ALBANY, N.Y. - Peter Berle, former commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and president of the National Audubon Society for 10 years, died Thursday after an accident on his farm. He was 69.
Mr. Berle died of injuries incurred several weeks ago when a barn collapsed on one of two farms he and his wife owned in Stockbridge, Mass., about 30 miles east of Albany, according to the DEC.
He was a three-term New York state assemblyman from 1968 to 1974 and was appointed commissioner of the conservation department in 1976 by Governor Hugh Carey. During his three-year tenure, the state started action against
"Peter was an extraordinary man, an environmental giant whose talent and foresight always seemed to land him on the cutting edge of important issues," said Pete Grannis, DEC commissioner.
Mr. Berle started several land purchases in the Adirondacks when he bought nearly a dozen peaks at one time from the Ausable Club. Today, Adirondack Park is a 6-million-acre preserve.
"Throughout his career, he was an environmental visionary on a range of issues, including clean energy, global warming, and habitat protection," said Governor Eliot Spitzer.
He was president and chief executive officer of the National Audubon Society from 1985 to 1995. He then went on to serve as one of the directors of the New York Independent System Operator, which runs New York's electricity market and transmission system.
From 1993 to 2002, he was one of five US members of the Joint Public Advisory Committee, part of the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation established by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
A graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, Mr. Berle was a former Air Force intelligence officer and a parachutist in Vietnam.
He leaves his wife, Lila, and four children.