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Breaking: Residents Committee, Association may merge

The Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks is considering a merger with the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

The RCPA and the Association made the announcement today, after NCPR contacted both organizations.

NCPR's reporting was prompted by rumors that the RCPA was in serious financial distress.

According to multiple sources, who spoke with NCPR on condition of anonymity, the veteran environmental organization has struggled financially.

In an interview today, RCPA executive director Michael Washburn acknowledged that the economy played a factor in the talks.

"It's no secret that thousands of non-profits around the country are exploring different models of operation going forward, given the larger global recession," Washburn said.

But he said the talks were prompted by "strategic interest in tackling some very important challenges for the Adirondacks."

"The discussions remain in their early stages," the prepared statement reads, "and the two organizations have set no deadlines.

The fundraising environment for non-profits has soured in recent months and critics have long argued that there are too many environmental organizations competing for scarce resources.

Association executive director David Gibson said the struggling economy was "a factor...but not the the factor."

Gibson said talks have been underway at a staff level for roughly a year. "It may not lead to a merger," he said.

The RCPA's voice has been unique in the Adirondacks, considered more confrontational by many activists and local government leaders.

RCPA formed in 1990. Its long-time director, Peter Bauer, stepped down in 2007. He was replaced by Washburn, who struck a more centrist tone.

According to both organizations, "an ad hoc exploratory committee of ten - five trustees from each organization - has been constituted."

NCPR will have more on this story this afternoon during All Before Five.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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