Smith College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute and Visiting Assistant Professor at Paul Smith’s College. Brendan’s research focuses on aquatic ecosystems in the Adirondacks and northeastern North America, ranging from the historical response of lakes to recent climate change, to road salt pollution and to acid rain recovery. His extraordinary photography appears in regional publications, this website and is used to advance conservation of Adirondack ecosystems.

Larry Master, from Keene, N.Y., has sixty years of experience as a naturalist, zoologist, and photographer. He was for many years chief zoologist for The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe. He has studied animals at many sites throughout the northern forest and taken photographs all over the world. Some of his photos may be seen here. He is on the board of the Atlas Foundation and has contributed the mammal and bird pictures for this website.

Brendan Wiltse

Larry Master

Larry Master

Kitty Liu is the Editorial Director of Comstock Publishing at Cornell University Press, overseeing the acquisition of academic and trade titles in science, nature, and the environment. Kitty leads Cornell University Press’ participation in the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship program, and serves on the Association of University Presses’ Acquisitions Editorial Committee.

Margot Ernst and her husband run a 150 year old eco-resort on Elk Lake in the Adirondack High Peaks, where they have given New York State a 12,000 acre easement on their property. Margot is very involved in environmental issues on the board of Audubon, NPR (National Public Radio) and Island Press, a non-profit that publishes books to communicate ideas on environmental issues worldwide.

Kitty Liu

Kitty Liu

Margot Ernst

Ray Curran is an ecologist and wetlands scientist who worked 30 years with the Adirondack Park Agency, heading the environmental science and analysis unit. Ray has advanced degrees from SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University. He served many years as Treasurer of the Northern Forest Atlas Foundation, until 2023.

Ed McNeil, retiring Atlas President (after 12 years), has served as Chair of the Adirondack chapter of The Nature Conservancy, member of The Nature Conservancy’s NY State board, and Chair of the Adirondack Land Trust.  Ed flew Charlie Canham (above) throughout the Adirondack Park Park for a multi-year nitrogen deposition study sampling 520 lakes, using an airplane he built especially for the project, and then built another for filming the videos seen here on the Atlas website. Ed was the 2023 recipient of the Harold K. Hochschild award.

Ray Curran

Ray Curran

Ed McNeil landing the AirCam on Middle Saranac Lake

Ed McNeil landing the AirCam on Middle Saranac Lake

Cindy Baerman, our Treasurer, is a retired financial reporting manager for a Fortune 500 company with a keen interest in Northern Forest natural history. She is fascinated by lichens, birds, trees, sedges, marshes, lakes, brooks, and American martens. Cindy volunteers with Mercy Care and the Adirondacks High Peaks Dog Training Club. She is also active with NY Audubon and the Adk Botanical Society.

Kathy Regan, our Secretary, is a conservation biologist who worked for The nature Conservancy and Adirondack Land Trust developing their science and stewardship programs, including the Summit Stewardship Program. Kathy also worked for the Adirondack Park Agency as a natural resource planner, later heading the Planning Division and the Resource and Scientific Services Division.

Cindy Baerman, Treasurer

Kathy Regan, Secretary

Dan Spada, from Tupper Lake, NY retired after a 27 year career with the Adirondack Park Agency.  He is active in the Adirondack Research Consortium, ADK Botanical Society, and NY Flora Association.  Dan has lectured at Paul Smith College, Cornell University and SUNY Plattsburg. Dan is also a professional musician and Nordic skater on wild lake ice.  His expertise in wetland classification and ecology has been very helpful in writing and editing scripts for the wetland videos. Dan is not a board member, but is a valuable contributor to our efforts.

Dan Spada, Forest Biologist

Dan Spada, Plant Ecologist

Several Board Members are retiring in 2023/24, and we thank them for their many years of working on the the NFA project. These members include Lee Keet, Melissa Eisinger, Elizabeth Lee and Tom Butler, all of whom gave enormously of their time and talent.

Jerry Jenkins and Ed McNeil, 2023


The Atlas project is made possible by these people and others: donors, friends, advisors, colleagues, critics. It is a big, complicated, exciting project, and one in which we are pushing hard against the borders of what we are able to do. We could not do it without their help and support. Ed, I and the board thank them deeply.

(Zoë Smith was a founding board member of the Northern Forest Atlas Foundation, and is now Deputy Director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith College.)

Jerry Jenkins, 2023

George Read
October 10, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Appears to be a great project well done!!! So much to read and so little time…………

A couple of typos that I’ve caught so far:
In Charles Canham’s bio “imacts” should probably be “impacts”
In Sue William’s bio, is “M.A.” master of arts or more likely for the state. I think that putting periods in the states’ abbreviation letters is misleading as the USPS doesn’t separate the abbreviation letters with periods, as you do.

I’m looking forward to reading more.

Aloha, George Read.

Lori McNeil McKeon
April 6, 2018 at 8:30 pm

Hi Ed ,
Looking for relations to Delbert McNeil from Tupper Lake ~ this is my grandfather
[email protected]

April 16, 2018 at 10:01 am

Hi Lori,

My family was from Canada, without connection in NY state, so I have no knowledge of your grandfather.

If he was from Tupper Lake, he had to be hearty! Ed

Camille Walker
November 11, 2021 at 11:48 pm

Hi – this message is for Ed. You didn’t by chance use to hang glide? If so do you remember a friend/coworker who took up the sport with you named John Davie? Please reach out if this is you…Thank you!

November 17, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Yes, this is that Ed! John Davie was a friend and worked for me as a project manager for several years. My neck aches just thinking of the many hang gliding impacts with the ground, although that started me airplane flying, which I still do today. Ed

June 23, 2022 at 6:24 pm

Camille, I thought I replied, but yes that is me, Ed

George B Benner
May 24, 2018 at 2:45 pm

If you happen to Jerry Jenkins in the near future, ask him if he is still a virtuoso on the penny whistle? He may not remember me but give him my best wishes from the past.
George Benner, Prof Emeritus..Adelphi University

June 14, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Will do George. Thank you. Ed

Shawn Markel
May 14, 2020 at 12:39 pm

George, this is Jerry’s sister. Are you the same George who was part of the Pumpkin Hook Band?

Ted Watt
October 6, 2021 at 8:24 pm

I am a Plant Conservation Volunteer with the Native Plant Trust. I am trying to reach Jerry J to ask him about the Woodsia obtusa that he found at SH Hill in Pownal, Vermont in 1995. I know it is a long time ago. We are searching again for the species this Monday and we have a GPS but the info we have been getting from NPT has not always been correct. Jerry, would you be willing to share your GPS location for this fern? Or I could tell you what we were given and you could let me know if it is correct? Thank you for your time and consideration, Ted Watt, 87 Oakland Street, Greenfield, MA 01301. 413-824-7669

November 5, 2021 at 5:35 pm

Ted, Jerry is flat out and will be for some time. He has much on his plate getting these publications done before he is not longer able. We have 4 field guides and a book on Ecology in the works now.

Ed McNeil

Robert Lawrence
August 23, 2023 at 7:07 am

Hello, my name is Robert Lawrence and I am a science writer/editor that does some freelance work for Scneic Hudson. I have become interested in the variety of mosses I find when outdoors, and so I convinced the editor at Scenic Hudson to let me write a story for them about mosses, and what we can learn when we stop to look at the miniature forest below us. I am very impressed with the ‘Mosses of the Northern Forest’ atlas that you have compiled, and definitely want to make mention of that as a resource. Clearly a lot of work has gone into making that. For the story, I would love to talk with someone who was involved in making that atlas, perhaps Sue Williams and/or Jerry Jenkins. If one would be willing, I could either email a few questions to them, or chat briefly on the phone or by Zoom. Please let me know if this is something that you would be interested in. Below is my webpage if you would like to see other articles I have written. Thanks for the work that you do!

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