Raul “Rocci” Aguirre, the new executive director of the Adirondack Council, which advocates for the ecological integrity of New York’s 6-million-acre Adirondack Park, is the group’s first director of color.

He told Capital Tonight he wants the park to reflect the culture of New York state.

“One of the challenges the Adirondack Park is facing is the perception that it exists for a certain clientele,” he said. “We think the Adirondack Park is not just a national treasure, but a place for all New Yorkers, for all visitors.”

Aguirre, who formerly worked at the Adirondack Council as its conservation director, deputy director and deputy executive director, has taken over from Willie Janeway, who ran the organization for the past 10 years.

Janeway, who stepped down last September, was integral in shaping the council’s response to climate change.

Aguirre says he’ll follow in Janeway’s footsteps. At the same time, the new leader is eager to expand the footprint of the Adirondack Council, which currently has four offices within the boundary of the Adirondack Park (Elizabethtown, Saranac Lake, Raquette Lake and Keene Valley), as well as an office in Albany.

The expansion may also take the form of added staff. Over the past three years, the Council has expanded from 16 to 21 full-time staffers; that expansion may continue under Aguirre’s leadership.

Regarding his Albany agenda, Aguirre has several priorities, including securing “Clean Water, Clean Air, Green Jobs Bond Act” funding for the North Country, and furthering the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“We also want to work with the state to ensure the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) have the resources and tools they need to manage both the private and public lands in the park,” Aguirre said.