Otsego 2000 is a small 501(c)3 public charity devoted to forwarding intelligent planning for the environment in northern Otsego County and preventing irreversible change and damage to the unique resources of the region. It was founded in 1981 as Friends of P.R.O.T.E.C.T., Inc., in order to combat the Marcy-South Power Line, based on the position that the intrusion of the high power line tow-er, higher than the ridgeline and tree line, would constitute an irreversible change in a landscape essentially unchanged since the 18th century. Friends of P.R.O.T.E.C.T. took the broader and more holistic view that the power line adversely affected the wider environmental interests of the region, and it is this breadth of interest that characterized us from the start.
Advocacy campaigns have been the cornerstone of our work. Under the new name Otsego 2000, we spearheaded the creation of the Glimmerglass Coalition – which ultimately included Upstate and Downstate groups beyond our immediate region – to oppose a new public boat launch for Otsego Lake. Increased boat traffic from the launch would have meant more wake, leading to further erosion of the shoreline, thus increasing soil and nutrient loading that would have deteriorated the health of the lake. Cumulatively these actions would have significantly affected the drinking water quality of the lake – water consumed daily by Cooperstown residents and visitors. This campaign defeated the boat launch and is an archetypal example of the success of having a menu of tools and approaches, ranging from grass roots advocacy to high-level lobbying.
Otsego 2000 has always viewed our environment as highly interconnected and interactive; agriculture, economics, land-use planning, town planning, and historic or cultural preservation all contribute to the environment and must be addressed in dealing with basic problems such as pollution, population, and prosperity (or lack thereof). While we believe growth and change are both desirable and inevitable, our task is to try to guide our environment – which includes not only Otsego Lake, but also the local towns, villages, hamlets, streets, and highways – along what we hope are more intelligent pathways. While Otsego Lake is the centerpiece, we are just as concerned with its surroundings, natural and human. All are inseparable. In addition to informed advocacy campaigns, we have undertaken public education projects and forums, and planning initiatives such as the Glimmerglass Historic District. We have also proactively sponsored initiatives like the Route 20 Scenic Byway project and the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market, that balance preservation of the region with economic development opportunities.