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History of the Adirondack Park

During the 1800s, logging, mining, and tourism were desolating the forest areas of Northern New York. People didn't become concerned about the destruction of the adrondack forests until the last 1800s. The early advocates for protecting the Adirondack forest believed in protecting the forest for purely utilitarian reasons. Verplank Colvin was one of the most influential early advocates for the creation of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. In 1872, Verplank Colvin was hired by the state legislature to survey the Adirondacks. In 1874, he wrote a report to the legislature arguing that the Adirondack region should be made into a state forest preserve. He argued that the continued depletion of the adirondack watershed would lead to periods of flooding and would threaten the survival of the Erie Canal. His reports helped pursuade the legislature into establishing the Adirondack Forest Preserve in 1885. The state legislature declared that the forest preserve, "shall be forever kept as wild forest lands". The Adirondack Park was not officially established for another seven years. The park was established to include both the forest preserve and the private land surrounding the forest preserve. The forest preserve makes up about 2.5 million acres of 6 million acre park. The park became even more protected when the an admendment to the New York State Constituion referred to as the "forever wild" clause was passed. The forever wild ammendment prohibited the removal and destruction of timber in the Adirondacks. In the 20th century, the Adirondacks became a very popular tourist destination. Many wealthy people purchased second homes in the park. The construction of the Adirondack Northway made it easier for people to access the park for recreational use. This tourism boom created pressure to develop the private land in the park. In response, the Adirondack Park Agency was created to develop a land use plan for the private land within the park. The creation of the Adirondack Park Agency was controversial at the time and it remains controversial today. It was the first time a government agency was given power over private land use. Many residents of the park believe the Adirondack Park Agency has too much control over the use of their land. The creation of the agency, however, was considered neccessary at the time. Today, over 10 million people visit the Adirondacks every year. Below is a map of the Adirondack Park as it exists today.


Text Source: Annie Stolitie and Elizabeth Folwell. (2008). The Adirondack Book. 6th Edition. Vermont: The Country Man Press.

Image Source: adirondackreflections.net

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